Can Cannabis Help with Pain Management?
Pain is a problem that hundreds of thousands of people have to live with everyday. In modern times, it seems that pain itself has become a disease. Chronic pain affects everything you do, creates debilitating issues, and can make everyday life activities seem near impossible.
Most people suffering from pain have heard at least one source say they “should be using Cannabis,” but what does that really mean?
Here we will aim to answer common questions such as, “How can Cannabis help Pain?” “What kind of Cannabis should I take for my type of Pain?” And “What are the side effects of Cannabis?”
How Does Cannabis Help with Pain Management?
Cannabis operates very differently from opioids. While most drugs work by blocking neural passageways, Cannabis actually “catches” pain without blocking it.
“Cannabis doesn’t work on pain,” explains Inbal Sikorin, Head Nurse of Niamedic Healthcare and Research Clinics, “It’s not a localized treatment like many medications are. Cannabis works on improving and helping the body’s entire framework, thus enabling the body to fix itself.”
Aside from pain management, cannabis can also improve sleep quality, promote a positive mood, and support the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate us and keep us healthy.
What are the Different Cannabis Compounds that Help with Pain?
Professional cannabis recommendations will begin with an individualized evaluation to help determine which compounds are best for the patient’s specific conditions. These recommendations tend to involve a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers. There are between 85-113 known cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.
CBD is perhaps the most famous cannabinoid compound, however, CBD on its own is not always the optimal solution for every condition.
- Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants. Cannabis plants contain particularly high concentrations of them.
Terpenes not only have their own set of potential therapeutic benefits, but they can increase the benefits of certain cannabinoids, creating what’s known as the “entourage effect.”
This means that when terpenes interact with cannabinoids, the compounds can increase each other’s therapeutic benefits.
Success and Side Effects of Pain Management using Cannabis
Study after study has shown remarkable results for patients who treat their pain with cannabis. In one study, after only six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition, and their reported pain level was reduced significantly.
Side effects of cannabis usage tend to be minimal. The most common side effect reported by patients is dizziness, which only affects approximately 15% or less of those who use it regularly.
Which Cannabis product should YOU be using?
The product you should be using largely depends on the type of pain that you are looking to manage.
As Cannabis has grown more popular, there has also been an influx of misinformation regarding cannabinoids. Different strands and compounds often get lumped together under one canopy without providing the patient proper understanding of the plant’s different properties and compounds.
There are three main types of Chronic Pain, each of which responds differently to cannabinoids, therefore their treatment requires different strains.
Orthopedic Pain (including back and neck pain)
Orthopedic Pain refers to naturally occurring pain that stems from the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine, joints, and muscles.
Years of clinical research show that Cannabis has repeatedly proven to be a highly beneficial treatment for orthopedic pain reduction and management. In many cases, patients have been able to stop long-term opiate usage altogether, sparing them the many unwanted side effects that accompany opiate usage.
Research shows that the cannabinoids that show the most promise for orthopedic cases tend to be those with a high concentration of THC combined with CBD, which acts as a type of support or activator for the THC.
Recommended Terpenes for orthopedic Pain include Perrotin-Brunel and Myrcene.
Neuropathic Pain ( including symptoms of diabetes, migraines, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.)
Neuropathic Pain refers to pain resulting from damage to the neural pathways and can be divided into three groups:
- Regular Pain – Pain that originates from tissue damage transmitted by the nervous system.
- Peripheral Neuropathic Pain – Pain that results from damage to the remote nerve pathways.
- Central Neuropathic Pain – Pain that results from damage to the central pathways such as the brain, spinal cord or skull.
Neuropathic Pain becomes increasingly common with age and can come on due to direct damage to the nervous system, or internal diseases such as diabetes.
Active cannabinoids recommended for neuropathic Pain include THC, THCA, CBD, CBG
Terpenes include Humulene, Myrcene, Beta-Caryophyllene, and Alpha Pinene.
Common diseases and conditions that contribute to inflammatory pain include arthritis or osteoarthritis, autoimmune diseases, coeliac disease, hepatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Some also attribute fibromyalgia patients to this group.
Inflammatory Pain occurs in response to tissue damage and inflammation and has become progressively common with increased life expectancy. It can significantly hamper the quality of life of an individual.
Recommended cannabinoids for these conditions include THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, CBC, and CBG.
Common terpenes used to combat inflammatory Pain include: Cineol, Beta-Caryophyllene, Myrcene.
Studies show that while Cannabis is beneficial across the board, determining the correct active ingredients for each patient and diagnosing appropriately is crucial to its treatment’s success.
Around the world, much research is still underway to develop a tailored cannabinoid-based treatment for various diseases. Many scientists believe that cannabinoids will soon be utilized as a preventative tool based on each individual’s genetics and thus be able to prevent diseases from developing altogether.
How to Get an Individualized Protocol
With the rise of the number of patients using cannabis successfully to manage their pain, you can now find medical nurses and doctors who have professionalized treating patients using medical Cannabis.
These health care professionals can help a patient find the strains that work best with their specific illness or condition, determine if there are drug contraindications, provide medical support, and make necessary dosage adjustments based on the patient’s precise need.