With all the ailments that cannabis can treat, it’s almost too good to be true. Both clinical trials and anecdotal evidence has shown that cannabis can fight the symptoms of dozens of illnesses from MLS to cancer, ease the discomfort of anxiety or PTSD, and help with a bevy of other issues such as protecting your skin against the sun or boosting your appetite.
If at this point you are thinking that cannabis is too good to be true, let’s take a look at the facts. Cannabis is able to treat so many illnesses because its many active pharmacological components mimic our internal endocannabinoid system. This system is essentially a chemical harm reduction system in our bodies that controls major things like sleep, appetite, the immune system, and pain. The active components in cannabis interact with our natural endocannabinoid system like they are two parts of a puzzle, helping to manage these important bodily functions when our bodies are too stressed or too ill to do the job themselves. But one of the biggest reasons why cannabis is so effective at treating so many illnesses is because it is a master at treating pain and inflammation, both of which are normally present in any disease.
Not all pain is equal
Pain relief can be tricky, since not all pain is the same. Pain can be cancer-related or neuropathic. It can be central pain (related to multiple sclerosis) or it can be visceral (related to the gut). Pain can also be acute and short-lived or chronic, lasting for months or years. Normally for acute pain, such as the kind you may experience after an injury or an operation, or neuropathic pain which is related to a whole host of diseases such as diabetes or cancer, doctors will prescribe opiates or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
However, opiates and NSAIDS are less effective in treating chronic pain. Both have adverse side-effects, including nausea, stroke, erectile dysfunction, heart-attack, hepatoxicity. Opiates often cause sedation that make long-term opiate use burdensome to the user. Plus, long-term use of traditional pain relievers builds tolerance, meaning that for these analgesics to continue to be effective, users must consistently increase their dosage. This can also lead to accidental overdose.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Research has proven time and time again that cannabis can be employed to relieve pain without the adverse side-effects that come from synthetic analgesics.
A 2008 double-blind, randomized clinical trial at the University of California Davis found that both high and low doses of inhaled cannabis reduced neuropathic pain of various causes. The subjects who participated in the study were chosen for their unresponsiveness to standard pain therapies.
In another clinical trial conducted in 2013, researchers reported that both inhaled and oral THC decreased pain significantly. The trial exposed healthy subjects to painful stimuli and discovered that the subjects had decreased pain sensitivity and increased pain tolerance with the use of either smoked or orally-administered THC.
Also in 2013, a clinical trial provided evidence that vaporized cannabis had a strong impact on neuropathic pain. Low doses of vaporized THC (1.29%) “provided statistically significant 30% reductions in pain intensity when compared to placebo.”
There is also strong evidence that the compound THCa is highly effective in treating pain. THCa is the more commonly known compound THC before it’s dried and burned. In this raw state, THCa is non-psychoactive and has anti-proliferative, anti-spasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s anti-inflammatory properties are responsible for reducing the pain of ailments from arthritis to endometriosis and even menstrual cramps.
Dr. William Courtney of Mendocino County is leading a growing number of patients and caregivers who believe that THCa has numerous medicinal qualities that are lost when cannabis is dried. He is a proponent of juicing raw cannabis for its many health benefits from THCa, including the relief his wife, Kristen Peskuski, experiences from her chronic Lupus.
While more studies need to be conducted, there is plenty of evidence that cannabis is highly effective in moderating pain. These studies have shown that smoking, vaporizing, and taking administering oral cannabis can all reduce various kinds of pain.
Not all strains are equal
But just like there are many different varieties of pain, the varieties of cannabis strains are vast. With over 400 active pharmacological compounds found in cannabis that can be used to treat a range of ailments, there are countless ways to mix and match components and create specific strains to treat an array of ailments, and of course, all kinds of pain.
I mentioned earlier that cannabis is almost too good to be true, and this becomes even more apparent when you see how many of the compounds in cannabis can be used to treat various ailments. Active components such as cannabinoids work alongside terpenoids (also known as terpenes) and flavonoids to offer a multiplicity of benefits for the human body. Some of the active compounds that work to fight pain are CBC, CBD, CBG4, D9-THC, THCA-C4, THCYA, CBLA, CBNA, Linalool, and Myrcene. By combining a number of these cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, you can create the perfect pain relief solution in your own backyard. Or, of course you can go down to your friendly neighborhood dispensary (if you reside in a legalized state) and purchase one of these pain-fighting strains:
Strains that fight pain
For wounds, muscle, and back pain, try Afghan Kush. This strain is nearly all indica, which means its effects will mostly be physical. It has a high dosage of THC which is notorious for pain relief as well as a number of analgesic terpenes such as Humulene, Caryophyllene, and Terpinoline.
If you’re experiencing neuropathic chronic pain due to either tissue damage or damage to the central nervous system, then the strain Jack Herer might be a good option for you. This strain is mostly sativa and has an energizing effect. Like Afghan Kush, Jack Herer also features high levels of THC, but has a host of other compounds and terpenes that make this strain specifically beneficial for treating neuropathic pain such as Pinene, Myrcene, Caryophyllene, and Humulene.
If arthritis and inflammation is what’s getting you down, try Harlequin. Harlequin is very high in CBD which interacts with the CB2 receptors in our bodies. In one study, it was found that mice who didn’t have CB2 receptors have weaker bones. From this it was determined that CBD is very beneficial in treating symptoms of arthritis, particularly the inflammatory and pain parts. Harlequin features a 5 to 2 ratio of CBD to THC as well as other anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving compounds and terpenes, including CBC, CBG, Myrcene, and Pinene. It’s also interesting to note that CBD is not a psychoactive component like THC is, which means that you won’t get the trippy effects of the other two.
It is becoming more and more evident that cannabis is a natural pain reliever that doesn’t have any of the nasty effects of traditional pain medications. With more research and more push back against the federal ban on marijuana, we may soon see a day when prescribing various strains of cannabis is the norm for treating all varieties of pain.
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