Chronic pain affects over 50 million individuals in the United States per year.
At 20% of the adult population, 1 in 5 Americans is likely to undergo some form of chronic pain in their lifetimes. Sadly, millions of Americans treat chronic pain with opioids — pharmaceutical painkillers that are known to create addiction problems and overdose-related deaths.
Luckily, cannabis is a well-known substance that relieves chronic and acute pain without the pitfalls associated with opioids. Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about cannabis and pain relief.
How Cannabis Relieves Pain
Researchers have long studied cannabis and pain relief.
From simple headaches to severe arthritis and beyond, scientists are fascinated by the pain-relieving properties of marijuana. Cannabis is packed with unique compounds, such as cannabinoids, which interact directly with the human endocannabinoid system.
Below, we’ll briefly discuss the most notable pathways in which cannabis (and its properties) relieves acute and chronic pain.
The TRPV1 receptors, also known as a transient receptor potential, are cation channels that increase pain perception when locked in an up-regulated state.
In other words, the TRPV1 receptor causes individuals to experience chronic pain when it’s overstimulated. Researchers believe that CBD interacts with the TRPV1 receptor and de-escalates its effects.
Thus, individuals with chronic pain should try cannabis products high in CBD content to interact with vanilloid receptors.
If you’ve ever heard someone mention the happy drug — they are referencing serotonin.
Serotonin is naturally produced in the brain and causes sensations associated with happiness and excitement. Individuals who lack serotonin typically exhibit depressed, anxious, and insomniac behavior.
Specifically, CBD is known to mimic the 5-HT receptors to stimulate a release of serotonin within the body. Thus, a wave of serotonin assists the body in alleviating chronic or acute pain.
Inhibits the Release of Glutamate
According to research, glutamate release is responsible for several painful conditions.
Although glutamate is an essential signaling substance across a wide variety of bodily tissues — it becomes problematic once disrupted. Thus, ill-timed glutamate releases lead to chronic pain, especially for cancer patients.
Research shows that THC interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to inhibit glutamate release.
Inflammation is one of the leading causes of chronic and acute pain.
Although inflammation is a natural defensive measure within the body, too much inflammation can have serious consequences. Inflammation is the direct result of releasing cytokines.
Cytokines are secreted by the immune system to increase natural inflammation. However, certain conditions, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases, hyperactivate the immune response, thus creating cytokine storms.
Cytokine storms flood the body with an inflammatory response and cause acute and chronic pain. Surprisingly, many different cannabinoids inhibit the release of cytokines by suppressing the immune system.
According to research, THC, CBD, CBG, THV, and more, are responsible for decreasing the potential of a cytokine storm. Thus, each of these cannabinoids is attributed to anti-inflammatory properties.
What Type of Cannabis Product is Best for Pain Relief
Now that you understand how cannabis helps relieve pain, it’s time to determine which cannabis product works best for pain relief.
First, we’ll begin by saying that everyone reacts to cannabis differently. Therefore, there is no best cannabis product.
Instead, each cannabis user must experiment with various marijuana products to find the right fit. From THC-rich cannabis to CBG isolate, there is a wide array of products to choose from.
In any case, we’ll discuss a handful of products below to familiarize you with popular marijuana products for pain relief.
Whether you buy flowers derived from THC-rich cannabis or hemp, flowers effectively reduce pain quickly.
Generally, smoked cannabis or flowers from the cannabis plant produces pain-relieving effects for 1-3-hours (depending on tolerance). However, pain-relieving effects diminish as the experience ends.
Additionally, some users prefer to avoid smoking, especially if their condition does not allow for the inhalation of smoke.
One of the most popular methods to reduce pain for long periods is to consume cannabis or hemp-infused edibles.
As cannabinoids pass through the liver, their potency is strengthened. Ultimately, edibles can provide pain-relieving effects for 2-8-hours (depending on dosage and tolerance).
Thus, medical marijuana patients seeking pain relief should experiment with edibles to manage pain effectively.
Topicals, such as lotion or gel, are effective products because they can provide spot treatment of localized pain.
Whether it’s a sprained ankle or bruised rib, cannabis topicals are known to provide users with pinpoint precision. Overall, cannabis-infused topicals travel through the epidermal layer within minutes, making them a rapid pain relief option for non-systemic conditions.
From CBD tinctures to THC-rich live resin, cannabis concentrates are the most powerful tools in the cannabis industry.
Considering the potency of most cannabis concentrates, medical marijuana patients that need intense pain relief should look into this category. Primarily, it’s essential to seek cannabis concentrates containing THC and CBD to ensure adequate pain-relieving properties.
As you can see, there are many different types of cannabis products. Additionally, the composition of each cannabis product may prove crucial, such as isolates or full-spectrum marijuana products.
In any case, users should experiment with various types of cannabis-based products to provide themselves with insight into which products work best for a given condition.
If you’re ready to manage pain without using opioids or other harmful substances, cannabis is an excellent starting point in your journey toward pain relief.