Medical Marijuana is an effective tool for mitigating pain. Finding the right cannabis product for your type of pain can sometimes be time consuming and difficult. To make things easier, we will go through the different types of pain and the strategies to treat them more effectively.
There are 3 accepted categories of pain.
- Central pain(fibromyalgia)
- Nociceptive pain
- Neuropathic Pain
Nociceptive Pain and Cannabinoids
Nociceptive pain is best described as inflammatory pain. It is the resulting pain from tissue damage. The sensation of pain in this case comes from inflammatory and immune cells that repair tissue damage. These cells discharge certain proteins and chemicals that interact with the brain, giving the sensation of pain. With this in mind, reducing the sensation of pain is done by either blocking the signals themselves or reducing inflammation. THC and CBD are used to target both of these processes resulting in less pain. Human clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of these cannabinoids at reducing pain. Read Here
Tolerance can become an issue with THC. To avoid this, it is important to start low and maintain a good balance of CBD to THC content. By using higher doses of CBD to manage pain, THC content can be kept lower to avoid developing a tolerance.
A great benefit that comes from CBD is mood-improvement. CBD can mitigate anxiety and stress through serotonin activation. Anxiety and depression are side-effects of chronic pain. This makes CBD a valuable tool in managing nociceptive pain in the long term.
Neuropathic pain is extremely difficult to treat because NSAID’s like ibuprofen and Tylenol are basically useless to treat it. This type of pain affects about 7 to 10% of the worlds population. Instead of resulting from physical damage to the body, Neuropathic pain comes from diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, HIV, Parkinson’s, Lupus, diabetes, and shingles. Chemotherapy also causes neuropathic pain. Cannabis reduces this type of pain by activating the CB1 receptors in the brain. This weakens the pain signal that travels to the brain. As with nociceptive pain, too much THC can over-activate the CB1 receptors in the brain leading to lessened pain relief over time. Balancing CBD and THC consumption can help stave off this tolerance.
Although there are various terms for this type of pain, central pain refers to pain that results from a malfunction in the nervous system. It can sometimes be difficult to determine why a patient is experiencing central pain, and thus it is difficult to treat. Fibromyalgia is an example of central pain where the underlying cause is unknown.
There is not a lot of data concerning cannabis and central pain at this time. Cannabis has, however, been demonstrated to effectively treat pain from Fibromyalgia. Although the function of why it treats this type of pain is controversial, cannabis is an effective option. Experiment with high doses of CBD and low to medium doses of THC. Long lasting edibles are a great option for managing pain all day long without having to re-dose.
Keep in mind that use of high-THC/low-CBD strains may have the opposite effect in treating pain. Too much THC has been shown to worsen pain and other adverse side effects, as well as create tolerance on the CB1 receptors, reducing long term efficacy. A better strategy is to use a balanced THC/CBD strain and to supplement with pure CBD products. This may result in a better, longer lasting treatment for pain.