Cannabis Therapy and Pain Management

By: Aspen Jewel

Over the past decade, cannabis has regained popularity as a therapeutic treatment for those experiencing pain. Many people find that prescribed drugs do not work after time; it has a lot to do with the buildup of these drugs in your body. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has resulted in over 16,000 studies in the U.S. alone. A systematic review of clinical trials over the past 40 years has proven that cannabis can be incredibly effective at managing pain associated with debilitating illnesses such as chronic pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and cancer.

Chronic Pain

A large portion of patients I meet are experiencing chronic pain on many levels. Studies show that only three in every ten chronic pain sufferers find relief in prescribed pharmaceutical options (Hauser, 2019). Chronic pain is the most studied ailment in the cannabis research community. Overall, cannabinoids have been found to block the transmission of pain. Combined with opiates, cannabis increases efficacy of drugs used for chronic pain by up to one thousand percent. It is important that someone interested in trying cannabis knows that the process to find your perfect “blend” can take a few months. Like any medication regimen, cannabis therapy will include trial and error. For example, the strain White Widow might help inflammation and pain, but the tired & groggy feeling wouldn’t be suitable for daytime use. Professional bud tenders will be able to discuss the reported effects associated with any medical cannabis products.

Neuropathic Pain

Damage to the nervous system can result in chronic pain, otherwise known as neuropathy. This disease typically causes weakness or numbness in the area affected. Clinical trials over the past decade have proven cannabis to be highly useful in the treatment of pain. Steroids that are often given to help combat inflammation in the nerves can lower the efficacy of the immune system over time. The nervous system and endocannabinoid system work closely in the body; both are involved in homeostasis. This feedback loop creates balance in the body when it comes to temperature and maintaining a stable internal environment. In addition to neuropathy, cannabis has been proven to help with neuropathic pain linked to trauma, vascular disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

Arthritis

Cannabis is famously used for this common movement disorder. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, which results in pain when moved. Cannabis relieves pain by working closely with the nervous system while reducing inflammation simultaneously. Juvenile arthritis is often treated with a high-CBD strain to reduce euphoric side effects. One-to-one ratios of THC to CBD in cannabis have been proven to help children’s arthritic symptoms. It is recommended to “microdose” this ratio throughout the day (about every 2 hours). I would suggest doing 2.5mg CBD with 2.5mg THC (1 to 1) for first timers. Those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis will often use a good inflammation-targeting strain in conjunction with a cannabis lotion. Essential oils such as camphor and lavender can help with absorption of the cannabis, which is why a lotion is often preferred over using a tincture topically. There are many inflammation-targeting strains, from the relaxed Grand Daddy Purp to the uplifting MediHaze. In an animal trial, researchers found that cannabis blocked progression of arthritis if used regularly “without evident side effects,” (Hammell, 2015).

Cancer

Research has proven that cannabis can stop certain types of abnormal cell growth. Along with helping to stop the growth of cancerous tumors, cannabis helps with the side-effects of traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. The nausea and other aching systems that individuals undergoing pharmaceutical treatments experience can be drastically reduced with a regular cannabis regimen. Cannabis is known to increase appetite and reduce hyperemesis (vomiting). Relaxing, broad-leaf cannabis strains for nausea and lack-of-appetite include Northern Lights and Blueberry Diesel. Uplifting, narrow-leaf anti-nausea strains include Super Lemon Haze and White Fire OG. Many who experience insomnia due to cancer treatment will use a broad leaf cannabis strain to combat the irregular sleep/wake cycles without known side-effects. 

Cannabis can work with the nervous system and endocannabinoid system to reduce pain and inflammation. When used regularly, cannabinoids can build up in your body and provide a greater therapeutic use. Research has shown that cannabis has an array of uses ranging from anti-inflammatory to appetite stimulating. The side effects of pharmaceutical drugs are often combatted by cannabis use. Be sure to talk to your doctor when using cannabis in conjunction with any other medications. Ask your local bud tender about the right cannabis regimen for your conditions and day-to-day lifestyle.

Aspen Jewel
General Manager, Health & Wellness
Kansas City Cannabis Company
[email protected]

Häuser, W., Welsch, P., Klose, P., Radbruch, L., & Fitzcharles, M.-A. (2019). Efficacy, tolerability and safety of cannabis-based medicines for cancer pain. Der Schmerz, 33(5), 424–436. doi: 10.1007/s00482-019-0373-3

Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., Mcilwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A., & Westlund, K. (2015). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, 20(6), 936–948. doi: 10.1002/ejp.818

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