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Cannabis and Chronic Pain

RxLeaf
a woman with chronic pain

The day I discovered CBD oil was life changing!

Editor’s Note: Any testimonials or endorsements found on this site are for anecdotal purposes only. The information in Rxleaf testimonials is not intended as direct medical advice, nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified healthcare professionals who are intimately knowledgeable about your individual medical needs.

I suffer from chronic pain. There is nerve damage in both hands and my right arm. I also have PTSD, depression and osteoarthritis. And, I have body spasms due to long term pain. CBD helps me with these issues.

I have found no relief from all the various types of pills pushed at me, but I finally found it in medical cannabis. The day I discovered CBD oil was life changing!! I have been able to be active again, with controlled pain, less spasms, reduced inflammation (for my arthritis), and significant improvement in my depression. I am a believer!

older man with chronic pain, he might benefit from cbd

From RxLeaf: What do We Know About CBD and Pain?

Time and time again, patients overwhelmingly report the effectiveness of cannabis for chronic pain. In this case, Carolyn reported benefits specifically from CBD oil, and in other cases, patients describe benefits from THC-rich products. Everywhere you go, you’ll find people choosing cannabis for chronic pain.

Here’s the thing about cannabis and pain. The therapeutic potential is proven. But, researchers have not yet laid out their methods for people in plain language. According to the most robust literature review to date from the National Academies of Sciences, there is evidence supporting cannabis for chronic pain. In their words, “patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.”

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t detail what kinds of cannabis, nor what method of ingestion. These are the details researchers are still struggling to pinpoint. Thanks to poor research material, difficulties taking cannabis to a clinical trial, and a million other reasons – the specifics on how to use it most effectively for pain relief is still undergoing study.

cannabis buds and joint for chronic pain, maybe with cbd

What is Better: THC or CBD for Pain Relief?

There is preliminary evidence for CBD, THC, and combinations of these cannabinoids for in the effective treatment of pain. First, studies have established CBD as a pretty powerful anti-anxiety compound. Anxiety and chronic pain often go hand in hand.

Plus, in an animal trial looking at CBD for neuropathic pain, researchers from McGill University in Canada reported: “low-dose CBD (5 mg/kg) ameliorates anxiety-like behavior induced by neuropathic pain.” As the saying goes, mice are not men, but the research has to start somewhere.

As for studies looking at THC, another study from the University of New Mexico found evidence that higher THC reduces pain. In their study, The effectiveness of self-directed medical cannabis treatment for pain, they determined, “Whole Cannabis flower was associated with greater pain relief than were other types of products, and higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels were the strongest predictors of analgesia and side effects prevalence across the five pain categories.”

joint being rolled, it may contain lots of cbd

Whole Cannabis Works Better than Isolates

There are many types of cannabinoids, in many combinations across a spectrum of products. Pain is just as complex. Some common examples of chronic pain include cancer-related pain, neuropathic, and inflammatory.

As Carolyn highlighted in her story above, she also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. These may be intricately related to her experience of chronic pain.

One patient’s experience with chronic pain may be completely different from others. This could be an explanation for why CBD-rich strains work well for some patients, while active THC blends another.

Even if we don’t know the specifics on which strains, and which cannabinoids target which types of pain – we have a theory. It’s called the Entourage Effect. According to this theory, made famous by cannabis expert Ethan B. Russo, the sum of cannabinoids when taken together are better than their individual parts. Which means a whole flower product with dozens of different compounds will provide better support than an isolated extraction.

Even the study by the University of Mexico mentioned above concluded “whole-plant” was best. We also know that CBD can help reduce the intoxicating effects of THC when used in combination. Researchers believe there are many possible benefits to the Entourage Effect.

older adult couple doing yoga maybe after cbd

A Final Word on Cannabis and Pain

It might be a few years before physicians dole out prescriptions for specific strains in the treatment of chronic pain. Researchers have a long way to go in their understanding of the plant, as well as in their understanding of chronic pain. That said, most evidence tells us cannabis has a role to play in pain treatment. Pain patients may want to speak to their doctor to find out more.

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