In recent years, the number of people in the United States who have died from drug overdoses has topped the number killed in car crashes, H.I.V., and gun deaths. Why? Most experts point to the massive incidences of opioids, which are highly addictive prescription medication for pain. As a result, many people are considering cannabis for pain.
Is cannabis effective for managing pain? There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that suggests cannabis can be an effective treatment for managing certain kinds of pain. With more state voters passing legalization efforts, more studies are underway to learn more.
In the meantime, many people in pain have come to rely on cannabis. Does it work? Read on.
To understand why cannabis is even considered a potential for pain management, you need a quick tutorial on the body's endocannabinoid system. In the early 1990s, scientists discovered a system in the body connected to the endocrine system. It turns out, all mammals with vertebrae have a system that helps the body maintain homeostasis.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in many different functions, including memory, mood, stress, sleep, metabolism, appetite, reproduction, and immunity. It is also responsible for managing pain.
Unlike any other plant, cannabis happens to produce a plant version of the same chemical compound that the human body produces and uses in the endocannabinoid system. These phytocannabinoids include THC and CBD, and studies show that these plant chemicals can support the human body, too.
How Does it Help?
When consumers are considering cannabis for pain, they need to look for certain specifications and strains. Scientists have found that cannabinoids are able to block peripheral nerve pain in experiments. But some elements of the plant are more effective than others.
For example, cannabis strains with a high percentage of CBD, compared to THC, may be more effective for managing pain. Other studies show that preventative care, with more frequent, regular use, is preferred over using very potent cannabis to handle pain when it becomes too extreme.
What Methods of Delivery Are Best?
Not all patients suffering from pain can smoke unprocessed cannabis flowers. If you have a respiratory disease or are sensitive to smoke, traditional methods of delivery for cannabis can be problematic. Instead, you should consider edibles, vaporizing, tinctures, or capsules.
Some of these products contain specifics isolates of certain cannabinoids. Other products are made with strains that contain other compounds, like specific terpenes that have been shown to have impacts on mood and relaxation.
Depending on the kind of pain you are experiencing, it may make sense to use a cannabis salve or cream for pain. Topical application is beneficial when you have isolated pain in certain areas of the body. Conversely, if your pain is throughout your body, you may want to have the benefits of the cannabis in the bloodstream. This would require inhalation, digestion, or transdermal methods.
Whichever method of delivery you are considering, start with small amounts. Take a close inventory of how your pain has changed during a week or two before adjusting the amount. It can take some time and experimentation before finding a process that works for you.