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Does Weed Help with Chronic Pain?

woman with chronic painChronic pain affects millions of people across the country. In addition to the physical discomfort and psychological stress it can cause, pain can limit people’s ability to work, sleep, carry out household tasks, and perform the daily activities they enjoy. Pain can greatly affect one’s quality of life. While a high proportion of people take traditional prescription and over-the-counter medications for their pain, many Americans who worry about potentially dangerous side effects are seeking more natural ways of management. 

The desire for natural pain management and concerns around the side effects of prescriptions are two significant reasons why so many people are turning to cannabis to relieve their chronic pain. You may have heard your friends, family members, or other anecdotal sources say that marijuana has helped them soothe their symptoms, but is it really true? Does weed help with chronic pain? This blog post will unlock the truth about cannabis in regards to chronic pain.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Most medical sources define chronic pain as pain that lasts for three or more months. This can include pain from:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Skeletal muscles
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Digestive issues, such as IBS

Depending on its source, chronic pain manifests differently for different people. For some, it can be a dull ache localized in one part of the body. Others may experience a sharp sensation that radiates to other areas. 

Furthermore, some people know precisely what the source of their pain is, such as a herniated disc. Some, including fibromyalgia patients, have pain without any identifiable or treatable cause. Regardless, when persistent pain impedes your ability to live your life, you might start to feel desperate for a way to manage your symptoms.

How Is Chronic Pain Traditionally Treated?

Most medical professionals will begin by attempting to treat the source of the pain. If a doctor can identify what is causing the unpleasant feeling in a person’s body, there may be ways of eliminating the pain by removing that cause. Interventions may include surgical and non-surgical options. 

Because surgery is invasive, doctors may attempt to address the causes of pain with non-surgical methods, such as:

  • Bodywork like massage
  • Physiotherapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Prescription medications

What Are the Side Effects of Traditional Treatments?

brain fog from chronic painAlmost all medications, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, carry some side effects. However, some of the most serious side effects in pain relief treatments are linked to the use of opioids. In addition to the high risk for potential overdose, the potential side effects of opioids include but are not limited to:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Brain fog
  • Addiction

In a recent year, one year alone, opioids were involved in over 90,000 overdose deaths in the United States. This number has been on the rise for the last two decades. With such alarming statistics, it’s no wonder why so many people are seeking alternative, more natural, and safer ways of managing their chronic pain.

Does Cannabis Work for Chronic Pain?

cannabis to treat chronic painMany recent studies have demonstrated that weed can be an effective remedy for chronic pain for many patients. One paper argues that cannabis can treat chronic pain with relatively few adverse side effects. This is one reason why even high-level professional athletes have increasingly turned to cannabis to manage their pain. In further encouraging news, another study provides evidence that using cannabinoids helps patients feel relief from their pain and reduces their use of opioids

These benefits are just a few reasons why many states allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who suffer from chronic pain, including:

  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Arthritic pain
  • Cancer pain

Cannabinoids for Pain Relief

The marijuana plant contains two primary cannabinoids: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). 

cannabis tincture for painTHC is the substance in cannabis that makes you feel high. However, it also has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It works by acting directly with your body’s endocannabinoid receptors. THC also affects your nerve cells’ ability to communicate with each other, making it particularly helpful for treating neuropathic pain. 

CBD does not have the same psychoactive properties as THC, furthermore, it has the ability to counteract THC’s cerebral effects. However, CBD does have an analgesic effect. It affects your endocannabinoid receptors indirectly. Because it does not get you high, there are many folks who try treating their pain with CBD first and some who prefer it over THC. 

It is a growing opinion that the most effective way of using cannabis to manage pain is to treat it with both THC and CBD together, in conjunction with terpenes. Known as the “entourage effect,” people who subscribe to this theory believe that the combined efficacy of the two cannabinoids with terpenes is greater than the sum of their parts.

What Are the Side Effects of Cannabinoids for Chronic Pain Relief?

As with all treatments, medical marijuana can have side effects. However, some people will experience these to a greater degree than others. Side effects may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Light-headedness 
  • Sedation 

The side effects of CBD tend to be far less pronounced than those of THC. As such, CBD may be a better option for young people whose brains are still developing. Furthermore, if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery, CBD may give you the relief you need without impairing your functional abilities.

If you are taking any medications, you should always speak to your doctor to rule out any drug interactions before beginning a cannabinoid pain relief regimen.

How Do I Use Weed to Manage Chronic Pain?

There are many effective ways of using cannabinoids to address your chronic pain, including:

We suggest reading our article about the safety of edibles versus smoking and vaping in order to make the best and informed decision about how you choose to partake.

Depending on the source and nature of your pain, your medical professional may recommend a specific means of delivery. For example, edibles and topicals tend to be healthier than smoking, which can potentially damage your respiratory and oral health over time. Furthermore, these methods are far less conspicuous.

cannabis topicalWhen it comes to store-bought cannabis products for pain, the challenge many people face is that they do not know how much THC or CBD their products might contain. Consistency can be hard to find. The market is still largely unregulated, so you might not feel you can trust what is in the edibles or topical creams you find in stores or online. 

One answer to this problem is to make your own recipes at home using a countertop infusion machine, such as LĒVO. LĒVO’s line of home infusion machines are designed to take the guesswork out of the home-edible process. You can set the machine to the appropriate time and temperature (with LĒVO’s guidance of course) and forget it. While LĖVO does all the work, you can get back to the things, work and people you love. Come back LĒVO when your infusion is complete and ready for use. It’s really that simple. As a bonus, the machines are cost-effective, and allow you to create homemade edibles, topicals, and even bath bombs! You’ll always know precisely what you are taking in and you can customize your recipes to suit your pain management needs.

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