As you may guess from the name, ‘phantom’ pain comes from a body part that is no longer there. Phantom limb pain occurs in amputees and is surprisingly common. According to a study by Hanyu-Deumeyer and Scott C. Dulebohn and published by StatPearls, almost 80% of amputees experience phantom pain, while another 67.7% report residual limb pain.
Those with phantom limb pain report that they feel as if the missing limb is still there. Sensations include feelings of warmth, coldness, tingling, and itchiness. It typically occurs within a few days of amputation and tends to impact the part of the limb furthest from the body. For instance, the foot of an amputated leg.
Although experts can’t agree on the precise cause, it is likely to originate in the brain and spinal cord. It is also believed that phantom limb pain is a response to mixed signals provided by the brain. After a limb has been amputated, parts of the brain and spinal cord lose input from the limb, and their adjustment is unpredictable. As a consequence, these actions could trigger a pain message.
How Can Medical Marijuana Help with Phantom Limb Pain?
Proponents of cannabis claim it is an effective method of pain relief for individuals with chronic pain. Once marijuana is ingested, its hundreds of cannabinoids interact with specific receptors. The receptors are opened, and the medication starts to provide relief to patients.
The human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) was only discovered in 1992, but existing research is exciting. The ECS consists of cannabinoids receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are located all over the body. It is claimed that the system provides a connection between body and mind and promotes a state of homeostasis, or balance, in the body. When we have a medical problem, that balance is damaged, but the cannabinoids in marijuana could act with receptors to ensure balance is restored.
As phantom limb pain involves the sensation of pain, even if the limb isn’t there, it is believed that dosing with medical marijuana could help relieve the symptoms of this condition. A study by Abrams et al., published in Neurology in 2007, discovered that medical marijuana reduced patients’ pain by over 30% in just five days. A litany of further studies, such as one by Rahn and Hohmann, published in Neurotherapeutics in October 2009, further validated the 2007 study’s findings.
In this guide, we provide you with a list of five excellent marijuana strains to help take the edge off phantom limb pain.
1 – SAGE (The All-Knowing Marijuana Strain)
Sativa Afghani Genetic Equilibrium, better known as SAGE, is a balanced hybrid. Its THC content ranges from strong at 18% to ultra-potent at 28%. It is one of the most popular medicinal strains on the market, but we can’t recommend it to new users because it is far too powerful.
The effects of this Cannabis Cup winning strain are lightning quick to appear. Even if you are an experienced smoker, you will be amazed by the powerful cerebral high that hits you like a hammer. However, it also does an exceptional job of calming your nerves and ensuring you feel fantastic. You are likely to giggle a bit, but if you consume too much, the psychoactive high could hit psychedelic levels, so tread carefully!
One of the major medicinal benefits of SAGE is that you will feel relief from the phantom limb pain you’re experiencing without succumbing to couch lock. You may be able to manage stress, depression, and anxiety with this strain while keeping a degree of mental clarity. Even so, it is best if you use SAGE in the evening while relaxing and getting ready for bed.
2 – Tora Bora (One of Afghanistan’s Finest Marijuana Strains)
Tora Bora is the name of a system of caves in Afghanistan and is also the name of this unique, almost pure indica (99%) marijuana strain. The origins of the strain trace back to the Hindu Kush region. It is a cross of LA Confidential and Pakistani X18, and the latter strain is a descendant of a classic Afghani Indica and OG LA Affie. Although there is a CBD version, the main Tora Bora strain has a THC level of up to 22%.
If you have phantom limb pain, you will adore the indica qualities offered by Tora Bora. First, it provides an uplifting cerebral sensation but soon, the intense body high kicks in, and boy do you feel it from your neck to your toes! Take it before bed and you should have no problem sleeping.
As you might expect, Tora Bora is a medical favorite for those who are in desperate need of sleep; this includes individuals with phantom pain who are being kept awake at night. It is also said to relieve the symptoms of muscle spasms and chronic pain. You will probably be asleep before its full effects leave your body!
3 – Brand X (The Marijuana Strain with Not So Secret Effects)
Although this strain sometimes goes by the name ‘Ostipow,’ it is better known as Brand X. The most mysterious aspect of this strain is its origins. There is a suggestion that this strongly indica-dominant (90%) hybrid is a cross of four strains: Hash Plant, the original Ostipow Indica, Northern Lights #5, and Afghani #1.
With a THC content of up to 28% and little or no CBD to counteract the high, Brand X is an exceptionally strong strain that is best reserved for experienced users. You will immediately benefit from a mental high. Users report seeing visual distortions and you may also find that colors become more vivid.
Within a few minutes, the indica takes over with a vengeance, and the body high ensures you end up on the couch or the bed. Brand X has sedative qualities that should prevent you from feeling discomfort from your phantom limb pain. It is also used to treat stress, depression, ADD, and PTSD. As there is little chance of you fighting off the sedative effects, Brand X is also manna from heaven for insomniacs.
4 – Barbara Bud (The Aesthetically Stunning Marijuana Strain)
There are few strains on the market as visually pleasing as Barbara Bud. Covered in rich crystals and delightful purple coloring, it is a strain you could gaze at forever if only it didn’t provide you with such excellent medical properties! It is a cross between the Afghani Indica and the Shishkaberry cannabis strain. The result is a heavily indica-dominant (80%) hybrid with a reasonable THC level of up to 19%.
Users of Barbara Bud are attracted to the cerebral high which is rapidly followed by a burst of energy. At this stage, you should have a clear mind which enables you to focus on your daily tasks. Eventually, the effects make their way to the body, and before you know what’s hit you, it is time for a lie down!
Although it is not a knockout strain, Barbara Bud will get the job done if you need full body relaxation. Don’t be fooled by the initial energy buzz; this is an evening strain because it helps sedate you over time. You can expect to feel sleepy after a couple of hours, and if you need a painkilling marijuana strain that doesn’t send you into orbit, Barbara Bud could be the right choice.
5 – Loud Dream (The Good Times Marijuana Strain)
Unlike the other marijuana strains on the list, Loud Dream is not liable to send you into dreamland, nor will it hit you with an intense cerebral high. Instead, it rewards users with a mild mental buzz followed by a sense of euphoria. At this point, your mood should be elevated and you will feel focused, energized, and motivated.
An ideal daytime strain, Loud Dream is the result of Loud Seeds backcrossing the F1 phenotype of Blueberry to itself. With a THC content of up to 16%, it is still a strain to be respected, but newcomers can certainly use it. It is a slightly indica-dominant (60%) strain offering noticeable effects that are never likely to overpower you.
Oddly enough, Loud Dream has been praised in medicinal circles for its ability to provide relief to individuals with high eye pressure. It is also widely used by those who want to combat stress during the day, and at work. If you have phantom limb pain, you can use Loud Dream to alleviate chronic pain, although it is best if your pain level is moderate.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana & Phantom Limb Pain
For patients with phantom limb pain, finding the right treatment is a major challenge. It will almost certainly take trial and error, with no guarantee of success. It is normal for physicians to begin with conventional pain-killing medication, but this can include addictive and potentially harmful opiates. Rather than placing your health at risk, ask your physician if it is possible to be prescribed medical marijuana to see if it can succeed where traditional painkillers often fail.