Cannabis has been a natural way of combating pain for hundreds of years. Over the past few decades as the plant has become better understood around the world, though, we are seeing more cannabis products and methods of consumption arise.
Chronic pain is a huge problem across the U.S. with a reported 25.3 million Americans suffering from pain on a daily basis. With this in mind, it is no wonder that more and more patients are now turning to marijuana as a safer and more natural alternative to the traditional treatments.
In this article, we are going to take a look at the best ways you can treat pain with cannabis. From edibles to patches, here are some of the preferred methods when it comes to treating pain with our favorite flower!
How do we Define Pain?
Before we delve into the details, it is always good to start off with the basics. ‘Pain’ can be applied to a whole host of conditions and situations, from long-term pain (chronic) to pain as a result of injury (acute). Cannabis is a proven analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-inflammatory compound, which makes it ideal for the treatment of pain symptoms. Not only does the herb work wonders for existing pain, but its properties also make it great for actively preventing pain right from the onset.
The list of conditions cannabis can be helpful in treating is pretty extensive, and as pain is a common symptom that so many conditions share, it seems only natural that we should look to the plant for treatment.
Current Traditional Pain Treatment
The main reason for the increase in interest towards cannabis as a treatment for pain is the recent opioid problem that has become such an issue across America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the country is currently going through an epidemic in which record numbers of people are abusing and overdosing on some of the most popular pain medications. Statistics have shown, for example, that around 29% of patients who are prescribed pain medication end up misusing them.
So, with many states altering their legal standpoint when it comes to the herb (as a result of these recent findings), we are seeing a rise in alternative consumption methods. For the health-conscious, smoking cannabis is fairly unappealing – especially if the presenting condition affects the lungs or breathing. But with so many alternative options out there, where do we begin?
Smoking Cannabis for Pain Relief
While smoking cannabis may be the most well-known and traditional way of consumption, it is fast becoming outdated as new and exciting products hit the shelves. While these innovative products boast a healthier alternative to the standard joint, though, we all know that sometimes there is nothing quite like a joint after a long, arduous day at work.
However, whether it be down to health, age, or other reasons, for many users smoking is simply not a suitable option. Here are a few things to consider about smoking marijuana for pain relief:
PROS: Smoking cannabis is fairly easy to accurately dose, and the effects kick in pretty quickly.
CONS: While studies are conflicting, smoking cannabis could have a negative impact on the lungs. As well as this, many patients do not prefer the smell of cannabis smoke.
Vaporizers: Vaping for Pain Relief
The next best thing for those who love the feeling of smoking, but want to avoid the potential risks associated with it, is vaping. Vaping has no doubt been one of the biggest things to come out of the industry in recent years, and by using heating mechanisms to extract the active ingredients from the cannabis (and converting it to vapor), you can get medicated quickly and easily.
Whether you want a discreet vaporizer that you can carry around in your pocket (and use as needed), or you prefer a larger, full-size unit that you can use at home, there is something on the market for everyone.
PROS: Vaping is a (potentially) healthier alternative for patients that don’t like the heavy scent of marijuana smoke, and it’s also discreet enough for public use.
CONS: It’s not as affordable as traditional smoking, and it requires recharging which can be less convenient for some users.
Edibles: Eating for Pain Relief
Back in the day, those looking for a decent edible would be restricted to funny-tasting pot brownies. Now, though, you can pretty much indulge in cannabis-infused everything! From cakes to fine dining, there are so many alternatives to try. And what’s even better is that the effects last much longer when consumed, as opposed to smoking or vaping. For those on the lookout for a healthy and long-lasting pain relief, you really might want to consider trying cannabis edibles.
PROS: Affects last longer, the tastes are varied and delicious, and the potency is potentially much stronger (depending on the level of THC), which makes it ideal for the treatment of pain.
CONS: Takes much longer for the effects to kick in compared to more traditional methods, and can be difficult to dose.
Oils: CBD or THC Oils
Typically, CBD oils are one of the most popular cannabis products out there and are used by both young and old people alike for the treatment of a host of conditions, one of which is chronic pain. Cannabidiol is full of potent properties, but it will not get you high which makes it an ideal choice for medical patients.
CBD oil has been traditionally used to treat various types of pain, and from arthritis and MS to chemotherapy and muscle soreness, the analgesic abilities of this product are far-reaching.
PROS: Easy to use, doesn’t leave you feeling high, and can be easily dosed for accurate intake. Very limited negative side effects.
CONS: In some users frequent CBD use can lead to tiredness, diarrhea, and a change in weight.
Topicals: Creams and Balms
Topicals are the perfect option for those suffering from joint and back pain, and it provides an alternative to those who may not be ready to try consuming cannabis orally. These days there are some revolutionary products on the market from creams to balms, all of which work by absorbing through the skin and providing localized relief to the affected area.
Also, like CBD oil topicals won’t leave you feeling high, which makes them a great option for senior citizens and/or for those people who are new to the cannabis industry.
PROS: Non-intoxicating and great for skin issues (including eczema and psoriasis), as well as targeting localized pain from arthritis.
CONS: Cannot be used to treat many conditions that oral cannabis has been shown to help with, such as PTSD, cancer and epilepsy.
Final Thoughts on How to Use Cannabis For Pain Relief
Choosing the right method and cannabis product for you is an extremely personal choice, and what works for one person may very well be entirely ineffective for another. It is for this reason that so many new and innovative products continue to be brought to the market to cater for all consumers.
Whether you prefer to smoke a joint or want something a little bit more low-key, this guide will provide you with a starting point on your pain-relieving cannabis journey.