THC, or any kind of medical cannabis for that matter, isn’t just for things like chronic anxiety, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. While it has certainly proven to be a viable treatment option for those conditions (and many more), it can also be a super practical tool for the general population and for day to day relief from things like dental pain, general muscle aches, menstrual cramps, and even mental fatigue.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the lesser-known and lesser talked about uses of THC – those that might not be at the forefront of contemporary marijuana research, but that are entirely practical and relevant nonetheless.
THC for General Day to Day Treatment: How practical is it?
Millions of people wake up every single day of their lives with some kind of nagging little health issue – “general inconsistencies” to their overall well-being, if you will. These don’t have to be chronic, disease-initiated, or even debilitating issues; anything from an annoying toothache to a painful pre-menstrual cramp would suffice. Maybe you slept on the wrong side of the bed and woke up with a horrible kink in your neck. Or maybe you’ve got a molar that’s been killing you for weeks and you’re doing everything you can to avoid going to the dentist. Or, maybe you’re just feeling lethargic, apathetic, or “mentally unengaged” – like you can’t grasp hold of the necessary things you need to in order to get through the day.
Whatever the case may be, we tend to respond to all these sorts of “little” things with a barrage of standard, conventional treatments: an Aleve for the sore neck; a couple of ibuprofen tablets for the menstrual cramps; a cup of coffee or maybe an energy drink for the lethargy/mental fatigue.
But what about THC? Why does it seem to always get overlooked for the little, day to day stuff?
We all know that marijuana is a fantastic and medically-viable treatment option for chronic pain stemming from cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or any other pain-inducing, debilitating condition. But do we know why it’s a great treatment option for these kinds of conditions? What makes it functional and effective for chemotherapy-induced muscular pain, for example, and not for a general headache?
Whole-Body Homeostasis and Day to Day Pain Management
Suppose there are two people: one of them is suffering from painful rheumatoid arthritis (RA) joint inflammation, and the other from a severe onset migraine. The RA victim takes a 5 mg pill of hydrocodone (an opioid painkiller), while the migraine sufferer takes three ibuprofen tablets to relieve his severe headache.
In the case of the RA sufferer, the hydrocodone acts by blocking the pain transmission in the brain; it does nothing to actually reduce inflammation in his joints. The ibuprofen, on the other hand, works by inhibiting the formation of prostaglandin at the site of inflammation; while it actually does physically reduce the inflamed tissue responsible for the migraine pain, it also inhibits protective prostaglandins in the digestive system and kidneys, which over time can cause serious health risks (such as stomach bleeding and kidney damage).
Now, let’s say both of those same people treat their respective conditions with THC.
In the case of the rheumatoid arthritis victim, the active cannabinoid will travel to T-cells at the specific site of joint inflammation, where it will link up with naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors in the synovium (the tissue layer responsible for causing arthritis pain) and physically reduce the inflamed tissue1.
Likewise, in the case of the migraine sufferer, the THC will travel to the localized site of pain and initiate a pain modulating response2, without affecting or disturbing any other areas of the body.
We emphasize this hypothetical scenario because, as it turns out, cannabis is inherently different from other conventional pain medications in one simple, crucially fundamental way: it acts on a whole body homeostasis system, rather than pinpointing particular chemical mechanisms in one specific area of the body.
By “whole body homeostasis”, we’re referring to THC’s physiological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. We won’t go into much depth here in this article about what exactly the ECS is, but briefly put it’s a system of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that exist 100% naturally in the body, and that work to regulate everything from pain to memory to appetite to emotional response.
These naturally-occurring cannabinoids and their receptors have been found in every cell and tissue type in the human body, from the T-cells that initiate immune response to pancreatic cells that produce insulin for blood glucose regulation.
In fact, Dr. Dustin Sulak, one of the leading physicians in whole-body cannabis use, has described the endocannabinoid system as “perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health,” due to the role it plays in maintaining homeostasis, which is the body’s ability to maintain stable internal conditions despite “fluctuations in the external environment.”
Thus, with a network of homeostasis-regulating cannabinoid receptors thriving in nearly every nook and cranny of our bodies, it makes perfect sense that THC would act as a fundamentally appropriate treatment for all kinds of general, day to day health issues and complications.
THC as a Day to Day Treatment
That being said, there are several “day to day” type conditions wherein cannabis has proven especially effective as a treatment option, even though you might not have heard so much about them.
THC for Menstrual Cramps
Yep, marijuana has been thought to be incredibly effective for the painful and supremely uncomfortable monthly arrival of pre-menstrual cramps. While ibuprofen and other menstrual-specific treatments are effective as well, nothing is better than a 100% natural remedy.
THC for Toothache / General Dental Pain
Remember when we were talking about how the endocannabinoid system has been found to exist in virtually every cell type in the human body? Well the mouth is no exclusion, and THC has been known to provide excellent relief for toothaches and general dental pain. Vaping, topicals, and oils (placing a few drops of cannabis liquid extract on the site of discomfort) are methods that’ve shown to work well.
THC for Muscle Soreness / Stiffness / Cramps
This one is pretty obvious, but THC and CBD topicals are a great option in which to treat acute (temporary) and localized muscle pain and soreness, giving you yet another opportunity to ditch the over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and Aleve.
THC for Acute Inflammation
This one kind of goes right along with acute muscle pain, but here we’re referring more to acute conditions stemming from cuts, burns, rashes, wounds, or any other kind of localized injury. In these cases, cannabis topicals are again the preferred method of treatment to minimize pain and inflammation.
THC for Lack of appetite / General upset stomach
Again, this one has been well-documented with regard to treating chemotherapy patients (and other immunosuppressed patients with decreased appetite), but THC in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc) is a great way to relieve general upset stomach and spark the appetite needed for proper nourishment.
Energy / Fatigue / Mental Focus
Now here’s one that you likely haven’t heard much about. General fatigue, apathy, and lack of focus are super common day to day conditions that all too often manage to rob us of our productivity in the workplace, at school, around the house, or wherever. Sativa-heavy strains like cinex have been known to promote overall mental energy and focus for the fatigued, “apathetic” mind, while indica dominant strains like Tru OG provide a more sedative kind of focus, and are recommended in cases where a million overwhelming thoughts are rushing around in your head and keeping you from focusing on a single task at hand.
Whatever the case is, or whatever that nagging little thing is that’s keeping you from feeling your best or achieving your best on any given day, perhaps think about THC as a treatment option, rather than reaching straight for the medicine cabinet, the ibuprofen bottle, the coffeepot, or the RedBull refrigerator down at the local convenience store. Whether you vape it, smoke it, eat it, drink it (oils/tinctures), or rub it on your skin, you just might end up being surprised at the seemingly endless amount of things it will help alleviate.