Currently, many people in the United States and around the world utilize medical marijuana in one form or another. The most common reason for people using medicinal weed is for pain management, whether for a chronic condition or for post-surgery. But, how does cannabis work in terms of pain management and how effective is it?
There are many methods of delivering marijuana for pain management including smoking and vaping. If you don’t know what vaping is or how it works, it would be useful to consult a resource that educates individuals who may not understand the advantages of vaping as it pertains to medicinal cannabis patients.
For now, let’s take a look at how weed relieves pain, some supporting arguments for its use over opiate drugs, and what strains work the best for pain post-surgery.
How Does It Work?
After an injury, pain occurs due to the body’s response of preventing foreign pathogens from spreading to the rest of the body by using white blood cells. During this process, there is a buildup of fluids and chemicals which cause pain. Surgeries, even minor ones, are considered to be a severe injury which can magnify this response and cause a considerable amount of pain and inflammation; the only way to relieve this pain is by reducing the inflammation at the site.
Now, this is where marijuana comes in.
After you have been injured, the body’s immune system naturally takes on a proinflammatory response by releasing proteins called cytokines. Cannabis actually suppresses the release of these proteins and instead triggers the body into having an anti-inflammatory response instead – relieving your pain.
Post-surgery, patients can experience both acute and chronic pain. Most patients are usually prescribed opiates which are effective at relieving pain immediately after surgery. This occurs because opiate drugs completely block all pain receptors. However, opiates are not as effective at treating chronic pain and instead, cannabis is the preferred method.
To support this, there was a study performed in 2010 that stated that, “…10-50% of patients experience persistent postsurgical pain despite analgesic treatment, and 2-10% of patients develop severe chronic pain (rates depend on the procedure)”.
Putting this theory into action, a 2006 study in Britain was conducted on 65 patients who had recently had surgeries done. They were put into groups and each given a specific dose of a cannabis strain called Cannador. 11 were given 5 mg, 30 got 10 mg, and 24 received 15 mg.
In the 5 mg group, all of the patients required additional opiates. In the 10 mg group, half of them requested opiates while in the 15 mg group, only 25% requested additional painkillers. As a result, researchers proposed that weed is very effective in naturally helping the body relieve pain post-surgery with little side effects, when compared to opiates.
Delivery Methods for Medical Cannabis
There are quite a few ways that patients that can deliver the powerful pain-relieving components of cannabis through smoking, vaping, or dabbing, depending on whether they choose to use dry herb or concentrated THC.
While smoking seems to be a popular method in delivering the good stuff, it would be wise to note the coming up of the vaporizer market and its role in medical cannabis. There is much research already supporting the positive benefits around vaping rather than smoking and this is just as apparent with cannabis.
Using a dry herb vape or a vape pen allows for patients to feel the pain-relieving aspects of medical cannabis much faster and to enjoy a “cleaner” high versus breathing in combusted material from smoking their cannabis. This overall allows for faster pain management.
As well, patients can now take their natural medication on the go due to the vaporizers being small and compact, great for toting around to appointments, errands, and other places of interest. This is especially useful for those who experience pain at the “wrong” time and they can get relief to avoid disruption during daily commutes.
What Strains Work Best?
When considering using medical marijuana for pain relief, it is important to know which strains work best. Indica strains work best for pain relief while sativa strains are better suited for individuals with mental conditions like depression. However, there are some specific sativa strains that work just as effectively.
Some opiates can cause drowsiness during the day, which can make it difficult to get tasks and errands done.
Strains that are best used in the daytime are:
- Sour Diesel
Strains that can be used at night which also aid in sleep and relaxation are:
- Blue Dream
- Death Star
Many people suffer from pain, whether from a chronic condition, an injury, or a surgery. For pain management, opiates are usually prescribed; however, they are only effective on acute pain, can be addictive, and come with a mess of side effects. This is why cannabis is being highly considered for pain management because of its natural ability to relieve pain and minimal side effects.
Several studies have already been established to support this ideal and, however, it is up to the federal government to do their due diligence in creating health reforms that pertain to cannabis’s role in pain management.