While many use marijuana recreationally, the expansion of marijuana for pain treatment has been the driving force behind the movement toward legalization. According to a Washington Post article, in 2013, over 75% of physicians already approved of the use of medical marijuana. As it gains more pervasive approval in the medical community, people are wondering how it is that weed can used as a balm for certain medical issues.
The reason is pure science. The marijuana plant contains compounds that affect the nervous system and brain in a similar way to other regulated prescription drugs. However, unlike opiate-based pharmaceuticals, weed has not been linked to addiction.
It has, however, been medically proven effective as a pain suppressant as well as for treatment for glaucoma and stress relief for those suffering from illness like AIDS or cancer. It has been linked to lower diabetes rates and is cited as combating the opioid crisis.
Why marijuana works for pain relief
The chemical components of marijuana that relate to pain relief are what are known as cannabinoids. These reside in the flower of the cannabis plant with the most well known being THC and CBD.
THC and CBD have been shown to relieve a number of different pain symptoms by mimicking naturally occuring chemicals in the body known as endocannabinoids. When ingested these bind to different receptors. For example, THC targets the brain while CBD binds with receptors found throughout the anatomy.
Different strains of cannabis have different effects for pain sufferers and the number of varieties can be overwhelming. Marijuana Doctors put together a pretty comprehensive marijuana for pain beginner's guide outlining some classic strains of cannabis and how these should be applied to particular pain symptoms. See the infographic below for a quick reference that you can bring to a dispensary when looking for what is right for you.
So, should you consider using marijuana for pain?
There is no reason to suffer from pain or use addictive opioids when the more natural strains of cannabis can do the same job. Research what strain is right for you and feel better fast.