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Chronic Pain and Marijuana

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Medical marijuna is becoming increasingly popular at the moment, and for good reason. Though studies on the topic are few and far between, it is commonly seen that marijuana consumption can help people suffering from  chronic pain. This is especially true for people who suffer from chronic pain as a result of severely damaged nerve endings, which can also be prone to painful or potentially even debilitating inflammation.

Chronic Pain on the Rise

Though a lot of people might try to struggle on in silence, a huge number of people in society are actually living with chronic pain in some form or another. In fact, it is said that chronic pain is actually the single most common cause of long term disability for United States residents. Furthermore, chronic pain is also more common and affects more people than many other chronic diseases faced by people in the developed world, the most common of which include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Is Marijuna Helpful for Chronic Pain

More and more people are turning to medical marijuana to find relief from their suffering. As part of this, medical marijuana can also be useful for treating conditions such as chronic pain—however, the hard evidence to prove this is somewhat limited.

But why is there so little evidence? In short, getting a permit from the government to conduct research on a Schedule I drug such as cannabis and marijuana is incredibly difficult. A schedule I drug is categorized as being a drug which, according to drugs.com, “has a high potential for abuse”, “has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S” and which “has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”. Clearly, then—based on the predefined factors—there should be very little reason for researchers to need to conduct research into the nature of the drug, and so, permits are not handed out readily by the government. This difficulty, and the stigma attached to medical marjuana use still, has largely prevented researchers from taking on the task of looking into medical marijuana and its uses for chronic pain and other such conditions.

So, is medical marijuana helpful for chronic pain? Well, in theory at least and based on the current evidence and testimonies that are available—yes, it could be. However, it is important to consider the difference between the many strains of cannabis, because not all marijuana is likely to be effective for controlling chronic pain. The best strains are, therefore, laid out below.

Strains that Help with Chronic Pain

“There are a huge number of different cannabis strains, however, these all trace back to three different heritages: Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and hybrids created by crossbreeding between Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa strains of plants. However, not all cannabis strains will necessarily have the same effect on chronic pain,”says Nathan Jackson,a marijuana activist at Vela Community.

The currently available research seems to suggest that Cannabis indica is likely to be the most successful strain for treating chronic pain and other such debilitating conditions. This is largely based on the findings from an online survey which was carried out in 2014, which had 95 participants and was later published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The survey further found that sativa strains were more likely to be beneficial for improving energy levels and mood, as opposed to helping with pain and sedation. By this logic, it can thus be assumed that hybrid strains may also be effective for helping to reduce chronic pain, but not quite to the same degree.

Unfortunately, this study was far from perfect. As well as only being a small scale study—which naturally limits the reliability of the data gathered as a result—the study also required participants to report on their results based on their own experiences; this means that not every response may have been entirely true. Moreover, the participants’ experience with marijuana for chronic pain was not one which was experienced in a controlled setting, and this also means that other factors may have been relevant to the findings and the dosage for each individual will likely have differed also.

What is it in Marijuana that Helps?

Marijuana is an incredibly powerful drug, however, there are a few certain chemical compounds which could be especially useful for controlling pain. These two substances are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

Even those who have not directly been involved with cannabis and marijuana will likely have heard of CBD supplements, due to the rapidly growing market for these products. Both THC and CBD interfere with the pain receptors in the brain, therefore helping to mask the debilitating effects of chronic pain when used in a responsible manner.

In Summary

Chronic pain can be debilitating, however, marijuana may help to treat the symptoms. THC or CBD supplementation in the diet may also be beneficial.