Chronic Pain and Cannabis

 We have all experienced pain of some sort in the past but what distinguishes chronic pain as being chronic? Pain becomes chronic when it lasts for more than twelve weeks, but often affects those who suffer for years and even life. Medical cannabis can help put an end to that.

 Chronic Pain and Current Treatment Options

Due to its effect on a person’s life and the difficulty in treating it, chronic pain can if often classified as a disease. But, many other conditions, such as cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis present with chronic pain as a significant side effect.

Chronic pain can be tricky to treat because of its different causes. This implies that chronic pain treatment can vary person-to-person who are given different kinds of pharmaceuticals. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs such as aspirin are used to treat local pain by minimizing inflammation. They can be used daily for long periods of time to help manage symptoms of conditions such as arthritis where the pain because of swelling or soreness. Other drugs frequently prescribed for chronic pain are known as opioids. The six most commonly misused opioids are oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, morphine, and fentanyl. America is facing an unprecedented opioid crisis because of overprescribing and abuse of medications. The over-prescription of opioids leads to dependency in the body where the user becomes desensitized to the effects and needs a higher dosage. These drugs are detrimental to the liver, kidneys and other parts of the body as well as produce many different, unwanted side effects.

New studies point to Medical Marijuana as a breakthrough in pain management. Though, according to studies, only 25% of doctors are entirely aware of all the new research showing how effective Medical Marijuana can be at dealing with pain.

What to Look for

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most studied cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. They both interact with the endocannabinoid system but can produce different natural effects, which is where we see the most benefits. Though CBD is known as providing stronger pain and inflammation relief, it is recommended to find a strain with high concentrations of CBD as well as THC to produce what is known as the “entourage” effect in the body.

 Like THC and CBD, terpenes are also found in cannabis and are also responsible for the effects we feel and the medical benefits different strains carry. Terpenes are like the essential oils of the cannabis plant. They are aromatic oils found in cannabis as well as other plants. The scent that is released by the bud depends on the terpenes present and these, in turn, affect the medicinal benefits and physical effects of the plant. Certain terpenes like Alpha Pinene (which produces a piney smell), Linalool (produces a floral scent) and Caryophyllene (produces a spicy, woody fragrance); are known to help minimize pain. Patients should look for strains with high amounts of these terpenes as they are shown to be stronger when combatting chronic pain.

Top Strains for Pain Relief

According to surveys conducted by Leafly, the strains found to be most effective in treating chronic pain are:

  1. Cannatonic- Cannatonic is a super high CBD strain, which helps ease pain due to inflammation. Linalool is a key terpene in its makeup and helps to provide extra pain relief while also being relaxing enough to be used at nighttime.
  2. Blackberry Kush- This strain has a very high concentration of THC, and most of the newer high CBD strains are hard to find. Along with a super high amount of THC, Blackberry Kush contains Linalool, Caryophyllene, and Alpha Pinene as its strongest terpenes intensifying the pain relief felt by patients using this strain.
  3. Granddaddy Purple- Granddaddy Purple (also known as GDP) is very popular when helping treat pain and anxiety disorders because of its high THC content. This strain is very relaxing and suitable for nighttime use because of its sedative properties. Linalool and Alpha Pinene add to the relaxing, pain relief felt by GDP users.
  4. ACDC- ACDC is known as a very high CBD strain with minimal traces of THC. It is extremely popular amongst users who want strong pain relief without feeling the “high” that associated with high THC contents. Alpha-Pinene in ACDC also adds to the strains pain-relieving powers.
  5. Harlequin- Harlequin is a strain that generally contains CBD: THC levels of 5:2 making it excruciatingly useful in the treatment of both chronic pain and anxiety disorders.

Check your state’s laws and the VA website regarding the use of medical marijuana for veterans and make sure to consult with a qualified physician before making any decisions about self-medicating.

As part of the veteran’s community, we here at the Veterans Cannabis Operations (VCO) can and look forward to answering any questions you may have about the medical use of cannabis for veterans. We can work with you to possibly provide financial assistance to veterans and their family members.

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