For a majority of medical marijuana patients and thousands, if not millions, of recreational weed users, cannabis is beloved for its pain-relieving abilities. From minor muscle and headaches to unmanageable chronic pain, people have turned to marijuana for pain medicine for centuries.
Can marijuana help chronic pain? If so, how does marijuana help pain? In this article, we'll break down the benefits of medical marijuana for pain, the scientific research behind consuming weed for pain relief, sort out what kind of cannabinoids and terpenes make the best combinations for certain types of pain, and finally, give you a rundown of our five favorite strains to combat soreness, aches and general suffering.
If you're thinking of using cannabis to combat your acute injuries or weed for chronic pain, the first thing you should do is consult a doctor. For many people suffering from pain issues, pharmaceutical treatment options like opioid painkillers present a risk of too many side effects and life-altering addiction potential. In those cases, using cannabis for pain has proven to be an effective natural medication with far fewer side effects or risks. When someone uses marijuana as a pain killer, researchers have broken the effects down into two main types of pain; neuropathic and nociceptive.
Neuropathic pain is damage to the body's nervous system. Because this pain is not tied to inflammation or targeted injury, it is often more difficult to relieve. With cannabis, THC targets neuropathic injuries by activating CB1 cannabinoid receptors that weaken pain signals to the brain. CBD, on the other hand, has shown an ability to activate serotonin receptors that preemptively block nerve pain from reaching the brain. Just like when THC gets you high, though, using too much THC will build a tolerance in your body, leading many researchers to recommend a balance of THC and CBD for long-term pain treatment.
Nociceptive pain, or localized physical injury, covers everything from sports injuries to stubbed toes and any other ailment that you can track to a specific part of your body. In those cases, the anti-inflammatory properties of both THC and CBD combine to reduce swelling and promote faster recovery. Not to mention, the high caused by THC has a wonderful ability to relax and distract the mind from minor injuries.
There are so many strains on the market these days that it can be hard to know what kind of weed will be best to help with your pain. Like most natural medications, cannabis works best in its full-spectrum, organic form with a combination of THC, CBD, minor cannabinoids and terpenes working together to trigger your endocannabinoid receptors and quell your pain.
As we mentioned earlier, your body will slowly build a tolerance to THC after frequent use, meaning you will likely have to consume more cannabis or balance out your THC with CBD to make sure that lower doses are more effective for a longer time.
An incredibly popular indica-dominant hybrid, many love Gelato for its high THC percentages and calming high. This Sunset Sherbet and Thin Mint Cookies cross is high in caryophyllene and pinene, which combine with THC contents as high as 30% to ease immediate pain and produce a lasting feeling of relaxation and euphoria. Gelato flooded the legal weed market over the past two years but for good reason. So if you're an experienced smoker looking for some relief from headaches or marijuana for back pain, Gelato is easy to find and a trusted helper.
Animal Cookies is a hybrid strain that many stoners know well for its ability to knock out intense pain. This cross of Girl Scout Cookies and Fire OG has THC content that pushes into the high 20 percentile and is packed with terpenes like myrcene, caryophyllene and limonene. Just like Gelato, Animal Cookies is low on CBD, but if you're using a combination of CBD topicals or tinctures alongside flower, the heavy-duty hybrid is a great choice to combat persistent issues or pain-fueled insomnia.
If you need a sativa strain that will kill your pain without dragging down your day or getting you too high, Harlequin is the strain for you. The uplifting bud typically tests at a 3:1 CBD to THC ratio, combined with a healthy dose of pinene, myrcene and caryophyllene terpenes. Harlequin is energizing and euphoric, with the entourage effect of cannabinoids and terps working overtime to reduce pain. Because it doesn't have intense psychoactive effects, Harlequin is ideal for all-day treatment.
Grape Stomper, aka Sour Grapes, is a strong, fruity sativa-dominant hybrid that will ease your pain after just a few hits. A cross of Sour Diesel and Chemdawg, Grape Stomper offers an even high, encompassing the clear-headed, pain-free high of the best sativa strains without the anxiety or negative side effects often associated with other daytime-friendly strains. Grape Stomper is a go-to strain for frequent smokers who need an all-day pain-reliever that carries psychoactive effects and no semblance of couch lock.
CBD and THC work in tandem to combat long-term pain, and if you can't seem to find the answer for your chronic issues, it's probably time to try Cannatonic. The CBD-dominant indica hybrid typically tests with a 2:1 CBD to THC ratio, clocking in at about 10% CBD and 5% THC. Terpenes like myrcene and pinene help relaxation while the CBD and THC combine to ease pain without heavy intoxication or a tolerance bump. Even if you don't want to get stoned, Cannatonic will make you feel high from marijuana pain relief.
Do you have a favorite strain to smoke for pain relief? Let us know about your favorite varieties in the comments below!