People realized the pain-relieving effects of medical marijuana. It has been used to treat painful conditions from headaches to joint pain.
As such, more states are joining the bandwagon to legalize marijuana for its therapeutic effect. Canada legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use.
The federal government recognizes marijuana as a Schedule I substance however recent developments points to a bright spot for medical marijuana to reach its full potential.
What is Pain?
Pain is any uncomfortable sensation caused by tissue damage felt by the body. When there is pain the special nerves known as nociceptor transmit information through the spinal cord to the brain. It is up to the brain to choose what to do about the discomfort.
The agony can be steady, start and end regularly, or just happens under certain conditions. The impression is throbbing, stinging or sore.
For instance, you came in contact with a hot surface, the spinal cord will receive a message from the reflex arc and cause tightening of the muscles. The reaction will be to pull your hand away from the hot surface. It happens so quickly the message doesn’t reach the brain simultaneously.
Once the message is received by the brain an unpleasant feeling will be sensed. The brain will interpret these signals and dictate how people feel pain. It can release dopamine, a feel-good chemical to address the pain.
The reaction of people to pain varies, some have a high resistance while others have a low threshold.
How Does Medical Marijuana Help to Relieve Pain?
Pain comes in three different flavors:
- Neuropathic pain is caused by damage or disease to the body’s nervous system such as nerve trauma, cancer pain, and carpal tunnel.
- Nociceptive or acute pain resulting from an injury or tissue damage such as chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, and alcoholism.
- Central pain arises from the damage or dysfunction of the central nervous system such as epilepsy, stroke, and tumors.
Studies were scarce on medical marijuana and pain since it was considered a Schedule I substance. Researchers focused on CBD and THC because they believe the two cannabinoids work well together.
There were analyses assessing the quality of information of cannabis and pain but with contradictory conclusions.
A review by the Department of Veteran Affairs found low-quality proof that cannabis formulations with exactly outlined THC-CBD content may ease neuropathic pain but lacks proof with the different types of pain.
A report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) concluded that there was substantial evidence that medical marijuana is successful in curing chronic pain; multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms and stiffness; and nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy.
However, the future is bright for medical marijuana with recent developments.
- DEA is rescheduling CBD from Schedule I to Schedule III.
- FDA’s approval of Epidolex, a CBD medication for treating rare forms of epilepsy in children.
- Approval of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine approved by many countries for treating neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms and stiffness, and severe pain from advanced cancer is currently in clinical trials in the US.
How to use medical marijuana for pain?
Living with pain is challenging, especially if the traditional medicines don’t work. Fortunately, there is an alternative for patients – medical marijuana. Although this is legal in some states it is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug and a prohibited substance. Users should be wary of certain conditions before gaining access to the medicine.
Recognize your ailment
Although 33 states recognize medical marijuana there are conditions to qualify as a valid medical marijuana patient. Know your ailment before enrolling to determine if your medical condition is recognized by your state.
Talk to a marijuana doctor
If you qualify for cannabis treatment talk to a marijuana doctor and ask for a recommendation that is recognized by your state. Since this is a schedule I drug doctors don’t give prescriptions they provide recommendations for usage. They will provide the ratio of THC and CBD for your marijuana products, dosage, and the way of administration. You can also ask if you can grow your own weed.
A dispensary will require a physician’s endorsement before you can purchase the substance.
Get a medical marijuana card
You can use the physician’s recommendation to apply for a medical marijuana card and also to be a registered medical marijuana user in your state.
A medical marijuana card will avoid unnecessary hassle from law enforcement, entitle you to promo offers from the dispensary, and use home delivery service. You can get products that regular users cannot.
Medical marijuana has many forms
When you show your physician’s recommendation, the staff in the dispensary will help you get the best choice for your desired results. Medical marijuana can be taken in a number of ways such as smoking, ingested, under the tongue (sublingually), and using vaporizers.
The Benefits of Medical Marijuana
With more states recognizing the medicinal and recreational benefits of marijuana the barrier behind the myth that marijuana is a dangerous substance is shattered. Research shows that the plant and its extracts can aid to control and treat some ailments. Here are some benefits of medical marijuana:
A study found that cannabidiol (CBD) prevents breast cancer cells from spreading. CBD turned off a gene called Id-1, the cells had reduced Id-1 expression and were less aggressive. Marijuana slows down tumors in brain, breast, and lungs. More studies have found smoking marijuana helps fight cancer symptoms.
- Reduces the reactions of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting.
- Diminishes cancer related pain by bonding to the cannabinoid receptors in the body.
- Improves appetite and cut down weight loss.
The amyloid plaques destroy the brain cells that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. The THC in marijuana slows the growth of these plaques by blocking an enzyme in the brain that produces them.
Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve is impaired over time, one cause is a high intraocular pressure (IOP). Research shows a decrease in IOP after four hours when cannabis is smoked or THC is consumed as a pill or injected.
Relieves Arthritis discomfort
Arthritis is the swelling of the joint tissue resulting in pain and other symptoms, and cannabis is an anti-inflammatory agent that relieves discomfort. The cannabinoids, THC and CBD, fights the pain and inflammation.
Researchers found THC changes the molecules leading to suppression of inflammation. CBD provides relief without side-effects and can prevent discomfort and nerve impairment in osteoarthritic joint.
Control Epileptic seizure
FDA approved the use of oral Epidiolex a solution made of CBD used to cure rare types of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome, in children from 1 to 5 years old.