Chronic pain is probably the number one reason people turn to medical marijuana. With one in five Canadians and over 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, the legalization of cannabis has come as a much needed relief. Chronic pain can be caused from a number of different conditions including diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS or can be a result of injury, arthritis, connective tissue disorders, and a host of other medical conditions.
What exactly is “Chronic” Pain?
We all know that pain is your body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. We experience pain for a number of different reasons, but whatever these reasons are there are times when pain just doesn’t seem to go away. Even when the initial cause of the pain has been treated (as much as possible), pain that continues to linger is known as chronic pain. Basically, chronic pain is something people experience pretty much all the time and is something that many know can become extremely debilitating. Not only does chronic pain decrease one’s quality of life, but can cause further issues like depression and lack of hope. What is there to look forward to when hit with heavy pain day in and day out? Anyone that’s ever been sick knows just how uncomfortable pain can be, and for those with chronic pain these feelings of discomfort never seem to go away.
Why Cannabis for Chronic Pain?
Before cannabis was made legal in some places for medicinal use, people that suffered from chronic pain were dependent on over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and codeine, as well as prescription opiates like oxyconotin and oxycodone. While there is no doubt that these work, opiates often come with a host of negative side effects including nausea and vomiting. Not to mention that opiates have the potential to be extremely habit forming. With more people demanding safer alternatives to the opiates they are readily offered, they are finding that cannabis not only provides pain relief but also helps with the nausea and other negative side-effects associated with prescription opiate use.
The power of cannabis for chronic pain is found in the cannabinoid compounds that are occur naturally in the plant. The cannabinoids in marijuana react with the body’s own endocannabinoid system to create a beautiful synergy that’s responsible for reducing chronic pain. Although the body’s endocannabinoid system is found all over the body, the CB1 receptors are found in abundance in the area in the central nervous system areas that are responsible for pain. The cannabinoids in marijuana (namely THC and CBD) connect with the body’s endocannabinoids to balance the system and provide the chronic pain relief cannabis is famous for.
Not only do the cannabinoids found in cannabis come together with our own endocannabinoid system, but they also have shown to synergize with opiates used for chronic pain. This is great news for the people who have found they’ve built a tolerance to these prescription meds. One study showed that morphine was 15 times more active in rats that were also given a dosage of THC. The effect of codeine was shown to improve almost 900 times as much when THC was present.
With more and more people diagnosed with chronic pain each day, cannabis (where legally available) is proving to help and provide patients with the relief they so desperately need. Not only does it help, but is also non-habit forming, doesn’t make you sick, and offers relief that works in harmony within one’s internal pain management system. All the more reason to treat chronic pain with a healthy chronic strain.