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Using Cannabis For Pain Relief

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Added 27 January 2021

Using Cannabis For Pain Relief

Cannabis has been used as a pain reliever for hundreds of years now. The analgesic effects of the compounds in cannabis are nothing new, yet it is only over recent years that these claims have been tested and backed by science.

Now that cannabis is being legalised in more countries, more than ever people are beginning to see the benefits and how it can help them reduce their suffering. This article teaches you all about pain relief using cannabis, as well as the different forms in which it can be consumed to maximise your experience.

The Definition Of Pain

Acute vs Chronic Pain

Pain is not always felt the same way and can be expressed differently by all sorts of diseases, illnesses, accidents, or anything else you can think of that hurts our bodies. Some people have long term pain, while others recover over the short term.

  • Chronic pain is used to describe long term pain from an ongoing problem that is lifelong or takes a long time to recover from. Our bodily functions eventually deteriorate as we age, and unfortunately we have to feel the effects.
  • Acute pain is short term but potentially more severe  pain. It is a pain that can be fixed and treated with much more ease as the body is able to repair the damage. An injury or even a common headache could be classified as acute pain.

How Does Cannabis Relieve Pain?

How Does Cannabis Relieve Pain?

As an extremely diverse plant that has helped many people through painful times, cannabis deserves more attention and less prohibition. One of the main reasons we still know so little about cannabis is due to its legal status and because of that, there has been a lack of study and testing.

A large portion of the reports coming from people around the world indicate that cannabis can indeed relieve their pain. But how does consuming cannabis cause this effect in the body? There is still much to be studied in this department but there is evidence that cannabis interacts directly with our brain and nervous system via a nerve network known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a synaptic network found across many organs inside the body. It helps to regulate our bodies by producing endocannabinoids that communicate with different receptors in the network to send out neurotransmissions. The ECS helps maintain functions such as the immune system, emotions, memory, appetite, sleep, coordination, and many others.

THC and CBD activate both CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the nerves that makes up the ECS. They trigger a set of responses, which get sent out to the brain and different parts of the body.

Dopamine Makes A Person Feel Pleasure

Cannabis is known to release a chemical in the brain known as dopamine, which causes a pleasure response, similarly felt when stimulated through various other means such as food or sex. Therefore, it could be said that when we engage in activity that stimulates a dopamine release, we do not perceive pain in the same way.

It could be that it is our perception of pain which diminishes, just like when we experience less pain when we focus on something else, particularly something we enjoy. If you've ever had a headache you may know how much worse it feels when you focus on it that when you decide to occupy your mind with another activity.

Consuming Cannabis For Headaches

Everybody feels pain differently and there are many variables as to how effective cannabis could be for pain relief. It really depends on what pain you are trying to treat, as well as your body weight, age, sex, and others. One must also consider the quality of the cannabis, the dose, whether the user ingests THC, CBD or both.

Consuming Cannabis For Pain Relief


Smoking Cannabis Joint

Smoking was the go-to method for consuming cannabis for years and still is for many. However, there are plenty of people who understandably, do not want to ingest smoke because of its negative impact on the health.

For some, smoking a joint is one of the most enjoyable, relaxing parts of their day and enough to give them the effect they need to combat pain. The effects of smoking are felt almost instantly and can work quickly, giving the user the relief they need in just a moment.

Fortunately, we now plenty of alternative, modern methods of consuming cannabis that mean users do not have to smoke to get their medicine. Burning cannabis actually destroys a large portion of the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes we want to consume.

This inevitably wastes quite a lot of the product and at the same time produces harmful chemicals which may interact with the effects of other cannabinoids.


Vaporizers For Consuming Cannabis

Vaporizing technology is now extremely diverse and has become well adopted by the cannabis consuming population. Inhaling vapor is nowhere near as dangerous as smoke and is an excellent alternative for those who prefer inhaling cannabis.

From pocket sized vapes and e-cigarette style pens, to large table top apparatuses, dabbing rigs and accurate temperature control, vaping allows users to consume only the parts of the plant they really want or need, and at a specific level.

THC and CBD, as well as flavourful terpenes evaporate way before cannabis fully combusts, so by heating the product to a certain temperature, we can extract all the goodness before it is burnt off. For medical users, vaporizing may be a better option than smoking. The effects are felt just as quickly, and the high is known to be cleaner.


Cannabis Edibles

Edibles can work best for those who don't want to top up multiple times per day, or at least as often. However, in order for edibles to be effective (THCA needs to be converted to THC), the cannabis needs to be processed with heat beforehand to decarboxylate it.

Decarboxylated cannabinoids ingested through the stomach take some time to digest before being absorbed into the bloodstream. The effects are felt for much longer (about 6-8 hours) and more intensely than when inhaled through the lungs.

CBD oil by Bud_Spencer from GrowDiaries.

Cannabis edibles can provide effective pain relief when consumed in the right doses, and can have added health benefits. It is best to start with lower doses to see how it affects the body, and work your way up to stronger edibles if you feel it is helping with your pain.

Cannabis Oils

Cannabis Oils

THC oils and concentrates can get quite strong psychoactively and may be a slight overkill for users simply looking for some pain relief. CBD oils may be a much more suitable alternative, and they have proven to help many people live through their chronic pain problems. Being non-intoxicating, CBD has made a lot more progress than THC because of it's legal situation.

The health benefits of CBD have been disregarded by doctors and pharmacists for years, but the truth is becoming hard to deny as countless people describe the positive change it has given them. Although there is still plenty of research to be done, CBD oil has shown on many occasions that it can indeed allow someone to live a more comfortable life. In some cases, strong medicines have been dropped completely and users switch fully to natural CBD extracts.

The oil can be purchased in many forms, in little dropper bottles, to capsules, to cartridges for vapes, to tinctures, creams and lotions. 


CBD Topicals

Topicals are products which are applied on the body, making them a great option for targeting painful, inflamed areas without ingesting the cannabis orally. CBD creams, shampoos, and lotions can be purchased at different strengths and work for treating all kinds of aches and irritations, such as eczema, arthritis, back pain, or muscle tension/inflammation.  


Without diving too much into the science, we hope this article gave some insight into the potential of using cannabis for pain relief. Remember, THC and CBD affect each other, so you may find more benefits using them separately or together. Whatever you do, be sure to dose responsibly and consider consulting your doctor for further information, especially if you are already taking medication.

If you found this article useful or have any tips for other GrowDiaries users, feel free to leave your comments down below!

External References

Cannabis in Pain. - Finn, Kenneth. (2021).

Cannabis for Chronic Pain: A Rapid Systematic Review of Randomized Control Trials, Pain Management Nursing. - Riana Longo, Abe Oudshoorn, Deanna Befus (2021).

Patient Perception Regarding Potential Effectiveness of Cannabis for Pain Management, The Journal of Arthroplasty. - Jason M. Jennings, Roseann M. Johnson, Anna C. Brady, Douglas A. Dennis, (2020).

Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

This article was updated January 2021.


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