A Safer Alternative for PainPain is one of the most common complaints that patients treat with medical marijuana. Patients with access to cannabis have a much safer option for pain control than those who are limited to drugs frequently prescribed for this purpose. According to Consumer Reports, opioids are responsible for 17,000 deaths per year in the U.S., and 80,000 Americans visit the ER annually due to acetaminophen toxicity. A study published the same year in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that states in which patients have access to legal medical marijuana have an average of 24.8% fewer deaths from opioid overdose, and death rates generally decline over time after implementation of state medical marijuana programs. For these reasons, cannabis is a great option to explore for those who experience chronic pain. Patients can often either partially or completely replace other, more harmful drugs with a natural and non-addictive herbal remedy.
Cannabinoids and Pain Relief
While a wide range of cannabis strains, preparations, and consumption methods can help patients to control pain, some can be more effective than others for specific symptoms and conditions. Two of the main variables that seem to affect marijuana’s ability to control various types of pain are its cannabinoid profile and the form in which it’s taken. The first part of this series will focus on how different cannabinoids influence pain relief.
THC and CBD
THC is well known for its ability to combat pain, but high doses of THC can make patients uncomfortably high and may not be the most effective way to control pain with medical marijuana. Many patients now choose cannabis strains and products with significant levels of CBD as well. CBD has been shown not only to enhance THC’s ability to control pain; it also appears to reduce THC’s negative effects, such as paranoia, anxiety, and rapid heartbeat.
CBG and CBC
Lesser-known cannabinoids CBG and CBC have also shown potential to aid pain relief. Like CBD, CBG has been found to inhibit GABA uptake, a feature of medications commonly used to treat chronic pain in as well as seizures, anxiety, and insomnia. Although research on CBC is in its infancy, a study on rats has indicated that CBC may also provide pain relief similarly to CBD.
Myrcene is a terpene found in varying levels in different cannabis strains as well as in hops, mangoes, lemongrass, and thyme. It has been found both to have analgesic properties of its own and to enhance those of THC and CBD. Myrcene also appears to help CBD to fight inflammation and THC to relax tight muscles – providing relief from two common sources of pain.
When treating pain, you may find more effective relief from products that contain a good balance of cannabinoids and, if possible, significant myrcene levels, rather than simply high levels of THC. Look for high-CBD products first, since CBD levels are commonly tested and labeled. If you find products labeled with significant CBC, CBG, and/or myrcene content, experiment to see if you get even greater relief with these. Sharing your experience with your local budtenders will help them build their knowledge of these little-understood cannabinoids as well, and they will be able to pass along your observations to other patients who may benefit.
Nature’s Gift Shop provides quality, lab-tested marijuana in Pueblo West. Our budtenders are always happy to help you find products with the properties you’re looking for. We also offer rotating daily specials; check out our Facebook Page for today’s deal, and download the coupon below to get 4 grams of your favorite flower for the price of an eighth!
 "Lower Opioid Overdose Death Rates Associated with State Medical Marijuana Laws." For the Media: News releases & journal articles from The JAMA Network. American Medical Association, 25 Aug 2014. Web. 30 Sept 2015.
 Valdeolivas, et al. "Neuroprotective properties of cannabigerol in Huntington's disease: studies in R6/2 mice and 3-nitropropionate-lesioned mice." Neurotherapeutics. American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics, Jan 2015: 185-99. Print.
Image credit: By W. Müller. This is a retouched picture, which means that it has been digitally altered from its original version. Modifications: Enhanced contrast, sharpness. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/Cannabis_sativa_Koehler_drawing.jpg
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