Skip to main content

Finding relief through cannabis

By January 16, 2023April 17th, 2024No Comments
Understanding Pain and the Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis

Many of us have faced moments when chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, depression or any other number of other conditions seemed to overshadow every aspect of our lives, beginning to creep past affecting just ourselves but also our relationships, work, and general enjoyment of life.

Thankfully, cannabis offers a beacon of hope for those who are suffering and have been let down by side effects of pharmaceuticals or lack of improvement. The key to this lies in cannabinoids and terpenes – the two compounds that work together to reduce pain and inflammation, improve mood, ease anxiety, aid in sleep, or help in many other ways. By adjusting their levels and ratios through selective breeding and hybridization, the cannabis strain can be customized to offer precise therapy, tailored to each individual’s condition and situation. The main way this is represented is through flavor profiles from different terpenes, and the concentration of THC, the euphoric “head high” cannabinoid, and CBD, which is the 120+ other chemical components of the plant.

This customization allows patients to experience relief, ideally with fewer side effects compared to traditional pharmaceuticals, fostering a more stable approach to health. Additionally, the ability to try other strains of cannabis or forms of administration enhances patient autonomy in managing their health, contributing to a more personalized and effective plan of care.

The Essential First Steps to Cannabis-Assisted Therapy
Discovering the best strains for each individual can be an exciting venture, but can also feel daunting with all of the options. The easiest place to start is with two simple questions: what condition requires the most attention and what side effects are least desirable to experience?

This can establish a baseline when speaking with dispensary staff and help narrow down on specific strains. The best example of this is when discussing the treatment of pain, one of the most common conditions cannabis is used for (Li et al., 2019; Longo et al., 2021).

The Spectrum of Relief: Understanding Cannabis Strains for Pain
Each marijuana strain has unique properties that set it apart from other strains and mainly depends on the type of pain being treated. Does the pain stem from a physical source, like muscle spasms, work or sports injuries, chronic conditions, endometriosis, or low back pain, or from a neurological origin, such as diabetic neuropathy, radiculopathy, fibromyalgia, neuropathy/neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia? Each condition has a differing intensity of pain and requires a different approach to treatment.

Indica strains are renowned for their ability to ease muscle pain and promote relaxation, with Afghan Kush standing out as a good recommendation. A close second is Bubba Kush, which is highly effective against nerve pain and muscle strain specifically. While Indica strains are potent pain relievers, they can cause sedation, making it difficult for use during daytime activities.

As a counterpart, Sativa strains are able to offer the same neuropathic pain management, but with an energetic boost, allowing for daytime use without feeling the sedation side effect. Notable strains include Durban Poison and East Coast Sour Diesel. However, due to the rarity of pure sativa strains, most available products are hybrid strains which combine sativa and indica strains to mix and match the benefits.

Hybrid Strains: The Best of Both Worlds
For those seeking a balanced experience, hybrid strains combine the best aspects of indica and sativa. Blackberry Kush is a prime example, offering a solution for inflammation and physical pain. Its pain-relieving properties are complemented by a mild stimulating, psychoactive effect, ensuring pain management without overwhelming sedation. Similarly, Cataract Kush merges pain relief with a gentle euphoria, making it an excellent choice for managing severe pain while maintaining some level of activity.

Unlocking the Potential of Cannabis
Cannabis not only has shown benefits for pain relief, but has shown to work well in treating many other conditions. The same effects of Sativa and Indica strains that cause sedation and energy can be harnessed to boost creativity, improve focus, ease insomnia, manage anxiety and depression, mitigate the side effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), aid as an adjunct therapy for schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions, and have shown positive effects for other neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Tourette syndrome (Bhagavan et al., 2020; Botsford et al., 2019; Earl & Proano, 2022; Ergisi et al., 2022; Haddad et al., 2022; Hoch et al., 2019; Lacroix et al., 2022, Mecha et al., 2020).

Particularly in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, cannabis has been effective in reducing nausea and vomiting (Mortimer et al., 2019; Rock et al., 2021), enhancing the quality of life, minimizing weight loss (Rosager et al., 2020), and maintaining the ability to continue with treatment. For those with glaucoma, it can reduce intraocular pressure, providing relief and potentially slowing the progression of the condition (MacMillan et al., 2019).

Your Healing Journey
The discussion so far has only touched on the surface of available strains with each having nuanced effects and experiences. Regardless of whether you lean towards an indica, sativa, or hybrid strain, the key is to listen to your body and work closely with your dispensary staff or cannabis-wise healthcare provider. It is important to remember that cannabis can have some effect on medications for other conditions, so it is always advised you discuss with your regular doctor to determine if there are any direct concerns for your individual health. When in doubt, ask dispensary staff to connect you to the Clinical Director each dispensary in the state of Maryland is required to employ.

Bhagavan, C., Kung, S., Doppen, M., John, M., Vakalalabure, I., Oldfield, K., Braithwaite, I., & Newton-Howes, G. (2020). Cannabinoids in the treatment of insomnia disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. CNS Drugs, 34(12), 1217–1228.

Botsford, S. L., Yang, S., & George, T. P. (2019). Cannabis and cannabinoids in mood and anxiety disorders: Impact on illness onset and course, and assessment of therapeutic potential. The American Journal on Addictions, 29(1), 9–26.

Earl, D. C., & Proano, M. (2022). Updates in the use of cannabis for insomnia. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 28(6), 511–514.

Ergisi, M., Erridge, S., Harris, M., Kawka, M., Nimalan, D., Salazar, O., Loupasaki, K., Ali, R., Holvey, C., Coomber, R., Platt, M., Rucker, J. J., & Sodergren, M. H. (2022). UK Medical Cannabis Registry: An Analysis of clinical outcomes of medicinal cannabis therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, 15(4), 487–495.

Haddad, F., Dokmak, G., & Karaman, R. (2022). The efficacy of cannabis on multiple sclerosis-related symptoms. Life, 12(5), 682.

Hoch, E., Niemann, D., von Keller, R., Schneider, M., Friemel, C. M., Preuss, U. W., Hasan, A., & Pogarell, O. (2019). How effective and safe is medical cannabis as a treatment of mental disorders? A systematic review. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 269(1), 87–105.

Lacroix, C., Alleman-Brimault, I., Zalta, A., Rouby, F., Cassé-Perrot, C., Jouve, E., Attolini, L., Guilhaumou, R., Micallef, J., & Blin, O. (2022). What do we know about medical cannabis in neurological disorders and what are the next steps? Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13.

Li, X., Vigil, J. M., Stith, S. S., Brockelman, F., Keeling, K., & Hall, B. (2019). The effectiveness of self-directed medical cannabis treatment for pain. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 46, 123–130.

Longo, R., Oudshoorn, A., & Befus, D. (2021). Cannabis for chronic pain: A rapid systematic review of Randomized Control Trials. Pain Management Nursing, 22(2), 141–149.

MacMillan, K. M., Keddy, A., & Furlong, J. (2019). Cannabis and glaucoma: A literature review. DALHOUSIE MEDICAL JOURNAL, 46(1).

Mecha, M., Carrillo-Salinas, F. J., Feliú, A., Mestre, L., & Guaza, C. (2020). Perspectives on cannabis-based therapy of multiple sclerosis: A mini-review. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 14.

Mortimer, T. L., Mabin, T., & Engelbrecht, A.-M. (2019). Cannabinoids: The lows and the highs of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Future Oncology, 15(9), 1035–1049.

Rock, E. M., Limebeer, C. L., Pertwee, R. G., Mechoulam, R., & Parker, L. A. (2021). Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol, cannabidiolic acid, and cannabidiolic acid methyl ester as treatments for nausea and vomiting. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Rosager, E. V., Møller, C., & Sjögren, M. (2020). Treatment studies with cannabinoids in ANOREXIA NERVOSA: A systematic review. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 26(2), 407–415.