As cannabis continues to penetrate the mainstream, more and more people are becoming aware of the medicinal benefits this plant has to offer. These beneficial effects can range from helping those who suffer from insomnia to easing anxiety and depression symptoms.
While there are many benefits, one of the most important and applicable effects of cannabis is its ability to treat pain. Compared to typical pain pill prescriptions, cannabis is much less addictive, easier on internal organs, and possesses fewer side effects.
With new and safer methods of consumption such as edibles and vaporizers, cannabis has the ability to help those who struggle with chronic pain have a better option to turn to when pain pills inevitably stop working or begin to become addictive.
How Cannabis Relieves Pain
Pain results from the coordinated activation of brain cells. While these brain regions lead to the sensation of pain, they can also modulate the strength of the pain signals. In some instances, you can have a physical injury (i.e., nociceptive pain) without the sensation of pain (imagine a car accident victim who can walk around pain-free in the initial moments after the accident).
The opposite is also possible, however, where you can have pain in the absence of physical injury (i.e., central pain). This highlights the importance that factors like mood, context, and attention-to-injury play in the sensation of pain, which can also be used to inform optimal cannabis-based treatment strategies.
First, there are three main types of pain that the body experiences:
Nociceptive pain is caused primarily by tissue damage. This type of pain is subjectively experienced as sharp, aching, or throbbing pain that follows physical injury. The damaged tissues recruit numerous inflammatory and immune cells to repair the damage.
These cells release proteins and chemicals that activate receptors on nerves that then make their way into the spinal cord and up to the brain, causing the sensation of pain.
While nociceptive pain is caused by physical tissue damage, neuropathic pain is a result of nerve tissue damage. These injuries can result from pinched nerves, stretched nerves, and even stabbing that can damage those nerves. Disease is a very common underlying cause of neuropathic pain.
For example, in multiple sclerosis, the insulation of nerve cells begins to break down which leads to nerves being exposed, triggering a pain response. Other diseases that cause neuropathic pain include Parkinson’s disease, HIV, diabetes, and shingles, to name a few.
Neuropathic pain is a notoriously difficult category of pain to treat. This is due to the fact that this type of pain is not solved by simple anti-inflammatory drugs. Cannabis is turning out to be a very exciting treatment option for this type of pain due to its ability to activate serotonin receptors and ease the experience of neuropathic pain.
Central pain is a relatively new category of pain that is closely tied to neuropathic pain. Central pain refers to pain that arises from a dysfunctional nervous system. Most often, the direct cause of central pain is unknown, which makes it very difficult to treat.
One of the classic examples of this type of pain is fibromyalgia, which is a condition that affects the pain signals themselves that are sent to the brain. Studies have shown that cannabis is able to provide some fibromyalgia patients with much-needed relief from their symptoms, making it one of the only treatment options currently known to help relieve symptoms from this condition.
Best Strains for Pain Relief
There are two main types of cannabis: Sativas and Indicas. While some Sativas and Hybrid strains are known to have some pain relief potential, the most powerful pain-relieving strains are found with Indicas.
White Widow is an Indica-dominant hybrid strain. While Indicas are known to have very heavy couch-lock effects, this strain is slightly less powerful in this regard. While this is true, this shiny crystal-resin clad strain is a heavy hitter for pain relief. This strain is one of the most famous in the world.
It’s commonly used by patients with pain and also those who suffer from insomnia and anxiety. This strain will help you easily drift off to sleep but will also give you a sense of euphoria to take away the feeling of distracting pain.
Blueberry is a strain that has been around for over 50 years — and for good reason! Blueberry is great for both pain relief and relieving anxiety due to its pain-fighting cannabinoids as well as its relaxing and numbing effects. Blueberry is a great strain to calm both mind and body.
OG Kush is one of the most popular Indica strains for sleep but is also a go-to strain for pain due to its heavy-hitting effects. Just taking a little bit of this strain before bed will cause you to immediately drift off to sleep. You’ll be able to sleep through even the most severe chronic pain. OG Kush is a very potent Indica, so be sure to pace yourself early on in order to have the best experience.
Northern Lights is another Indica strain that is known for its pain relief and relaxation capabilities. This strain is one of the most popular Indicas and has won numerous awards due to its well-rounded yet powerful effects.
Northern Lights is known to give a nice couch-lock feeling and provide an enjoyable body-numbing effect that helps to wipe away the pain and help you relax and focus on something other than pain for a while.
When it comes to dealing with pain, everyone has a different situation, tolerance level, and biology. With that being said, your initial dosage should be low and slow until you get a feel for how the strain interacts with your body’s chemistry.
Reach Out To Pure Oasis
Start with the strains in this list to learn more about what works best for your body and to get closer to finding the ultimate pain relief strain for your needs. Over time, you will find out which types of strains work best with your pain and will open up more options for you to choose from at your local dispensary.
Pure Oasis is Boston’s original cannabis dispensary. Their knowledgeable staff and extensive inventory make their shop a must-visit in the Boston area.