4 Reasons to Use Cannabis for the Treatment of Pain
Pot for Pain?
Can cannabis treat pain as well as opioids?
Long History & New Research
Cannabis has been used for pain relief by people around the world for many thousands of years. However, unlike opium and its’ derivatives, also used from antiquity till the present time for pain relief, nothing was known about what compound(s) produced the much sought after analgesic effects of marijuana until very recently.
The structure of morphine (the main active compound in opium) was isolated in 1925. For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t until 1964 that the structure of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active compound in cannabis) was discovered. Because so little was known up till then about cannabis and how it worked, very little research was done on cannabis and it’s analgesic properties.
2. We are naturally receptive!
Since that time though we have discovered that there are over 100 (phyto) cannabinoids made by the plant, in addition to terpenes that have many medicinal properties themselves; that we make our own internal (endo) cannabinoids; and, that we have a vast system throughout the brain and body of (endocannabinoid) receptors that produce the effects of cannabis. In addition, since 1964 much more research has been done on producing analogs of the naturally occurring phyto or plant cannabinoids.
Not only can cannabis treat pain as well as opioids, it can help treat patients addicted to them and help with their (opioid) withdrawal symptoms. There are no cannabis receptors in the brain areas involved with respiration, unlike the many receptors for morphine in those areas. Intentionally or accidentally taking too many opiates can cause overdose and death. On the other hand there is no risk of overdosing from taking too much cannabis for treatment of pain and, in fact, there have been no documented overdoses from cannabis, ever.
3. Stop pain impulses + Anti-Inflammatory
When people take THC or CBD (cannabidiol, the second most abundant compound in cannabis) for the relief of pain the endocannabinoid receptors can actually stop or seriously limit the pain impulses coming up to the brain from injured or swollen muscles, joints, nerves and skin or intestinal tissue. In addition, CBD works directly in those tissues to decrease or eliminate the inflammation that is such an integral part of the pain cycle. This is another difference with opioids as they have no anti-inflammatory properties.
4. It’s Legal New York!
In New York State (where the vast proportion of patients enrolled in the Medical Marihuana Program are being treated for chronic pain) there are currently 13 qualifying conditions that allow a patient to obtain cannabis. Of these 13 most have some component of pain involved with them. What we are finding is that, for those conditions, once the correct ratio of THC and CBD, and form of ingestion (vaping, drops, pills, etc.) is found for a particular patient, they can begin to get back to a more normal, pain free life. With the help of a certified treating physician, you can legally obtain medical marijuana products to relieve chronic pain.
Dr. Kenneth R. Weinberg, MD. © 2019
If you are considering medicating with marijuana or cannabis products for pain, please take our online consultation quiz. It’s fast, free, confidential and the first step in obtaining legal medical marijuana in NYS.