According to Business Insider, the majority of American citizens largely support the legalization of medical marijuana. Statistics show that at least 84% of the public believes marijuana should be legalized for medical use and its usage for recreational purposes is less controversial than ever, with close to 61% of Americans in support. Even though some medical benefits of smoking marijuana may be sometimes overstated by its advocates for legalization, recent researches carried out by scientist have proven that marijuana can be used legitimately as medicine and thus stimulating more strong reasons to continue studying marijuana’s medicinal uses. It should be noted that even the NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse) out some medical uses for cannabis one of such being its ability to relieve different types of pain
Medical marijuana refers the medical use of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant in all its forms (harsh, oil, strain, extracts, and edibles) to relieve symptoms of, or treat diseases and conditions.
Medical marijuana refers the medical use of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant in all its forms (harsh, oil, strain, extracts, and edibles) to relieve symptoms of, or treat diseases and conditions. It should be noted that Cannabis plant was used medically for centuries around the world until the early 1900s.
Marijuana is known as a pain killer, but pains can result from a variety of causes thus making the choice of the right cannabis product for a particular pain tricky. Patients are sometime confused on whether to use CBD or THC to treat chronic pains. The different types of pains fall in three different categories:
– Nociceptive pain
– Central pain (there’s however no firm consensus on the specific name for this category of pain; fibromyalgia is a common example and
– Neuropathic pain
Given the fact that each category of pain has a different origin, each category thus has its own specific optimal treatment strategy. Pain is said to result from the coordinated activation brain cells. These cells lead to sensation of pain as well as can also modulate the strength of the pain signals. We can have physical injury without the sensation of pain known, a situation referred to as Nociceptive pain or we can also have pain in the absence of a physical injury, known as central pain which can result from factors like mood, context etc
Nociceptive pain and Marijuana
Nociceptive pain (inflammatory pain) results from tissue damage. It is a sharp, aching, or throbbing pain that comes after a physical injury. When one has a physical injury, the damaged tissues employ various inflammatory and immune cells to help in repairing the damage. These cells release proteins and chemicals that stimulate receptors on nerves making their way into the spinal cord and then up to the brain, resulting in the sensation of pain. Such pain can be relieved by reducing the pain signals at the area of injury via blocking the inflammatory process itself or even the signals they elicit. Another strategy can be by dampening their effects as they make their way up the spinal cord then to the brain. Marijuana can effectuate both of these strategies to eliminate pain.
The abundant cannabinoids imbedded in marijuana (THC and) CBD, can reduce Nociceptive pain as they both posses potent anti-inflammatory effects. The anti-inflammatory properties of THC are primarily stimulated through activation of CB2 receptors on immune cells thereby dampening the body’s pain-inducing response to injury. CBD on its part can also reduces inflammation by blocking inflammatory sensors and shifting the activation of macrophqge repair cells from the pro-inflammatory type to the anti-inflammatory type.
Neuropathic pain, and how weed can help
Neuropathic pain is differentiates itself from nociceptive pain in that it arises from damage to the body’s nervous system. It can result from forceful injury, pinching, or stabbing that damages nerves. It can also result from diseases for example multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease HIV, diabetes, and shingles, to name a few. This type of pain is very difficult to treat due to the fact that it doesn’t result from inflammation that can be targeted by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, as such many people are turning to cannabis for its treatment. The benefits of marijuana have been observed in both cancer and non-cancer related forms of neuropathic pain in many research works. Marijuana is rich in CBD which is protective against the development of chemotherapy induced pain by activating serotonin receptors and CBD does not impair the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug to destroy the cancer thus rendering marijuana a potentially prophylactic strategy for chemotherapy patients.
Central pain on its part is a catch-all term for types of pain that arise from dysfunction of the nervous system. It sometimes can result from injury, but most often it arises in the absence of any known cause rendering such category of pain difficult to treat. A common example if fibromyalgia. The famous and well-established benefits of cannabis in treating central pain is for fibromyalgia. A study was conducted on 26 fibromyalgia patients, and of them all reported the benefits from cannabis use and half stopped taking their other medications. This therefore suggests that cannabis can provide much-needed relief for those with fibromyalgia and possibly other central pain conditions of unknown origin.
The take home message is thus that while high-THC marijuana products may be effective pain relievers initially, they don’t represent an optimal pain relief strategy. It is more effective to use balanced THC/CBD marijuana products or CBD-rich products as they may provide better long-term treatment for chronic pain conditions outlined above.