Cannabis and You: Chronic Pain

We’re all familiar with pain to some degree. We understand it’s an extremely uncomfortable feeling indicating a problem somewhere in our body. This makes it unpleasant enough on its own, but for some, pain can be more complex. Those who suffer from chronic pain may have little-to-no options for relief, even if they know what’s causing it. Pain-relieving medicines are often problematic, expensive, and at their worst can even be dangerous. On the other hand, using cannabis for pain may help to ease chronic pain with less of the side effects often found with pharmaceuticals. 

The Science Behind Medicinal Cannabis

For many years, most of the information we knew about cannabis and its relation to pain came exclusively from first-hand accounts. Thanks to legal and scientific advances within the last few decades, we now have more scientifically grounded results. There is a growing amount of research to show that pain can be treated effectively with cannabis. However, there is still much research to be conducted on the subject.

The general consensus, as of this 2019, is that cannabis can be an effective tool as part of an overall pain management strategy. This is largely thanks to chemical compounds known as cannabinoids, which interact naturally with the body’s endocannabinoid system. When the receptors in this system are activated, they can trigger a number of bodily processes, including the inhibition of certain neural pathways that cause pain. Essentially, it works by keeping the pain signals from reaching your brain, thus allowing you to temporarily avoid the sensation. Individual studies related to different conditions have further solidified these findings. There is considerable evidence that people with chronic migraines, arthritis, and other chronic pain conditions can all benefit from using cannabis as part of their treatment. 

The Benefit of Cannabis vs Other Painkillers

For most forms of chronic pain, doctors are likely to prescribe opioid-derived medications. While these are often effective for relieving pain, they’re also highly addictive and can lead to detrimental side effects. Other kinds of pain-relievers like NSAIDs are less likely to be addictive, but can also lead to unwanted side effects, especially gastrointestinal problems. 

Cannabis differs significantly from other forms of treatment in its overall effect on your health. According to one study, it’s just as effective as opioids in treating pain. Researchers are hopeful that cannabis could prove a much safer alternative to opioid-derived medicines, thus reducing the overall risk of opioid addiction and subsequent overdoses. While there are side effects related to cannabis, they’re often much less severe than those found in other medicines. When managed appropriately, cannabis can provide substantial benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health.

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