Marijuana: You Don’t Have to Smoke It Or Get High To Get Pain Relief
Marijuana: You Don’t Have to Smoke It Or Get High To Get Pain ReliefFebruary 5th, 2018 by Cindy Perlin
Mention marijuana to many pain patients and they think of unwashed criminals furtively sharing a joint or potheads staying high all day, having lost their motivation and their minds. “Not for me”, they say, “I’ll stick with my pills.” But this image that these individuals have does not represent the real world of medical marijuana.
Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam have all legalized medical marijuana, though laws vary significantly in terms of ease of access, products available and whether patients can grow their own. Many other states are considering legalization. (A good source of information on legal status in each state is www.norml.org/states.)
Medical marijuana differs from illicit marijuana in many ways. One of the most significant differences is that street marijuana has been bred for its psychoactive effects—the goal of users is to get high. So street (black market) marijuana has high concentrations of THC, the compound in marijuana that is stimulating and causes euphoria. In some people high THC triggers anxiety, or, in worst case scenarios, psychosis in vulnerable individuals. THC also has many medical benefits, including potent anti-inflamatory effects. In addition, illicit marijuana usually has low CBD, which has many beneficial effects, including relaxation and pain relief. It is the ratio of CBD vs THC and other beneficial compounds, as well as each person’s unique biochemical make-up, that accounts for marijuana’s effects. Medical marijuana is a regulated product, tested for purity, whose components are known. Different products, or strains, contain differing ratios of THC to CBD. Matching the appropriate strain to your condition is important for optimum effect.
In addition, medical marijuana comes in many forms. In some states, smoking of the leaves is allowed, but more popular is vaping, where the marijuana or oils derived from marijuana are heated enough in a special device called a vaporizer to release the medicinal vapors but not heated enough to burn the leaves. This allows for a very quick effect from inhalation while avoiding the hazards associated with combusting irritants.
Another popular method of dosing with medical marijuana is orally using edibles, sometimes referred to as medibles. Baked goods, candies, oils and even chewing gum are available in some states for discrete dosing. Marijuana taken orally takes longer to have an effect but the effects are longer lasting than when inhaled. Also, inhaled marijuana goes quickly to the lungs and brain, while ingested marijuana is absorbed more slowly and has a more systemic effect.
Medical marijuana is also available in topical preparations in the form of salves or creams and sometimes oils, and in patches, for absorbtion into the body through the skin. Topicals are absorbed locally into the layers of the skin and the effect is local. Transdermal products such cannabis patches and some creams have a driving agent which penetrates the skin and enters the user’s blood stream, where its effects are both local and systemic.
Selecting the optimum strain and route of administration for your specific condition can be challenging. A health care provider who is a medical cannabis expert can best help you select the best product for your needs.
Marijuana, in thousands of years of medicinal and recreational use, has never been associated with any fatalities, making it safer than any other prescription drug, including opioids. Patient reports also indicate that it provides more pain relief, on average, than opioids. Many who’ve switched report more ability to function and a better quality of life.
For those who are in a state where medical marijuana is not legal, there is CBD oil derived from hemp, which is legal in all 50 states. Many pain patients report getting significant relief from using CBD oil. The best choice is a CBD oil that is a full spectrum product with a known CBD level, derived from organic hemp grown in the United States and tested for purity. One product I recommend is Nuleaf Naturals CBD Oil. CBD oil is also available in edibles.
You might have to experiment a little with dosages, strains and methods of administration, but medical marijuana is definitely worth a try if you are in pain.