Is Cannabis Really For Pain?

in #cannabiscommunitylast year (edited)

As we all know, prolonged pain isn’t pleasant. Aside from generating discomforting feelings in the body, pain also affects our mental state, and how we perceive things. It can make us irritable and angry all through the day. Going through the pain of a careless knife injury while cooking alone is unbearable and frustrating. Imagine when you have to endure the pain for months and years, just because the wound takes a longer time to heal.

Over 1.5 billion people around the world experience chronic pain. Persistent and severe pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks are called chronic pain. This is the leading cause of long term disabilities and mental illnesses like depression in most people. Its affects the quality of life of an individual, making them feel down and unable to function in a normal world.

Chronic pain is mostly neuropathic which is a disorder of the nervous system, or nociceptive which is how your body system reacts to wounds, infection or general tissue damage. Furthermore, somatic/nociceptive pain produces sharp feelings, for example, those times that you mistakenly cut your hands while cooking or twist your ankle while jogging which lead to a temporary short term discomfort.

When people experience pain it is normal for them to use over the counter drugs like Ibuprofen to help reduce the pain. While these drugs have their own advantages, it also has its disadvantages, overuse of the drugs can lead to ulcers, internal bleeding and other health challenges. Pharmaceutical drugs are mostly prescribed when a person experiences pain, but 5000 years ago cannabis was used as a natural pain reliever.

Historically, people have used cannabis in so many ways:

  • Ancient Egyptians who used cannabis to ease the pain of birth,
  • 200 BCE cannabis was also used to quell the pain of earaches,
  • Shen Nung recommended cannabis for more than a hundred different ailments,
  • The Chinese combined wine and cannabis for anaesthetic,
  • British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper used cannabis to treat gout,
  • Dr William O’Shaughnessy used cannabis to treat cramps and spasms,
  • Queen Victoria used it when she suffered from monthly menstrual pain.
    • The list goes on.

      Cannabis has always been used to treat different pain and several studies have shown personal use of cannabis to combat pain. While it looks like cannabis is just emerging, in reality, it isn’t true, as it has been used to fight pain for over 5,000 years.

      Every mammal has an ECS which is a biological system that helps to regulate mood, pain-sensations, sleep, appetite and our immune system. Whenever we are in pain, our ECS releases endocannabinoid which helps to regulate our response to the pain. It is like an inbuilt pain reliever. So when THC goes into our body system it releases a euphoric feeling thereby altering the brain cannabinoid receptor: which then activates the brain reward system releasing a feeling of pleasure instead of pain. THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis which binds to our brain receptor to produce a feeling of highness. while CBD does not cause highness, rather it interacts with our pain receptors by activating other compounds in the endocannabinoid system.
      For example, our body absorbs anandamide which is a compound associated with pain regulation in the body. So when you ingest a CBD product it increases the anandamide in our bloodstream which then reduces the amount of pain a person feels. CBD may also reduce inflammation which benefits those suffering from insomnia and severe pain.

      Mostly, patients get confused with the whole CBD and THC so let me give a short comparison of the two compounds:

      THC VS CBD
      So, what is the difference between THC and CBD? THC is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis that gives a high feeling. It can be consumed in different ways from smoking, vaping, tinctures and edibles. while CBD does not have the high sensation that comes with THC, and it can be consumed the same way with THC induced cannabis products. These two compounds function the same way with differing effects on the body. CBD and THC have the same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.

      As we all know many researchers have suggested the use of cannabis for pain relief. More clinical research is needed as many countries are beginning to decriminalize the use of cannabis. However, we have anecdotal evidence which proves that cannabis can be used to control unpleasant severe pain. With the report of drug overdose from numerous pain-relieving drugs, cannabis would serve as a safe alternative. For those who don’t like the feeling of intoxication can go for CBD only products.

      Note: Patients should kindly discuss cannabis with their doctor before considering using it for the first time.

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