Since the onset of medicinally legalized marijuana use, many are finding that using marijuana for pain relief is not only helpful but may be more effective than traditional pharmaceutical drug treatments for chronic pain and inflammation.

While there is much to be desired in the way of scientific studies which is rooted in the fact that cannabis hasn’t been legalized on the federal level, the evidence is growing in support of marijuana as a legitimate and effective alternative for pain relief.

The evidence in studies that are available suggests that marijuana has become a safe and effective alternative to dangerous pharmaceutical drug treatments.

That is awesome news for all of us looking to relieve pain using cannabis products.

Marijuana for Pain Relief: Why is it Effective?

Your brain’s endocannabinoid system is responsible for several key functions like regulating appetite and metabolism, learning and memory, muscle formation, stress regulation, and chronic pain and inflammation.

Your body’s ECS is always producing endocannabinoids, even without the use of cannabis. 

As of now, we know there are two main endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 is mostly associated with the body’s central nervous system, while CB2 is mostly found in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells.

Cannabis itself contains many natural chemical compounds, but the key components that create the effects from use are cannabinoids, which are the main contributors to the medicinal and recreational effects of marijuana. THC is the most widely understood, which binds to both your CB1 and CB2 receptors. This is the chemical compound that gets you high.  

The other important compound is CBD, which is less understood than THC. CBD doesn’t interact with our CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same way that THC does, and may have more effect on your CB2 receptors (which is one of the causes of decreased inflammation associated with CBD use) or may even bond to an undiscovered CB receptor.

Some believe CBD prevents your body’s endocannabinoids from being broken down, leaving them more available for absorption into the body. What we do know is that it plays a key role in reducing chronic inflammation.

Regardless of brain chemistry, marijuana has a profound effect on your pain, stress, and inflammation. The effects of marijuana for pain management have even been suggested as an alternative to opioid use.

Research on Marijuana for Pain Relief

Cannabis studies are lacking in availability only because marijuana is still federally classified as a “Schedule 1” substance (defined by having no medical use with a high potential for abuse). Because it is federally an illegal substance, researchers need a special license to study the substance.

Yet some studies have been effective in showing the positive results of marijuana for pain, especially in patients with cancer-related symptoms. THC and CBD have shown to be effective in pain management and stress relief.

Studies have used Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid strains in their tests. The results generally show that the Indica strain and high CBD products are great for pain, while Sativa’s tend to be better for mood. Hybrids, which may lean to be indica or sativa dominant, may offer the best of both worlds.

Cannabis use seems to be most effective for nerve pain, cancer-related pain, chronic pain and inflammation, MS, and muscle spasms.

Which Cannabis Products are Best for Pain?

Generally, Indica dominant or cannabis products high CBD produce an overall body effect and sense of well-being. Therefore indica dominant cannabis products in any form are most often recommended and effective for pain relief.

When it comes to Indica dominant cannabis, it’s available in flower, vaporizer cartridges, concentrated resins and live rosins, or edibles form. 

High CBD content cannabis products produce the most effective results for pain therapy or recovery after strenuous physical activities. CBD cannabis products come in many forms such as pre-rolls, edibles, tinctures, or topical creams that have been studied to be effective in localized pain reduction.

A Vibe Dispensary typically carries over 600+ types of cannabis products. Vibe dispensary budtenders are trained and familiar with every cannabis product available in the dispensary and are ready to guide you through the selection process to help you find the right product for your personal use. 

Information on this website is shared for educational and informational purposes only.

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Consult a medical doctor before acting on any information gathered on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a pre-existing or other medical condition.

For further reading about CBD please refer to the references below.

Papers of particular interest on CBD, published recently, have been outlined and links provided to medical studies and research available.

 

1.•• Bridgeman MB, Abazia DT. Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting. P T. 2017;42(3):180–8 (excellent review on Cannabinoids focused on pharmacology).

PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar

1.•• Vučković S, Srebro D, Vujović KS, Vučetić Č, Prostran M. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:1259 (excellent review on Cannabinoids and Pain).

Article  Google Scholar

1. Russo EB. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. There Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(1):245–59.

 

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Costa B, Trovato AE, Comelli F, Giagnoni G, Colleoni M. The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Eur J Pharmacol. 2007;556(1–3):75–83.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Kumar RN, Chambers WA, Pertwee RG. Pharmacological actions and therapeutic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids. Anaesthesia. 2001;56(11):1059–68.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Pacher P, Bátkai S, Kunos G. The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol Rev. 2006;58(3):389–462.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Zou S, Kumar U. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(3):833 Published 2018 Mar 13.

Article  Google Scholar

1.Anand P, Whiteside G, Fowler CJ, Hohmann AG. Targeting CB2 receptors and the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of pain. Brain Res Rev. 2009;60(1):255–66.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Laprairie RB, Bagher AM, Kelly ME, Denovan-Wright EM. Cannabidiol is a negative allosteric modulator of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor. Br J Pharmacol. 2015;172(20):4790–805.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F, , Abshire SM, McIlwrath S, Stinchcomb AL, Westlund KNet al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936–948.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Philpott HT, OʼBrien M, McDougall JJ. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain. 2017;158(12):2442–51.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Malfait AM, Gallily R, Sumariwalla PF, , Malik AS, Andreakos E, Mechoulam R, Feldmann Met al. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000;97(17):9561–9566.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Babalonis S, Haney M, Malcolm RJ, , Lofwall MR, Votaw VR, Sparenborg S, Walsh SLet al. Oral cannabidiol does not produce a signal for abuse liability in frequent marijuana smokers. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;172:9–13.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Sekar K, Pack A. Epidiolex as adjunct therapy for treatment of refractory epilepsy: a comprehensive review with a focus on adverse effects. F1000Res. 2019;8:F1000 Faculty Rev-234.

Article  Google Scholar

1.Russo E, Guy GW. A tale of two cannabinoids: the therapeutic rationale for combining tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Med Hypotheses. 2006;66(2):234–46.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Vermersch P, Trojano M. Tetrahydrocannabinol:Cannabidiol Oromucosal Spray for Multiple Sclerosis-Related Resistant Spasticity in Daily Practice. Eur Neurol. 2016;76(5–6):216–26. https://doi.org/10.1159/000449413.

CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar

1.Nielsen S, Germanos R, Weier M, Pollard J, Degenhardt L, Hall W, et al. The Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Treating Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: a Systematic Review of Reviews. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2018;18(2):8.

Article  Google Scholar

1.Ferrè L, Nuara A, Pavan G, Radaelli M, Moiola L, Rodegher M, et al. Efficacy and safety of nabiximols (Sativex(®)) on multiple sclerosis spasticity in a real-life Italian monocentric study. Neurol Sci. 2016;37(2):235–42.

Article  Google Scholar

1.Johnson JR, Lossignol D, Burnell-Nugent M, Fallon MT. An open-label extension study to investigate the long-term safety and tolerability of THC/CBD oromucosal spray and oromucosal THC spray in patients with terminal cancer-related pain refractory to strong opioid analgesics. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2013;46(2):207–18.

Article  Google Scholar

1.Portenoy RK, Ganae-Motan ED, Allende S, Yanagihara R, Shaiova L, Weinstein S, et al. Nabiximols for opioid-treated cancer patients with poorly-controlled chronic pain: a randomized, placebo-controlled, graded-dose trial. J Pain. 2012;13(5):438–49.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.•• Lichtman AH, Lux EA, McQuade R, Rossetti S, Sanchez R, Sun W, et al. Results of a Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study of Nabiximols Oromucosal Spray as an Adjunctive Therapy in Advanced Cancer Patients with Chronic Uncontrolled Pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2018;55(2):179–188.e1 (excellent study on Cannabinoids and Cancer Pain).

Article  Google Scholar

1.Nurmikko TJ, Serpell MG, Hoggart B, Toomey PJ, Morlion BJ, Haines D. Sativex successfully treats neuropathic pain characterised by allodynia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Pain. 2007;133(1–3):210–20.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Blake DR, Robson P, Ho M, Jubb RW, McCabe CS. Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006;45(1):50–2.

CAS  Article  Google Scholar

1.Cannabinoid Buccal Spray for Chronic Non-Cancer or Neuropathic Pain: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness, Safety, and Guidelines. 2016 Sep 21;. Review.

2.Moulin D, Boulanger A, Clark AJ, Clarke H, Dao T, Finley GA, et al. Pharmacological management of chronic neuropathic pain: revised consensus statement from the Canadian Pain Society. Pain Res. Manag. 19:328–35.

Article  Google Scholar

1.Darkovska-Serafimovska M, Serafimovska T, Arsova-Sarafinovska Z, Stefanoski S, Keskovski Z, Balkanov T. Pharmacotherapeutic considerations for use of cannabinoids to relieve pain in patients with malignant diseases. J Pain Res. 2018;11:837–42.

Article  Google Scholar

1.The FDA Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/warning-letters-and-test-results-cannabidiol-related-products.

Research paper available in PDF form for download here: fphar-08-00269

1.Plastic and Neuroprotective Mechanisms Involved in the Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol in Psychiatric Disorders

Alline C. Campos1*, Manoela V. Fogaça1, Franciele F. Scarante1, Sâmia R. L. Joca2, Amanda J. Sales2, Felipe V. Gomes3, Andreza B. Sonego1, Naielly S. Rodrigues1, IsmaelGalve-Roperh4,5 andFranciscoS.Guimarães1

1 Department of Pharmacology, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Applied Neurosciences (NAPNA), School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, 2 Department of Physical and Chemical, School of Pharmaceutical Science of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, 3 Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 4 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain, 5 Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red sobre Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas, Instituto de Universitario de Investigación en Neuroquímica and Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria, Madrid, Spain.

Frontiers in Pharmacology,  published: 23 May 2017 doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00269