The How, What And Why Of Legal-Green Pain Relief
It’s canna-pharmacology 1-0-1
“Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence”
That was the striking conclusion of a 2015 review of past research into cannabis pain relief published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
Striking, but given what many of us have experienced or seen in others, perhaps not surprising…
With government statistics suggesting one in five Canadians suffers from chronic pain, and – on the flip side – real concerns about levels of opioid use, the potential for cannabis to make a tangible difference to the nation’s health is undoubtedly there.
But have you ever wondered how cannabis pain relief actually works?
Well, let’s start with what we know (and don’t worry, we’ll keep it simple). Both THC and CBD contribute to relieving pain, albeit in somewhat different ways.
As might be obvious from the number of infused cosmetic products out on the market – CBD has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Due to the fact that pain is typically the result of some kind of inflammation, CBD can provide sufferers with real relief.
In contrast, THC works primarily by stimulating receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), particularly “CB1” receptors in the brain and spinal cord (in fact, THC also activates CB2 receptors, which can have further anti-inflammatory benefits, but that’s for another day).
The ECS is central to how we perceive pain (and many other physiological and cognitive responses), so when THC attaches to and activates receptors in the ECS, it can interfere with – and dampen – the body’s usual pain response.
Other aspects of exactly how THC affects cannabinoid receptors are still less understood. The same’s true of the so-called “entourage effect” – that is, the theory that the many cannabinoids and other natural components in the cannabis plant combine to create an effect that’s greater than the sum of their parts.
So clearly, there’s much still for us all to learn, but for now, you’ll at least know why you are feeling great the next time you interact with cannabis.
And of course, if you’re considering treating any medical conditions with cannabis, speak to your doctor first 👨🏻⚕️
See, that wasn’t too painful was it?