Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants with archaeological evidence dating back 12,000 years. It originated in Siberia and Mongolia and quickly spread through the world carried by explorers and soldiers. In China it was used as an anesthetic for surgery; and a pain reliever for childbirth and dental issues.
Cannabis was first cultivated in Canada by Samuel de Champlain’s herbalist at Port Royal as a medicinal herb. Explorers brought it to Brazil and Chile where it made its way through Mexico and further north to the US. Demonization of cannabis began with racism towards the Mexican immigrant population who brought their herbal medication with them. In addition, cannabis was wrongly demonized as a “gateway drug” and was lumped into the same category as dangerous narcotic drugs. It became the new focus of government control after prohibition ended and alcohol was legalized. Legalization of marijuana was a major platform agenda in recent elections.
The two main constituents of cannabis – cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) work to relieve pain. CBD is not psychoactive and provides no high. It relieves spasmodic, cramping pain and has applications to reduce seizures and tremors. It reduces anxiety and counters the psychoactive effects of THC to allow for normal cognition.
THC is the psychoactive component responsible for the marijuana high and is also strongly anti-inflammatory. Further to that, THC can help to improve appetite and to reduce nightmares for an overall better lifestyle. Not only that, but research has begun to show THC has strong anti-cancer properties and that both substances work to relax the body and to induce sleep. When combined, THC and CBD provide a strong benefit in managing chronic pain.
There are a number of different ways for THC and CBD to be ingested; smoking cannabis is the most common delivery method and provides instant relief, the effect of this method is short lived and it is important that dosing happens at regular intervals of every two to three hours. For chronic pain management, edibles produce a longer period of relief with deeper relaxation lasting for up to 12 hours, it is most effective in combining cannabis with fat as this allows for the body to better utilize the cannabis in treating and managing pain. Cannabis oil is a product that is easy to use and dose and similarly herbal cannabis can be infused in butter or coconut oil to make a fat which can be used in cooking and baking.
For daytime use, high CBD cannabis products don’t cause cognitive impairment, but can cause drowsiness, so it is important to begin with low doses to find the “sweet spot” for pain relief without fatigue. For night time use, THC offers a sense of well-being and giddiness that counteracts anxiety found in many cases of insomnia. Better sleep allows for optimal healing of the body as well as higher pain tolerance. Use of either high CBD or high THC strains or both in combination gives the best possible pain management.
With more research to counteract the stigma as a recreational drug, cannabis is becoming a popular adjunct to pain management therapy. Cannabis is also incredibly safe, with doses beyond 20,000 times the therapeutic dose theoretically required to be lethal. It also works differently than most pain relieving; and sleep inducing drugs, which means it can be used to support other medications that would be dangerous at higher doses.
Cannabis is an important herbal medication to relieve chronic pain and is likely to become more and more popular as a means to avoid overdose and death attributed to chemical pain relievers.
Contact us to book a consultation if you think that cannabis might be the right option in treating your chronic pain.