Chronic pain can lead to burning sensations in different areas. The common ones are—back, mouth, face, muscles, and neck. Patients may experience depression, fear, and sleep problems.
With scientific evidence that cannabis can help pain management, more patients are opting for the herb. It’s legal for medical use in over 30 states. To access state-licensed dispensaries, you require medical marijuana doctors’ recommendations.
Marijuana’s medicinal effects are due to the presence of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. THC and CBD are the two important cannabinoids. So, what are the effects of these compounds in pain relief? Which one is better? Read on to learn more.
What is CBD?
CBD, cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. This naturally occurring compound is usually used in cannabis oils, edibles, etc. for inducing the feelings of relaxation and calmness. It’s non-psychoactive.
CBD is also available in hemp plants. Only hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC are legal in the United States (according to the Farm Bill of 2018).
Cannabidiol provides lots of health benefits. The list includes anxiety relief, pain management, anti-inflammatory effects, managing chemotherapy side-effects, and neuroprotective disorders.
What is THC?
THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is a primary cannabinoid in cannabis, responsible for causing psychoactive effects.
Scientists say that it’s a secondary metabolite, and serves as a plant’s defense system by preventing it from being eaten by insects and animals.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is effective in managing pain, nausea, sleep problems, seizures, stimulating appetite, etc. According to federal regulations, the use of THC products is illegal in the United States. To access it legally, you need an MMJ card from medical marijuana doctors.
How THC & CBD Work For Managing Pain?
CBD and THC are effective in pain management. They work by inhibiting certain brain chemicals, which cause pain.
When you consume THC, it attaches to cannabinoid receptors in both immune and nerve cells. By activating receptors in nerve cells, THC helps in reducing sensations of pain.
THC binds to CB1 receptors & causes psychoactive effects while CBD helps in dampening these effects.
On the other hand, CBD works with other elements for improving wellness without causing high effects.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), THC influences certain functions such as memory, pleasure, thinking, concentration, coordination, etc. As a result, operating heavy machinery or driving after taking the drug may not be safe.
THC and CBD interact with chemical receptors, which influence the release of certain brain’s neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in pain, stress, immune function, sleep, etc.
The FDA has approved a CBD-derived drug Epidiolex for the treatment of different forms of epilepsy in children.
Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC is also approved by the FDA for the treatment of AIDS-related anorexia and chemotherapy-related vomiting and nausea.
So, which one is better for pain relief—THC or CBD? Well, it’s hard to say. However, a combination of the two can provide better effects. This is because by combining CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and THC’s medicinal properties can help you cope with pain effectively.
What Studies Have to Say?
There has been a wide range of studies that show the effectiveness of THC and CBD in pain management. Here are some latest ones-
A 2018 review was focused on checking how cannabidiol works for chronic pain management. Researchers analyzed the results of studies conducted from 1975 to March 2018. They examined different types of pain, such as cancer pain, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia pain. The review concluded that CBD was helpful in managing pain without causing any side-effects.
Cancer patients also use cannabidiol. An animal study shows that CBD can help in the shrinking of cancer-related tumors. However, human studies were focused on evaluating the CBD effects in managing pain associated with cancer and chemotherapy.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that cannabis provides various benefits to patients living with cancer. These include appetite stimulation, pain relief, boosted sleep, and antiemetic effects.
Moreover, CBD can help in managing chemotherapy-related side-effects. These include pain, vomiting, and lack of appetite.
A 2010 study was focused on checking the effectiveness of the THC-CBD extract and opioids in managing cancer-related pain. Researchers found that the extract provided better pain management effects.
THC & CBD Side-Effects
Although THC and CBD are effective in managing pain, they can lead to certain side-effects.
Risks associated with THC use are-
- Dry mouth
- Memory problems
- Red eyes
- Coordination issues
- Boosted heart rate
Taking high-THC strains can lead to long-term effects. So, before taking THC, make sure you talk to one of the licensed medical marijuana doctors.
On the other hand, CBD doesn’t lead to significant side-effects. Common risks associated with CBD use are-
- Appetite loss
- Change in body weight
Moreover, CBD may interact with certain prescription medications and OTC drugs. Research says that consumers should avoid CBD with medications that come with a grapefruit warning.
The FDA says that consuming grapefruits while taking these medications may lead to increasing concentrations of the medication in the bloodstream. This results in adverse effects.
Accessing THC & CBD Legally
Cannabis laws keep on changing. So, it’s necessary to check local laws before you start marijuana treatment. According to federal regulations, THC is still illegal. But, it’s legal in many states for medical purposes. To access high-THC products legally in your state, you require a medical marijuana card signed by a professional doctor.
With telemedicine, you can talk to medical marijuana doctors from home. The process is-
- Fill a simple form
- See a doctor online using HIPAA-compliant platform
- Receive your MMJ rec letter in PDF format via an email
According to the US Farm Bill, hemp is legalized. There are certain rules for selling hemp products that contain CBD. For instance, it’s not allowed to sell some products across state lines.
As per the guidelines, hemp-derived CBD products are legal provided they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC are illegal. And, to access them legally, you require a med rec letter signed by an MMJ doctor.
THC and CBD contain medicinal properties, which can help in relieving pain, anxiety, and managing sleep problems. The two cannabinoids stimulate certain receptors in the body, thus regulating sleep, appetite, mood, and other functions.
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound while THC is psychoactive. By combining the two, you can receive the desired health benefits. Talk to a licensed doctor to seek professional help for taking cannabis products for pain management.
Marijuana laws may vary from state to state. So, before buying THC or CBD products, make sure you check local laws carefully.