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Medical Cannabis For Chronic Pain- How Safe & Effective It Can Be? - Avens Blog | Avens Blog

Medical Cannabis For Chronic Pain- How Safe & Effective It Can Be?

Millions of Americans live with chronic pain and the worst implications it brings, from anxiety to depression, insomnia, and fatigue. The worst part is that they depend on painkillers to address the trauma and lead a normal life. Medications can make you habitual even before you know it, and long-term use can have dire side effects. Thankfully, there are several well-researched alternatives to offer safe and effective relief, and medical cannabis is one of them.

However, medical cannabis comes in a great zone of legality as it is not yet legal in all states. Moreover, you may have some apprehension as a beginner, considering the recreational reputation of this therapeutic alternative. But there is ample scientific evidence proving its safety and efficacy for treating chronic pain and several related conditions, including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Let us highlight the facts you need to know to get started safely and confidently.

From recreational to medicinal- A growing acceptance

Cannabis has come a long way over the years, and it is no longer considered a recreational substance. In fact, it is legal for medicinal use in several states, and many more are likely to follow suit in the near future. Besides the legalization of medical cannabis, a growing number of research studies validate its therapeutic benefits. At the same time, thousands of consumers take the trust a notch higher with personal recommendations. Research data shows its efficacy for several diseases such as-

  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s Disease

Besides these physical conditions, it can also help treat mental issues such as anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and sleep disorders. It even helps cancer patients deal with the pain and nausea caused by chemotherapy. But getting the maximum benefit from medical cannabis boils down to gaining more information about the apt product, dosage, and consumption method. You may also have to invest in a bit of trial and error to get the best outcomes. But it is clear that the therapy works for most patients.

Efficacy of medical cannabis

Although much more research is required, preliminary studies prove that cannabis interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to deliver viable medicinal effects. Essentially, the endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in regulating neuronal and immune cell function. It comprises three parts–

  • Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2)
  • Endogenous cannabinoids produced by the body
  • Enzymes that facilitate the breakdown and utilization of cannabinoids

CB1 receptors are found in your central nervous system and affect the pain experience. They also influence your memory and emotions. They are primarily concerned with the psychotropic effects of cannabis. Conversely, CB2 receptors are related to the immune response and have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Cannabis contains exogenous cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. These cannabinoids act on both CB1 and CB2 receptors, leading to effective pain relief.

Getting started with medical cannabis for pain relief

The legality and medical research are enough to bring confidence in medical cannabis, so users are keen to join the bandwagon. Let us explain how you can get started with the therapeutic option.

Get a doctor’s order

The first step for starting with medical cannabis is to get a recommendation for your doctor. Since cannabis is still federally illegal, doctors cannot legally give prescriptions but recommendations or orders. You cannot expect to buy it from a dispensary without the order, even in a legal jurisdiction like DC. Also, remember to check the state-specific information about the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. You must follow both conditions to be on the right side of the law as a medicinal consumer.

Find a legit seller

Once you have the orders, you must find a legit seller in your area. It is easy if you live in a legal state as you can find a dispensary or delivery service in the area. For example, you can do your due diligence by checking the local dc weed companies as a  DC resident. In fact, you can even buy cannabis as a tourist, provided you have the necessary documents to validate your age and doctor’s recommendation. But you must check the reputation of the store before buying the products. Asking for recommendations is a good idea, but you may not know someone who uses medical cannabis. Thankfully, you can check online reviews to get a fair idea about the seller’s reputation and product quality.

Pick an ideal product

Besides following the state laws and checking a legit seller, you must pick an ideal product for addressing chronic pain. The good thing with medical cannabis is that you have several options in products and consumption methods. You may dig deep into different options to understand their outcomes or experiment with them to find the ideal product. Here are the options to consider-

  • Inhalation entails vaping and smoking a herb or vaping liquid. The method offers rapid pain relief as the cannabinoids reach your bloodstream quickly from your lungs. But not everyone likes it because the smoke may irritate the lungs. Moreover, the method is not discreet as others can see and smell the smoke.
  • Ingestion of a tincture also offers a fast and effective relief just like inhalation. But the method is more discreet as you need not worry about the smoke and odor of these products.
  • Edibles make a good option for users looking for lasting relief from pain. The cannabinoids reach your bloodstream only after digestion, so the effects may take a couple of hours to set in, but they stay for several hours. They even help you sleep better and experience lasting anxiety relief. The best part is that you get delicious options like gummies, brownies, and chocolates.
  • Topical cannabis is ideal if you do not want to inhale, ingest, or eat cannabis. You can apply creams, ointments, and salves directly on the skin to get local pain relief. Cannabis bath bombs are also an option.

Find an ideal dosage

Choosing the right product gives you a good start, but you must also find your ideal dosage. With cannabis dosing, you cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach as it works differently for everyone. Factors like age, gender, body weight, metabolism, and tolerance level decide how much is enough to get effective pain relief. But remember to follow the rule of low and slow as a beginner. Begin with a minimal dose, and titrate it until you find the best outcome. You may increase or reduce the dose later, depending on the changes in your condition and tolerance levels down the line. But do not give in to the temptation to go high with the dosing only to get better relief because you may end up doing more harm than good.

Examine the product composition closely

Good cannabis education is also essential for medicinal consumers as it enables you to choose wisely. Essentially, you must know your cannabinoids well so that it is easy to understand product composition. CBD is a therapeutic cannabinoid that primarily offers pain relief with its anti-inflammatory effects. THC is the other main cannabinoid that leans on the psychoactive side. Examine the ratio of THC to CBD on the product label before buying it. Sellers are legally bound to mention these details on the labels, so finding them is not a concern. Many physicians recommend a 1:1 ratio to begin, though it is better to go low with THC to skip the high and derive only effective pain relief.

Know cannabis strains

Besides knowing your cannabinoids, you must also get a complete overview of cannabis strains. Some strains are inherently good for pain relief, and you can learn about them with online research. You may seek guidance from a seasoned budtender or take a hit-and-trial approach to cannabis use. THC-dominant strains serve a mix of pain relief and a euphoric experience. Conversely, CBD-dominant strains are ideal if you are sensitive to THC and look for a clear-headed relief. You may even find a balanced hybrid strain to get the best of both worlds.

Follow the precautions

Another valuable piece of advice is to follow the precautions as a newbie, and even when you gain more experience with medical cannabis. Stick to the dosage instructions in the first place. Be realistic with your expectations and ready to try a few products and different doses until you find your sweet spot. Expect minor side effects such as anxiety, dry mouth, and drowsiness along the way. But you will probably overcome them once your body adapts to medical cannabis. Time your sessions wisely when you need not drive or fulfill work obligations.

Medical cannabis offers safe and lasting relief minus any side effects, even with prolonged use. You can consider it an ideal alternative to painkillers, provided you are willing to use common sense and follow the rules. Also, stay ahead of the legal guidelines in your state to avoid any hassles with the authorities. Life gets a lot easier once you get your medical cannabis game right.

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