The field of medical cannabis research is growing exponentially right now. Increased interest in medical cannabis is coming from patients and medical professionals alike. The changing legal status of cannabis in many different jurisdictions is not only altering public awareness of medical cannabis but also contributing to more funding and support for research.
One of the best-studied areas in the field is pain relief. A relatively large body of evidence suggests medical cannabis may be an effective painkiller for many different types of pain caused by a wide range of medical conditions. Cannabis has been highlighted in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic, with some experts suggesting medical cannabis may be part of the solution to the crisis.
While the research supports the idea that cannabis is an effective painkiller, most patients quickly realize not all strains of cannabis are created equal. Which ones earn the title of best cannabis for pain?
The Science of Cannabis for Pain
Before determining what the best cannabis for pain is, it helps to take a quick refresher about why medical cannabis may be an effective painkiller in the first place. It starts with cannabinoids, the active substances in cannabis. While delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the best-known cannabinoids, scientists are actually aware of more than 100 different cannabinoids.
THC and CBD are the best-known and hence the best-studied among them. Other cannabinoids may have different effects, but more research is required to verify the individual characteristics of these substances.
THC is responsible for most of the effects typically associated with cannabis. It can make people feel drowsy. It can also increase feelings of hunger. CBD has somewhat different effects. People who use CBD-heavy strains or CBD oils often report they feel awake or energized. They may also experience a suppressed appetite.
Both CBD and THC exhibit painkilling properties. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which may relax and soothe inflamed tissue, such as nerves. THC is psychoactive and may affect the brain, inhibiting pain signals and responses in the body.
Which Is Better?
Some people contend indica strains, with their high levels of THC, make the best cannabis for pain. This is partially because THC affects both the mind and body. It can relax tense tissues and reduce irritation and inflammation through this process. Since it also acts on the brain, it can inhibit responses to pain signals. Its tendency to put people to sleep is another reason some consider it the more effective cannabinoid for pain relief.
CBD users report high levels of relief, however, so don’t rule out sativa cannabis strains, which tend to have lower levels of THC and higher concentrations of CBD. CBD oils are also cited as effective painkillers for many. As noted, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help in soothing and relieving pain.
The short answer, then, is neither is actually better than the other. Both affect people quite differently, so the best cannabis for pain may actually depend on the type of pain and the kind of relief you want to achieve with your treatment. If you’re hoping to lay down and take a nap, THC may help you achieve this. CBD can be a better choice if you need to be active and awake.
Hybrid Strains Offer the Best of Both
Some producers have developed hybrid strains, which blend indica and sativa plants together in order to achieve different concentrations of CBD and THC. Hybrids can lean in one direction or the other, but they expand the range of options available to patients looking for the best cannabis for pain.
So what is the best cannabis for pain? It will depend on a number of different factors. The good news is there are many different strains and products, which can help you discover a medical cannabis treatment that truly fits your unique needs.
It’s important to note medical cannabis is not one size fits all. Consulting with your doctor or an expert can help you decide which products are best if appropriate.