Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans and is defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. This type of pain can be a result of an injury, an illness, or the cause may be unknown. For most patients, the main goal is to decrease pain and improve functionality/quality of life. At this time, there is no cure for chronic pain. Patients who suffer from chronic pain are often prescribed highly addictive and toxic opioid medications by their physicians. In the US, the number of opiate medications being prescribed is increasing at an alarming rate. Many patients are looking to switch opioids and synthetic medicines for medical cannabis as it becomes legal in states throughout the country. Medical cannabis is an ideal replacement because it is impossible to overdose with cannabis and is less addictive than opioids. According to Dr. Sulak with Healer.com, the majority of patients who begin using medical cannabis for chronic pain, cut their opiate usage in half in the first week. So how does cannabis work for pain?
There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The two most commonly known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. These cannabinoids, which are naturally anti-inflammatory, work seamlessly with our endocannabinoid system. The human cannabinoid system contains CB1 receptors, which are located throughout the brain and central nervous system, and CB2 receptors which are related to the immune system and are found in high concentrations in the gastrointestinal system. When cannabis is consumed either by inhaling or ingesting, the cannabinoids bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our body. Pain messages also interact with these receptors. When cannabinoids from cannabis consumption fill these receptors, they limit the pain messages being sent to the brain making cannabis a natural and effective method of pain relief. For a more detailed description of the endocannabinoid system and how it works with cannabis, check out this article on Leafly.com. Something to keep in mind about the endocannabinoid system is that everyone is different. This means that patients may react differently or find different relief from medicinal cannabis than others. It’s important to keep track of what strains/products and what doses work for your symptoms. At Bask, we offer product trackers for patients to keep a journal of the symptom being treated, the strain/product used, the dose, and the effect.
C3RN Cannabis Survey
A recent survey was conducted by the Cannabis Community Care Network (C3RN) with UMass Dartmouth to learn more about how patients are using medical cannabis. Questions included preferred method of consumption and whether patients were trying to decrease prescription drug use. The study surveyed patients from dispensaries around Massachusetts and compared the findings with national survey data. According to the survey, the majority of patients at Bask use medical cannabis to treat symptoms of chronic pain. Seventy-three percent of patients also reported using cannabis to reduce prescription medication intake.