Chronic Pain and Cannabis
Feeling pain is part of what it means to be human. Bumps, bruises, aches, and pains serve as indicators, telling us something is wrong or we should stop a certain action. Most of the pain felt is immediate, like after stubbing a toe, or lingers for a short time, like spraining an ankle. But pain that persists, chronic pain, can be a much more serious matter. Chronic pain can stem from strained or tight muscles, worn down or stiff joints, or even inflamed internal organs, and is often a sign of a larger health concern. If the pain continues for a long enough time period, the chronic pain becomes a problem unto itself. There are a number of treatments typically used to treat chronic pain. These treatments and medicines can help alleviate the pain, but too often come with side effects just as harmful and debilitating as the chronic pain they are treating. Fortunately, cannabis has presented itself as an effective alternative to more traditional prescription and over the counter drugs. Those who suffer from chronic pain have found relief from their daily struggle, using products such as cannabis edibles.
HOW PAIN WORKS
Pain can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but it is an important part of our body’s effort to keep us healthy. When our body tissue is damaged in some way, nerves in the damaged area send a message to our brain letting it know something is not right. Our brain then takes steps to stop further damage to whatever part of the body is sending that pain message, such as the instantaneous reaction of pulling a hand away from a hot surface. The amount of pain we feel is a result of how many pain messages our brain receives from the nerves of the damaged area. There are many factors that dictate how much pain we each experience, including the complexity of our nervous system. Our nervous system is so complex the Mayo Clinic describes it as a complicated traffic system, with on-ramps, different speeds, traffic lights, varying weather and road conditions, a traffic control center, an emergency response system, and more.
Eventually and ideally, our bodies heal, the nerves in the damaged area stop sending pain messages to the brain, and we no longer feel the discomfort. But sometimes a part of our body can become damaged in a way that is not so easily fixed and the nerves’ pain messages can persist. This is known as chronic pain. Chronic pain is pain that persists for months or longer and can be its own independent issue. Things like an old sports injury, disease, or illnesses can be examples of chronic pain that can have a serious impact on our quality of life. Because chronic pain can be such a trying experience, many doctors will prescribe strong painkillers, even opioids, to help their patients’ agony.
Chronic pain can be treated with many different drugs, depending on the source of the pain. More mild pain may require taking NSAIDs, while more severe pain may be treated with serious, potent painkillers, such as opioids. Over the counter drugs, such as NSAIDS or Acetaminophen, are easy to access and treat pain and inflammation by blocking pain receptors in the body from sending and receiving pain messages. Despite their accessibility and ease of use, NSAIDS and Acetaminophen come with side effects, such as nausea, stomach pain, kidney problems, and in extreme cases, diabetes and liver failure. Those living with chronic pain also turn to COX-2 inhibitors, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications. COX-2 inhibitors are very similar to NSAIDS in how they treat pain, but come with different side effects, including headaches, dizziness, fluid retention, and high blood pressure. Older adults tend to be more susceptible to these side effects compared to younger adults.
Antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, while having specific uses outside of treating chronic pain, can be used to limit the pain messages sent and received throughout the body and treat depression, which can exacerbate chronic pain. The initial side effects of these drugs include nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness, but are often mild. In some cases mood changes can worsen depression and lead to suicidal thoughts. These drugs also take weeks to begin working, which may be too long for many suffering from chronic pain. In cases where chronic pain is severe, doctors may prescribe opioids to their patients. Opioids work by mimicking the body’s pain-relieving chemicals to reduce the number of pain messages received by the brain and relaxing bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rate. Opioids may be powerful painkillers, but they have a high rate of addiction and overdose, which can ruin the lives of the user and those around them. The side effects and dangers of treatments normally used to treat chronic pain are pushing more and more people to seek relief elsewhere.
CANNABIS CAN HELP
Cannabis has been found to be an effective alternative to more typical treatments of chronic pain. The active components in cannabis, known as cannabinoids, can help not only with the chronic pain that inspired the use of opioids and other drugs, but also with the problems that arise from withdrawal from opioids. While there are a number of cannabinoids found in cannabis, those which are most effective in combatting pain are THC, CBG, CBN, and CBD. When these cannabinoids are introduced to your system they attach themselves to receptors in your body which specifically connect with cannabinoids. Both CBD and CBG help our bodies fight inflammation, relieve pain, and calm the mind, whereas THC and CBN combat insomnia, nausea, and pain. Once the cannabinoids are attached to the receptors, the system is signaled to stop producing certain chemicals that increase sensitivity to pain and start producing chemicals that relieve pain, inflammation, and stress, relaxing the body and mind.
SENSI TO THE RESCUE
Sensi has several products that can help treat chronic pain. To reduce inflammation and pain many users find success with Sensi Chew CBD Platinum, a non-psychoactive cannabis infused chocolate caramel that when taken sublingually goes to work in 15-20 minutes. If the convenience of a pill is preferred, Sensi Caps CBD softgels work in the same way as the chews but can take up to 45 minutes for onset. Sensi also has options that include THC: Sensi Chew Indica, Sensi Chew Sativa, and Sensi Chew Hybrid; all of which are powerful muscle and mind relaxers. For users looking for a balance of CBD and THC Sensi offers Sensi Chew CBD Gold which has a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. For sleep, Sensi Chew Insomnia with THC and melatonin helps with severe insomnia and pain, and Sensi Chew Insomnia Plus CBD and melatonin helps with milder insomnia and pain. For more information on Sensi Products and how cannabis can help with pain visit www.sensiproducts.com
“For 6 years I have suffered extreme pain from fibromyalgia. Then a friend gave me a Sensi Chew to try. It was a miracle! I have never experienced relief like I’ve had with this product. It was a Sensi Chew Sativa and the results were fantastic. Narcotics and the other pain meds haven’t worked and I’m so grateful this does! “– ML, Santa Rosa CA
“I suffer from chronic jaw pain and headaches due to muscle tension. As a busy student, I need something that will help me sleep at night. Sensi Insomnia chew gives me gentle pain relief and helps me sleep deeply, while leaving me awake and alert the next morning. Highly recommended.“- CT, San Francisco CA
“Understanding pain.” Mayo Clinic. 26 July 2016. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 31 Jan. 2019 <https://www.mayoclinic.org/understandingpain/art-20208632>.
Webb, Charles W., and Sandra M. Webb. “Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis: A Patient Survey.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Apr. 2014. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine and Public Health. 31 Jan. 2019 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998228/>.