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From Acute to Chronic: How cannabis Kicks Chronic Pain to the Curb!

From Acute to Chronic: How cannabis Kicks Chronic Pain to the Curb!

Look. Nobody wants to be in pain. But, unfortunately, it’s a part of life that we can’t always avoid. And in many ways, it’s necessary. Pain is our body’s alarm when something’s not quite right. Sometimes we can figure out what’s causing the pain and address it, but other times it’s more complex. This has led many people to turn to cannabis to treat their chronic pain. But, how does it work to do that?

If you have ever struggled with persistent pain, you know treating it and finding relief can be a total headache. There are so many different causes of pain, and some types are notoriously difficult to manage. 

Some medications can be effective but come with unpleasant side effects that make them hardly worth it. Thankfully, cannabis is highly effective at treating chronic pain with few side effects.  

People have been using Cannabis for pain relief for ages, and for a good reason. It’s been known to help with all kinds of painful conditions, from headaches to chronic pain associated with severe illnesses like cancer and AIDS. And according to the Institute of Medicine, it shows a lot of promise as a source of effective pain relief.

So, how does cannabis work to treat chronic pain?

Let’s get into biology. Pain signals originate in receptor-bearing cells that respond to various stimuli, like temperature, touch, or movement. These pain stimuli travel to the brain via different pathways. When the brain receives the message, it communicates to the body, “I’m in pain.” And most pain is short-lived. But when pain persists, it becomes chronic pain. 

Opiates are all too often used to treat acute pain. Still, they’re not very practical or effective for chronic pain. They can cause some pretty unpleasant side effects, not to mention addiction. 

This is where cannabis has been a godsend for many chronic pain sufferers. Could marijuana be the source of the better pain medications we’ve been searching for? At HighHello, we certainly think so. 

3 different forms of pain and how they respond to cannabis.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of pain signals! Did you know that pain can be felt differently based on the type of injury or disease? There are three main pathways that pain signals travel through to reach the brain, and each one produces a unique sensation.

Somatic pain: Most of us think of this when we hear the word “pain.” This type of pain is caused by injury to tissues throughout the body. The signals travel to the brain via peripheral nerves. Somatic pain is typically felt as a constant, dull ache in the injured area.

Visceral pain: This type of pain is caused by injury or disease in the abdominal cavity, which stretches or disturbs tissues and organs. The gut contains specific receptors that send signals to the brain, creating a feeling of pressure deep within the abdomen. 

Interestingly, visceral pain often feels like it’s coming from a different part of the body, a phenomenon known as referred pain.

Neuropathic pain: This chronic pain occurs when the nerves themselves sustain injury. This type of pain can be incredibly challenging to treat because it doesn’t usually respond to traditional painkillers. Instead, medications that treat depression or seizures and specific surgical procedures may be effective. 

Neuropathic pain is often experienced as a burning sensation, which can even be triggered by a gentle touch.

Understanding these different pathways can help doctors and researchers develop better treatments for pain patients. Cannabis reacts differently as well. 

Let’s talk about the brain and pain.

CB1 receptor is a type of protein molecule that is found primarily in the brain and central nervous system. It is one of two types of cannabinoid receptors in the body (the other being CB2 receptors), and it binds to endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced naturally by the body) as well as phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids found in plants like cannabis).

When activated by cannabinoids, CB1 receptors can have a wide range of effects on the body, including reducing pain, inducing feelings of relaxation or euphoria, and affecting appetite and metabolism. THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and is responsible for many of the plant’s well-known effects on mood and cognition.

How cannabis treats somatic pain.

The Cannabis plant contains special compounds known as cannabinoids, which can interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a sophisticated signaling network that regulates many different functions, including the way you perceive pain. 

When you consume cannabinoids from Cannabis, they bind to receptors in the ECS, such as the CB1 and CB2 receptors, to help ease discomfort.

But that’s not all! According to research, activating CB1 and CB2 receptors can also decrease somatic pain by reducing pain signals sent by your peripheral nerves. As an added bonus, cannabinoids may also have anti-inflammatory effects that can contribute to easing somatic pain.

And that’s not even the best part! Cannabis can also activate your body’s natural pain relief system, known as the opioid system. This system includes receptors that respond to powerful pain medications like morphine and endogenous opioid peptides, such as endorphins. 

Activating the opioid system can help reduce the sensation of pain and bring you much-needed relief.

How cannabis treats visceral pain.

Cannabis may also be effective in treating visceral pain caused by disturbances in organs or tissues in the abdominal cavity. Cannabinoids in Cannabis can bind to receptors in the gut, known as CB1 receptors, and reduce the activity of neurons that transmit pain signals from the gut to the brain. This can help alleviate the feelings of pressure and discomfort associated with visceral pain.

With the anti-inflammatory properties of both THC and CBD, inflammation is reduced in the gut and other organs, helping relieve pain.

How cannabis treats neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain, which results from nerve damage, is often chronic and difficult to treat with conventional pain medications. However, Cannabis has shown promise in relieving neuropathic pain, which is a welcomed relief for those struggling with this type of chronic pain. 

Cannabinoids in Cannabis, such as THC and CBD, bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other receptors in the body, including the TRPV1 receptor, which is involved in pain sensation. By activating these receptors, cannabinoids can help reduce the transmission of pain signals and dampen the perception of pain.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may help protect nerve cells from damage and reduce inflammation in the nervous system.

Of course, everyone’s experience is unique, and the effectiveness of Cannabis in relieving chronic pain may vary depending on the specific cause of the pain. 

But with continued research, we can unlock even more secrets about the incredible power of this plant and develop more effective dosages and delivery methods for different types of pain. 

The role of CBD and THC in chronic pain management.

The two cannabinoids, THC and CBD, are the most popular in Cannabis. They work together in complex ways to relieve pain. THC is known for its psychoactive effects. CBD is non-psychoactive and has many therapeutic properties, including pain relief. But the two ways they interact with one another are important to understand. 

THC works by binding to CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system, reducing pain perception and increasing feelings of euphoria. However, THC can also cause side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and impaired cognitive function. 

Conversely, CBD does not directly bind to CB1 receptors but can indirectly modulate their activity. CBD also interacts with other receptors, such as the serotonin and TRPV1 receptors, which can contribute to its pain-relieving effects.

The entourage effect and chronic pain relief.

When THC and CBD are combined, they can work synergistically to produce more significant pain relief with fewer side effects. Studies have shown that THC and CBD can enhance each other’s pain-relieving effects, and CBD can mitigate some of the adverse effects of THC, such as anxiety and cognitive impairment. 

This is known as the entourage effect. This means the therapeutic benefits of Cannabis may be more significant when multiple cannabinoids are present rather than just one.

Additionally, THC and CBD can work together to modulate the endocannabinoid system’s activity, which helps regulate pain perception. And nobody is complaining about that. 

By activating CB1 and CB2 receptors and other receptors such as TRPV1 and PPAR-gamma, THC and CBD can reduce inflammation, decrease pain sensitivity, and improve overall well-being. They really are a dynamic duo. 

The role of terpenes in chronic pain treatment.

But it’s not just about CBD and THC. Terpenes play a pivotally important role in the management of chronic pain. But what are they exactly?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are naturally found in a variety of plants, including Cannabis. But that’s not all they do. They also offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits. In fact, terpenes have been found to work in synergy with cannabinoids like CBD and THC to enhance their effects.

For example, the terpene beta-caryophyllene has been found to interact with the body’s CB2 receptors, which are primarily located in the immune system. This interaction can help reduce inflammation and pain, making it an ideal terpene for chronic pain sufferers.

Another terpene that is commonly used in chronic pain treatment is myrcene. This terpene is known for its sedative properties and can help promote relaxation and sleep, which can be particularly beneficial for those who experience pain-related insomnia. 

Myrcene has also been found to have analgesic properties, making it an effective natural pain reliever.

As you can see, terpenes play a critical role in chronic pain treatment by enhancing the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids and offering unique therapeutic benefits. By incorporating terpenes into their treatment plan, chronic pain sufferers can potentially find natural and effective relief for their symptoms.

Have chronic pain? Schedule a private consultation with a budtender.

Are you a HighHello member living in Michigan? Good news! You now have access to a monthly session with your own virtual budtender. Our team of friendly and experienced budtenders is waiting to answer all your cannabis questions, big or small. Don’t miss out on this personalized service – subscribe today and elevate your cannabis experience to the next level!

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