In the United States, 23 states have currently legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Of the patients who have used some form of marijuana, 92 percent have reported improvements in their respective conditions. Medical marijuana has seen a major increase in popularity over the last few years. Despite this, as well as the overwhelming success that people are seeing from it, much of the country is still on the fence about its benefits.
If you frequently struggle with muscle and joint pain, you may have heard that marijuana can help your symptoms. But, are you still on the fence about giving it a try? If so, keep reading. We’re here to explain how marijuana can be used as an excellent tool for joint and muscle pain relief.
Chronic pain and arthritis are the two most common conditions for which people use medical marijuana. Inflammation is the primary cause of pain and stiffness caused by arthritis and other muscle aches, and marijuana has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Lots of people are against medical marijuana for joint and muscle pain relief, but the research doesn’t lie. Take, for example, a 2014 study conducted at the University of South Carolina.
Researchers made an important discovery about tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), one of the psychoactive components of cannabis. They found that it could be used to decrease the immune response that causes inflammation in people with chronic autoimmune conditions like arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
A 2015 study also found that cannabidiol (also known as CBD), a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, also decreased inflammation in rats that were induced with a condition that mimics the effects of arthritis. In addition to decreasing inflammation, the researchers noted that the administration of CBD came with no adverse side effects.
Another major benefit of marijuana is its potential to help mitigate the opioid crisis. Opioid addiction is a serious problem throughout the United States, and thousands of people die every year from overdoses.
Many researchers believe that the legalization of medical marijuana can help decrease these deaths. They think it will be effective because it will give people suffering from chronic pain another option besides dangerous opioids. Lots of people start taking opioids because they’re desperate to find joint and muscle pain relief. But these drugs are so habit-forming that they can quickly take over a patient’s life.
In multiple studies, medical marijuana has been proven to be just as effective as opioids for treating chronic joint and muscle pain. And, the risk of dependency is much lower than that of popular prescription painkillers. Marijuana can also help people who are currently dependant on opioids to wean themselves off of the drugs. It helps minimize withdrawal symptoms while still providing patients with relief from their pain.
What exactly is it about medical marijuana that makes it so effective for joint and muscle pain relief?
The body is actually full of cannabinoid receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. The endocannabinoid system affects a number of bodily functions, including:
As far as pain goes, a few different things happen when you consume cannabis. THC binds to the body’s cannabinoid receptors to help trigger anti-inflammatory responses. This helps minimize pain and promote healing and recovery. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t bind to the cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it works by activating several other receptors throughout the body. This triggers additional anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving responses.
It also minimizes the psychoactive effects of THC. Because of this, it’s typically recommended that people consume both THC and CBD to get the best benefits of medical marijuana.
There are a number of ways that people can use marijuana for joint and muscle pain relief. Some of the most popular methods include:
Smoking is probably the most popular way to consume marijuana, and for good reason. When you smoke, cannabinoids are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This allows you to notice the benefits almost instantly.
If you’re smoking marijuana for joint and muscle pain relief, it’s important that you choose a strain that’s meant for that specific purpose.
Some of the most popular pain-relief strains include:
All of these strains are great for pain relief. But, remember that everyone (and their pain) is different.
Be patient. It can take some time, as well as some trial and error, to identify the best strain for your particular tolerance and pain levels.
Vaping is another fast-acting method of consuming marijuana. Some people prefer vaping to smoking because the effects are less harsh. And, there’s no risk of lung damage like there is with smoking since you’re just inhaling the vapor.
When it comes to vaping marijuana, you have a couple different options. You can buy vape liquids that contain a mix of THC and CBD, or liquids that only contain CBD. It just depends on your preferences (and whether or not medical cannabis is legal where you live).
Topical creams, lotions, and balms are all good options for people who want pain relief but don’t necessarily want to smoke marijuana. People also like topicals because they don’t contain THC (or contain a negligible amount). This means they can provide pain-relieving benefits without any kind of a high. Topicals are good for muscle pain because you can apply them directly to the area where you need relief.
However, the fact that they only offer localized relief can be a drawback for people who are experiencing pain throughout the body. If this is the case for you, you’ll probably be better off with a different method.
Tinctures are a solution made from a mixture of an alcohol solvent and marijuana. Besides smoking and vaping, tinctures are one of the fastest-acting ways to consume marijuana. You simply put a few drops under your tongue. By putting them there, they bypass the digestive system and enter the bloodstream through the mucous membranes. Tinctures are another good option for people who don’t want to smoke. They are sold in most dispensaries, but you can also make them at home fairly easily.
Edibles are a fun option for people who want to consume cannabis but are intimidated by smoking. They take longer to take effect since they have to be absorbed through the digestive system. But, their effects often last much longer than smoking or using tinctures. You can buy all kinds of edibles at dispensaries. But, you can also make them at home. Of course, you’ll need to be careful and make sure you’re using a high-quality cannabis strain when doing so in order to reap the greatest benefits.
Edibles can be unpredictable, both with regards to their effects and the amount of time they take to start working. Because of this, it’s best to eat only a small amount when you’re first trying them. Remember, too, that they can take between 30 and 90 minutes to kick in, so you need to be patient. You don’t want to accidentally overeat and end up with too strong of a high.
It’s technically still an edible, but CBD oil deserves its own category since it’s grown in popularity over the last couple of years. Hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal. People all over the United States are using it for joint and muscle pain relief, as well as for other issues like anxiety and insomnia. Like other edibles, CBD oil has to make its way through the digestive system, so it can take a little longer to kick in. Some people have also questioned its effectiveness when it’s extracted from hemp. But it’s still a powerful tool. It’s also one of the only options available to people who live in states where medical marijuana is not legal.
Many people also swear that consuming raw marijuana leaves works wonders for joint and muscle pain relief. They claim that the plant’s effects are stronger when it’s eaten raw.
Raw marijuana doesn’t have a particularly pleasant taste. The easiest way to disguise this is to mix it into smoothies or fresh fruit and vegetable juices. The good thing about consuming raw cannabis is that it won’t get you high. But, it will still provide the same anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits.
If you’re interested exclusively in the medicinal benefits but don’t want to deal with a high, this might be a good option for you.
Want to learn more about medical marijuana and how it can be used for joint and muscle pain relief? Check out some of our other joint pain resources today.