The results of a study conducted by the University of New Mexico reports that patients taking legal cannabis to treat their chronic pain are more likely to reduce their use of prescriptions drugs. When compared with patients who didn’t use cannabis, 36% of those who did consume marijuana used fewer prescription medications by the end of the study. Meanwhile, 34% stopped using prescription drugs entirely. As legalization continues to expand, news from this and other studies reinforce cannabis’s ability to not only effectively treat certain illnesses, but also reduce patients’ dependence on prescription medications.
Chronic pain is the most recent addition to New York’s list of qualifying conditions, and after the release of the study’s results we spoke to Nelson Cuevas, general manager and head pharmacist at PharmaCannis to learn more about how cannabis helps patients with chronic pain.
The purpose of pain is to inform the body that it’s sick or injured, and when the illness or injury heals, the pain is supposed to go away. The difference with chronic pain is that it lingers. “We define chronic pain as something that the patient suffers from on a daily basis for months, even years,” Nelson says. Common ailments that many people deal with regularly may also fall into this category. “Chronic pain can be arthritis,” adds Nelson. “Even migraines can be considered chronic pain.”
While patients dealing with chronic pain have to find ways to manage their physical symptoms, they’re also faced with the emotional and mental burden that comes with constantly being in pain. Medical cannabis can offer pain relief while also giving patients strain variations that can help with sleep and lift their spirits.
For chronic pain sufferers, method of ingestion is key. “Cannabis works best when taken orally,” Nelson says. “When you ingest a dose of tincture, it’s processed through your liver, and it extends the duration of action from six to eight hours per dosing.” Dosing in this way makes it easier for patients to receive up to 24 hours of relief. Says Nelson, “That’s huge for patients who are suffering from chronic pain.”
The ability for patients to layer multiple forms of ingestion to address their pain management needs is one of the most significant benefits of medical cannabis. “The normal pain wave for a patient with chronic pain is that it’s up and down all day long,” says Nelson. “A strategy that we love to use here at PharmaCannis is, along with the tincture, we also recommend for the patient to use a vape for any breakthrough pain that the he or she may go through.”
Patients start with the oral form first to establish a baseline of pain relief that lasts for several hours, then use the vape to offer on-demand relief if needed. “The benefit is that since they already have a baseline of cannabis in their body via the tincture or capsule, they tend to vape less; so they’re not constantly vaping,” says Nelson.
Patients can safely use a vape in tandem with an oral method because cannabis isn’t considered to be addictive in nature, offering them peace of mind in addition to flexibility and convenience. “The peak is not as high because the patient already has that baseline of cannabis in their system, so the amount of pain is just not as sharp, and cannabis will help the patient to even better bring the pain down to a good equilibrium.”
For patients considering medical cannabis for chronic pain, oral forms of administration are the way to go. “The best methods of ingestion are tincture or pill,” Nelson says, “which are ingested and processed by the body the same way. The key is to take medical cannabis orally so [patients] can get a longer duration of action, supplemented with a vape for breakthrough pain.”
PharmaCannis offers an assortment of tinctures, capsules and vape oils.
- 20:1 THC to CBD
- 2:1 THC to CBD
- 1:1 THC to CBD
- 1:4 THC to CBD
- 1:20 THC to CBD
- 5 mg capsules
- 9.5 mg capsules (similar to the 20:1 THC to CBD tincture, which has 9.5 mg of THC to less than 0.5 mg of CBD)
High-THC Vape Oils:
- Sativa: energizing, uplifting
- Indica: relaxation
- Hybrid: combination relaxation and uplifting
Photo credit: Flickr