From chronic pain to arthritis to muscle spasms, medical marijuana can provide potent relief. While all pain is the result of coordinated activation of brain cells, it is important to know the cause of your pain in order to determine the best strain for fighting it. Pain can be classified in three categories: Nociceptive, Neuropathic and Central. Each category is unique and will therefore benefit from therapies unique to that particular type of pain.
Nociceptive Pain (Inflammation)
Nociceptive Pain is a fancy phrase for pain caused by inflammation and often relates to tissue damage. This type of pain can be described as sharp, aching or throbbing and typically follows physical damage such as an injury. Some other examples of nociceptive pain includes arthritis, sprains, burns and bruising. When injuries occur, the body sends inflammatory and immune cells to help repair the damage. During this process, proteins and chemicals are released for healing which are what activate the receptors and send pain signals to the brain.
The severity of this pain can be reduced in two ways: 1) Blocking the inflammatory process itself or the signals or 2) Dampening the signals before they reach the brain. This is where cannabis comes in.
Cannabis and Inflammation
The cannabinoids THC and CBD both have a unique ability to reduce pain at the site of an injury due to their potent anti-inflammatory effects. THC does this by activating CB2 receptors in immune cells to dampen the body's response to pain. THC can also directly activate CB1 receptors in the brain to modulate pain. Similarly, CBD blocks inflammatory mediators to dampen pain signals but it is also able to shift cell repair from pro-inflammatory properties to anti-inflammatory properties, thus reducing pain.
Best Strains for Inflammation
The best cannabis strains to fight inflammation are Indica and Indica-dominant options as they tend to have greater physical effects and a higher potency of THC to reduce pain. CBD-only strains are also great for pain relief, as mentioned above!
Some great inflammation fighting strains include:
- Girl Scout Cookies: This is a potent Indica-dominant strain that produces heavy body effects, ideal for individuals looking for relief from inflammation and pain. It is also great for insomnia and can help improve appetite as well.
- Green Crack: While most Sativa-dominant strains produce strong, heady highs they also offer moderate pain relief. This is a great daytime strain for individuals looking for some morning relief and it is known to boost mood and energy levels.
- Charlotte’s Web (CBD): This strain features regularly high levels of CBD, up to 20%, with little to no THC. Despite zero psychoactive effects, Charlotte’s Web is excellent for managing and reducing levels of inflammation - especially in the case of chronic issues.
Another major type of pain is neuropathic pain, which results from the central nervous system and effects 7-10% of the population. This type of pain is congruent with forceful injury, stabbing or pinching that can cause damage nerves. Neuropathic pain can also occur from underlying diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis whereby the cells break down, resulting in neuropathic damage and subsequently - pain.
Cannabis and Neuropathic Pain
Unlike nociceptive pain, which is caused by inflammation and is easy to target with steroids and other medications, neuropathic pain is traditionally more difficult to treat and manage. Fortunately, cannabis has been proven to be effective at managing multiple sclerosis and battling Parkinson's Disease, as well as other conditions that present with this type of pain including Sciatica.
Best Strains for Neuropathic Pain
- Purple Kush: This is a potent Indica-dominant strain named one of the top 10 most powerful strains! It is not for beginners, but can provide amazing pain relief for more experienced users. This strain is ideal for neuropathic pain due to the full body effects and it can also help with improving mood and insomnia.
- Sour Diesel: Sour Diesel is an almost-pure Sativa strain that is highly uplifting and invigorating! Due to the uplifting nature, this strain is well suited to relieving anxiety and depression but it can also help with mild to moderate pain.
- Grand Daddy Purple: This Indica-dominant strain produces overwhelming physical relaxation and cerebral euphoria ideal for managing chronic pain, muscle spasms and insomnia.
In short, Central Pain refers to all pain that is the result of dysfunction to the nervous system. Conditions such as Fibromyalgia are strong examples of this type of pain and is caused by dysfunction in how pain signals are routed to the brain and get processed.
Cannabis and Central Pain
Due to the breadth of this type of pain, it is still largely being studied however there is mounting evidence for the benefits of medical marijuana and fibromyalgia. The results of this shows promise for other types of central nervous pain as well.
Best Strains for Central Pain
While not all central pain will have the same cause, there are many cannabis strains that can provide potent relief for these patients.
- Blue Dream: This is a near-perfect Hybrid that exhibits both Sativa and Indica effects. This strain produces both an electrifying and energetic high ideal for boosting mood, as well as strong body relaxation to leave you pain free.
- Blueberry: Blueberry is an Indica dominant hybrid that produces a strong sense of calm in its users. Typically 16-24% THC, this strain is moderately potent and can help relieve pain, migraines and lift mood.
- ACDC (CBD): This is a high-CBD strain that contains little to no THC meaning it is non-psychoactive. Instead, ACDC is a potent pain reliever that can help to improve focus and mood as well.