The use of medical marijuana has shown to reduce pain for many people. Further, researchers have found that the side effects appear to be mild when compared to other pain management drugs. With marijuana legalization becoming more widespread and more people using medical marijuana to treat pain, we’re going to take a look at the different types and where might be a good place to start if you’re considering trying this treatment.
What Does Medical Marijuana do for Pain?
Marijuana contains a chemical compound referred to as THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which causes a euphoric feeling when consumed. THC is a cannabinoid, or a chemical compound that interacts with receptors in your brain and body resulting in various effects. Marijuana plants contain many cannabinoids, but THC is the most prevalent and has the strongest effect on the body and mind, which is what makes it so well-known.
Marijuana can have varying effects on different people, depending on their body chemistry. Some people may feel a sense of peace and calmness, while others might experience higher rates of anxiety. Medical marijuana isn’t for everyone. However, it’s also important to realize that there are different strains of marijuana. If you don’t like the effects of one strain, try a different one, which might be a better fit for you.
What are the Short-Term Effects of Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana has several short-term effects, including the following (good and bad) effects (taken from Leafly):
- Pain relief
- Memory impairment
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Slowed perception of time
- “Couch-lock,” or feeling heavy
- Anxiety or paranoia
Smoking Medical Marijuana for Pain
Marijuana can be smoked in a pipe or rolled in a paper like a cigarette.
Pros: Instant relief, easy to regulate dosage, inexpensive, minimally processed, multiple options (different types of marijuana)
Cons: can be harmful to lungs (this is a big one), strong smell
Vaping Medical Marijuana
Vaporizers have become popular because they are less harmful to your lungs than smoking marijuana. A vaporizer will heat the marijuana hot enough to where it can deliver the benefits of the drug without polluting your lungs with smoke.
Pros: instant relief, less harmful than smoking, not as fragrant as smoking
Cons: can be expensive, battery powered units must be recharged, time required to warm up device
Medical Marijuana Edibles
Medical marijuana dispensaries often sell a variety of edibles, meaning food that contains THC. You might find the following options: brownies, cookies, popcorn, crackers, gummy bears, chocolate bars and several other varieties.
Pros: long-lasting relief, good alternative to inhaling the medicine, tastes good, precise dosage
Cons: can take a long time to go into effect, can be dangerous to have around children and pets, feels different than smoking
Medical Marijuana Tinctures
A medical marijuana tincture comes in a small bottle, and can be sprayed or placed onto your tongue. It is absorbed into your body through your mouth’s thin tissue.
Pros: good alternative to inhaling the medicine, precise and small dosage, mild taste, preferred method for children
Cons: can be expensive if you require a high dosage, takes effect more quickly than edibles, but more slowly than inhalation
Medical Marijuana Patches
A medical marijuana patch is applied to clean skin. It is commonly placed on the inner-wrist, top of foot or ankle.
Pros: good alternative to inhaling the medicine, available in different formulations, mild dosages
Cons: potential for an allergic reaction, shouldn’t be applied to areas with body hair
If you suffer from chronic pain and would like to try medical marijuana, speak with your physician who may be able to make a recommendation for you. Medical marijuana is only legal in some states. Click here to see where medical marijuana is legal in the United States.