Pain happens. Maybe an old injury never heals right, and one day you realize you have been popping analgesics like (liver-compromising) candy. Maybe you wipe out stepping into a “puddle” that is actually mostly ice with just enough water on top to give the appearance of a puddle. Maybe you come around a corner on your bike and there is a big ol’ rock where there had never previously been a big old rock, and your hand, hip, ribs, elbow, nose, and mouth (or some combination thereof) have to make their way to the emergency room to get poked, prodded, debrided, set, stitched, and all the other wonderful doctor stuff we all hope to avoid. A headache, a toothache, a stye in your eye – one way or another, almost everyone is going to deal with pain at some time, in some form.
There are as many ways to treat pain as there are types of pain – heat, ice, pills, salves, massage, stretching, herbs, magnets, needles, and meditation for your acute, chronic, neuropathic, tissue, bone, referred, phantom, or (enter other types of suffering here) pain. Some work well. Some are not very effective. Some work for a short time and leave you with another set of problems in the long run. Everyone’s pain is different and the treatment of pain is a very individual matter (and a multibillion dollar industry).
Cannabis use, in several forms, is an effective method that should have its place in every American’s pain relief toolbox. Smoking (or vaping) will almost instantly alleviate the fairly normal daily pain associated with headaches and the like. Just inhale, exhale, and watch the discomfort dissipate in the cloud of smoke or vapor. The amount of soothing medicine can be increased by the use of concentrates to battle more difficult maladies, and edibles make their way into your bloodstream to deliver what I consider to be alleviation par excellence.
The two best known chemical compounds in marijuana, the cannabinoids THC – delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol – and CBD – cannabidiol – each have their places in the management of the torments that may visit the human body.
Research on cancer patients who were non-responsive to opioid medications has shown that the two, used in conjunction, are “efficacious for relief of pain in [these] patients.” These profiles can be found in CBD-heavy hybrids, like Harlequin and ACDC.
CBD has been especially effective in the treatment of several vexing conditions, including Crohn’s disease, seizure disorders, and multiple sclerosis.
High THC strains, especially strong indicas like kushes and Afghanis, have long been used for their pain-reducing and sedating effects. They allow users to relax and rest after a long day, and often help individuals sleep when they’re kept awake from their discomfort or pain.
It is vitally important to investigate and educate sufferers from chronic pain about the full range of pain management options, especially in an era where the unchecked greed of pharmaceutical companies and the influence on our legislators by lobbyists continues to spread. The nation’s reliance on opioid painkillers has created a tragic trend of overdoses that has resulted in over 100,000 deaths in the past decade. These are numbers that are too stark to ignore, especially when weighed against the fact that cannabis has a 10,000-year history of analgesic use, and has never been found to be responsible for one single death.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected].