These days, most people in the United States are aware that Medical Marijuana, aka MMJ, can be used for pain relief – and more specifically, joint pain relief for conditions such as arthritis. But why does marijuana help joint pain? What’s the best strain of MMJ to use for this purpose? And how exactly can you seek out joint pain relief with medical marijuana? Here’s all you need to know.
How does marijuana help joint pain?
When it comes to MMJ and joint pain relief, medical marijuana has two active chemicals that play a role in the process: THC and CBD. THC is the most well-known active chemical since this is the psychoactive stimulant responsible for the “high” many people associate with cannabis. However, THC also very closely resembles cannabinoid chemicals that occur naturally in our body, meaning when you introduce THC to your system, it binds to the cannabinoid 1 receptors, reducing pain.
Like THC, CBD is a phytocannabinoid found in medical marijuana. However, unlike THC, it has no psychoactive effects. It binds very weakly, if at all, to cannabinoid 1 receptors, and can in fact stop THC binding as much as it normally would, reducing the psychoactive effects. Does this mean less pain relief? Actually, no. In fact, consuming the two together (as naturally occurs in marijuana) can actually help. CBD reduces some of the negative effects of THC like increased heart rate, while increasing its half-life (which in theory can increase the length of its effectiveness), while also having its own pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD and THC are by no means the only phytocannabinoids in MMJ to help with joint pain relief, but are certainly the most well-known and the most likely to be marketed at dispensaries.
Which strains and doses are best?
When it comes to the best strains and doses of medical marijuana for joint pain relief, it depends on many factors. As mentioned before, phytocannabinoids have been shown to work best when used together, as they are naturally found, which means individuals looking for general pain relief will probably be best off with a strain high in both CBD and THC.
However, due to the psychoactive effects of THC, this is not always possible, and so having MMJ high in CBD and low in THC could be a great option. This can have the same pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects – often the key problem for joint pain – while still allowing the user to get on with their normal day, uninhibited by the psychoactive side-effects of THC.
The dominant strains you will come across are cannabis sativa, which generally has a higher amount of CBD, and cannabis indica, which contains more THC. In addition to these, there are numerous hybrids with varying levels of phytocannabinoids, so the best option is to see what works for you as an individual.
Who does joint pain affect?
While we often associate joint pain with the elderly, it is something that affects many groups across a variety of ages. In fact, a national survey in the U.S. found that over a third of adults reported experiencing joint pain in the 30 days leading up to the questionnaire. It can be caused by aging, most commonly in the form of osteoarthritis, but also comes from the autoimmune condition of rheumatoid arthritis or any number of injuries and illnesses. This means that while the elderly or obese are most at risk, people who regularly play sports or do manual labor can also find themselves with severe joint pain.
How can I get an MMJ card?
If you’re interested in seeking joint pain relief with medical marijuana, the first thing you need to do is make sure you pursue it legally by obtaining a medical marijuana card. The requirements for an MMJ card differ from state to state, but generally speaking, if you have a condition that causes severe joint pain, you will be eligible. In California, for example, qualifying conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, which is what many people with joint pain suffer from.
The first step to acquiring an MMJ card is getting a letter of recommendation from a health professional that states that you would benefit from medical marijuana. While this can be done through your normal GP, many patients opt to apply online. Services like MMJ Recs allow joint-pain sufferers to carry out the whole process from their homes, first with an online medical form, then a video conference with a medical professional to determine eligibility. If accepted, you can get a recommendation almost immediately, allowing you to apply for your MMJ card.
Considering the possibly hundreds of phytocannabinoids that exist in medical marijuana, the exact science as to how it helps with joint pain is still being researched. However, there is a significant body of evidence that shows the impact of both CBD and THC on joint pain, so whether you are suffering from age-related arthritis or joint pain incurred from sports, it may be worth considering the connection between sore joints and MMJ!