Can Medical Marijuana Help Osteoarthritis Pain?

Medical marijuana has been used to help treat a variety of health ailments, from conditions such as epilepsy to chronic pain disorders. The many states that have approved the use of cannabis as medicine have taken into account the research stating that MMJ often provides relief from the debilitating symptoms of certain chronic health disorders.

There are two distinct compounds in cannabis that have been shown to help with health ailments: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While both can aid in medicinal treatments, THC is psychoactive, which means some may want to avoid it. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, there is no doubting marijuana’s medicinal properties. But can medical marijuana help osteoarthritis pain?

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that occurs because of wear and tear damage to the joints. When the cartilage between the bones becomes damaged or breaks down, it can cause inflammation in the area and less protection for the joint itself. This leads to the common symptoms of the disease – pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and swelling.

Many risk factors come into play in developing osteoarthritis, such as age, injuries to the joints, obesity, genetics, and gender (women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men).

This joint condition is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 32.5 million American adults suffer from osteoarthritis. There is no cure, so treatment and management are the only options for people looking to relieve the symptoms.

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Image by Kindel Media on Pexels: Do edibles help with arthritis pain?

Can you use MMJ for arthritis?

Some research suggests that using medical marijuana can help the symptoms of certain arthritic conditions. That doesn’t mean you can automatically use it to help with your symptoms – it has to be on the approved conditions list of the state you reside in. Since these lists vary from state to state, it’s important to determine whether you’re eligible to use MMJ for your arthritis depending on where you live.

Chronic pain is often associated with osteoarthritis, and many states list pain as an approved condition for the use of medical marijuana. It’s important to note that not all pain is the same, and thus, not all conditions that present with pain are approved. To determine if arthritis pain is included in your state, you will have to check its list of qualifying conditions or inquire further with your doctor.

Does CBD work for arthritis?

According to a poll by the Arthritis Foundation, 29% of people who participated currently used CBD to help their arthritis pain, with 80% stating that they have used it in the past or are considering using it in the future. With that many people on board with the use of CBD for arthritis pain, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that it can help ease arthritic-drive pain.

While the above is considered to be anecdotal evidence at best, some research does suggest that using CBD oil for osteoarthritis can help to relieve pain because of the way the endocannabinoid system is involved with the types of pain present with osteoarthritis. For example, osteoarthritis pain can be considered inflammatory, nociceptive, and neuropathic. Each of these types of pain can be improved by the endocannabinoid system. 

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Image by Crystalweed Cannabis on Unsplash: Can you use CBD oil for arthritis?

One specific study published in September 2020 looked at the way CBD modulated certain inflammatory cells in the body that could induce pain in people with osteoarthritis. The study itself was done using canines, not humans; however, the results were promising.

Spanning four weeks, the study found that CBD has the ability to lower the production of inflammatory cells while also increasing the production of anti-inflammatories within the body. This decrease and increase action led to less pain and better mobility in animals with osteoarthritis.

Although more research is needed for humans, this study does show promise when it comes to using medical marijuana for osteoarthritis pain. More studies are likely to be conducted around the use of medical marijuana for arthritic conditions, but current research has shown that up to 24% of people with osteoarthritis have begun experimenting on their own using medical cannabis for their symptoms. 

Featured image by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash

Can Herbal Remedies Really Treat Arthritis?

More and more people are looking to supplement their current chronic illness treatment plans with natural remedies. Many natural medicine options can provide relief from a variety of different ailments and the debilitating symptoms that often go along with them.

For conditions such as arthritis, people face pain, swelling, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion that often gets worse over time and interrupts their ability to complete day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and running errands. With arthritis affecting roughly 23% of all American adults, it’s clear that natural remedies may a viable option when it comes to helping those affected deal with their chronic health condition. So can herbal remedies really treat arthritis? And is marijuana for arthritis an effective option? Let’s find out.

Herbs to fight arthritis pain

Pain and inflammation are common symptoms in those who have arthritis. There are eight different types of arthritis, all of which are caused by different things. For example, osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of cartilage in the joint, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is a result of the body’s immune system attacking healthy joints. Regardless of the type of arthritis, there are many herbs that can provide relief from the resultant pain and inflammation.

Natural medicines have gained more attention in recent years because they are less likely to cause adverse side effects. They are naturally derived, which may also be a healthier alternative for some people who are sensitive to the chemically created medications most often used today.

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Image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash: Medical marijuana may need more studies to determine if it’s a contender for the best medicine for arthritis pain, but current research shows that it could help when used in conjunction with traditional therapies.

The best herbs for pain relief and inflammation caused by arthritis include:  

Willow bark

Willow bark can be taken as a tea or in a tablet, and has been used since ancient times as a way to stave off pain and inflammation. Research has suggested that willow bark may be useful in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Turmeric

Used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties because of its main component, curcumin. Although some research suggests that it can help with arthritis pain and inflammation, more studies are needed to confirm its efficacy.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is popular for treating sunburn, but it also provides anti-inflammatory properties without the harsh side effects that some people suffer from while taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. The most useful dosing method for aloe vera and arthritis is oral.  

Boswellia

Recent research has found that Boswellia, also known as frankincense, has anti-inflammatory effects that can benefit those with arthritic conditions. Human trials found that those taking frankincense capsules saw an improvement in pain, stiffness, and joint function.

Cat’s claw

Cat’s claw may help to reduce swelling caused by arthritis and it could help boost the immune system. It is thought to help those with arthritic conditions because of its ability to suppress the tumor necrosis factor. It does come with some side effects and limitations, though.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus may be effective at treating arthritis pain through topical application. The leaves of the eucalyptus plant contain tannins, which some studies have suggested relieves swelling and pain caused by arthritis. Treatment with eucalyptus for arthritis is often followed with heating pads to increase its efficacy. 

Ginger

Ginger is more often used in cooking, but its anti-inflammatory properties can help ease pain and inflammation. Some researchers are hopeful that ginger may become an alternative natural therapy to the use of over-the-counter and prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Thunder God vine

This long-used medicinal herb helps to suppress excessive immune activity and lower inflammation throughout the body. Because of its ability to lower immune activity, it may be helpful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases that are caused by an overactive immune response. It may come with serious negative effects, though, and should be taken only with caution and after speaking to a doctor.

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Image by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash: Eucalyptus leaves used in conjunction with heating pads may provide effective relief of joint pain.

Marijuana for arthritis

Research has found that those with arthritis can find some relief from their symptoms by using medical marijuana. The best types of medical marijuana to be used for an arthritic condition are strains with a high CBD potency, because CBD is the active ingredient that can lead to pain relief. It’s also thought that strains with a high CBD can also lead to lowered inflammation in the body, thus helping to lessen the impact of inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis.

It’s worth noting that it may take time to find a specific strain and type that works for you and your arthritic condition. You should also continue with treatments prior to and then in conjunction with the use of medical marijuana, after speaking with your doctor about your options. Medical marijuana may not replace your arthritis medication, but it could help relieve some of your symptoms as a supplemental form of disease management.

Featured image by Anna Auza on Unsplash

Explaining the Science Behind MMJ And Joint Pain Relief

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.

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There’s a fortunate connection between soothing sore joints and MMJ.

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.

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Elderly people are most likely to suffer from joint pain, but others who experience it may also experience joint pain relief with medical marijuana.

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!

4 Ways Medical Marijuana Can Help Arthritis Patients

Medical marijuana is used for many chronic conditions, one of which is arthritis in all its forms. Like many of the conditions that qualify patients for MMJ cards, the main course of action for those that suffer from arthritis is the management of their symptoms, which include joint pain and stiffness, among others. MMJ has been used by many arthritis sufferers to manage these symptoms. So how does marijuana help arthritis, exactly? Here’s what you need to know about MMJ and joint pain.

A bit of background on arthritis

Arthritis is a catch-all term for several distinctive conditions that cause swelling and tenderness in the joints, resulting in pain and stiffness. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in your joints to break down, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack the joints, beginning with the linings of the joints, most commonly in the hands and wrists.

In both cases, the course of treatment is to manage the symptoms of arthritis to make the patient more comfortable, which often involves reducing pain and inflammation. This is where the relationship between MMJ and arthritis comes into play.

Can marijuana help arthritis?

If you’ve been wondering “Can marijuana help joint pain?”, the answer is yes! Medical marijuana helps with arthritic joint pain by targeting the two main symptoms: pain and inflammation. When taking medical marijuana, the phytocannabinoids it contains (specifically THC) bind to the cannabinoid receptors of your brain, producing euphoria and pain relief. Additionally, these same phytocannabinoids (specifically CBD) help reduce swelling and inflammation in different parts of the body, including joints.

Interestingly, rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to release inflammatory proteins into the joints, including cytokines, chemokines, nitric oxide synthetase, and by-products of arachidonic acid. These in turn causes the body to produce and release endocannabinoids – the chemicals that bind to the same cannabinoid receptors as THC. Why would the body release ECs as part of the inflammatory response while people use MMJ to combat it? Supposedly, it’s the body’s natural way to try to reduce this inflammation, meaning the phytocannabinoids in medical marijuana actually boost the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory response.

MMJ Recs - joint pain

The main symptom of arthritis is joint pain. So can marijuana help joint pain? Let’s find out!

How does marijuana help arthritis patients?

1) Pain relief

The interaction of THC, CBD and other phytocannabinoids with cannabinoid receptors leads to generalized pain reduction. The euphoric effects of THC have also been held up as reducing the painful symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, even if only through distraction.

2) Inflammation reduction

More notable in the application against rheumatoid arthritis than osteoarthritis, the phytocannabinoids in medical marijuana are believed to help reduce inflammation, specifically in arthritic joints which show an elevated level of ECs. CBD is considered by some to be more effective for inflammation reduction, but current thinking tends to accept that the naturally balanced levels of unprocessed marijuana rather than extracts are the best option for most people.

3) Prevention of nerve damage

Most studies into MMJ and arthritis aren’t carried out on humans due to the ongoing federal ban, but one animal-based study found that “prophylactic CBD treatment prevented the later development of pain and nerve damage in… [osteoarthritis] joints.”

4) Reduced side effects

Medical marijuana certainly isn’t without side effects. Many might consider the “high” from THC and resulting physiological reactions, such as increased heart rate, as major issues – not to mention the potential dangers of consuming MMJ via smoking. However, the physical side effects are considered minor compared to those of other drugs like NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen), which in strong doses can cause long-term damage to major organs.

What are the best strains?

The MMJ strains most appropriate for arthritis depend on the individual user’s needs. Generally speaking, there are two strains that you’ll come across: cannabis sativa, with high CBD levels, and cannabis indica, with more THC. Research increasingly indicates that a balance of phytocannabinoids could prove the most effective route to take, but those looking to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC may wish to consider getting a strain with higher levels of CBD.

MMJ Recs - Marijuana in Hand

MMJ and joint pain relief go hand in hand if you have the right strain.

How can arthritis sufferers get an MMJ card?

Arthritis is possibly the most common reason for a patient to get an MMJ card, which makes it a relatively easy process, especially when applying online through a platform like MMJ Recs. MMJ Recs allows the patient to complete the entire process from their own home and without having to deal with their normal GP. The first step to acquiring an MMJ card is getting a letter of recommendation from a registered medical practitioner. Through MMJ Recs, this can be done by completing an online medical form (along with the appropriate attachments), then having a conversation with a medical professional via video chat to determine your eligibility. If they believe medical marijuana is right for you, your letter of recommendation can be sent almost immediately, which is then used to secure your MMJ card to be used in dispensaries.

When it comes down to it, we don’t know all of the connections between MMJ and joint pain. However, there is a growing base of evidence that MMJ can manage pain and reduce inflammation for arthritis patients, and all with fewer side effects than other drugs.

How Senior Citizens Can Benefit from Using MMJ Products

More and more people are getting introduced to the many advantages of using medical marijuana. With its increased availability and popularity, senior citizens are becoming more likely to buy MMJ products. Between 2006 and 2013, the use of cannabis by senior citizens (over the age of 65) increased by an astounding 250 percent. In fact, the elderly make up about 14 percent of all cannabis users in the United States. And for good reason: there are actually countless ways that medical marijuana can help improve seniors’ physical and mental health.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common ailments seniors can use MMJ products to treat.

Cancer

Many seniors turn to medical marijuana for help with cancer symptoms. Because those undergoing chemotherapy are faced with severe nausea and vomiting, MMJ products can be helpful in alleviating these symptoms. Additionally, medical cannabis can be useful in treating pain – without the patient having to rely on harmful prescription painkillers. If cancer patients are facing loss of appetite, MMJ products can also provide a more natural way of stimulating their appetite.

In addition to treating symptoms of cancer, research has demonstrated that marijuana can actually kill cancer cells. Cannabis compounds have been shown to slow down the growth of different types of cancer (including breast, prostate, and lung cancers). Researchers even believe that cannabis can prevent cancer cells from spreading to healthy tissue.

Alzheimer’s

This degenerative brain disease affects around 10 percent of seniors in the US (more than four million people every year). While MMJ products can help with conditions associated with this disease (like loss of appetite and depression), researchers are also finding that the marijuana component, THC, might actually help slow the advancement of Alzheimer’s in the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

This degenerative disorder causes brain cells that produce dopamine to die, resulting in uncontrollable shaking, muscle spasms, loss of balance, and a decrease in cognitive functions. A study recently conducted in Israel showed that Parkinson’s patients who smoked medical cannabis found reductions in their tremors and muscle rigidity.

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Chronic pain is common among seniors, but MMJ products can help with relief.

Chronic pain

Pain is one of the most prevalent symptoms treated by MMJ. While some of the topical applications can help with pain in specific areas of the body, some MMJ products can be ingested for overall body pain (like from nerve damage). Medical cannabis can also be useful in alleviating joint pain from arthritis (which is fairly common among seniors). A recent study with seniors even showed that a whopping 93 percent of patients felt improvement in their pain symptoms while using cannabis. The study also demonstrated that more than 18 percent of the participants were able to reduce or completely stop their opioid (painkiller) usage.

Mental Disorders

Seniors are often diagnosed with mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Many elderly individuals rely on MMJ products to ease these symptoms. Although people might not know this, eating disorders are actually common among seniors. Around 80 percent of deaths related to anorexia are among elderly patients. MMJ products can be used to help seniors keep up their appetite and encourage more food intake. Insomnia is also a common disorder for senior citizens – medical marijuana can help improve sleep patterns so individuals are getting better quality sleep every night.

Glaucoma

This eye condition occurs when there’s a buildup of fluid that results in damage to the nerves in the eye. It’s also the leading cause of blindness in seniors. MMJ products can actually help to relieve the pressure that develops with the buildup of fluid, creating an overall improvement in eye health.

Medical marijuana isn’t just for “young people” – it can really benefit the elderly too, and more and more seniors are taking advantage of it!

There are countless other conditions that MMJ can help with, including liver inflammation, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, etc. Because these products don’t work like typical prescription drugs, many people report finding almost instant relief from some of their harder-to-treat symptoms.

While seniors can easily see how they can improve some of their symptoms, they should also be aware of the other benefits they can get by using medical marijuana instead of prescriptions. For example, they can actually save money by getting an MMJ card – which is super valuable considering most seniors are living on a fixed income. Because there is no sales tax on medical marijuana in certain states (including California), seniors can save money on all their MMJ purchases. They also have the freedom to grow their own plants, which can be more cost-effective (especially since they can grow the strains that would best fit their treatment needs). Additionally, if seniors are able to skip taking some of their prescription medications in lieu of using MMJ products, they can also see some significant savings. For example, most seniors spend around $3,000 on prescription medications every year. Medical cannabis users usually only spend around $650 per year on MMJ products!

Seniors who use medical marijuana products can do so without worrying about becoming addicted as they would while taking most prescription painkillers. Also, there are very few side effects when using MMJ (like dry mouth or mild dizziness), as opposed to pain meds that can cause many serious issues. Basically, there are plenty of reasons that seniors should start using medical marijuana to help improve their health!

Could MMJ Products Affect the US Opioid Epidemic?

A massive opioid epidemic is currently sweeping the United States, creating a shocking increase in overdoses and deaths. Although some people are prescribed painkillers (like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl) for chronic pain issues, there are also many who use opioids as recreational drugs. For those who are using opioids as prescribed, it’s possible that an increase in the usage of medical marijuana products could actually encourage people to switch from opioids to MMJ. Because medical cannabis can help treat a number of physical symptoms, researchers are trying to determine if MMJ products could create a significant decrease in opioid usage – resulting in slowing down the opioid epidemic, or even stopping it in its tracks.

The current crisis of opioid abuse began in the late 1990s, when there were around 4,000 overdose deaths taking place every year. In the last two decades, the numbers have skyrocketed – more than 64,000 Americans died in 2016 from overdoses (compared to the  more than 52,000 that died in 2015). That figure means that nearly 180 people die from opioid-related overdoses every single day in the U.S., making it the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50. Over two million Americans are considered to be dependent on opioids, while at least 95 million individuals used prescription painkillers during 2017.

If steps aren’t taken to hit back against the epidemic soon, public health experts estimate that over 500,000 individuals could die from opioid overdoses in the next 10 years. The federal government has tried to boost some drug enforcement measures and is pushing regulations to get doctors to write fewer prescriptions for opioid painkillers. However, it will take at least until 2020 for any of the effects of these measures to be noticed, which means that the only hope the country has is to think outside the box to limit the growing number of people using and abusing opioids.

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The overuse and abuse of prescription painkillers has become a real problem in the U.S. in recent years.

One possibility for curbing the epidemic is to use medical marijuana products to treat chronic pain instead of prescription painkillers. Several studies have shown that medical cannabis can be used to effectively treat pain symptoms. In a recent study, elderly patients who started using MMJ products were able to lower their pain levels (and experience an improved quality of life). More than 70 percent were able to see a moderate to significant improvement. Overall, 93 percent of the elderly reported improvements in their overall health. After six months, more than 18 percent of the medical marijuana users had reduced or completely stopped using opioids to treat their pain symptoms.

Switching from opioids to medical marijuana has tons of benefits. MMJ products are much safer since they don’t have the potency of opioids (which result in dangerous and often lethal overdoses). Most opioids also work so that individuals end up needing more and more of the drug to feel its effects – something that doesn’t apply to medical cannabis. There are also way less side effects from using MMJ products (usually mild symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, or mental clouding) than from using opioids.

Another recent study conducted in Minnesota (published by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis) also demonstrates how an increase in MMJ usage could lead to a decrease in opioid dependence. The first-of-its-kind study included 2,245 people who enrolled in a medical marijuana program during the last few months of 2016. The results showed that 38 percent of patients were able to reduce their opioid usage, and 42 percent reported a pain reduction of 30 percent or more. Of the 353 patients who self-reported taking opioid medications during the time they used the MMJ, 63 percent reduced or eliminated their opioid use after six months. The research manager for the office of medical cannabis, Dr. Tom Arneson, said, “These survey results are a good starting point. We need more research into the potential value of medical cannabis in pain management, especially as our communities grapple with the harmful impacts of opioids and other medications now in use for that purpose. We encourage health care providers to read the full report as they consider whether medical cannabis should be part of their strategies for treating patients’ intractable pain.”

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Could MMJ products be a key factor in overcoming the U.S.’s opioid epidemic?

If more research is conducted, even more credence would be lent to the concept that MMJ products can safely and effectively treat pain symptoms. Reducing the number of people being prescribed painkillers could greatly impact the rising trend of overdoses in the U.S. from these medications – this factor might even prevent some individuals from being prescribed opioids in the first place.

The opioid epidemic is also creating a very large impact on the U.S. economy – a recent study from 2016 stated that opioid overdoses, abuse, and dependence have cost the economy around $78.5 billion. However, the White House stated in late 2017 that the opioid epidemic has cost the U.S. closer to an estimated $504 billion. Either way, using more MMJ products instead of prescribing painkillers could actually help boost the economy.

There are many benefits to using MMJ products for people experiencing symptoms of chronic pain, including a lower likelihood of dependence and side effects. If the U.S. wants to truly make a dent in the opioid epidemic, the health care field should consider including medical marijuana products as much as possible in their treatment plans. Their patients could benefit from the usage of medical cannabis, while also helping the country to cut down on individuals addicted to painkillers. Using MMJ products could also lower the costs the economy is incurring from the overuse of opioids. It definitely seems worth it for health care professionals and patients alike to consider using MMJ products to help cut down the use of opioids.

An In-Depth Look at MMJ Qualifying Conditions

Medical marijuana has been legalized in the U.S. since 1996, although the legislature applies on a state-by-state basis. The first state to blaze the trail was California, and since then, 28 others have followed in its footsteps, with several more waiting in the wings, on the cusp of legalization. Unfortunately for patients, MMJ law is not a federal affair, which can lead to a host of caveats for each legalization bill depending on the state you’re in. One of these caveats is the list of MMJ qualifying conditions for each state – that is, the conditions for which medical marijuana is an applicable and legal treatment.

Essentially, in order to qualify and avail of medical marijuana and allow doctors to legally prescribe it to you, you must have a diagnosed ailment that appears on the list of MMJ qualifying conditions accompanying every MMJ law that has been made per state. Once you’ve confirmed that your condition is on the list, then you can apply for your medical marijuana card from an authorized physician; this can be your primary care doctor, or it can easily be acquired online via telemedicine sites. Once you have that, you are free to visit dispensaries and avail of the medicine, in accordance with the supply and possession laws of each state.

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MMJ qualifying conditions vary from state to state, so it’s best to check your local policies to see whether you qualify.

Marijuana has been medically proven to lessen the symptoms of a great number of diseases; in fact, it has been used as a medicine in some form for many years, even preceding the introduction of it into law by California in ’96. However, not all states agree on what should be legally treatable with MMJ. The main reason for this is a worry that they might come across too vague, which would lead to abuse of a drug still considered illegal in many places in a recreational sense. Even with the advent of legal recreational marijuana, which has been legalized in eight states so far, MMJ qualifying conditions are still a hot topic among state governments.

In California, for example, the policy has always been very liberal in favour of medical marijuana, and the state’s MMJ qualifying conditions reflect that. Even though recreational marijuana has been legalized in the state since November 9th, 2016, it is still advantageous to have a medical marijuana card, because there are specific strains that treat specific diseases much better than the recreational strains. California and Colorado have also offered reduced sales taxes to patients in an effort to preserve their long-established and successful medical marijuana programs, which is a huge incentive for patients to continue with the program. There is also the fact that a state-wide rollout of medical marijuana has not yet been achieved by California, and could still be some way off, looking at the current progress on that front.

The most common MMJ qualifying conditions and ailments are pretty much seen across the board, in whatever state you’re in. They include cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, which are all conditions where the marijuana can induce relaxation to remove some of the pressure and stress on the muscles and afflicted organs. There are also many other less common illnesses which are listed on each state’s MMJ qualifying conditions list, although be aware that it does change from state to state.

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Laws regarding MMJ are very different in California than they are in New York.

One of the most controversial of these conditions is listed simply as “chronic pain,” which, when you think about it, is more of a symptom than a condition in and of itself. However, it is a crucial one to list on the spectrum of qualifying conditions because it allows a great many sufferers to avail of the medicine without needing to be specific about their condition. It also allows doctors a freer hand in prescribing the medicine, as they won’t be too caught up in the legality of what they’re prescribing and what condition they’re prescribing it for. “Chronic pain” was in the wording of the first MMJ qualifying conditions outlined in the U.S., by California in 1996, but unfortunately, not all states agree that it should be included.

One controversial example was New York, a state which is known for its generally liberal leanings. Many expected it to follow suit with a progressive medical marijuana bill, but not only did it take 18 years to get the bill through the Senate, when it was revealed, it proved to be an extremely restrictive piece of legislation. One of the many issues was the absence of “chronic pain,” an omission that left many patients unable to avail of the drug. Due to intense lobbying and pressure, “chronic pain” has since been added to the NY list of conditions, but unfortunately, there are still a few states where that is not the case. As we work toward building an MMJ-friendly country, it’s good advice to take note of MMJ law in each individual state, and make sure your specific condition is listed.

The Best MMJ Complimentary Exercises for Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is experienced by millions of Americans across the country each day. The sometimes crippling affliction is one of the number one reasons cited in medical marijuana card applications every year. Though MMJ on its own can be pretty power-packed when it comes to banishing those lower back blues, sometimes you need a little something extra to get you feeling yourself again. If you find yourself wanting a little bit more relief than your MMJ card can afford you, try some of these back-pain-busting exercises.

Decompression Breathing

Yes, you heard that right: our first exercise on the list is simply breathing! Well, not quite. Decompression breathing is the exercise of taking nice deep breaths as you make an attempt to lengthen your body as much as possible. This not only is great for increasing blood and oxygen flow around the body but it also essentially acts as a “reset” button, teaching your body to get your spine long and strong once more.

How to do it:

Stand perfectly straight with your toes touching and your heels slightly apart. With your weight on your heels, start to gently pull them towards each other, keeping your knees unlocked as you do it. Then, reach your arms upwards as you press your fingertips together, totally elongating your body. At this point you should feel every tiny muscle in your body stretching. Inhale and lift your ribcage upwards away from your hips. Exhale and tighten those important core muscles to sufficiently support your spine. Repeat this exercise at least 15 times per day and you’ll soon find yourself feeling a few inches taller, and most importantly, you’ll start to feel your chronic back pain melting away.

There are several simple exercises you can do to help manage chronic back pain.

Pilates Pelvic Tilt

Most pilates exercises could find there way to the top of this list, if we’re honest. MMJ card holders and non-card holders alike swear by the all-over body workout they get when they practice, saying that it’s great for mind and body alike.

Pilates works by strengthening those all-important core muscles that support and align our spines, meaning that you’re making sure every bit of your backbone is exactly where it needs to be. As well as soothing your chronic back pain, it also significantly reduces your risk of injury by building up those muscles and increasing flexibility. Pretty neat, huh?!

Of all the pilates exercises that could work to ease your chronic back pain, we think the pelvic tilt is one of the most effective and easy to do. It stretches your lower back muscles, drawing out any pain while also strengthening your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.

How to do it:

Place a soft mat on your floor and lie faceup on it. Bend your knees and keep your ankles directly under your knees. While exhaling, tilt your hips up slightly. Keep your butt on the floor and keep your back nice and flat. When your hips are tilted, hold for five seconds, then return to your starting position while inhaling. We recommend doing this 10 times every morning.

Stretching it out regularly can help you reduce pain.

Transversus Abdominis Muscle Strengthening

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Hey! I’m meant to be doing back exercises!” But trust us, strengthening those abdominal muscles can be just as good for spinal alignment as more targeted work (and you might just get some hardcore abs in the process!).

Though abdominal exercises are usually targeting at the “six pack” area, with this exercise, you’re going to focus instead on the transversus abdominus. This is how you’ll achieve greater spinal stability, which will in turn reduce your chronic back pain.

When you’re doing this exercise, it’s very important to maintain a neutral lumbar spine position – i.e. don’t unnaturally force your back all the way onto the floor. Instead, just lie on the ground as you would naturally, allowing your back to maintain its natural curvature upwards off the flat surface.

How to do it:

Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping your knees and feet shoulder-width apart. Draw your belly button inwards toward your spine – this is where it’s important to maintain that neutral back position! When you exhale, reach towards the ceiling as if you’re trying to grab something dangling above you. After this, raise your head and shoulders gently off the floor and hold tight for two seconds. Return to your starting point while exhaling and repeat until you get too tired to continue. In order to really get the benefit of this back-pain-busting exercise, we recommend doing it once per day, four days per week.

With these exercises, your medical marijuana card, and some nutrient-packed MMJ fighting in your corner, you’re bound to start feeling a difference when it comes to easing your chronic back pain. If you’re already doing the exercises but don’t yet have an MMJ card, get in touch with us today and we’ll organize an online consultation with a qualified health professional in order to get you one. The MMJ revolution has begun – don’t miss out!

Will MMJ Cure My Aches?

Chronic pain is one of the toughest conditions to live with. There is no standard test for it, it can take many forms, and it often varies wildly from person to person. Most patients are understandably reluctant to rely upon traditional prescription painkillers, many of which are addictive. But what is the alternative to living in constant pain?

Many studies have suggested that medical marijuana can assist in the treatment of chronic pain, and this could offer a lifeline to many people who are suffering daily.

What is Chronic Pain?

MMJ Recs - Stressed Student

Anyone can experience chronic pain in any part of the body, and it can have a harmful effect on your everyday life.

How is chronic pain defined? Simply put, it can be defined as a pain that will not go away and cannot be easily attributed to any one cause. It can occur at any site on the body, be it head, neck, back, limbs or any other area, and can defined as either nociceptive (which means that its root is damaged tissue) or neuropathic (which means that the pain is coming from a malfunctioning nervous system).

As there is no strict test for pain, and because it varies from person to person and medical professionals rely on the testimony of their suffering patients, it is often very hard to find causes and treatments for pain.

Why Use Medical Marijuana as an Alternative Therapy?

Patients have long turned to alternative therapies for pain management, including acupuncture, reiki, diet and other methods. Due to the addictive nature of opioid painkillers, many patients do not want to get into a cycle of carefully killing their pain while running the risk of becoming addicted, having to detox, and then being left without a way of managing their crippling pain.

Medical marijuana is a logical step for anyone attempting to manage chronic pain. It is a natural therapy that comes in many forms, so there really is an option for everyone.

MMJ Recs - Shisha

Although smoking medical cannabis is the most popular form of therapy for pain, there are many delicious edible recipes out there.

Smoking is clearly the most popular option when it comes to medical marijuana, but did you know that you can also get edible medical marijuana, vape pens and even body rubs? These are just some of the many options offered to patients who need help with chronic pain management. Body rubs, roll-ons and creams containing THC or CBD have also proved incredibly helpful for those suffering from chronic pain, as the ingredients attack the pain at the site.

However, if you’d rather focus on smoking medical marijuana, there are definitely some strains out there that will help you in chronic pain management. Edibles are also an excellent option, as they feel like a real treat in the form of yummy cakes, lollipops or chocolate bars. Vapes are really convenient and easily transportable, whereas traditional joints for smoking are best kept for use in the privacy of your home due to their distinctive smell. The smell of medical marijuana actually can be linked to its power in fighting pain, so in this case, the smellier, the better!

Types of MMJ Used for Pain

White Widow, Super Bud and Master Kush are a few types of medical cannabis used to treat pain.

Jack Herer and Super Bud are two strains that are known for assisting in nerve pain, which is a very common form of pain and one of the hardest to treat. White Widow and Northern Lights are best for muscle pain, as they are linked to relaxation (which can help for body parts that are ravaged with tension). Master Kush and Afghan Kush are great all-round pain relievers, and may prove helpful for anyone who isn’t really sure where to start when treating pain with medical marijuana.

Medical Cannabis Advice from Experts

Your local dispensary can be an invaluable source in talking to an expert. They will have dealt with many patients with varying levels and conditions of pain, and will be able to advise you on what works and doesn’t work in relation to the management of chronic pain through medical marijuana.

It may also be helpful to talk to your doctor or a medical professional in relation to managing your pain, especially if you are reluctant to go down the route of traditional opioid painkillers. You will need to speak to a medical professional to gain a MMJ card if you do not already have one, and depending on your state’s laws, you’ll have to meet strict criteria that fits a definition of chronic pain.

It is important to visit a liberal medical professional who takes medical marijuana seriously and views it as a legitimate treatment, as not all medical professionals believe this to be the case.

MMJ Recs - Back Pain

Although studies have proven that MMJ can effectively treat pain, it’s ultimately up to you if you want to try it.

Studies exist that strongly support evidence that medical marijuana can assist in the treatment of chronic pain without the addictive quality of traditional painkillers. The key is to try different strains, as well as different forms of medical marijuana. Get advice from medical dispensaries and medical professionals, but the choice is yours.

There is a strain that works for everyone, and it’s about finding the correct treatment for you so that you can live the best life possible without your chronic pain holding you back.