One of the most common reasons people become curious about cannabis is its reputation for pain relief. With rising overdose death, it’s clear that our country has a problem with opioids. This has left many patients wondering if they would be better served by cannabis for pain relief.
One major reason that patients look to cannabis instead of opioids is that, whereas opioids are highly addictive, cannabis is not. In addition, no one has ever fatally overdosed from cannabis. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for opioids.
In Washington, we’re lucky that we have medical marijuana as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. Plus, because of adult-use legalization, Washingtonians suffering from afflictions not covered under medical marijuana laws can seek relief beyond the doors of their favorite Washington cannabis dispensary.
While not every cannabis strain will send you into a world of ease, many have been developed specifically with analgesic qualities in mind. And more is being learned about the cannabinoids inherent in cannabis that make it such an effective medicine for a variety of ailments. In fact, new breakthroughs are being made in this area constantly, as different components are isolated and extrapolated.
As the process of legalization in America rolls on, the funding will be available for even more research and more companies to test bold solutions to issues that have plagued humanity forever — and there is reason to think that cannabis could hold the key to curing some of our most pervasive and disruptive illnesses. Already, different cannabinoids are being tested for their effectiveness in treating pain and other symptoms associated with cancer, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.
Of course, cannabis research in the U.S. has been slow-going because of the drugs classification as a Schedule I drug. In addition, while the U.S. does allow for studies despite cannabis being illegal at the federal level, it severely restricts how researchers can access cannabis, limiting them to the one licensed grower (the University of Mississippi) of research-quality flower in the U.S.
Thankfully, it appears that the FDA and the DEA are beginning to allow more cannabis research to continue. Recently, the federal organizations allowed a study at the University of California San Diego to import cannabis capsules containing both CBD and THC from Canada. Thankfully, this means that more research will be done to help provide pain-sufferers with more alternatives to opioids and traditional pharmaceuticals. Already, we are seeing cannabis innovation occur, and there’s no telling what the future will hold.
Cannabis and Pain
So what is so special about the use of cannabis for pain relief? The answer lies in a few chemicals: THC, CBD and the lesser known CBN. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol; this is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that also produces that quality of melting relaxation many refer to as a body high. High THC content is typically what people look for when they want the most potent cerebral effects possible, but cannabis users seeking pain relief should take a close look at THC’s cousins.
You might have heard of CBD, short for cannabidiol, as it’s been marketed as a miracle elixir that can be used to treat everything from arthritis to certain varieties of cancer. While this praise takes on the appearance of hype to some, there is emerging research to suggest quite a bit of truth exists in claims that CBD provides a safe, effective alternative to pain solutions marketed by drug companies. CBD is also being explored as another option for patients who have been recommended opiates.
While CBD doesn’t produce the kind of high you would typically expect from ingesting cannabis, it does invigorate your body with a fresh, cool feeling, almost like an Icy Hot rub. When applied topically, CBD has anecdotally been found to completely eliminate pain and soreness from targeted areas. The recent cannabis-friendly legal environment in certain states and countries around the world has produced many new companies developing CBD products and services — there are even CBD coffee shops opening up in France.
CBN, which is short for cannabinol, is even more of a newcomer to the mainstream cannabis market than cannabidiol. Whereas CBD occurs in marijuana naturally at a rate of about 1%, cannabinol occurs even less frequently and at minuscule percentages. Researchers in the cannabis field are currently establishing new methods of concentrating this potent pain-relieving chemical, as high doses could potentially be the key that truly unlocks the healing power of cannabis.
What Makes A Strain Good For Pain Relief?
To start, there are multiple factors that go into the effects of an individual cannabis strain. Every person processes cannabis differently, which means there is no single strain of cannabis for pain relief that works the same for everybody. That’s important because it means an astute consumer of marijuana will want to shop around for different strains to find the most effective cannabis for their specific needs.
That being said, there are a few qualities to look for when purchasing cannabis intended to relieve pain. For example, indica strains are known to have far greater powers of soothing than sativa strains, and the body high that most indicas deliver can be an extremely effective sedative. Higher potency strains can produce even more of an impact, so it’s vital to pay attention to THC and CBD percentages labeled on products before purchasing.
Furthermore, the more CBD a cannabis strain contains, the greater its analgesic effects. Some strains are even being grown to maximize the amount of CBD contained within, and THC-free flower is already available on the market — definitely an area of research for cannabis consumers exclusively interested in pain relief.
The Best Strains of Cannabis for Pain Relief
So, having discussed the benefits of cannabis for pain mitigation, what are the best strains for pain relief? We’ve assembled a list of 6 top strains that are capable of tackling most physical ailments and replacing grief with comfort. While indicas are known as a tried-and-true pain reliever, certain hybrids and sativas have been included on this list for their unexpected therapeutic prowess.
Gorilla Glue could be the most famous hybrid strain available. It’s known for its potency and comprehensive body high. A combination of Chocolate Diesel and Chem’s Sister, the snow-capped buds of this dense flower are as pleasant to taste as they appear. Gorilla Glue has been said by many to be an easygoing smoke, with an earthy aftertaste and strange hints of mocha.
With a reputation for its absurdly high THC level, this strain is often recommended to patients as cannabis for pain relief and is suited for situations where pain has become intolerable and a stronger sedative is needed.
Why it works for pain: Some strains of Gorilla Glue can reach 28% or more THC content. That kind of potency, while potentially uncomfortable for many people, can be effective in producing calmative effects in patients who require extra-strength medication. If you know you tend to get anxious or paranoid with higher-THC strains, however, read on for higher CBD varieties.
Perhaps the most renowned high-CBD strain out there, Harlequin breaks the mold of what consumers would traditionally expect from a sativa. This sweet, smoky bud burns well for a smooth smoke that’s great for sharing with intrigued friends or a night alone on the duvet. While Harlequin is great for pain relief, it also uplifts your mood and gently carries you into a happy, light-hearted state of mind. Many consumers report enjoying television shows, movies, or reading more after smoking a bowl of Harlequin.
Why it works for pain: Harlequin is one of the most CBD-rich strains being grown, and its CBD-to-THC ratio typically ends up hitting over 5:2, an extraordinary number for any cannabis strain. This relatively massive amount of CBD packed into every bud enhances its curative effects enormously, making Harlequin perhaps the greatest strain of cannabis for pain alleviation.
An indica-dominant hybrid, 24K Gold definitely lives up to its name, producing a thick, mellow body high that wraps around you like a warm blanket. While this strain certainly possesses high THC content at levels that reach over 20%+, you’re likely to feel more relaxed than uncomfortably high, making this an ideal smoke for lazy days on the couch. The flower is likely named for its orange sheen and citrusy aroma, which translates into a smoke that impresses most who encounter 24K Gold.
Why it works for pain: With THC levels over 20%, pain melts away upon inhaling a fresh batch of 24K Gold. That’s because 24K Gold is descended from Kosher Kush, one of the all-time great medicinal cannabis strains developed in California. Winner of several Cannabis Cup awards, Kosher Kush has a reputation for offering relief from dire, chronic pain, and any descendant with its genetics is bound to possess similar healing effects.
DJ Short Blueberry
This rare, extraordinarily popular indica is a California original, descended from the world-famous Blueberry strain and attaining landrace genetics through crossbreeding with strains from Central America and Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand. The cannabis pioneer who lent his name to this strain is DJ Short, a breeder active during the 1970s whose travels took him all over the world in search of cannabis excellence.
DJ Short Blueberry is highly sought-after, not least because of its unique and delightful blueberry flavor that leaves a strong mental impression after smoking for the first time.
Why it works for pain: As a powerful indica, DJ Short Blueberry already comes equipped with everything it needs to be a potent pain suppressor. However, this strain specifically has been noted for its robust sedative powers, effects that should take hold almost immediately after smoking it.
Is there anything more beautiful than a sunset? Perhaps this potent pain-relieving herb, sharing a lineage with that staple of hybrid cannabis, Girl Scout Cookies, fits the bill. Sunset Sherbet is a transformative strain that gives the entire body an airy feeling of relaxation lasting for hours. Known to be one of the best-tasting strains, Sunset Sherbet will probably remind consumers of its name. Each toke conveys a strong sense of citrus, with definite vanilla tones that call to mind an orange creamsicle.
Why it works for pain: Pain falls away within a few moments of inhaling Sunset Sherbet for the first time, owing to its indica-dominant nature. While Sunset Sherbet initially might seem like a dessert, its calming aura of rest and comfort swaddles you and puts your mind in a state of repose. Though it’s more of an indica-leaning hybrid, many people compare this strain to Blue Dream for their similar fresh, warm highs that take on the character of a hug.
Maybe the most obvious strain to feature here for pain relief, Bubba Fire definitely brings the heat with top-shelf quality. The taste might leave something to be desired with strong, earthy tones and an aftertaste of pine, but this gorgeous, frosty bud is absolutely covered in trichomes that indicate its enormous potency. One hit and you’ll instantly be able to feel the flower’s intensity, making this a strain intended for experienced smokers.
Why it works for pain: Bubba Fire was developed with powerful tranquilizing effects in mind, making it a go-to for cannabis consumers seeking near-instant relief from chronic pain. One to three tokes should be enough to put even someone with well-earned tolerance out for the night, which suggests that patients suffering extreme discomfort can benefit from the use of Bubba Fire. At THC levels reaching well-over 20% depending on the batch, Bubba certainly makes for a muscular sedative agent.
Interested in trying all of these strains and more? Check out our menu to see every strain of cannabis for pain relief we sell, as well as everything else that Origins Cannabis can offer you today.