If you struggle with chronic pain and illness, you may regularly seek ways to ease symptoms to meet the challenges of everyday life.
Many people limit or avoid taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs because of the side effects and warnings surrounding them. Limiting traditional western medications often means turning to more natural methods and alternative medicine for relief.
Various herbs, supplements, and practices like acupuncture and chiropractic treatment may help improve your life by easing pain and stress. Cannabis is a naturalistic alternative that may alleviate chronic pain, inflammation, stress, and insomnia, among other ailments.
Cannabis, THC, and CBD
The species Cannabis sativa is split into two main categories: the hemp plant and the marijuana plant.
A cannabis plant falls under the marijuana category if its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels measure above 0.3%. THC is the cannabinoid with psychoactive properties that may make you feel euphoric or relaxed. Conversely, cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC are labeled as hemp. Both hemp and marijuana plants contain hundreds of different compounds, including cannabinoids. While THC is the one of the most well-known cannabinoids, cannabidiol, or CBD, is particularly notable for its therapeutic properties.
Therapeutic Uses for CBD
Hemp-derived CBD contains therapeutic properties but won’t make you feel “high.” You can purchase hemp-derived CBD oil in the form of tinctures, capsules, gummies, and topical skincare products.
CBD hemp oil products with Broad or Full Spectrum labels also contain antioxidants, fatty acids, terpenes, and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Try CBD to provide relief from:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Weight issues
- Sleep troubles
Unlike many prescription and over-the-counter medications, CBD comes with almost no adverse side effects.
Therapeutic Uses for THC
Of all the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, Delta 9 THC is the most well-known due to the classic “high” it produces, which many associate with smoking cannabis. Furthermore, THC is known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can be quite beneficial to medical marijuana patients. Delta 8 THC, on the other hand, provides a more subdued, relaxed feeling that is less intense than Delta 9.
Some say the more THC, the better — especially if it’s intended for recreational use. But if you’re using marijuana for medicinal purposes, CBD and other cannabinoids can help reduce the side effects of THC, such as dizziness and paranoia.
Although THC may induce paranoia and dizziness, these side effects are minimal compared to many pharmaceuticals. Thus, many have turned to cannabis as an alternative remedy for pain, nausea, and other common symptoms.
Here are some ways THC may work medicinally:
- Lowers eye pressure for patients undergoing glaucoma treatment
- Relieves nausea for chemotherapy patients
- May help prevent or delay heart disease by lowering atherosclerosis or the narrowing of the arteries
- May help alleviate symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks and nightmares
- May help shrink cancer cells and reduce tumorigenesis
- Reduces the pain and anxiety associated with autoimmune disorders like arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and multiple sclerosis
CBD, THC, and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is one of the reasons why you might respond so positively to cannabis as a medicine. This system consists of a series of receptors — CB1 and CB2 — throughout your body. It also consists of endocannabinoids, including anandamide and 2-AG. The ECS’ primary function involves balance or homeostasis.
Although the ECS follows the notion that “the body heals itself,” it can sometimes become compromised. Variables like autoimmune disease, stress, aging, and poor lifestyle choices imbalance the ECS.
That’s where cannabis comes to the rescue. Phytocannabinoids from cannabis plants can help rebalance the ECS by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors.
You can find CB1 receptors primarily in the brain, lungs, and liver, while CB2 receptors are mainly in the digestive organs and the immune system.
THC acts as an agonist at CB1 and CB2 receptors, whereas CBD is a negative allosteric modulator. An agonist binds to and stimulates receptors while a negative allosteric modulator alters the response of receptors to stimuli.
Legal Differences Between THC and CBD
Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Eighteen states have legalized cannabis for adult or recreational use. These states include Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Massachusetts, Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, Vermont, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Alaska.
Hemp-based CBD products enjoy legal status at the federal level because of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. As long as your products come from hemp-derived CBD, you may travel across most state borders with them.
If you’re dealing with pain from a chronic illness, consider the legal status of medical marijuana in your state. Consult a doctor to see which form of cannabis may work best for you.
How do I qualify for medical marijuana?
If you live in a state that has legalized medical marijuana, make an appointment with a state-certified cannabis doctor. You might receive a medical marijuana card if you have a diagnosed condition that qualifies for medical marijuana in your state.
Can I drive while taking medical marijuana or CBD?
The THC in marijuana may impair your judgment and reactions and is generally prohibited while driving. Taking hemp-based CBD should not pose a problem while driving or working.