Chronic pain is one of the most difficult ailments to manage. Overwhelmed in a storm of over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, many patients are deciding to go the natural route: smoking marijuana for pain management.
When it comes to using marijuana for pain relief, not all strains are created equal. Some cannabis strains will keep you tossing and turning at night. Yet, others will ease away nerve pain and muscle tension. This article aims to show you which is which, and help you find the best strain for pain.
Using Marijuana for Pain Relief
Both of the most common compounds in marijuana ease pain. Believe it or not, research is showing that marijuana may interact with your pain-signaling cells. Both THC and CBD are strong anti-inflammatories. They also interact with other pain systems in your body.
If you’d like to learn more about THC and CBD, check out these awesome resources:
Taste The Pain Away
It’s not only THC and CBD that are valuable for relief. The flavor and aroma molecules in your plant are also potent natural medicines.
Yep, that’s right. That famous skunky weed aroma is a sign of an incredibly nutritious plant.
Flavor molecules are called terpenes, and they’re found in all plants. Every fruit, vegetable and herb that you eat owes its flavor to terpenes. Some terpenes are vitamins. Vitamin K, for example, is actually a terpene.
Marijuana is not only loaded with powerful antioxidant cannabinoids but is full of healthy terpenes. Terpenes are different from strain to strain. In fact, each strain has its own specific terpene profile. This is the reason why flavors and scents are so different from strain to strain.
Unfortunately, these flavor molecules are also a bit tricky. Environmental conditions like soil, light exposure, and temperature all affect terpene development. While different strains tend to produce different terpenes, it takes a lot of TLC to get plants to express their flavor profiles to the fullest.
Strains For Wounds, Muscle, and Back Pain
Cramps, spasms, pulled tendons, and slipped disks in your back are types of musculoskeletal injuries. Marijuana eases muscle, joint, and injury-related pain. There are many strains that can help ease the inflammatory pain associated with musculoskeletal issues.
We also encourage you to give cannabis topicals a try. A topical is an infused cream, lotion, or salve that you apply directly to the skin. The activated compounds in this marijuana cream will relieve pain, inflammation, and muscle tightness in a localized area.
If you’re looking for a powerful general pain reliever, Afghan Kush just might be the strain for you. Nearly 100% indica, this strain is native to the Kush Mountain Region in the Middle East. Featuring a strong, pungent aroma, even the vapor of this flower will keep you locked on the couch.
Because this strain is a potent indica, the effects will be felt mostly in the body. In fact, this is what makes it so great for those seeking pain-relief. Not only is this little lady loaded with pain-fighting THC, but it’s also chock full of analgesic and anti-inflammatory terpenes. Particularly terpenes Humulene and Caryophyllene.
Their names may be hard to pronounce, but these potent flavors are the culprits behind the pungent and spicy hop aroma of Afghan Kush.
Caryophyllene has also shown anti-cancer effects. This may make strains like Afghan Kush a good choice for patients hoping to manage cancer pain. Other strains high in caryophyllene include Hash Plant, Maui Waui, and Super Sour Diesel.
Here’s A Breakdown of the Pain-Fighting Flavors and Cannabinoids In Afghan Kush:
A true White Widow is a 50/50 cross between a pure sativa and a pure indica. The result is an extremely well-balanced and potent hybrid. Inheriting the best from both sides, this strain creates an uplifting and euphoric buzz while still easing away pain.
Unlike Afghan Kush we’ve featured so far, White Widow’s powerful unique high comes from several calming aroma molecules. Specifically, Linalool. Linalool is the terpene that gives lavender it’s famous therapeutic scent. It also happens to be a powerful pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.
But, we won’t just let the science speak for itself. Here’s what people had to say about it on Leafly, the World’s Largest Strain Finder:
“This is definitely as the other reviews have said. A very gentle but euphoric high. I am really looking for pain relief and it does work pretty well for me on that score. It is very relaxing. I find it a bit hard to think logically when using it so I would likely keep this for special times where I want to be awake and happy but nothing important needs to happen. It does give me terrible dry mouth”
“Incredible. If you want to get high, fight pain, or take a nap it’s the perfect strain. Definitely a perfect hybrid mix. Dense nugs. One I’m keeping in my medical rotation.”
“Definite Class A strain. Bright green, orange bristles are distinct. Euphoria and Energy are the main affects I experienced. I have a migraine disorder and this weed is perfect for relieving pain and getting your spirits up.”
Here’s A Breakdown of the Pain-Fighting Flavors and Cannabinoids In White Widow:
Additional Strains for Wounds Muscle and Back Pain:
Neuropathic pain, also known as nerve pain, affects more than 3 million Americans every year.
There are two primary causes of chronic, neuropathic pain: tissue damage and damage to the central nervous system. Basically, car accident victims and Fibromyalgia patients alike are familiar with this life-changing symptom.
Studies show that low doses of vaporized cannabis can significantly help neuropathic pain. If you experience tissue damage from an accident, consuming cannabis and applying a topical can ease inflammation and numb a localized area.
In the case of issues with the Central Nervous System, using marijuana may also be able to help. THC and CBD are documented to relieve nerve pain caused by Multiple Sclerosis and similar diseases. They do this by reducing inflammation in the brain as well as by regulating pain signals released by your cells.
All of the below strains have high levels of neuroprotective terpenes. Some of these terpenes may amplify the natural preventative properties of THC and CBD. Patients who may benefit from these strains:
- Accident and Injury Victims
- HIV/AIDS Patients
- Fibromyalgia Patients
- MS Patients
- Cancer Patients
Here are a few strains that may help ease nerve pain
Named for the famous activist and author, Jack Herer is a sativa-dominant hybrid truly deserving of the title. A favorite seemingly all around the world, this happy flower has uplifting and energizing effects. While indicas are typically the weed species of choice for chronic pain, this strain has a few pain-fighting tricks up its sleeve.
A well-grown Jack H. is full of natural painkillers. THC is just one of the analgesics in this strain. The others? You guessed it. Terpenoid nutrients.
One of the primary terpenes in Jack Herer is Pinine. Pinine is responsible for this strain’s woody, Pine-Sol taste. In recent studies, pinene has been proven to have antitumor effects. In fact, a 2013 study showed that pinine was effective in preventing cancer cell proliferation in the brain.
When grown hydroponically, this strain has shown soaring levels of other neuroprotective terpenes as well. These flavor compounds help reduce stress and tissue inflammation. When you smoke or eat some Jack Herer, you’re consuming these medicinal terpenes along with it. These powerful nutrients help keep your brain healthy and ease pain.
Here’s A Breakdown of the Pain-Fighting Flavors and Cannabinoids In Jack Herer:
Another aptly named strain, this flower is like the superfood of the marijuana world. Just take a look at these terpene levels:
Impressive, right? Especially considering that many strains may only produce 2-6% of these aromatic compounds.
All of these flavor molecules make this one pungent indica. High levels of myrcene give this strain a musky, dried-mango aroma. Also expect a bit of spice, and hints of wood and hops. First bred by Green House Seeds, this strain is said to have “almost narcotic” effects.
The nearly “narcotic” buzz this strain provides is caused by the strong pain fighting and brain-boosting compounds produced by this flower.
Here’s A Breakdown of the Pain-Fighting Flavors and Cannabinoids In SuperBud:
Additional Strains That May Help Neuropathic Pain:
The strains listed above are only a few of the marijuana types that may relieve nerve pain. Make sure to take a look at these as well:
Arthritis and Inflammatory Pain
As we’ve mentioned several times in this article marijuana is a strong anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is one of the most common sources of pain. By alleviating inflammation, you also ease pain. Marijuana can treat arthritis pain and inflammation.
For both Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis patients, over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin and Tylenol® are often suggested by doctors. A 1988 study conducted in London found that CBD was up to 4 times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammatory pain.
Researchers at the German University of Bonn have found that deficiencies in the endocannabinoid system may lead to bone weakness. Bone and joint weakness is one of the primary causes of osteoarthritis in aging adults.
CBD may be able to help. Researchers know that CBD interacts with certain cell receptors in our bodies. Namely, the CB2 receptor. In their study, German researchers found that mice without CB2 receptors had weaker bones.
We do not know precisely how CBD, the endocannabinoid system, and osteoarthritis are related. But, we do know that this is something worth studying.
The strains featured in this section are wonderful for arthritis. But, the truth is, these particular flowers are helpful for the treatment of nearly any kind of pain. Green House’s Super Bud is surely nutritious, but these strains stand apart in a category of their own.
Back in the early days of marijuana, weed wasn’t all that potent. By potent, we mean that it didn’t have much THC. Once we realized that THC was the primary psychoactive in cannabis, we decided to breed strains with a ton of it.
The only problem with that? By breeding out other cannabinoids in favor of adding in more THC, we overlooked the incredible therapeutic potential of the herb’s other nutritious compounds. The strains listed below have bred those highly medical compounds back in. CBD in particular.
High CBD Strains For Pain
Harlequin is a truly must-try strain for anyone experiencing pain. This sativa-dominant hybrid gives its users a highly unique experience. Harlequin always has a 5-to-2 ratio of CBD to THC. CBD is a known antipsychotic. This means that it reduces the psychoactive, anxious and paranoid side effects of smoking too much THC.
The result of this well-balanced combo is a mellow and painless high. For medical patients looking to avoid the strong cerebral effect of THC, this strain might be for you. At its best, Harlequin will have a musty, forest odor.
Here’s A Breakdown of the Pain-Fighting Flavors And Cannabinoids In Harlequin:
Cannatonic is another amazingly therapeutic strain. Terpene and cannabinoid-rich, this flower contains a nearly one-to-one ratio of CBD and THC. A popular choice for patients suffering from chronic pain, this is another strain hits very smooth and mellow. Because of it’s high concentrations of CBD, Cannatonic will not give you a mind-melting, psychoactive experience.
Great for daytime pain relief, try this strain before heading off to work or doing something sociable. High levels of lavender-scented linalool supplement this strain’s calm, relaxed effect. Expect a musky, floral aroma with hints of spice.
Here’s a Breakdown of The Pain-Fighting Flavors and Cannabinoids In Cannatonic:
Additional Strains That May Help Neuropathic Pain:
Strains That Will Help You Sleep
Whether it’s from a bad headache or a muscle cramp, sleeping through the night can be nearly impossible when you’re in pain. Here are a few heavy indicas that are sure to knock you out:
Strains To Combat Pain-Related Depression:
If you or a loved one experience chronic pain, then you’re familiar with the way pain seems to creep into every facet of your life. Depression is a side effect of pain that can be just as debilitating.
Marijuana is an anti-depressant and it can help improve your quality of life. Studies have looked at the ways cannabis helps people cope with illnesses and conditions of all different kinds. Regardless of whether or not the herb was effective at treating the condition itself, patients around the world have improved the quality of their lives with the herb.
To combat the depression and stress associated with chronic strains, you might want to give these strains a try:
Do you use marijuana for pain relief? What are your favorite strains? Please share them with us on social media!
Latest posts by Anna Wilcox (see all)
- Concentrates: Do You Really Know What You’re Smoking? - October 20, 2016
- Medical Cannabis Myth Busters: Does Cannabis Worsen Depression? - October 19, 2016
- Why Is Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil So Powerful? - October 19, 2016
Want to join the HERB writing community? Submit your story!