From back and neck pain to migraines, arthritis, injuries, and more, pain disrupts peoples’ work, relationships, and overall quality of life. In light of the opioid epidemic, many chronic pain sufferers are turning to alternative solutions like THC oil. But does cannabis live up to the hype for pain relief? Research says yes – when used appropriately, THC oil has remarkable potential for managing pain.
THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC oil is an extract from cannabis plants that contain high levels of THC. It’s made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids from plant matter using solvents like CO2 or ethanol, then suspending them in inert oil. THC oil comes in various forms, including:
- Oils and tinctures taken under the tongue
- Capsules and pills swallowed orally
- Edibles like baked goods and gummies
- Vape oils heated and inhaled
- Topical solutions applied to skin
The THC dosage and onset time varies based on the ingestion method. Oils, edibles, and capsules must pass through the digestive system so effects take 30-90 minutes to peak. Inhaled or topical thc oil for pain offers faster relief, with effects felt within minutes.
How does THC oil work for pain?
Understanding how THC oil eases pain requires a brief dive into the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a biological system present in all mammals that regulates functions like pain, memory, appetite, and more. It’s made up of endocannabinoids produced in the body, receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, and enzymes that break down endocannabinoids after they’re used.
This system controls pain perception by releasing endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors in cell membranes. THC similarly binds to these receptors and modifies their signaling ability. Through this mechanism, THC blocks pain signals from reaching the brain or reduces inflammation driving painful sensations essentially dulling pain at the source. THC also activates dopamine release in the brain’s reward centers, which improves mood and changes how pain is perceived. In essence, the body feels less pain thanks to THC’s interaction with the ECS and brain. Extensive research confirms cannabis and THC oil offer potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Multiple sclerosis pain – Muscle spasms from MS significantly improved with oral THC/cannabis extracts in various studies. A review found a 30% reduction in MS-related muscle spasticity when taking oral THC.
- Arthritis pain – Patients taking THC capsules for arthritis pain saw significant decreases in pain and improvements in sleep compared to a placebo in a clinical trial.
- Cancer pain – Research on 177 cancer patients with inadequately controlled pain found THC was similar to codeine for reducing pain. Those taking THC also used less breakthrough pain medication.
- Headache pain – Among migraine and headache sufferers, doses of THC demonstrated analgesic effects comparable to drugs like aspirin and acetaminophen without side effects.
Talk to your doctor to weigh the pros of medical cannabis products based on your unique health status and pain profile. Most importantly, only source THC oil from a licensed dispensary and take products as directed.