Medical marijuana is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional pain-relieving medications, including opioids. Marijuana may ease certain types of chronic pain, including pain resulting from nerve damage and inflammation.
Today, chronic pain affects more people than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined. Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States.
Most marijuana-based products do not have approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and more evidence is necessary to confirm their safety and effectiveness.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana or its compounds may help relieve some types of pain.
There are distinct types or strains of marijuana available, and each may have slightly different effects on the user.
In this article, we look at the best marijuana strains for chronic pain relief.
The different types of marijuana plants include the following:
- Cannabis indica
- Cannabis sativa
There is limited research available on the use of specific marijuana strains for pain and other symptoms. As a result, strain-specific recommendations are not medically proven.
The results of an online survey, comprising 95 participants, featured in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2014.
The researchers found that participants preferred indica strains for pain management, sedation, and sleep while they would opt for sativa strains to improve energy and mood.
Regarding pain management, participants reported a statistically significant effect when using indica for:
- non-migraine headaches
- joint pain
It is, however, important to note that this study had several limitations. It was small in scale, anonymous, and asked people to self-report on their symptoms. Respondents did not use the marijuana in a controlled setting, potentially resulting in differences in drug composition, dosage, and potency.
Another study examined the use of organically grown sativa and indica strains in the treatment of several medical conditions. Just over half of the participants were using marijuana to treat HIV.
The study followed participants for 3 years and asked them about the effects of the drug on their condition during this time. The results indicated that indica strains are more likely to improve energy and appetite, while both sativa and indica strains can alleviate nausea to a similar degree.