CBD vs THC: Which is More Effective for Pain Relief?

When it comes to pain relief, the debate between CBD and THC has been ongoing for some time. A government-backed review of cannabis research found that THC could be more effective in relieving chronic pain than CBD. Depending on the type of pain, a doctor may prescribe a higher ratio of THC to CBD, or vice versa. However, most patients benefit from some combination of the two ingredients.

CBD is emerging as a promising pharmaceutical agent for treating pain, inflammation, seizures and anxiety without the psychoactive effects of THC. Our understanding of the role of CBD in the treatment of pain continues to evolve, and evidence from animal studies has demonstrated that CBD exerts its analgesic effects through its diverse interactions and modulation of the endocannabinoid, inflammatory and nociceptive (pain detection) systems. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors that interact with our own natural cannabinoids. This system is involved in the regulation of many body functions, such as metabolism and appetite, mood and anxiety, and the perception of pain. Although there are more than one hundred different cannabinoids, the two main components are tetrahydrocannabional (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

With the legalization of marijuana in many states and the resulting cultural acceptance of this drug for recreational and medical use, interest in using cannabis for a myriad of medical problems, including pain, has increased. Research has also shown that it can increase the effect of glycine receptors, which help regulate pain at the level of the spine and therefore suppress neuropathic pain (which is often considered a “throbbing” or “burning” pain).CBD and THC activate different cannabinoid receptors in the body that can stimulate or inhibit brain chemicals and cause certain effects. People who suffer from chronic pain may find mild to moderate short-term pain relief if they consume certain prescription cannabis products with higher levels of THC than CBD, but there are some worrisome side effects, according to new research. However, no such benefits were found in any over-the-counter THC or CBD extract from the entire marijuana plant. THC is responsible for that “high” that people get from marijuana, which can also play a role in relieving pain.

If you're interested in trying CBD or THC for pain control, talk to your doctor and experiment to see if CBD or THC (or both) ease any of the pain. So what's the right ratio of THC to CBD? Stein says the dose depends on the person, so it's important to consult a doctor instead of self-medicating. CBD doesn't usually cause a feeling of drunkenness, but research suggests that it may also help relieve arthritis symptoms. Meanwhile, THC has been shown to relieve central and neuropathic pain, as well as pain caused by cancer, AIDS, and fibromyalgia, especially when patients have demonstrated resistance to other treatments. If you ask healthcare providers about the most difficult condition to treat, chronic pain is often mentioned. The FDA has analyzed the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products and it was found that many did not contain the levels of CBD that manufacturers had said they do. It's also important to remember that, while cannabis has been a medicinal plant used by humans for generations, the long-term effects of consumption are still being studied.

Ultimately, when it comes to choosing between CBD or THC for pain relief, it's important to consult with your doctor before making any decisions.

Tasha Falsetti
Tasha Falsetti

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