THC vs. CBD for Pain: The Differences and Interactions

THC vs. CBD for Pain: The Differences and Interactions

By Winston Peki.

With the widespread legalization of medical marijuana, many people turn to the drug for a more natural pain relief method.

As a natural pain-relief drug, some experts consider cannabis more suitable for your body than the synthetic pharmaceuticals available.

The reasoning behind this is that the body can metabolize natural chemicals better than synthetic ones the same way it can digest natural foods better than processed ones.

Synthetic drugs, as with processed food, can create by-products, which remain as harmful toxins in the body, causing strain on the liver and kidneys. Some (medical) strains of cannabis also provide many health benefits, such as anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, pain-suppression, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Not only studies, but many users strongly support the pain-relieving properties of medical marijuana in anecdotal reports. Different types of strains, however, suit different pain conditions, so before diving into medical marijuana use, it’s important to understand the differences.

Let’s look at the difference between the strains of marijuana available, and what their effects are. With the information below, you can hopefully make an informed choice about whether it’s better to use a high-THC or high-CBD strain for your pain relief.

A Brief Overview of THC and CBD

Cannabinoids are the active ingredients specific to the cannabis plant, and they are the compounds primarily responsible for the healing effects. The two most effective and studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Winston Peki

There have been 70 cannabinoids identified to date, and there are several others currently being studied, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

They are not the only active ingredients, however, and some estimates predict a figure of over 120 active components in the plant. This richness in active compounds is one of the reasons experts consider it useful for treating several ailments.

It is worth noting that THC and CBD also only convert to an effective pain-relieving agent under heat, which is why smoking, vaporizing, or baking it is important.

Most cannabis oils and extracts, designed for direct consumption, haven’t undergone heat treatment. Without heat before ingestion, their effects may not manifest.

The Difference Between THC and CBD

Both THC and CBD contribute to the positive effects associated with marijuana. However, experts only link THC to the strong psychoactive effect known as getting high. This is one of the primary differences between the two components.

The Predominant Effects of High-THC Strains

THC is the primary psychotropic component in marijuana, that is the component responsible for an altered state of mood and perception. This effect makes THC attractive to recreational users.

But THC also contains strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it has shown some success in the treatment of pain caused by inflammation, such as arthritis, and cancer.

THC relaxes the nervous system, which helps in spasm-related pain, such as multiple sclerosis. The altered mental state caused by THC can contribute to relieving severe pain in some cases in the same way medicine uses opiates to treat pain.

The Predominant Effects of High-CBD Strains

CBD has received recognition for its anti-carcinogenic qualities. Alongside the lack of feeling “high,” CBD has shown positive anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects. Clinical trials have proven links to suppressing pain receptors from some of the chemical reactions caused by CBD.

CBD has powerful anti-oxidant properties, which also help to support the immune system. Although not considered psychoactive, it can help with the depression, and anxiety sometimes a side-effect of chronic pain.

Cannabidiol Oil and Medical Supplements

Natural cannabis oil supplements are available in capsule and spray forms, as well as oils, which patients can smoke or consume orally. Patients should not confuse medical supplements with the synthetic pharmaceutical varieties, which mimic the effect of cannabis but are not natural. Medical supplements can be pure THC, pure CBD or, so called ‘full-spectrum products’ like CBD oil, which contain ALL the beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant.

The Effects of THC versus CBD in Pain Relief

More clinical trials have linked CBD to positive results for pain relief than THC.

For example:

Chronic Pain. A 2017 report concluded that there was substantial evidence that hih-CBD cannabis-based products are effective for treating chronic pain. Another, separate study published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that CBD use can lessen both pain and inflammation.

Digestive Pain. CBD has proven it also can help immensely as a digestive aid and digestive pain as well. Researchers have found evidence, as suggested in Cannabinoids for treating inflammatory bowel diseases: where are we and where do we go? that the endocannabinoid system, digestion and CBD have all sorts of interactions. While research involving CBD to treat digestive issues is still in its early beginnings, the experts believe it has the potential to help with all sorts of digestive issues which often come with pain.

Arthritis Pain. Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of the joints, is another condition that CBD oil may be very effective for. Research published in 2016 in the European Journal of Pain found a dramatic reduction in inflammation and signs of pain, without adverse side effects in rats with arthritis after the animals were given a topical gel that contained CBD for four days.

While some studies have shown positive effects of THC on pain relief, particularly for cancer-related pain, the side effects, like altered mental states, make it a less preferred cannabinoid to CBD. Although THC is more effective in muscle-spasm-related pain.

Interactions Between THC and CBD

When looking to reduce your pain, you don’t have to make a choice between THC and CBD. In fact, it could be wise to combine the two. Researchers have found that cannabis really is a synergistic shotgun in the sense that all the compounds in the cannabis plant interact with each other.

Although the exact mechanisms for these interactions remain unclear, the most effective cannabis-based pain treatments have been found to contain a combination of both THC and CBD. So, if your laws and regulations allow, go for a cannabis-based product which contains both compounds in good amounts. Just realize that THC can produce altered mental states, which can be dangerous while doing things that require proper hand-eye coordination like driving.

Choosing a Strain

There are a large range of chemical compositions within the high-THC and high-CBD varieties of cannabis. These can produce different medical effects.

To complicate the matter, the same product can have vastly different results in different people.

When looking for a natural herbal form of cannabis, the sativa strain (cannabis sativa) generally has a higher amount of CBD, whereas the indica strain (cannabis indica) contains more THC. However, due to crossbreeding this is not always reliable. Anecdotal evidence suggests that sativa is more energizing whereas indica is more of a relaxant. This observation may explain some differences that are not specific to the THC or CBD content and why many people prefer indica for pain relief. If you want therapeutic amounts of CBD, always go for a high-CBD strain, this can either be Sativa or Indica.

Conclusion

In medical use for pain relief, doctors prefer the CBD varieties of cannabis extract over THC, primarily due to their lack of side effects. Supplements combining CBD and THC, such as Sativix, have shown the best results in adults in clinical trials. Although experts prefer CBD because it has no side-effects, combining both CBD and THC might be the most effective way to treat pain.

Medical marijuana has fewer risks than other pain-relief medications such as codeine. It also offers more benefit while providing similar pain-relief effects. Since the reactions are incredibly variable and risks of any adverse effect are very low, it is best to discuss options for your pain management with a medical professional and begin with a small dose as a trial. Select the most suitable option for your needs, and let the results quickly manifest themselves.

Winston Peki is a marijuana enthusiast and vaporizer expert. Born and raised in Amsterdam He is the Founder of Herbonaut, an informative vaporizer and cannabis-based products site where you can find vaporizer reviews, CBD oil reviews and more.

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Authored by: Winston Peki

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I am not sure why they are stopping anyone from getting this product. I use THC free CBD for my severe pain, and I cut my pain medicines in one third. I am that impressed with it, I am selling it so other people can get relief. It has a money back guarantee and is completely free of THC, so it does not cause a high. No one should be stopped from purchasing this. It is a shame.

Estelle

How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

Jill

Hayden, can you tell me how you were able to experiment with kratom and cbc oil while still under the management of a pain specialist? Any results of my urine test showing drugs not prescribed would mean termination as a patient. Would love especially to try kratom but can’t figure how to do it without being “caught”. It has come to this. So sad!

JAnice

I have a close friend laying in a hospital in council bluffs IA right now. They were told if they didn’t feel the pain they wouldn’t know their cancer drugs weren’t working. Seriously. It breaks my heart to have one human being conned by a medical professional and the suffering that occurs . Let alone tens of thousands. Please is there no decency. All those in pain are asking for is relief. Why is our govt having such an issue with chronic pain. ? I guess their actions speak for themselfs. What ashamed we have such inept individuals in charge .

Rakel

A major problem with cannabis is its short half life. It only lasts two hours. Repeated dosing of a chemical – that is what it is, natural or not, that makes you high is just not realistic if you want a life. It also has a horrid withdrawal syndrome if you are a regular user and then travel and can’t use for legal reasons. I almost ended up in Hospital it was VILE. And there are drug interactions. It makes me itch. What exactly it is reacting with from what I, prescribed I’m now sure. No since having an epidural it affects me like speed in a horrid way. I haven’t slept since 0230 and it’s now 2040, two night in the last week I didn’t sleep at all and I’ve been horribly manic.

Just say-in! it has benefits for sure but there is no free lunch. I have chronic pain with a lot of muscle spasticity so I need the THC. If there was an 8 hour half life and it didn’t make one high then it really would be all the evangelists are cracking it up to be, but it isn’t.

Steven

Why do have to just live with torture until we cant stand it and then commit suicide ? If we were allowed 90 mme and pot a person might make it. Most people cannot make it on just one or the other. This is just mass Depopulation.

Susan

It took some doing, but I finally got my husband to try cannabis to treat his debilitating neck pain (due to foraminal stenosis and ankylosing spondylitis), dystonia, arthritis, and lifelong insomnia. He takes a high-dose, high-THC (~30mgs) spray at night for sleep, and also CBD-only sublingual drops throughout the day.

After using this for about six months, he’s thrilled that he is finally able to get a measure of restorative sleep (thanks to the THC); he also thinks it helps ease some of his pain, especially when used in conjunction with muscle relaxers. However, he’s even more impressed with the CBD: he’s convinced it has helped during his lengthy withdrawal from Klonopin. He also thinks it helps his other meds work faster and more effectively.

We’re in CA, so access isn’t the issue, but price is. Cannabis is heavily taxed here, with an excise fee AND sales tax (we have to pay sales tax on the excise fee—ridiculous!). Still and all, it’s a step in the right direction.

My husband and I both think that opiates are by far a more effective pain reliever. By the by, poppy seeds (of the papaver somniferum strain) are legal in most states and grow in nearly any climate. It’s VERY easy (but also very illegal) to extract “the good stuff”. You can find directions for “poppy tea” online. I have heard it’s VERY effective for pain (similar, if not stronger, than hydrocodone).

Cindy Deim

I was without chronic pain doc for a few weeks. While not with one I decided to try some pot. For me, it helped a lot with sleep. It did little for pain. It kind of made me more aware of my pain.

Mike Hardy

Hi fellow painies!! Not panties!!

Living in the UK, it’s dam hard for me to locate the correct mix of both sativa & indica CBD. I reckon I need both as I have bad RA/OA pains as well as Myeloma. My mission is to get off synthetic opiates for pain management and to control the Myeloma activities.
Not being a chemist, I read that in the US there are dedicated guys trialling all varieties of concoctions. Suppliers more abundant. Then there’s the costs to weigh up.

Our free NHS does not yet offer any guidance on CBD uses. Approval for certain conditions like Epilepsy is happening at last. I remain sceptical that for both pain & cancer, CBD will not be made available as only anecdotal evidence exists. The NHS only authorise on Proof.
I guess I’m buggered tbh.

If any of US users with similar conditions are prepared to offer me any help/ advice, I will be eternally grateful.
Thanks for reading this.

My email is-
myelomamike@gmail.com

To Hell with Pain

Mike xx

Hayden

When advised that a medication reduction was coming in late 2016 for 2017, I immediately began researching alternative ways to fight non stop, lifelong, severe pain from spine surgeries. CBD oil from the hemp plant (no thc whatsoever) was “legal” in NC. “Kratom” was also a possible pain management source. Unfortunately, after being reduced 80 percent in medication at the start of 2017 I knew I ( and all PPM’s) was in serious trouble. After trying several different suppliers of “kratom” and different suppliers of CBD oil with varying strengths, adequate pain management could not be achieved to live the life I have led with 23 years of an adequate opiate based medication. I do still attend the same pain management specialist, one of two “specialists” in 23 years after back surgeries left me writhing in continuous pain.Never having served my fellow man in the military, I did serve for 14 years, always “on call” 24 hours a day in the local all volunteer community fire department I would have never believed that the health officials and agencies in this country would have EVER left so many people/patients squirming and literally left swinging in the wind with no representation….at all. Now approaching the beginning of 2019, NOTHING has improved for documented pain management patients that have only positive, beneficial use of a personally tailored dosage of opiate medication as the last failsafe for some 10 million pain management patients, To be reduced so drastically without ANY diversion or abuse of the last, known and available effective therapy medication known to man for pain management. Millions of patients nationwide are left to suffer needlessly and without ANY proof that we, the PPM patients have fueled increased overdose from multiple substance abuse. Thanks DEA!!!!!!!!

Marty

MMJ with a high THC content only helps with my spasms at night. No pain relief at all. At first I tried a high CBD and it was not helpful. MMJ in my case is supplement (expensive one at 344.00 dollars a month for two vape hits per night ) for me and is in no way an adequate replacement for the pain medication I took successfully for six years, now I am left without reasonable pain relief. I feel MMJ has a place in pain management but I write this as a long time CPP knowing that one size never fits all.

Alanna Wilgus

Opium comes from a poppy plant, so why isn’t it natural?

Perhaps this is what’s behind the government’s wicked, senseless plan with the opioid crisis; to legalize marijuana. If you ask me I think marijuana should have been legalized years ago and alcohol outlawed. I don’t use either one but I’ve seen what alcohol can do to someone versus pot. I also think that those of us who want to take our medication with a glass of water, wait an hour and have hours of relief should not be forced to stop it and start smoking pot either. When it comes to one’s health there should be a choice for everyone involved. If you want to smoke your pain medicine being marijuana then do it; if you want to continue taking your opioid medicine that you KNOW helps then do it. This whole thing has gotten completely out of hand and is totally ridiculous! Then again it doesn’t matter what I think or for that fact any of us. The government’s going to do what the government wants to do and no one but no one can change this, not here on earth anyway. I still have to stop and wonder if every single doctor in America would have stood up and fought this when it first began where we would ALL be now. I’ll never forget our veteran, Mr. Robert Rose. He fought in a battle to save our country. He comes back and has to fight another battle of a different kind. The government wouldn’t even give the man 11 minutes for the 11 years he served his country.. He “finally” got his chance to speak,( I think due to many prayers being said for him.)His bravery then took him to court in Greeneville Tennessee where the “fine governor” of Tennessee, Dr. Phil Roe WOULD NOT even make an appearance! Mr. Robert Rose chose bravery in action more times than once. Governor Phil Roe and the rest of them choose to HIDE behind their desks, continuing to run their mouths and just look at the shape it’s gotten us all in. Whether it’s marijuana, opioids, suicide, turning to alcohol, etc. I reckon where there’s a will; we’ll find a way…..

Ellen Lenox Smith

“Most cannabis oils and extracts, designed for direct consumption, haven’t undergone heat treatment. Without heat before ingestion, their effects may not manifest.” I actually don’t see that as an issue like stated but do appreciate your informational article. Here is how we make a night indica strain oil that is heated to be activated: For the oil directions ​ :
•Grind up your product in a coffee bean grinder or even a Cuisinart
* Heat up 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil or oil of choice, being careful to get hot but not boiling
• Measure out 10 TBS of the ground product per 1 cup of oil
• The oil is ready when you spread a sample of the ground medicine over it and hear the
properties being released into the oil! It sounds like an Alka Seltzer dropped in water! Then
sprinkle all the rest of the product over the oil
• Allow the mixture to cool
• Strain the oil
• Store in a container, away from the sun
NOTE: You can double, triple, etc this recipe to make a larger batch – 10 TBS ground to one cup oil OR Buy a “magical butter machine” that you put all these ingredients together in and plug it in and let it make the oil for you!

Mona Twocats-Romero

I think many times you can get better advice on strains from the. Bud Tenders at medical cannabis shops than from most physicians. I am not even allowed to broach the subject with my pain management team for threat of being fired as a patient.

Judie Plumley

Thank you so much for this article. It explains so much on the way Cannabis works on pain.