How many of us use cannabis for pain relief? Since the last survey of medical patients, over 60% use cannabis as treatment for chronic pain. Anecdotal evidence proves this is a fact recreationally too. Research in the specifics, especially in comparison to opiods, are what studies are focused on right now. The most recent study came from a Doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, Michelle St. Pierre. The Psychology department she works from published a study examining the difference in pain tolerance among those who frequently consumed cannabis and those who don’t. In her findings, there was no increase in pain sensitivity among users.
“Recent years have seen an increase in the adoption of cannabinoid medicines, which have demonstrated effectiveness for the treatment of chronic pain.”––No Evidence of Altered Reactivity to Experimentally Induced Pain Among Regular Cannabis Users” by St. Pierre, Michelle MA; Russo, Ethan B. MD; Walsh, Zach PhD. The Clinical Journal of Pain
However, in the case of acute pain, it’s still up for debate. Opioids have long been the option of choice for physicians. Over the years though, athletes, veterans, and consumers of all kinds are proving the choice obsolete.
So, what is acute pain? It’s a pain that is sharp in quality but doesn’t linger due to underlying causes. Cannabis obviously has anti-inflammatory attributes but, how well do they kick in after that first inhale? The entourage effect is the most discussed when it comes to acute pain but, how well is it in practice?
Football and Basketball players have reaffirmed the world of the healing powers of cannabis. One that stands out the most in contact sports are MMA fighters. Everyone remembers the Diaz brother’s no-shame approach to medicating. The attitude has quickly become more open in the profession and spawned an entire competition around cannabis and Jiu Jitsu.
High Rollerz BJJ is a Jiu Jitsu tournament where world-class athletes basically get stoned and start rolling. They’re all about breaking down the stigma amongst athletes who use cannabis to heal. The best part, the winner gets a pound! Pain during a fight is definitely acute pain; and, High Rollerz BJJ is proof of what researchers want to investigate more. Participants are required to consume before competing which is sure to aid in pain relief. More so, cannabis aids competitors as it interacts with different receptors than most pain relievers.
Pain Relief, Cannabis, and Opioids
Various forms of opioids interact with the brain instead of the source of pain in the body. In the case of pain management, this is the biggest difference between it and cannabis. The Entourage Effect ensures cannabis interacts in different areas, even balancing them out to avoid making consumers dependent. Sustained use of Opioids, on the other hand, can make consumers more reactive to pain as well as more likely to abuse.
St. Pierre researched the idea with this study as well.
“Study participants were subjected to a cold-pressor task test, where they submerged a hand and forearm in icy water for a sustained amount of time. What they determined was that cannabis use doesn’t carry the same risk for hyperalgesia that opioid use does. Our results suggest frequent cannabis use did not seem to be associated with elevated sensitivity to experimental pain in a manner that can occur in opioid therapy.”
At the end of the day, we don’t need anyone to tell us cannabis helps with pain. If we want it to be recognized in medical institutions however, studies like this from people like Michelle St. Pierre are vital. More events showcasing the skill of cannabis consumers are needed. To phase out the over-prescription of opioids, cannabis needs all the same research and real life examples as possible, even after legalization.