No, CBD Isn’t The Best Cannabis-Based Pain Reliever, THC Is

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When it comes to which method of consumption is best for patients suffering from chronic pain, a new study suggests that loading a bowl full of flower is still the most effective path to combat chronic pain.

Using the largest database of real-time recordings of the effects of common and commercially available cannabis products in the United States (U.S.), researchers at The University of New Mexico (UNM) found strong evidence that cannabis can significantly alleviate pain, with the average user experiencing a three-point drop in pain suffering on a 0-10 point scale immediately following cannabis consumption.

Image credit: University of New Mexico
Image credit: University of New Mexico

And contrary to popular media-reports and scientific dogma, the psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC,” showed the strongest correlation with therapeutic relief and far less evidence for the benefits of relying on the more socially acceptable chemical, cannabidiol or “CBD.”

Perhaps because CBD is considered non-psychoactive it is more palatable for the typical non cannabis smoker to digest than THC.

READ: Scientists Unlock The Potential Of Marijuana’s Pain-Relieving Compounds

CBD has been pushed as a ‘cure-all’ for everything from inflammation to migraines and even epilepsy, while from a medical perspective, the THC component has unfortunately been ignored.

This is knowledge that some of us have known all along, that THC facilitates CBD and vice versa, but it is just now surfacing mainstream. For example in a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Dr. Ethan Russo, a world renowned authority on the medical use of cannabis stated the following in regards to research he has done with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients:

“A severe price may be paid if cannabis-based medicines are devoid of THC. It is clear from the above [information provided] that THC has a major role to play in both symptomatic treatment of dementia and quite possibly in preventative benefit. The dangers of THC have been vastly exaggerated by alarmist politicians and the press, particularly in such contexts where alternatives have been extremely disappointing and are actually much more problematic. Very small doses of THC are required and their benefits outweigh any risks by healthy measures.”

We have evolved into a society convinced that synthesizing cannabis and separating its components into good and evil is the right approach to the plant. This is perhaps the reason that CBD has risen to such stardom in the past five years.

The problem with this attitude is that it completely disregards the 100 or so other cannabinoids that the cannabis plant has to offer. It also discounts essential terpenes and flavonoids and thereby eliminates any possibility that the patient will benefit from the plant’s synergistic properties.

Science established long ago that the entourage effect associated with whole-plant cannabis is what truly provides the therapeutic effects.

Among the latest study’s findings the greatest analgesic responses were reported by people that used whole dried cannabis flower, or ‘buds,’ and particularly cannabis with relatively high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC

The authors caution that cannabis use does carry the risks of addiction and short-term impairments in cognitive and behavioral functioning, and may not be effective for everyone.

“However, I have seen many people use it as a primary medication for a full spectrum of health conditions as part of their broader desire to gain more control over their healthcare treatment,” says Vigil, a perspective that seems to gaining momentum as cannabis appears to be re-emerging as one of the most widely used medications in the U.S.

This investigation was supported in part by public donations to the University of New Mexico Medical Cannabis Research.

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