Pain is something that many people experience. When it comes to our bodies and minds, physical pain is caused by a series of extremely complex interactions in the body. Scientists and pain relief experts have been studying an alternative to medications like narcotics, opioids, or other common pain relievers.

This alternative is cannabis, which has been proven to provide effective relief for those who experience chronic pain. But how does it work? Keep reading to find out!

Is Cannabis Effective When it Comes to Pain Relief?

While every individual experiences pain uniquely, millions of Americans claim that their pain is persistent or chronic. To minimize the effects of this, many people use things like pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications. These treatments vary in how effective they are, and many can come with adverse symptoms.

Marijuana is a plant that has been used to alleviate pain and its effects last longer than many people realize. In modern times, many people who suffer from chronic pain use medical marijuana to ease their pain, improve the quality of their life, and manage their symptoms,.

The Pain Center of the Brain

Pain will stimulate the neuromatrix center when triggered. This will affect six areas of the brain, including the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex, insular cortex, and thalamus.

doctor in mask and gloves looking at scans on human brain

This system in the brain is complex and intricate and is responsible for any pain neuron activation patterns. When it comes to day-to-day pain, the activity is more widespread and higher in the parts of the brain that are related to stimuli and perception. Chronic pain, however, will often increase activity in the parts of the brain that are related to emotions.

When it comes to our ability to tell where our pain is coming from, our primary somatosensory is responsible. The activity in the brain is higher on its ipsilateral side when the pain we experience is acute. For chronic pain, however, neuron activity is more widespread.

Our pain perception occurs in the neuromatrix of the brain. Countless medications are used to treat this pain, including antidepressants, narcotics, and opioids, to name a few. Many of these treatments come with risks or side effects.

There are 3 different types of pain sensations that one should be aware of.

person at doctor point to place on their back that’s in pain

They are as follows:

  • Somatic pain can be described as a deep ache that lingers after injury.
  • Neuropathic pain occurs when nerves are damaged or injured. Many people describe this pain as an uncomfortable burning sensation. Unlike the other kinds of pain, this kind is difficult to manage and may not respond to standard treatments.
  • Visceral pain is experienced when the abdominal or organs area has been injured.

Pain Neuromatrix Connection and Cannabis

According to pharmacological and genetic studies, medical marijuana is extremely effective in managing nerve pain.

While there are hundreds of types of cannabinoids, THC is the most popular. Despite common misconceptions about THC’s effects on the brain, there seems to be growing evidence regarding its therapeutic effects on how the brain responds to pain.

When THC is introduced into the body and brain, pain sensitivity decreases as the THC binds to the CB1 receptors. THC takes longer to break down in the body, so it can produce a longer-lasting and more effective pain relief than typical pain killers.

Additionally, many individuals experiencing chronic pain find the side effects of cannabis to be more tolerable than other medications. Specifically, Indica dominant and hybrid strains have shown to be the most effective when it comes to pain relief.


Two main cannabinoids are known for their therapeutic properties. These are called THC and CBD. While they are similar, they have some major differences in how they affect the mind and body.

CBD oils in dropper bottle

THC activates dopamine in the brain and helps users experience positive feelings or a high. CBD affects the body similarly by reducing the pain signals in the body, while also reducing inflammatory responses to effectively relieve the user’s pain. However, CBD does not have a psychoactive element, and thus won’t affect the user’s mind or mood.

Methods of Cannabis Treatment

There are many ways that marijuana can be used to help alleviate pain. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Topical Medical Cannabis

Ointments and topicals containing cannabis are extremely popular for pain relief. They are best for pain caused by inflammation and are simply applied to the skin.

Edible Medical Cannabis

Medical marijuana can also take the form of food, including things like cookies, candies, or beverages. The effects of edibles will take around 30-90 minutes to be felt, as they must pass through the liver to enter your bloodstream and affect the brain. However, the effects of edibles will last longer than other methods.

Smoking Medical Cannabis

One of the most direct and common ways to feel the effects of medical marijuana is to smoke it. By smoking, you will be able to feel the effects much sooner than many other methods listed.

person smoking marijuana and smiling

Sublingual Medical Marijuana Concentrates and Tinctures

To use cannabis sublingually, one must place FECO, cannabis tincture, or RSO oil directly under the tongue. This method provides the quickest results, as marijuana can pass into the bloodstream faster and interact with pain receptors in the body.

Bottom Line

Medical marijuana is an increasingly popular pain treatment. To avoid dependency on opioids or other pain medications, many people are turning to cannabis to manage their pain.

Now that we have more information on how cannabis affects the body and brain, along with its ability to manage pain and increase one’s quality of life, there is a noticeable increase in interest and research regarding marijuana’s therapeutic properties.

As general perceptions change and more scientific evidence are discovered, these safe and effective treatments will become more popular among those who experience chronic pain.

If you would like to obtain a medical marijuana card, the experts at Malie Cannabis Clinic can help!