The medical use of marijuana is still being studied to this day; however, several studies have shown that about 80% of patients have found it effective in treating pain. If you are looking for alternative therapies for chronic pain, visit our pain management centers in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

But first, let’s cover the basics: marijuana, also known as cannabis, is mostly known for being a recreational drug. However, it has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It’s not that simple, though—medical marijuana became quite a controversial topic in the early 1900s, and it still is today. Currently, it is only legal in 36 US states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The cannabis plant contains more than 100 naturally occurring chemicals called cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids used in medicine are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the “high” feeling that results from consuming marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD).

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The Endocannabinoid System

According to research, what generates the medicinal effects of marijuana in the human body is its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system plays an important role in homeostasis, a self-regulating process by which an organism maintains the ideal stability for survival. It is also key to neuronal and immune cell function, two factors that affect pain perception.

The ECS is made up of three parts:

  1. Endocannabinoids (molecules produced by your body that are similar to cannabinoids).
  2. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that bond with endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.
  3. Enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.

When something in your body is imbalanced, it activates the ECS to help restore that balance.

How does it do it? With the help of CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors allow the ESC to regulate many important functions such as appetite, digestion, sleep, pain, memory, immune function, and others.

CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system (the brain and the nerves in your spinal cord) and they are involved in the signaling of pain to the brain through the spinal cord, which means they can affect your pain experience. They can also affect your emotions, memory, executive functions, and reward mechanisms, and they are responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana.

CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system (the nerves in your extremities), the digestive system, and the immune system. They also affect pain experience, but they do so through their anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties and their role in the body’s immune response.

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The Effects of THC and CBD on the Body

Cannabinoids—such as CBD or THC—are chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. This is why they can interact with your cannabinoid receptors. This interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters, which play a significant role in pain.

When THC enters the body, it activates and binds to CB1. It also produces a euphoric (“high”) sensation that CBD doesn’t. This activation of CB1, however, also has positive effects on conditions such as pain, insomnia, muscle spasticity, nausea, low appetite, and anxiety.

On the other hand, CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 or does so very weakly, although it can work well with THC. THC can bind to CB1, meanwhile, CBD can help reduce the side effects of THC, such as the “high” feeling.

Additionally, CBD activates TRPV1 receptors. The activation of TRPV1 is involved in the regulation of pain and inflammation, and research has shown that CBD’s interaction with TRPV1 receptors helps block pain signals from reaching the rest of the body.

The effects of medical marijuana on your body may vary depending on factors like the strain, the consumption method, your habits (nutrition, sleep, stress, etc.), your body chemistry, and genetics. However, the THC: CBD ratio of a medical marijuana product can also say a lot about how it will affect your body.

THC and CBD work cooperatively, and doctors tend to recommend a 1:1 ratio, especially at first. CBD can help minimize the psychotropic effects of THC while the two work together to help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Nonetheless, some people may opt for a higher proportion of CBD to further avoid the psychotropic effects of THC. The appropriate dosage varies from person to person—the way your own body assimilates marijuana will depend on things like your metabolism and body composition.

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This Is How You Can Consume Medical Marijuana

The most common consumption methods for medical cannabis are inhalation, edibles, and topicals. Suppositories are also used sometimes.

Inhalation

When marijuana is inhaled, its active components can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and help decrease the central nervous system’s response to pain signals. This method is especially effective when treating neuropathic pain or centralized pain conditions like fibromyalgia.

Inhalation may refer to smoking or vaporization, but at our New Jersey pain management centers, we don’t use smoking as a consumption method. Vaporization allows for a 33% absorption of cannabinoids—more than smoking—so the dose is smaller.

Edibles

Consuming marijuana edibles like pills, gummies, beverages, etc. has similar effects as inhalation, but those effects take longer since edibles have to be digested like any other food. However, they also tend to last longer and be stronger than the effects of inhalation.

Tinctures and oils can also be considered edibles since they are taken through the mouth, but they are absorbed faster than pills or snacks. They are usually placed under the tongue, so they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can easily cross the blood-brain barrier.

Topicals

Applying topicals is most useful to reduce localized pain and/or inflammation. Topicals, however, are not systemically absorbed, so their effect is limited to the area where it is applied, and they won’t make you high. Cannabis-infused topicals may come in the form of creams, lotions, balms, oils, salves, and sprays.

At Premier Pain Clinics in NJ and PA, our specialists will carefully evaluate your condition to determine if medical marijuana is a suitable option for you, and recommend the best consumption method for your case.

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Wait—There’s More Than One Marijuana Species?

That’s right. There are two main species of cannabis that are commonly grown: Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Cannabis indica originated in India, where it was harvested for its seeds, fiber, and hashish production. This species is known to be more relaxing than cannabis Sativa, which originated in Eastern Asia and is known to be more energizing.

Medical marijuana products are typically categorized by the species of cannabis they are made of. However, today it is rare to find pure strains. Most are hybrids of Sativa and Indica, which makes them more balanced. Even though each species can have different effects, the way they affect your body won’t be the same as everyone else. This is why it’s important to have a specialist guide you when turning to medical marijuana for pain management.

At our New Jersey pain management centers, you will find board-certified specialists who will study your case and determine the best treatment option for you. If you are near Freehold or other NJ locations and are interested in alternative pain treatments like medical marijuana, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment.

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Which Conditions Can Be Treated With Medical Marijuana?

Although there is ongoing research about the medical use of cannabis, data has shown it can be beneficial in treating several different conditions like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer
  • Seizures
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Lupus
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See the Best Pain Management Doctors Near Freehold, NJ

Like other pain management treatments, medical marijuana will not cure a disease, but rather minimize or eliminate its symptoms to improve quality of life. Additionally, instead of depending solely on it, it tends to work best when used as a complement to other treatments like interventional procedures or physical therapy.

At Premier’s pain management centers in New Jersey, we use medical marijuana to treat pain caused by certain conditions. Each state has a list of approved medical conditions that can be treated with it—when you visit us, our doctors will carefully talk to you about this and other important topics like side effects and risks. They will also evaluate your condition and medical history to determine if medical marijuana is a suitable treatment option for you.

Request a consultation below to begin your journey towards a pain-free life!

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FAQ About Medical Marijuana

What are the side effects of medical marijuana?


In general, medical marijuana is very safe. There are some possible side effects that may appear depending on the strain, dosage, consumption method, and patient-related factors. Some of them are:

  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lack of concentration and/or motivation
  • Poor motor skills
  • Dry mouth

Which is better, CBD or THC?


Both CBD and THC can have beneficial effects on the body. Depending on your case, your doctor might recommend a higher proportion of one or the other.

How does cannabis help chronic pain?


Cannabis interacts with your body’s cannabinoid receptors, which help regulate many important functions. This interaction can help reduce pain signaling and perception, as well as inflammation.

Should I see a doctor before taking medical marijuana?


It’s ideal to see a doctor before taking marijuana for pain; first of all, because they’ll evaluate your situation and diagnose you properly so they can recommend the best treatment option for you. Second, because they’ll also give you all the information you need to know about medical marijuana treatments, including their risks and side effects.

At Premier, we prioritize our patients’ safety and wellbeing. Feel free to contact us and we’ll help you schedule an appointment or solve any questions you may have.