“Weekend warriors, serious athletes, obsessive golfers, all ye with active lifestyles, if you’re reading this article you probably have first-hand experience with the side effects associated with opiate narcotics, analgesics, muscle relaxants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) typically prescribed for sports injuries or the wear and tear from a lifetime of “staying fit” or “playing hard.”
Take opiates (please), which interrupt pain signaling to the brain by flooding pain receptors with damping effects. The long term effect is a down regulation of endogenous opiate production.
Technically speaking, “this down regulation appears to have cross over effects across the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, triggering something called panhypopituitarism, with symptoms of fatigue, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, depression, GI inhibition and decreased libido often resulting,” according to Dr. Zach Sparer of Green Wellness.
If pharmaceuticals are not your treatment of choice, perhaps after an early weekend morning spent jockeying for rebounding position against other super aggressive Type A lawyers and bankers (just kidding, we love rebounding), you go for old-school remedies like Tiger Balm or Icy Hot that create a warming or cooling sensation to help lessen the pain as well as increase the blood flow in the affected area(s).
I have used Tiger Balm on my back when it tweaks out and it does enable me to go on with my day. The problem I found was my back hurt even worse the next day and I still needed to spend several days on the couch and kept reapplying more balm. That’s why Icy Hot has several warnings that recommend speaking with a doctor before using!
They both work under the same principles just different ways of going about it. The whole idea behind them is to trick the body by occupying the pain signals being sent up to the brain with a different sensation.
Net-net, when you do injure yourself playing a sport or just feel carved up by the inflammation, why cover up the injury when you can actually start the healing process?
Instead, medical-grade cannabis has been shown to decrease inflammation and control chronic pain usually caused by old injuries, while also helping to regulate the endocrine system and avoid having it become easily depleted through the day by pain or stress.
Moreover, new medical cannabis strains specifically engineered to provide even greater comfort against inflammation and pain are now being produced.
Taking a step back, for many years the main goal of cannabis growers was to raise the THC level of the plant increasing its “high” feeling. At the same time the most powerful medicinal compound in cannabis is, you guessed it, THC, which we know is helpful for a range of diseases including glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and side effects of chemotherapy and AIDS treatment such as nausea and loss of appetite.
But THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, and while many patients benefit from a sense of reduced anxiety and mood elevation, other users experience drowsiness, altered perception of space-time, sensory alterations, and disorientation.
Fortunately, medical cannabis also contains CBD, which has many of the same health effects as THC, but without the psychoactive effects as the Washington Post article outlines.
Studies have demonstrated CBD’s effectiveness in relieving pain, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea, among other things.
(Getting back to Icy Hot or Tiger Balm, did you know you can apply a cannabis-infused, CBD-rich topical that will absorb into the skin; your body will recognize those active CBD components, a chemical your own body produces, that “naturally” begins to increase blood flow to the affected area to start the healing process?)
With that mindset seed houses like Resin Seeds, which we work with at our Seattle-based dispensary, The CPC, have been crossing strains to produce high concentrations of CBDs (with many other seed houses furiously working away as well on similar strains).
For example, Resin Seeds produces a strain called Cannatonic that has a phenotype available with a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD, which has been shown to be a medically beneficial ratio.
Now on average medical cannabis typically contains 12 percent THC and 0.2 percent CBD.
During the past year, The CPC has also been testing and growing a slew of new, true-medical strains, high in CBD, and low in THC, that we believe will be ten to twenty times more medically effective because they contain up to 7% CBDs. We eventually will produce medicine at a 10-12 percent CBD range.
CBDs have many beneficial qualities as this graphic illustrates:
For example with a simple cannabis tincture loaded with CBDs, you can create an analgesic that will allow the weekend warrior to avoid things like liver damage by avoiding prolonged use of products such as Aleve and Advil!
The interactions of all the different compounds available in Cannabis still are not fully understood. We have seen in some new products such as Sativex which in a true sense is a commercially developed Cannabis Tincture. It contains only two of the active components found in cannabis.
Or consider cannabis packed into edibles, commonly referred to as medibles, which now come in many sizes, shapes and flavors, and offer a safe, stigma free alternative to smoking. They yield a longer duration and a deeper, body side effect — without the up and downs associating of needing to frequently medicate, and can compare favorably to the desired, pain-mitigating effects from taking a Vicodin or other heavy pain killer.
(Of course, in addition to developing powerful new strains, the holy grail is finding the old strains that people used to medicate with a thousand years ago — like the elusive Thai Stick known to suffuse nerve pain while also providing energy and other strains like Panama Red which the ancients knew about way back in the day).
As a Medical community our continued exploration of these new strains is allowing us to really have an impact on conditions with a minimal to no stoned/high effect.
We like to think we are taking the fun out of getting high.
More important, we are seeing a potential paradigm shift in how we treat common sports injuries: as the stigma surrounding medical cannabis lessens, the desire by many to eschew pharmaceuticals and treatments plans that mask chronic issues (while damaging our bodies at the same time) grows every day.” Ben Reagan, The C.P.C