Many people struggle with chronic inflammation for a variety of reasons. Although this can be treated with medications such as NSAIDs, these are known to have negative effects with long-term use. Many are now turning to cannabis as a pain relief alternative to treat their inflammation — with surprising success.
What Is Inflammation?
The term “inflammation” has a negative connotation for many people. We associate it with symptoms such as pain, swelling, burning, or other unpleasant sensations associated with illness or injury. But inflammation is actually a critical part of your body’s healing process.
Inflammation is the result of your body signaling your immune system to repair damage or vanquish an invader such as a harmful pathogen.
In the case of a long-term illness or health condition, inflammation can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any long-term inflammation or similar concerns to rule out complications such as heart disease.
What Causes Inflammation?
Many factors can cause inflammation. In the case of short-term inflammation, it’s usually the result of an injury, such as a cut or scrape, or a minor illness like the flu. These will typically resolve quickly and require no further treatment once the cause is resolved.
Long-term inflammation also has a few causes. For some people with immune disorders, an overactive immune system may attack parts of their body that aren’t actually injured or infected. In patients where the cause of inflammation can’t be resolved quickly, such as an autoimmune disease or chronic illness, long-term inflammation may also make issues worse, causing additional symptoms such as tissue damage.
Does Cannabis Help With Inflammation?
Yes, cannabis can reduce inflammation. It does so by reducing your body’s immune response in two ways: First, it kills off extra immune cells such as white blood cells, macrophages, and T-lymphocytes responsible for inflammation, reducing the immediate symptoms and providing relief right away. It also reduces the proteins produced by your immune system which trigger the production of such immune cells, helping lower the immune response in the future to keep symptoms in check.
This may be less beneficial for people who are already immunocompromised. It’s also less helpful for short-term issues requiring a brief but robust immune response, such as an injury or minor illness. However, for people who struggle with chronic inflammation or long-term pain or illness, cannabis is a great potential treatment.
How To Use Cannabis for Inflammation
Cannabis can be used in a few different ways depending on your preferences and needs. There’s no single “correct” way to treat your inflammation using weed, so go with whatever works best for you.
One of the most popular ways to use cannabis is by inhaling the smoke of its natural, or flower, form. Cannabis can also be inhaled by the use of a vaporizer with a cartridge filled with a cannabis concentrate.
One of the benefits of inhalants is that the active compounds reach your bloodstream very quickly. Typically, you’ll feel the effects of smoking or vaping within 15 minutes — often less. This makes them a great option for quick relief from pain or inflammation.
The downside, however, is that some people find inhalants irritating to their lungs. Some find vape smoke less irritating than flower smoke, but both can cause coughing, burning in the lungs, or inflammation — the very problem you’re trying to solve. It’s unclear whether there are long-term effects of inhaling cannabis, as the effect of cannabis smoke on the lungs hasn’t yet been extensively studied due to restrictions.
If using inhalants for the first time, start with a small dose to see how it feels. Don’t be surprised if you cough the first time — many people do. The irritation may resolve over repeated use, but it may not, so keep that in mind if you decide to stick with inhalants for treatment.
If you would prefer to ingest your weed, edibles are a great option for relieving inflammation. You can either buy premade edibles from your local medical dispensary, or you can buy flower or oil and make your own using a recipe. Store-bought edibles have the CBD and THC content clearly labeled and come in several forms, including gummies, chocolates, baked goods, hard candies, tinctures, oils, and even beverages.
With edibles, you get the benefit of a longer high with no lung discomfort. Because edibles are processed through the stomach and liver, the dose reaches your bloodstream more slowly and in smaller amounts, so the effects of edibles can last for several hours, depending on your tolerance.
On the other hand, edibles typically take much longer to kick in — generally 1 to 2 hours — since they have to be digested first. This means edibles may not work well for instant relief. Instead, you may choose to use edibles in anticipation of a flare-up, such as before a strenuous activity, or scheduled around your most symptomatic times of day.
When taking edibles for the first time, start with a small dose and don’t take more until you’re sure it’s fully kicked in. It may take time, and adding more in the meantime won’t make it kick in any faster; it’ll just lead to overconsumption. Though this is rarely dangerous, it can be uncomfortable, sometimes causing anxiety, racing heart, or even hallucinations.
Topicals are absorbed through the outside of your body, rather than the inside. They usually come as a cream or oil that is massaged into the skin. These are usually applied on or near the point of inflammation, such as a painful or swollen joint. This bypasses issues such as lung irritation or unpleasant flavors, but it also takes a while to absorb through the skin and can be accidentally wiped off before it’s fully absorbed. Topicals are best for localized treatment, such as to a single joint, since it absorbs best right where it’s applied. If you need full-body treatment, an edible or inhalant may work better for you.
Cannabis can interact with certain types of medication, so check with a doctor before adding it to your treatment routine. Other treatments may need to be stopped or altered to accommodate cannabis inflammation treatment for optimum effectiveness. A doctor can also help you determine the best form and dosage to maximize the benefits of your use.
Stop Inflammation With Medical Marijuana from VidaCann
If chronic inflammation is affecting your life, you may find relief in medical marijuana. VidaCann has a team of experienced budtenders ready to help you choose the best products and strains for your needs. Our stores are conveniently located all across Florida so you can always access the medicine you need.