Medical cannabis has become so pervasive in the U.S. that an entire industry has grown up around it. Branding is now a big part of it. Likewise, branding has led some people to believe that they should seek out certain strains to treat certain conditions. A good example are strains marketed for pain management.
Knowing what we know about medical cannabis as a chronic pain treatment, here is the money question: are there strains cannabis users should check out specifically for pain? The answer is no.
Back when sativa and indica were the only games in town – and that was a long, long time ago – it may have been appropriate to recommend sativa because of its higher THC content. But as a University of Colorado study pointed out, the name given to a particular strain doesn’t tell you much anymore.
Cannabis Indica and Sativa
Utahmarijuana.org is an organization that helps medical cannabis patients in Utah obtain and renew their medical cannabis cards. They say emerging science is showing that cannabis can be an effective pain medication for neuropathic pain, cancer pain, and other types of chronic and acute pain. But they say that recommending indica over sativa – or vice-versa – is inappropriate.
People get hung up on their strains to the point of believing that only one particular strain will help them. The truth about cannabis is that there are hundreds of strains. Each strain has its own cannabinoid and terpene profile, which is exactly the point of developing them. But one particular profile isn’t the best for pain relief.
Before the cannabis industry began developing so many strains, indica was recommended as a strain that would help you relax. It had more CBD than THC. If indica actually helped relieve your pain, it was probably due to its sedating effects. On the other hand, sativa could also be recommended for pain relief because its higher THC content would make you high. When you are high, pain doesn’t bother you as much.
Continuing to believe that is to oversimplify what has become a very complex plant. Even without all those other strains, indica and sativa are not what they used to be.
Labels Are Misleading
The University of Colorado research was a blow to the cannabis industry in that it revealed that product labels are almost always misleading. Some are intentionally deceptive. Just because a product label says indica doesn’t mean that the product inside was derived from an indica plant. The same goes for sativa. But even that is not the half of it.
It is the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that offers cannabis users relief from pain. But at the end of the day, it is all cannabis. Strains are not so remarkably different that a patient can say one absolutely works for them while all others do not. Strains are not that specific.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes
So how do medical cannabis patients decide which strains are best for treating their pain? The first thing to do is to not pay attention to brand names at all. Instead, the focus should be on cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The most reputable producers are not afraid to detail their profiles. They are not afraid to have their products tested to ensure that labeling is accurate.
A patient who finds more pain relief with CBD should focus on products that are CBD-dominant. Likewise for patients who find more relief with THC. From there, it is a matter of finding products with the right combination of cannabinoids and terpenes to offer maximum pain relief. It has nothing to do with strains. Period.