Why cannabis is a better pain reliever than aspirin

Whatever you think about cannabis, there’s no denying it’s a promising pain reliever — especially in a world where our only options are OTC pain relievers that increase the odds of internal bleeding and insanely-addictive opioids.

So why are more people popping aspirin or opioids than cannabis products for their pain?

Well, cannabis was nearly impossible to research up until recently because the federal government classifies it as a Schedule I substance right alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Regulations around this classification made it hard for researchers to dive into its benefits. And that’s why a source of powerful pain relief isn’t being used to its full potential. Case in point?

In 1985, researchers discovered that flavonoids in cannabis called cannflavins A and B had anti-inflammatory properties that were 30 times more powerful than aspirin. But this study collected dust for 30 plus years because of strict regulations. No one followed up on these findings. No one created a powerful new pain-relieving product from them.

But luckily, we’re entering a new era of cannabis research (and pain relief) …

Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, which created an opportunity for researchers to finally examine marijuana’s pain-relieving properties more closely. And University of Guelph researchers are using this opportunity to follow up on that 35-year old study which should have Bayer execs quaking in their designer boots…

Cannflavins: The next big breakthrough in pain relief?

Researchers from the University of Guelph just took a closer look at two inflammation-fighting compounds in cannabis that were discovered in the mid-1980s— cannflavins A and B.

Since these compounds reduced inflammation 30 times better than aspirin, researchers wanted to see whether they could be the next big breakthrough in pain relief medicine. And here’s what they learned about them….

First, you need cannabis genes to create these compounds. You can’t create them without cannabis. Unfortunately, the amount of cannflavins A and B found naturally in cannabis is too small to provide potent pain relief.

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But researchers are developing a biological system to create cannflavin molecules, so they could produce large quantities. If they succeed, they may have discovered a safer and healthier replacement for NSAIDs and opioids… fingers crossed.

“There’s clearly a need to develop alternatives for relief of acute and chronic pain that go beyond opioids,” said Prof. Tariq Akhtar, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, who worked on the study with MCB professor Steven Rothstein. “These molecules are non-psychoactive, and they target the inflammation at the source, making them ideal painkillers.”

Other cannabis compounds that relieve pain

Now, I know you can’t use cannflavins to reduce your pain right now since there aren’t enough of them found naturally in cannabis. But don’t discount two other pain-relieving compounds in cannabis…

CBD and THC.

There’s significant evidence that these two cannabis compounds provide pain relief too. In fact, one Israeli study found that cannabis reduced pain in 95.9 percent of cancer sufferers who tried it, most likely due to these two compounds.

Related: The cannabis cure: A doctor’s pursuit

There are also more than 20,000 published reviews and studies on cannabidiol (CBD). And one benefit demonstrated by these studies, again and again, is pain relief.

Like cannflavins, CBD and THC both have anti-inflammatory properties, which is at least partly why they relieve pain. If you want to try these cannabis compounds for pain, consider this question…

How do you feel about getting high?

If you don’t like the high cannabis gives you, stick to CBD for your pain. It’s effective and not psychoactive, so it won’t make you spacey and paranoid like the time you smoked a joint at a James Taylor concert. If you don’t mind the buzz you receive from cannabis, you can try THC or a combination of THC and CBD.

You should also know that there are different types of marijuana plants: Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and hybrids of the two.

Cannabis indica strains seem to be more effective for pain relief, so keep that in mind before you head to your local dispensary in search of a replacement for that bottle of aspirin (or opioids).


Editor’s note: If you suffer from chronic pain and conventional medicine has let you down, or you just want to escape the potential dangers of OTC and prescription drugs even for occasional pain, you must read Conquering the Pain: An Alternative Doctor’s Fresh Look at the Newest and Oldest in Alternative Pain Therapies. Click here to get your copy today!

Sources:

  1. Researchers unlock access to pain relief potential of cannabis — MedicalXpress
  2. Biosynthesis of cannflavins A and B from Cannabis sativa LPhytochemistry
  3. What are the best cannabis strains for chronic pain? — Medical News Today

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.