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Cannabis for Chronic Pain: THC, CBD, and CBG

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Chronic pain is something over 50 million Americans suffer from because it’s so difficult to manage. But, people have been turning to cannabis for chronic pain relief for decades. Roughly 62% of Americans using medical marijuana report using cannabis for chronic pain.

In this post, I explain:

  • What qualifies as chronic pain
  • How different cannabinoids can help with certain aspects of chronic pain
  • My personal story of how I overcame chronic pain using cannabis (and how I got off my pain medication quickly by using cannabis).

You can watch the Cannabis for Chronic Pain: Using THC and CBD video below or you can keep scrolling to read the post.

Chronic Pain: What Qualifies as Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months.

I say 3-6 months because pain stemming from surgery or recovering from an injury is normal. You’ll feel temporary pain during the healing process.

Once that healing process is over and you’re still experiencing pain, you’re suffering from chronic pain.

But if you haven’t had any surgeries, injuries, or traumas yet you’re still experiencing pain for over 3 months, that’s also chronic pain.

If your aches and pains are a prolonged, daily occurrence, that’s an indicator that you’re dealing with chronic pain.

Physical and Emotional Effects of Chronic Pain

The more you experience chronic pain, the more you’ll experience some of these physical and emotional effects.

Some of the physical effects include:

  • inflammation
  • muscle tension
  • limited mobility
  • feeling like the world is “smaller”
  • weight change

Chronic pain can exacerbate other pains that you may have, such as back and musculoskeletal pain.

Limited mobility may also become a problem. It can stem from a fear of injuring yourself. You may also limit yourself because of the pain caused by trying to move.

When your mobility is limited, you start to experience a more constricted world. (This is not strictly a physical or emotional issue, but a side effect of living with chronic pain).

Your weight may also gain or lose weight over time. This ends up being two sides of the same coin.

Emotionally, you’re looking at:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • anger

During a flare-up, you might get snappy with people.

I definitely experienced a lot of anger, anxiety, and depression during my own chronic pain journey.

You’re just as likely to experience hopelessness and fear during a chronic pain cycle, along with the physical effects.

Chronic Pain and CBD

You’ve probably heard that CBD can do so much. If something’s wrong, just use CBD, right?

It kinda sounds a lot like snake oil.

So let’s talk about CBD and how it related back to chronic pain.

We don’t currently have a lot of studies and research to show us exactly how this cannabinoid is working in humans. This makes it difficult to find good research to support that CBD works for chronic pain.

What we do know is that CBD is a holistic, herbal remedy, which we need more of!

CBD is also known to promote sleep and reduce inflammation in chronic pain patients (and people who experience chronic pain).

What I love most about CBD is the minimal adverse side effects since there’s so little that can go wrong unless you take too much.

The side effects tend to be diarrhea or headaches especially if you take too much of it at once.

Also, if you’re using medication that interacts with grapefruit, it will also very likely interact with CBD.

You want to keep a close watch on the levels of medication in your bloodstream. That way, you know if you’re taking too much.

If you’re choosing not to venture into using CBD oil because it’s too expensive, I love a company called Sacred Smoke Herbals.

I normally buy their flower or trim and turn it into my own CBD oil.

Homemade CBD oil is definitely a cheaper and cost-effective way to manage chronic pain.

Chronic Pain and THC

Let’s move on to THC since THC is what everyone knows when it comes to cannabis, right?

THC is that famous intoxicating, psychoactive cannabinoid.

I want to talk about using THC for chronic pain because one thing I’ve learned from my own journey (and from anecdotal stories) is that if I take THC by itself, it can sometimes make my pain feel even worse.

Then there are the negative side effects (munchies, spinning head, nausea, etc).

THC isn’t all negative, which I’ll explain in the next part of this post.

Microdosing THC and CBD for Chronic Pain

This brings me to talking about microdosing THC and CBD for chronic pain.

I believe the most beneficial way to use THC is by microdosing, where you take minimal amounts of THC in order to receive the desired effects without all the negatives.

You can read more about microdosing in this post.

If you are experimenting solely with THC, I recommend having other cannabinoids in the mix.

For me, the results were mostly hit-or-miss until I incorporated CBD into my THC.

CBD with the THC became a huge game-changer in my journey with managing my chronic pain.

THC does have its benefits that you may not find in CBD. For example, what I love about THC is that it can uplift you. You don’t need this effect, but for those who are having trouble with their mood, this can be life-changing.

If THC makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s fine! Stick to CBD!

If you use heavy amounts of THC now, I would invite you to knock it down as much as you can and get to the minimum effective dose.

THC has something called the biphasic effect (or the bell curve dose-response). It can be difficult to get a high dose of THC in cannabis to help you find relief from chronic pain because the higher the dose, the more side effects. Think: lethargy, munchies, dry mouth, etc.

Update: a commenter below found that with her neuropathic pain, high amounts of THC and CBD worked best for her. She mentioned that  Bruce Banner was very effective. Add to the comments below and let us know what’s working (or has worked) for you so we can all learn from each other 🙂

Chronic Pain and CBG

There’s one last cannabinoid I want to talk about and that’s called CBG.

Dr. Ethan Russo, who’s just an incredible cannabis researcher and scientist, did a study on how CBG works with the cannabinoid receptors. I don’t want to get too deep into that but CBG has been shown to have a higher level of pain relief than THC or CBD.

CBG is an interesting cannabinoid that we’re just starting to breed for higher CBG. We’ll probably see a lot more of CBG in the following years so keep your eye open for that!

CBG is another cannabinoid that isn’t intoxicating and won’t give you the psychoactive effect if that’s not what you’re looking for.

It’s also legal in the USA.

Managing your Chronic Pain with Cannabis

I know that my approach to cannabis and chronic pain may be a little different than what you’re used to.

I’m not a fan of the spaghetti at the wall approach.

I like to consider managing my chronic pain with cannabis as a journey. As a part of my exploration, I found that microdosing, balancing ratios, and incorporating cannabinoids like CBD and CBG into my dosages really made the difference in my flare-ups.

Through cannabis, my chronic pain is almost completely eliminated. My flare-ups generally happen during high stress or traumatic time in my life though now I know how to manage it more effectively.

If someone told me, a decade ago, that I’d be sharing all of this, I wouldn’t have believed it.

How do you use cannabis to manage your chronic pain? Let me know in the comments below!


Corinne Tobias

My name is Corinne Tobias and I’m the creator of this site that is all about cannabis and health (and having a good time combining those things!). Since 2013, I’ve helped millions of people on their cannabis journey and have been featured in publications like High Times, Merry Jane, Jezelbel, Westword, and Vice.

17 thoughts on “Cannabis for Chronic Pain: THC, CBD, and CBG”

  1. Hi
    I suffer chronic pain. I live in Canada. Are your products able to be sent to Canada? We do have retail stores slowly established and canabis is “legal” in Canada, however, problems crossing the border arise. I would like to discuss general aspects of marketing in Canada.

    Thanks you for what you do!
    Lee Myers
    [email protected]

    1. Totally agree, except…
      I am afflicted with a neuropathy THC does help with that particular type of pain, Nerve Pain. I’ve found that seeking stains of cannabis with both reasonably high percentages THC & CBD. A strain such as Bruce Banner works well for both types of pain I am suffering the other being psoriatic arthritis. I am quite interested in using tinctures rather then smoking, even though I do enjoy it occasionally.

  2. I love reading all about your journey and how you are using THC and CBD to manage your chronic pain. I think I found you by accident on Pinterest and I’m glad I did. This article really hit home because I have been living with chronic pain for years stemming from degenerative arthritis in my spine and a subsequent spinal surgery five years ago as a result of the arthritis. I actually discovered the wonderful effects of microdosing THC about a year ago as I had been doing lots of personal research into both plants for my own health. It’s all all been coincidental how I found out about microdosing THC after a few too much edible eating experiences not going as planned and learning how to find the right dose for me and just happening to combine the two plants during one dosing and discovered how amazingly they work together. I have been trying to spread the word ever since. Reading it here helps me feel vindicated in my discovery and keeps me focused on trying to help others who may be looking for similar relief. I love what you’re doing, great read, and I enjoy your site and visit it regularly for tips, info and recipes. I hope to take your training in the near future to help coach others to health using both plants. Kudos to you.

  3. Corrinn, do you ever make your infused oils in the Ardent Lift Decarboxylator? It’s so easy, I’ve wondered why you don’t list that method on your site. Thank you.

      1. I didn’t know you could infuse in the ardent machine. More info?

        Also, I make my own tinctures in my crockpot with glycerin. I don’t know how to regulate that, but my arthritis loves it. My main problem is the effects glycerin has on your digestive system. Butter shits, I call them. But I found drinking a small amount of Kombucha every morning, along with one milk thistle capsule does well. But i tend to sleep a lot, so there’s that. Part of that is my COPD, tho, I think.

        I love your blogs. Florida is only now getting the message.

  4. Hi Corinne!
    I really appreciate your knowledge of cannabis- it’s been of enormous help to me.
    I have had breast and lung cancers- still being monitored for the latter, but am considered stable at present. I’m on an estrogen-suppressant because of the breast cancer, and have chronic pain as a result.
    I’m embarrassed to admit that until a few years ago, I considered medical marijuana as just an excuse for stoners to get high… but along came lung cancer (in both lungs), and just after a friend introduced me to CBD, an email newsletter featured a series called The Sacred Plant. Suddenly, I realized just how mistaken/misinformed I was about cannabis, and a brand new world opened up for me! This led me to discover your website ?
    That was over two years ago- I began growing cannabis for myself, despite it being illegal in our state. As I’ve learned more about terpenes and cannabinoids as well as the difference in effects between strains, the type of plant I grow has changed, particularly as I’m so interested in pain management. And then there’s the cancers- although it can’t be proven, who’s to say that it hasn’t kept the disease at bay? I tried RSO but never developed tolerance so I abandoned it. My husband and I make tinctures per your recipes ? The plants I’m growing this year have high ratios of thc to cbd, in particular Critical Mass, Shark Shock, Black Mamba… oh, I obtained Harlequin seeds from Seedsman so I’m hoping they’re the real thing… would love your expertise on the different varieties and their medical efficacy!
    Anyway, my apologies for this lengthy comment- just wanted to introduce myself, and thank you again “in person“

  5. I started making cannabis oils & tinctures 2-1/2 yrs ago after my wife had major surgery which had her fibro and RA pain go through the roof. I also have RA and use it as well. Have just ordered some Blueberry Pie CBD flower from Blacktiecbd and am looking forward to see how it works. I have a Nova and an MB2. If you’re making your own oils and tinctures I think they are must haves, they pay for themselves very quickly.

  6. I’m really glad to see how far marijuana gets to go. Since I’m one of the 1st to learn how to grow Green Bud in the 60’s. I used to write to High Times & gave them info on how to grow marijuana. The best part of this whole ordeal with what you are doing, is, you’re a woman. Don’t stop now. I might have to live to be 150 to see you women rule, but, woman’s progress is unstoppable by man. Man has proven that he can’t do it. Look where the World is at.
    Woman does not need a man. And they for sure don’t need them, to give birth. I think man has dug himself a hole, jumped in, & is now covering himself up. All we are is: a donor. And some of us, can’t even do that! Smile
    I tried to Shop, but, nothing happened. So, I @ least will leave a reply.

  7. Hi, I’m suffering from endometriosis and i take some drugs (pharmaceutical ones) to try to control the pain. Also, a few months before i started to infuse cannabis (the type i found was Jack 47 so is a lot of thc and low cbd) in olive oil. I use it under the tongue and i dont feel too much… The last april I planted 2 different kind, one only cbd and another with 1:1 ratio between thc and cbd. My question is, do i have to infuse them in olive oil in the same way that before? i hope in 2 months i will have the flowers and i would like to use them properly.

    Thanks for all your information

    Regards from Spain

  8. I’m relatively new to medical use of cannabis, but do have experience with recreational use; it IS different.
    I’ve had chronic pain for some years, but did not have an MMJ card until this year, 2019. I’m still experimenting to find what works best for me, but I ran across micro-dosing and have found that 15 or so mg of CBD with a few drops of THC tincture is usually fairly effective. If it isn’t as effective as I’d like, I up my dose of THC to 3- 5 mg with more CDB. Personally, I wait to do this until late afternoon, as a rule, so it doesn’t interfere with what I’m doing, because it does give me a buzz with the pain relief.
    I’ve been making my own tinctures, so I’m also looking into the terpenes and cannabinoids. Some of them are specifically for pain and inflammation. I’ve found myself wishing that marijuana was categorized by terpenes and cannabinoids rather than by a given name. Guess that’s because of our long term prohibition, coupled with a lack of research and the variations of the contents in the mj.

  9. Can people please explain the difference between a cannabis infused salve, lotion, or tincture in regards to making your own at home for chronic pain relief? What’s better? I’ve been suffering with many forms of pain since high school. I’ve just recently started making my own topicals. I really wish that you(author, and the commentors on this site) could help me pass up all the different recipes I’ve been reading by just commenting a little for a fellow sufferer. It seems as though everyone contradicts Everyone and Everything! It drives me crazy. Are you supposed to decarboxylate your cannabis or not? Do any of you know of something I can put in my topicals that could give me energy as well? Any answers or advice you have would be very much appreciated. Thank you

  10. Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness! Cannabis is really indeed magical. As studies progress, it unfolds a lot of possible uses and applications in science and medicine. I hope this could be the future treatment of a lot of diseases.

  11. I suffer from chronic shoulder pain due to osteoarthritis. I just recently began making my own tinctures of CBD. I take it orally and add it to my topical essential oil blends. My oral dose is ~10-15 mg 3x per day. CBD has helped somewhat but not as much as I had hoped. For the first time, I made a CBG tincture with my Levo II machine. I am taking it orally 3x a day (40-60 mg total) It seems to somewhat more effective than CBD. Until reading your article I had not considered dosing with both CBD and CBG. I plan to give it a try. When selecting my Hemp Flower, I also study the terpene profiles. I try to select material that complements the oils and carriers in my topical essential oil blends. (THC is not available in my State so i do not have any experience with it.) Overall, Its been a very interesting journey and I have a lot to learn!

    1. many of us are with you, stride for stride. Do you keep a journal? It’s amazing how much you learn over the years.

  12. Another chronic pain sufferer here…35+years…would LOVE to learn how cannabis can help…I’ve been trying for so long!!!

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