Few things interfere with our quality of life like pain, and one of the most common types of pain is arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, it is the number one cause of disability in the U.S.
There are two main types of arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA). A malfunctioning immune system is the cause of RA. Medical professionals often misunderstand RA, which affects people in any age range. OA, on the other hand, mainly affects older populations. It is caused by wear and tear to the cartilage. This is what most people think of when they hear arthritis. There are also more than 100 other related conditions that affect the joints, causing inflammation and swelling. They all include pain of varying degrees.
Fortunately, we have cannabis.
There’s nothing new about using cannabis to treat the many forms of arthritis. A Chinese medical text from ca. 2000 BC mentions its use for RA. The text indicated that cannabis was known then for its immune modulation and anti-inflammatory properties. In the U.S., however, its use dates back to the 1700s when cannabis tinctures and lotions were a common stable in many home medicine cabinets and often used for muscle and joint pain.
It’s not just the combination of THC and CBD in cannabis that’s important for pain management, but also the different terpenes that work together to give each strain its own unique aroma and characteristics. Cannabis can contain up to 200 different terpenes with about 10 that occur in strong enough concentrations to be noteworthy.
If you or someone you love is dealing with arthritis, you might want to give one of these strains a try:
With origins stretching back to the Hindu Kush Mountain Range near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, Afghan Kush contains a number of anti-inflammatory and analgesic terpenes. These properties, combined with the high THC count of this predominately indica strain, work wonders for serious back and muscle pain. The terpenes humulene and caryophyllene are especially strong in Afghan Kush, which accounts for its strong skunky order.
A 50/50 hybrid of Blueberry and Super Silver Haze, Blue Dream provides the best of both indica and sativa, although generally with a slight lean toward its sativa qualities. This makes Blue Dream a good choice for daytime pain management. It has a cerebral quality to it, often combined with a full body relaxation, but shouldn’t make you overly tired.
Cannatonic is renowned for its off the charts CBD count and low THC count, which gives it an unbelievable 1:1 THC and CBD ratio. Medical Jane reports one batch testing at a whopping 17%. Developed by Resin Seeds, this earthy strain came about from a cross between MK Ultra with G13 Haze. Effects include a warm, numbing feeling in the body combined with relaxed alertness and mental clarity. This is a popular strain for people who are looking for pain relief without the high.
Sometimes referred to as “Larry Bird,” this hard-hitting indica with fiery orange hairs is popular in Northern California. Developed by Cookie Farm Genetics, Gelato is a cross between Sunset Sherbet and Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Its sweet, fruity flavor makes it a favorite among people who like to smoke their medicine. Two of its top uses are for stress and pain.
A personal favorite, I have several friends who use God’s Gift regularly for age-related issues including arthritis. Visually, this bud is stunning with a deep purple hue and sparkling crystal. Created from OG Kush and Granddaddy Purple, God’s Gift tends to test between 18-24% THC. With its smooth, fruity flavor and potent high, it’s hard to go wrong with this wonderfully smooth indica.
One of the most frequently mentioned strains for arthritis and inflammation, Harlequin comes highly recommended for its use in topicals and in oils. This sativa-dominant strain with a high CBD count is a great choice for daytime use because it will leave you clear headed and alert. It nearly always develops a CBD:THC ratio of 5:2, making it highly effective for all types of pain and inflammation. The strain comes from Colombian Gold, a Nepali indica and Thai and Swiss landrace strain. The flavor of this bud is either fruity and sweet or musky. Harlequin is also helpful for anxiety.
Users know this indica for its distinct lack of odor and flavor, and its frosty white trichomes. Yet The White has its appeal. I recently sampled some and enjoyed the subtle earthy undertones with just a tinge of pine. It has an euphoric, uplifting effect that comes on slowly, leaving you very relaxed. This strain addresses both pain and depression, which are often closely linked.
White Berry — or Berry White — is perhaps best known for its legendary parentage, Blueberry and White Widow. Highly recommended for help with stress and anxiety, it can also be beneficial for alleviating some pain and muscle tension. When mature, the buds become encrusted with jewel-like trichomes and give off a sweet berry fragrance.
Any cannabis strain you try will likely help with pain. It’s one of the plant’s best know attributes. However, while some strains help curb pain, others are better suited for stress or mood disorders. It’s also important to keep in mind that people can have slightly different reactions to a particular strain. One person may find God’s Gift gives them a great boost of creativity, while another might not be able to move from the couch. A little experimentation will no doubt lead you to a personal favorite.
Written by Leslie Clary