When deciding what strain is best for your pain, it's important to consider what time of day you're planning on using the product, the kind of pain you're experiencing and the level of psychoactivity you're comfortable experiencing. Often patients will choose different strains of marijuana based on the time of day they plan to take it. It can be helpful to use one strain of cannabis during the day—such as a low THC, high CBD variety—and another higher THC strain to aid in pain relief and sleep during the evenings.
Different administration methods are also important to consider when thinking about pain management. Vaporizing, for example, allows for quick pain relief, whereas oils may process slightly slower, but maintain pain relief for a longer period of time. It's important to remember that each patient is different, and choosing the right strain may take some trial and error to figure out what strikes the best balance for the individual. Here are some examples of cannabis strains that are prized for their ability to decrease pain.
Harlequin is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain of marijuana. Since Harlequin is CBD heavy, it helps reduce inflammation and pain with little to no psychoactivity. “Strains with a high percentage of CBD often work well for migraines, pain relief and anxiety. Harlequin may be one of the best strains available for migraine treatment. It typically has a CBD-to-THC ratio of 5:2. The CBD should enhance the painkilling effects of THC while preventing its intoxicating effects,” says Dr. Mark Edmunds. Harlequin can be particularly helpful for controlling pain during the day because most patients won’t experience any high when using it.
OG Kush is arguably the most well-known cannabis strain. OG Kush is an indica-dominant hybrid that's known for its high levels of THC. The THC concentration in OG Kush ranges from 20–25%. OG Kush can be very effective for pain, but users will often experience high levels of psychoactivity. OG Kush has very low levels of CBD, less than 1%, but it shows promise beyond just its high levels of THC.
“It has several terpenes—linalool and myrcene—that exceed the CBD content and are pain-relieving. Myrcene also sedates and [relieves] muscle spasms. …[OG Kush] would be a reasonable choice for back pain relief,” explains one of HelloMD’s doctors, Dr. Sherellen Gerhart.
Patients are advised to start slow with OG Kush in order to control the levels of psychoactivity experienced while using such a THC-heavy strain. OG Kush is often a good choice for relieving pain in the evenings, because it can also aid with insomnia.
Sour Diesel, also known as Sour D, is another THC-heavy strain of marijuana. Sour Diesel is a sativa that has about 20% THC and no noticeable CBD content. Sour Diesel tends to have a psychoactive effect on users, but it's often associated with an energized feeling. It's commonly seen as good for daytime pain management because it tends to boost the mood of patients rather than slow them down and has strong pain-relieving qualities from the high levels of THC.
HelloMD’s Dr. Andrew Vanderveer states, "Many people utilize Sour Diesel to decrease depression, treat pain (without sedation), and increase energy and creativity."
Canna-Tsu is a high CBD strain of cannabis that has shown great promise in targeting pain. Canna-Tsu is a sativa-dominant hybrid of two CBD-heavy strains and its higher level of CBD means that there's little or no psychoactivity associated with it. Canna-Tsu has gained in popularity in the medical marijuana community.
“The high CBD and other combination of cannabinoids seem to be beneficial for management of pain, spasms and anxiety. ... The popularity may be related to the effects on symptom relief and the fact that higher CBD products produce less cognitive disruption and therefore leave patients more functional and clear-headed,” explains Dr. Sherellen Gerhart.
Patients describe the effects of Canna-Tsu as mellow with an increase in mental clarity and happiness. The high levels of CBD in Canna-Tsu mean that it can be helpful at reducing inflammation, so it can aid in healing the root cause of the pain as well as simply providing relief from painful sensations.
Do you have questions about which strains are best to fight pain? Go to HelloMD's Answers page where you can connect with a health practitioner or well-informed member of our community who will respond to your queries.