So, I want to continue to answer that question as to how exactly marijuana relieves pain.
Again, I just wanted to remind you that this is a 3 part series.
And, this is part 2 of 3.
So, another way that marijuana relieves pain is that it
ALTERS THE PERCEPTION OF PAIN.
When you’re in pain, the brain is responding to the pain in a couple ways.
One is that it’s figuring out the logistics – what hurts, how much damage is there, what to do next, etc.
The other is that it emotionally processes the pain. It registers how the pain feels, which is generally that it doesn’t feel good. It feels really, really bad, in fact.
I’ve had many patients tell me that marijuana takes their mind off of the pain or that the pain doesn’t bother them as much with the use of medical marijuana. And, it’s really interesting they say this because the research actually shows that marijuana alters the perception of pain.
Back in 2012, researchers at the University of Oxford, took 12 healthy volunteers, applied capsaicin* to their legs (to induce pain), gave them marijuana, and then took MRI scans of their brain.
*Capsaicin is a chemical derived from chilli peppers. When it’s applied to the skin, it causes a burning sensation.
The scans showed that marijuana impacted activity in the parts of the brain known as the anterior mid-cingulate cortex and the amygdala. These are both parts of the brain that plays a role in emotionally interpreting pain.
So, marijuana is in someway impacting the emotionally processing of pain. It’s almost like the brain is telling you, meh, it’s doesn’t feel that bad.
source: Sean Mackey, Stanford. Plos One, Journal Neuroscience: Archives of Internal Medicine
- The Mechanics of Chronic Pain
- Amygdala activity contributes to the dissociative effect of cannabis on pain perception