Webinar: Why Cannabis is Effective for Chronic Pain and Insomnia

Ruth Lemon
Ruth Lemon - VP of Operations

Jul 28 2020 - 3 min read

Our team here at Leafwell is committed to learning as much as possible about medical cannabis and its uses, as well as sharing our knowledge with the wider community. To do this, we partner with other industry experts in the cannabis space who share our passion and commitment to expanding the knowledge base around medical cannabis.

Leafwell and Vireo Health presented a webinar in July 2020 which looked at the link between insomnia, chronic pain and cannabis treatment.

How Can Cannabis Treat Chronic Pain?

Cannabis can be used to treat many symptoms of chronic pain. In particular, it is highly effective as an anti-inflammatory which is a common cause of ongoing pain.

Chronic pain also impacts the sufferers’ mental health. Cannabis is proven to be effective for those suffering from anxiety and stress, as well as depression. These side effects of chronic pain can be an additional challenge for physicians, especially when they only use traditional medical products to treat patients.

Cannabis, however, treats both the physical manifestation of pain and the mental health problems that accompanies chronic pain. This is why Vireo Health calls cannabis the plant of a thousand molecules, and we here at Leafwell call it a pharmacy in a plant. In fact, cannabis contains up to 150 cannabinoids, all with diferent medical uses, and is one of the few substances that could treat “total pain“, which is a concept that incorporates physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain.

During the webinar, we heard from John; a medical cannabis patient who uses cannabis to manage his chronic back pain. For years, he had been taking low doses of opioids but never got the results he needed. Cannabis helps John to sleep, reduces his anxiety and helps him to relax.

Download Free Guide to Marijuana and Chronic Pain

How Can Cannabis Treat Insomnia?

Most people who suffer from chronic pain suffer from insomnia too. The link is obvious but often neglected or overlooked. Dr Steven Salzman, from Leafwell, discussed how frequently he saw patients who were experiencing insomnia and how they turned to cannabis to offer a plant-based alternative to some of the powerful and addictive medications available on the market. He found that patients who were suffering from chronic pain needed to focus on their insomnia first – once their poor sleep was addressed, the next treatment steps became easier.

John, who spoke during the webinar, also discussed how his sleep had been positively affected. Prior to using cannabis, he struggled with poor sleep patterns and it negatively affected all areas of his life. He also believes that insomnia can increase our perception of pain and therefore feels that good sleep is key to his quality of life.

If you’re suffering from insomnia at the moment, Dr Salzman offers some actionable ‘sleep hygiene’ practices such as:

  • Taking a warm bath/shower before bed
  • Avoiding screens before bed (blue screens in particular)
  • Stepping away from social media before bed
  • Reading a book before bed
  • Not reaching for your phone if you do wake up in the middle of the night
Download Free Guide to Marijuana and Insomnia

The Link Between Chronic Pain and Insomnia

Many people suffering from insomnia are in chronic pain. In turn, insomnia may make lived experiences of chronic pain more acute. Insomnia causes disruption to the immune system and increaes the amount of inflammatory cytokines (proteins that are important for cell signalling in the immune system), which can make chronic pain worse. Chronic insomnia is associated with joint pain as well.

The question therefore is what comes first: the chronic pain or the insomnia? Well, this is different from person to person, but everyone at Leafwell and Vireo Health agrees that restoring a healthy sleep cycle is a key step towards reducing chronic pain.

How Does Cannabis Work as a Treatment?

Dosing cannabis is very nuanced and varies from person to person. That’s why Vireo Health has put together a starter pack which offers four products which are most popular amongst their existing patients. This allows new medical marijuana patients to try out many of their products and learn which works for them. They can then speak to one of the experienced pharmacists at Vireo Health to help them choose the right product and dosing.

Dr George Gavrilos, from Leafwell, speaks about how cannabis can be used as a substitute for a large number of medicines which patients are taking. Reducing their dependence on medication and reducing their overall consumption of medication by using cannabis products instead is key to the approach of both the team at Leafwell and the team at Vireo Health.

You can watch the full webinar here and learn more about how you can speak to one of our doctors about becoming a medical cannabis patient:

Written by
Ruth Lemon
Ruth Lemon

Ruth Lemon has worked in Cambodia and Australia, gaining experience in the non-profit sector, education and international development, and digital marketing. Ruth is helping Leafwell to scale without compromising the customer experience and seeks to create a frictionless customer journey. She now lives in the UK with her rescued Cambodian cat and believes Leafwell is improving access to and understanding of a valuable medical alternative.

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