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Finding Your Balance: What is the Best CBD:THC Ratio for Pain?

Body and Mind
Body and Mind June 30, 2023

Pain is complex. Around 50 million Americans experience some sort of chronic pain, and an estimated 5 to 8 million of those individuals take opiates to attempt to manage that pain. But opiates come with few health benefits, a laundry list of side effects and a dependence risk fueling a crisis in the U.S. It’s no wonder that some chronic pain patients seek out natural alternatives that may help manage this complicated, life-altering condition.

In comes medical cannabis. As cannabis markets grow in the U.S., so too has an interest in exploring products that may help with pain. But cannabis is far from a one-size-fits-all product — many products are designed to help different things. Key among these formulations are products with a specific CBD:THC ratio. This ratio can help with pain management while minimizing the acute intoxicating effects that THC may cause. Our CBD:THC ratio guide teaches the importance of these ratios, helps you understand the relationship between THC and CBD and what that means for pain management. 

Let’s get started!

What Is Pain, and Where Does It Come From?

Pain is a relationship between your body and your brain. When something isn’t status quo in your body, pain receptors are stimulated. These pain receptors then produce chemicals that notify your brain that the body part in question is experiencing pain.

Pain can have many sources, too. You can have a physical injury like a herniated disc, or you may experience a painful inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis. Some pain only lasts a short time, and some is chronic, defined as pain that lasts more than three months. There’s also neuropathic pain, which is caused by nerve damage and is much harder to address than other pain types.

Understanding How CBD and THC Affect Pain

THC and CBD are only two cannabinoids out of more than 100 discovered so far, but they are the two most studied compounds in the cannabis plant. THC has intoxicating effects, while CBD has psychoactive effects but is not intoxicating. This means CBD still interacts with your brain but won’t make you feel high. Both THC and CBD produce a wide range of effects, including pain relief.

THC and CBD derive these effects through their interaction with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a series of receptors and chemicals found throughout your brain and body. The ECS plays a role in managing homeostasis for many processes, including chronic pain and nerve function. THC works by activating these receptors, while CBD is believed to be an antagonist to these receptors. This may mean CBD influences how THC interacts with these receptors in the ECS.

Research provides evidence supporting patient claims of pain relief with cannabis. One 2017 study surveyed medical cannabis patients in New England, found that two-thirds self-reported experiencing some chronic pain relief with THC and CBD. Aside from this patient study, many in-vitro and in-vivo (specifically animal) studies have been conducted on THC and CBD’s impact on different types of pain, including chronic pain, cancer pain and neuropathic pain. While there’s still much to learn, the results have been promising.

Why is a CBD to THC Ratio Good for Pain Relief?

CBD has gained particular interest in the medical and scientific community because of how well patients tolerate it. In addition to the impact these compounds may have on different types of pain, you’ll remain clear-headed when taking larger amounts of CBD. That makes it a more practical option if you regularly consume cannabis products to help manage chronic pain.

However, the general consensus from the scientific and medical community is that some THC may be beneficial for pain relief. That said, high amounts of THC can be impractical for everyday use. Not everyone wants to feel high all the time.

Products formulated with specific CBD:THC ratios are gaining popularity for precisely this reason. From balanced 1:1 ratios to formulations with 20 times more CBD to THC, these products ensure you can experience the therapeutic benefits of both cannabinoids without sidelining your day. 

The Benefits of Balanced Ratios of CBD and THC

Among the reasons to try balanced THC to CBD ratios in your cannabis products include:

  • Experience the benefits of the entourage effect: This concept theorizes that all compounds in cannabis, including CBD, THC, all minor cannabinoids and terpenes, work together to enhance each other’s effects. While researchers have yet to figure out how the entourage effect works, its discovery confirms that it plays some role in the effect cannabis has on your body and mind.
  • Negate any unwanted side effects: Some people have poor tolerance for THC. In these cases, high CBD can help counteract any feelings of intoxication or impairment that THC may cause while allowing you to experience its benefits. For people who experience round-the-clock chronic pain, the right THC and CBD concentrations can help keep your mind clear while still experiencing the pain relief these compounds may provide.
  • Ratios may target different types of pain: Chronic pain can come from any number of sources, from inflammation to an injury to nerve damage. For some pain types, low doses of THC or CBD are better. For others, higher doses may be warranted. You can target your specific needs more accurately with the right THC to CBD ratio.

What Does the CBD THC Ratio Mean?

Understanding a CBD to THC ratio is as easy as looking at the label. Ratios are expressed as numbers separated by a colon. When the numbers are further apart, there’s a much greater quantity of either CBD or THC. When the numbers are close together, or even, the CBD and THC ratios are balanced. 

Take these different ratios, for example:

  • A 20:1 CBD THC ratio cannabis product means that it contains 20 times more CBD than it does THC.
  • A 5:1 THC CBD ratio cannabis product means that it contains 5 times more THC than it does CBD.
  • A 2:1 CBD THC ratio cannabis product means it contains double the CBD as it does THC.

What Products Are Available in CBD and THC Ratio Formulations?

Ready to shop for cannabis products? Here’s what’s available if you want to buy items with different ratios of CBD to THC.

Tinctures

These easy-to-measure oils are unique because they are faster-acting than edibles and longer-lasting than inhaled cannabis. This is because tinctures absorb directly into your bloodstream through your mouth tissues, and the remainder is digested. You’ll find this cannabis product in several THC to CBD ratio formulations.

Edibles and Beverages

Whether gummies, chocolate or something a little healthier, edibles and beverages are easily formulated to contain a specific THC to CBD ratio. Each serving size offers a precise balance for chronic pain relief. Depending on your goals, you can look for a CBD-dominant edible or one that’s high in THC. Follow the directions on your chosen cannabis product to take the right amount for your needs.

Topicals

Topicals applied directly to your skin don’t make their way into your bloodstream (except transdermal topicals), so it’s quite unlikely that you’ll feel high when you use them. Still, you’ll find several CBD and THC ratio formulations on the market. Studies have suggested that CBD applied topically may be helpful for arthritis, eczema and other conditions. Combined with the entourage effect’s purported impact on body and mind, topicals may be a powerful pain management tool.

Capsules

As simple as it gets, capsules filled with cannabis oil can be manufactured to offer precise amounts of THC and CBD in each serving size. Once taken, capsules behave much like edibles, making their way through your digestive system before entering your bloodstream. All you need to do is swallow the desired number of capsules for your needs. Like tinctures, capsules are available in many markets in several CBD THC ratio configurations.

Vapes

Vaporized cannabis is among one of the faster-acting forms of cannabis products. This makes them ideal to help manage pain spikes throughout the day. Vapes can be made with a balanced THC and CBD ratio; you’ll find many different ratios available in our dispensary.

How to Find the Best CBD THC Ratio for You

There’s no one best ratio for every person. In fact, your needs may evolve from day to day and even throughout the day. You’ll need to make the best ratio choice for your needs based on a series of factors that can vary daily and even several times during the day. Some of those factors include:

  • Pain severity: It’s not atypical to keep several cannabis product types on hand so you can choose the best CBD to THC ratio for you on a given day. You may respond better to a higher CBD product or a high THC product, depending on how you feel that day.
    Type of pain: Studies have shown that neuropathy may be more responsive to THC, while studies show CBD may be better for inflammatory conditions that cause pain. Depending on what you’re trying to address, more THC, more CBD, or a balanced ratio may be more appropriate.
    Personal tolerance: If you’re ultra-sensitive to higher THC content, opting for high CBD products is best. As you gradually increase your cannabis consumption, you may be more tolerant of THC and can try different CBD to THC ratios. Once you’ve hit that point, you can try higher THC ratios and see how you feel.
  • Time of day: If you’re about to go to sleep, higher THC ratios are less likely to disrupt your focus or concentration, as their sedating properties are appropriate for that time of day. However, stick with low THC and high CBD during the day to keep your schedule on track.
  • What you have planned that day: If you need to focus at work but know THC makes you sleepy, a product with a low THC ratio may be the best choice for you. Similarly, if you know you’ll be relaxing at home, a higher THC to CBD ratio may be better.

As you explore the best CBD THC ratio for your needs, it’s best to not go it alone. Consult a healthcare provider with medical cannabis expertise to help guide you. They can point you in the right direction as you try different medical cannabis products. You may also want to keep a diary where you can note when a certain product helped you feel better and write down any adverse effects you may have experienced. 

Shop the Body and Mind Balance

CBD to THC ratio is only one of the factors to consider when shopping for the best cannabis product for pain management. Beyond these two cannabinoids, each compound in cannabis significantly affects how you feel. And it’s not just what’s inside your product, but how that product was made as well. When you shop, look beyond THC content and ask about product quality. Look for lab testing that verifies the CBD to THC ratio and confirms that the items you use are free of contaminants.

At Body and Mind, we’re here to help all our patients and customers find the best CBD, THC or CBD THC ratio product for their needs. From low THC capsules to CBD-dominant topicals, our menu offers a wide array of items that may help with chronic pain relief. With the right guidance and a little trial and error, you’ll have the right routine to navigate the ups and downs of living with chronic pain. Shop now to get started!

Body and Mind
Body and Mind June 30, 2023

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