Undergoing major surgery can be extremely painful during recovery. While prescription medications are commonly used for post-surgical pain management, post-surgery pain relief, or even chronic pain some patients are looking for natural alternatives like edibles made with CBD or THC. Here is an overview of using edibles for pain relief after surgery.
What Causes Pain After Surgery?
Pain after surgery is caused by inflammation and nerve damage during the surgical procedure. Cutting through tissue damages nerves in the area, which sends pain signals to the brain. The inflammation triggered by surgery also presses on pain receptors. This combination of nerve pain and inflammation can cause severe discomfort.
Potential Benefits of Edibles for Post-Op Pain
Edibles made with CBD (cannabidiol) or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have potential benefits for managing pain after surgery. CBD and THC interact with the body's endocannabinoid system to reduce feelings of pain. THC has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with post-surgical swelling.
Clinical research on using cannabis for post-op pain relief is still limited. However, some studies have found it is effective for chronic and neuropathic pain. For this reason, medical cannabis is becoming an increasingly popular option for pain management after surgery, especially in states where it is legal.
Considering CBD vs THC Edibles
Both CBD and THC edibles hold promise for helping with post-surgical pain. CBD does not cause psychoactive effects but may help reduce pain and inflammation. THC does cause a high and has stronger analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Many patients use edibles with a combination of both CBD and THC to get the pain-relieving benefits of THC along with the counteracting effects of CBD. The optimal ratio comes down to the patient's needs and sensitivity.
It's also important to note THC remains federally illegal while CBD from hemp is legal in the United States. Patients should check their state's laws before using THC products.
Choosing the Right Edible for Pain After Surgery
Edibles come in many varieties - from gummies and baked goods to capsules and tinctures. The type you choose depends on your needs and preferences:
- Gummies and candies - These edible options are easy to dose and provide longer pain relief. They come in both CBD and THC varieties.
- Baked goods - Edibles like brownies, cookies and chocolate bars offer an indulgent way to manage pain. Like gummies, effects last for several hours.
- Capsules and tinctures - For faster relief, try sublingual tinctures or capsules. Effects come on within 30 minutes and wear off within a few hours.
- High dosage options - Since post-surgical pain can be severe, look for edibles with higher concentrations of CBD and/or THC. Potencies of 25mg or more may offer better relief.
No matter which type you choose, be sure to start with a low dose and increase slowly as needed. Edibles effects take 30-60 minutes to onset.
Using Edibles Safely After Surgery
While edibles show promise for post-op recovery, there are some risks and side effects to consider:
- They can interact with anesthesia and other medications - Be sure to consult your doctor before using
- Extended pain relief means a longer duration of impairment
- THC edibles carry a risk for dependence and withdrawal
- Side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, anxiety, and paranoia
To reduce risks, avoid combining edibles with opioids or medications that cause drowsiness. Have someone available to help care for you until the effects wear off. Only use edibles as needed for pain to avoid building a tolerance.
The Takeaway on Edibles for Pain After Surgery
Early research indicates edibles with CBD, THC, or both may help with post-surgical pain management and recovery. While not a proven treatment, they offer a natural alternative to discuss with your healthcare provider, especially in places where medical cannabis is legal. As with any new treatment, start low and slow. With proper precautions, edibles may offer an additional way to alleviate pain after surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Edibles for Pain After Surgery
Are edibles with THC legal?
THC remains federally illegal in the United States but is allowed for medical use in many states. CBD from hemp is now federally legal. Check your own state laws before using THC products.
How long does pain relief last with edibles?
Edibles provide pain relief that lasts for 4-6 hours or longer. This is much longer than vaping or smoking cannabis. Effects take 30-60 minutes to onset.
What side effects should I watch out for?
THC edibles can sometimes cause anxiety, paranoia, drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness. High doses may cause hallucinations. CBD gummy edibles as well as CBD oil generally have milder side effects like diarrhea and changes in appetite.
Can I take edibles with prescription pain medication?
It's best to consult your doctor first. THC can increase the sedative effects of opioids and some other medications, so combining the two is not recommended.
How much THC or CBD should I take for post-surgical pain?
Always start with low doses like 5-10mg and increase slowly as needed. For severe pain, 25-50mg of THC or a combination dose with CBD may offer better relief. Effects will vary based on your tolerance.
Are edibles addictive if I use them after surgery?
THC does carry a risk for dependence, especially with prolonged daily use. To avoid dependence, only use THC edibles regularly for pain management and not regularly. CBD is not addictive.
What if edibles aren’t strong enough for my post-op pain?
If you find edibles inadequate for managing surgical pain, talk to your doctor about adjusting your prescription pain medication regimen. You can also discuss stronger medical cannabis products that may offer better relief.
How can I speed up the effects of edibles?
Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up how long edibles take to kick in. Because they must be processed through the digestive system, onset of effects takes about 30-60 minutes. Sublingual tinctures may work slightly faster.
Should I eat edibles before or after surgery?
It’s best to wait until after surgery, once you have been discharged and are back home. THC and anesthesia interact, so edibles before surgery can be dangerous. Only use them once safely back home and as recommended by your doctor.