As states have gradually become more receptive to the idea of medical cannabis, research into the drug has ramped up. Data in support of cannabis as a medicine continues to build. And yet, there is still so much we don’t know. For example, is there a psychosomatic component to medical cannabis?
Before discussing this topic further, a definition is in order. The word ‘psychosomatic’ is often misused in the vernacular. We typically take it to mean an imaginary disease. In other words, a person who is not really sick things they are. It can be so convincing that the person even experiences symptoms.
Scientifically, the term means something entirely different. Medical professionals understand psychosomatic illness as one with legitimate physical symptoms that are in some way influenced by psychological factors. A growing understanding of psychosomatic illness has led to the development of something known as ‘psychosomatic coaching’.
The Link Between Mind and Body
Psychologists who practice psychosomatic coaching understand that there is an inexorable link between mind and body. They understand that how a person feels, physically speaking, often affects that person’s thoughts and emotions. Likewise, a person’s thoughts and emotions can affect their physical feelings.
Intrinsically, we all know about the link between mind and body. We know that being stressed out can interrupt sleep. It can cause headaches. We also know that when we are feeling run down with a cold or the flu feelings of joy and happiness are hard to come by.
Knowing the link exists forces us to ask just how effective medical treatments are in a biological and physiological sense. And that leads us back to the main topic of this post: whether or not there is a psychosomatic component to medical cannabis.
Dealing with Cancer Pain
A fair number of medical cannabis patients use the drug to help them better deal with cancer pain, according to Utah Marijuana, an organization that pairs Qualified Medical Providers with patients hoping to get their medical cannabis cards.
Utah Marijuana’s QMPs explain that cancer pain is often neuropathic pain. They also say that neuropathic pain is quite difficult to address because there isn’t necessarily a specific tissue to target. Cannabis seems to work well inasmuch as it can affect pain receptors in the brain.
Brain receptors receive electrical signals from the nervous system. They then interpret those signals and react accordingly. When you are doing something that brings you pleasure, your central nervous system sends signals that tell the brain to create dopamine, the chemical that produces feelings of joy and happiness.
Cannabis’ Psychosomatic Component
What does any of this have to do with a potential psychosomatic component with cannabis? A lot, actually. Because cannabinoids alter brain function, they also alter the mind. Even CBD, which doesn’t produce the euphoric feelings THC is known for, trigger certain receptors in the brain.
Altering how the brain functions affects pain perception. Reducing pain perception affects how a patient physically feels. When you look at it in those terms, a psychosomatic component seems self-evident.
Assuming that psychosomatic component does exist, it suggests that cannabis could be used in concert with psychosomatic coaching to help people better manage chronic pain. Combining the two could make it possible to completely dispense with other pain medications.
For far too long, Western medicine has relied exclusively on a limited number of medications to manage chronic pain. Those medicines do not work for every patient. As such, medical cannabis is another option. Combining cannabis with psychosomatic coaching is yet another option that takes advantage of the link between mind and body.