According to Dr. Terel Newton, medical cannabis possesses the potential to help relieve various pain issues, ranging from migraine headaches to spinal cord injuries and everything in between. As the medical director of Total Pain Relief in Jacksonville, Dr. Newton focuses on designing holistic care plans for individuals experiencing acute and chronic pain. He also serves as the Florida medical director for Trulieve, the largest licensed operator of medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida.
Dr. Newton is well-versed in conventional and alternative treatments and explains that medical cannabis holds a distinct advantage over pharmaceutical drugs, which are often prescribed to relieve pain and related side effects.
“The great thing about cannabis is you can coordinate what I call ‘monopharmacy.’ With traditional medicine, there’s polypharmacy. So, it’s one medicine for your pain, one medicine for your sleep, one medicine for your anxiety. But you can have cannabis treat all of those things,” he says.
What further separates cannabis from traditional pain medications like opioids is “you can’t overdose on it,” he adds. “It’s not going to suppress your breathing . . . whereas, with muscle relaxants, they can suppress your breathing. Anti-inflammatories can cause ulcerations in your stomach, and we don’t see that with CBD, THC, or any cannabinoid-based medicines.”
Dr. Newton says there also is a psychological benefit to using medical cannabis instead of opiates for pain treatment. Cannabis is “more powerful than opiates because it can also treat the emotional component of the pain as well, where opiates don’t treat the emotional component. Actually, opiates often make it worse.”
Clinical nutritionist Abbey Folsom shares Dr. Newton’s preference for low-THC cannabis over powerful and potentially addictive pharmaceuticals in pain management. Ms. Folsom says a healthy diet plays a big part in relieving inflammation, which is the most common source of pain.
Dr. Newton and Ms. Folsom agree that combating chronic pain takes a multiprong attack strategy. Medication alone likely won’t get the job done. Physical therapy and activity, weight loss, and healthy nutrition should be considered, too.