Does Weed Help with Inflammation? (Is THC an Anti-Inflammatory)?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

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Inflammation is the body’s natural defense reaction to an injury or infection.

Acute inflammation can be attributed to a cut or other bodily damage. When cells are damaged, your body starts the process of healing through inflammation. 

Chronic inflammation is when the body experiences too much inflammation over a long period, to the point that the body’s efforts to heal itself end up damaging healthy tissue and causing other issues.

Inflammation has been recorded in historical texts since ancient Greece and the time of Hippocrates. And diseases that cause chronic inflammation, such as heart disease and COPD, have become one of the most common causes of death worldwide.

What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation is a common symptom of several conditions and serious diseases, including

  • allergies,
  • Alzheimer's, 
  • asthma,
  • arthritis,
  • cancer,
  • chronic kidney disease, 
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 
  • diabetes
  • heart disease,
  • inflammatory bowel disease,
  • obesity,
  • and stress.

Other risk factors for inflammation include age, history of smoking tobacco, low testosterone or estrogen, and stress. In addition to internal diseases, inflammation in the body can result from external factors, including but not limited to

  • injuries such as scrapes, bug bites, or other open wounds,
  • pathogens like bacteria or viruses,
  • radiation,
  • and environmental and personal factors such as exposure to pollution or toxins, nutrition, socioeconomic status, developmental history, level of physical activity, and irregularities in the microbiome.

Chronic inflammation can be due to constant exposure to the above risk factors and diseases. If left untreated, chronic inflammation can lead to other conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, which may further increase the inflammatory response in the body.

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Inflammation Signs & Symptoms

Signs that you may be suffering from acute or chronic inflammation can differ. Patients suffering from acute inflammation may experience the following

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Red skin at the injury site

On the other hand, patients suffering from chronic inflammation may experience symptoms such as

  • Abdominal pain and stomach issues
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rash
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent infections

How Cannabis Can Help Alleviate Inflammation

growing weed with hydroponics

Phytocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system have multiple ways of regulating the body’s inflammatory responses. 

  • CB1 receptors are primarily present in the central and peripheral nervous systems and the GI tract. 
  • CB2 receptors are located throughout the immune system but can also be found in the brain, heart, GI tract, and blood vessels. 

Cannabis roots have been historically used to relieve joint stiffness and gout. As the roots of the cannabis plant do not contain a significant level of phytocannabinoids, research indicates that compounds such as triterpenoid friedelin and an alkaloid, cannabisativine, may play a key role in reducing inflammatory responses.

Several phytocannabinoids have been identified as having anti-inflammatory properties, including THC, CBG, CBD, CBC, and acid cannabinoids CBGA and CBDA. In addition, flavonoids in cannabis, cannflavin A and B, also demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation involves immune cells in the tissue releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines that send signals to various cells in the body, including signals to activate leukocytes, which then produce more cytokines. Cannabinoids can help decrease these pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibit leukocyte accumulation due to the interaction of the endocannabinoid system with the rest of the body.

Most recently, a study done in-vitro, meaning in a petri dish, demonstrated that acid cannabinoids CBGA and CBDA had anti-inflammatory effects on the COVID-19 virus. A clinical trial researching the potential of a full-spectrum high CBD, low THC product to treat long COVID is expected to be completed in April 2023. 

It is important to remember that clinical research on cannabis and inflammation is limited, so patients should take caution and speak to their doctor. 

Legality and Doctor’s Recommendation

To determine if inflammation is a qualifying condition in your state, you can head to our Laws & Regulations section for the medical cannabis rules for your state. In addition, many doctors may consider the symptoms of inflammation to fit the definition of chronic or severe pain, which is a qualifying condition in most medical cannabis states.

If your state recognizes inflammation, conditions that may cause inflammation, or chronic or severe pain as qualifying medical conditions, you can seek a doctor’s recommendation to register for your state’s medical marijuana program.

How NuggMD Can Help

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NuggMD’s growing telemedicine platform for medical marijuana currently serves patients in 21 states. By connecting over 1,000,000 patients with knowledgeable and friendly medical marijuana doctors, we are fully committed to assisting patients on their medical marijuana journey.

Here at NuggMD, we believe that all individuals have the right to explore what medical cannabis can do for them and our doctors are eager to guide you on your wellness journey. For further information on whether you qualify for medical cannabis, select your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis & Inflammation

Do terpenes help with inflammation?

Myrcene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene have all demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. 

What cannabis product is best for inflammation?

The recommended routes of administration for cannabis and inflammation typically include topicals, tinctures, edibles, and vaporization.

What cannabis strains may help with inflammation?

Cannabis strains with a similar ratio of CBD and THC that could be beneficial for inflammation include Cannatonic, Pennywise, Harlequin, Canna-Tsu, and Sweet and Sour Widow.


  1. Ryz NR, Remillard DJ, Russo EB. Cannabis Roots: A Traditional Therapy with Future Potential for Treating Inflammation and Pain. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2017;2(1):210-216. doi:10.1089/can.2017.0028
  2. Bruni N, Della Pepa C, Oliaro-Bosso S, Pessione E, Gastaldi D, Dosio F. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. Molecules. 2018;23(10):2478. doi:10.3390/molecules23102478
  3. Graczyk M, Lewandowska AA, Dzierżanowski T. The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis in Counteracting Oxidative Stress and Inflammation. Molecules. 2021; 26(15):4551.
  4. Pellati F, Borgonetti V, Brighenti V, Biagi M, Benvenuti S, Corsi L. Cannabis sativa L. and Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoids: Their Chemistry and Role against Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Cancer. BioMed Research International. 2018;2018:1-15. doi:10.1155/2018/1691428

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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