How to Find the Best Cannabis Strains for Aches and Pains

By Cory Hughes
Published: October 31, 2018 | Last updated: April 9, 2021 07:38:16
Key Takeaways

​More and more, cannabis is accepted as a medicinal alternative to more conventional yet controversial treatments. Cannabis legalization has opened doors for millions of patients who seek to move away from pharmaceutical treatments for pain to embrace more natural alternatives with less side effects. With specific cannabis strains that work best to treat specific ailments, Cory Hughes explores which strains have been found to alleviate pain in particular.

Cannabis is effective for pain management due to the balance of cannabinoids called THC, CBD and a slew of others contained within it. It is these varying ratios of cannabinoids, to some degree, that define the strain and determine many of its individual qualities. Typically, high CBD strains are associated with pain-relieving properties, although this is not always the case. Understanding the ratios of THC to CBD and the other cannabinoids will help you pick the strain that's right for you. Here is my list of the best medical cannabis strains for pain management.


Charlotte's Web

This strain made headlines when the battle for the right to use cannabis as medicine first entered the public consciousness. Having virtually no THC and high amounts of CBD, Charlotte's Web is the perfect strain for those who want soothing relief without the buzz. Having no psychoactive effect, it has even been used to treat the symptoms of epilepsy in children, including a girl named Charlotte, for whom the strain is named. It is a safe and effective choice for pain management that won't induce the intoxicating effects generally associated with cannabis use. Charlotte's Web has earned its place among the best strains for not only pain relief, but stress, depression, and myriad other ailments.


An uplifting and euphoric strain that is often hailed for its medical properties, Harlequin has relatively low THC, high CBD, and makes for a smooth and focused high with incredible pain relief. Its flavor can be described as earthy with a touch of spice. Harlequin is one of those strains that throws a wrench into what we think we know about indicas versus sativas. A 75/25 sativa-dominant, Harlequin delivers the buzz you'd expect from its Colombian Gold and Thai lineage but has an unusually high amount of CBD for a sativa. There are a handful of sativas known to rival their indica counterparts for their medicinal properties, and Harlequin is one of them. It gives the perfect combination of head and body high that will let your mind wander while your aches and pains wash away.


Purple OG Kush

Ever smoked purple weed? I mean really purple? Purple OG Kush isn't just a fancy name, it's the real deal. A heavy indica with high THC and moderate amounts of CBD, Purple OG Kush is a favorite among those who enjoy solid pain relief packed in a heavily floral and enticing cannabis experience. Often called Twisted Purple OG, you can tell it's a kush strain from the first hit. Earthy and subtle fruit flavors make smoking Purple OG Kush one of the most transcendental cannabis experiences you can have. Purple OG Kush is a relatively low yielder, which makes it more of a boutique strain, if it's grown right. The color is a deep purple, making it unmistakable in your garden and in your bowl. Few strains live up to the experience of smoking Purple OG Kush, not just for pain relief but for the incredible flavors and essence.

White Widow

White Widow is one of the more famous strains in the world of cannabis and pain relief. The white in White Widow refers to the thick coating of crystals you are likely to see encasing its pale green buds. As a 60/40 hybrid, White Widow seems to have inherited the best traits of both worlds. With relatively low CBD but high levels of THC, the buzz is focused if not slightly dissociative. It's this dissociative effect that disconnects you from your pain. When smoked, the buzz will start in your head but will soon radiate downward and out through your arms and legs, leaving every inch of you tingling. The buzz is uplifting and thought-provoking; so much so, you won't even remember what aches and pains were troubling you.

Afghan Kush

It is believed that some of the earliest strains of cannabis were found deep in the mountains of Afghanistan. There, the first land-race Afghani indicas were cultivated. Generations of breeding have resulted in a powerful yet sedating strain we have all come to know as Afghan Kush. Afghan Kush has a distinctly earthy yet floral flavor; a true oasis in the desert. It is often turned to for pain relief, particularly migraine headaches, as well as to help with loss of appetite. As a resin-heavy plant, it is often a first choice for hash production. The buzz is mostly concentrated in the head, however, many have reported a numbing sensation to the body which is great for easing the discomfort associated with nausea or muscle cramps. If you are growing Afghan Kush you can expect heavy yields of large, hash-green nuggets. Great for relaxing and taking the edge off at the end of the day, Afghan Kush makes the perfect nightcap.



Cannatonic was bred specifically for high CBD and low THC to treat a wide variety of pain-related ailments and other conditions like depression and anxiety. First bred in Spain, it quickly caught the attention of the medicinal cannabis community where it is now embraced as one of the best strains for pain. The high is laid-back and relaxed, to say the least. You won't get sucked into the couch, but you won't be out running any marathons, either. Cannatonic tastes mildly sweet with a slight bit of citrus. The flavor is not overwhelming but it fits the calming atmosphere that is sure to set in. Cannatonic has been associated with reducing inflammation in muscles and joints, which makes it a great choice for that post-workout cool-down.

Girl Scout Cookies

Did you buy your Girl Scout Cookies this season? Fortunately for us, this kind of Girl Scout Cookie is available all year long. GSC, as it is commonly called, is another boutique strain that produces small clusters of tightly packed buds covered in trichomes. Another hybrid, GSC has a unique quality. It is high in CBG, or cannabigerol, which has a profound impact on your experience. Many times, patients seeking pain relief are put off by the intoxicating effects of marijuana. CBG helps balance the way cannabinoids interact with your body, making for a more well-balanced experience, reducing the chances of anxiety rearing its ugly head. GSC's balance of cannabinoids makes for a truly unique buzz. As an indica-dominant hybrid, the effects are as soothing as the taste is sweet.


Northern Lights

Northern Lights is probably the best-known strain on the list. It is a pure indica whose genetics are a mix of Afghani and Thai land-race strains. No one is quite sure where it originated, however, as rumor has it, it came out of the Pacific Northwest just outside of Seattle. Northern Lights is a heavily euphoric strain that draws the user into a trance-like state. It has a moderate amount of CBD and with THC levels approaching 18 percent, the buzz is evenly split between your mind and body. Some strains are energetic and will keep you up at night. Northern Lights has a sweet, piney flavor that will ease you into bed and carry you into a deep slumber. This is the perfect strain for unwinding and leaving the pains and troubles of the day behind you.


Share This Article

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Written by Cory Hughes | Commercial Grower

Profile Picture of Cory Hughes

Cory Hughes is a former police officer turned full-time commercial grower in Denver, Colorado.

Related Articles

Go back to top
Maximum Yield Logo

You must be 19 years of age or older to enter this site.

Please confirm your date of birth:

This feature requires cookies to be enabled