01 Apr CBD for Pain? Does it really help?
Pain is something that many of us deal with, in some form or another, on a regular basis. Science defines pain as an uncomfortable feeling within the body. It usually arises from the activation of pain receptors in the nervous system and can range from general discomfort to extremely debilitating.
Pain is most commonly the result of physiological and psychological issues within the body. With our busy schedules and hectic lives, we often forget to relax and unwind which results in muscle soreness, stiffness and aching joints that become progressively worse.
At present, drug therapy involving NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and weak opioids are used to treat various kinds of aches and soreness. Among non-pharmacological interventions, stress management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, patient education, and self-management regimes are common practices. While the latter is extremely beneficial in the long-term, the persistent use of drugs to treat aches can result in various side-effects, including chronic gastrointestinal problems such as stomach ulcers, kidney failure, asthma, and even addiction in some cases of prolonged use.
Health-conscious individuals are always on the lookout for safer and natural alternatives to manage and improve their health. And when it comes to pain relief, we might have just hit the jackpot.
Based on recent studies aiming to find alternative remedies for pain relief, CBD has become a major contender, impacting key brain receptors and helping to reduce both pain and inflammation. Moreover, it has also been seen to address issues related to chronic aches, anxiety, and insomnia.
So if you’re looking for ways to use CBD oil for back pain, look no further. In this article, we will be highlighting how CBD works, the benefits of CBD for pain relief and other ailments, and how to consume CBD safely.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main active compounds (cannabinoids) present in the marijuana or cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa.
CBD has been gaining immense popularity recently due to its various medicinal and therapeutic properties. Moreover, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other main compound found in the cannabis plant, CBD is non-psychoactive, i.e. it will not get the user ‘high’. This is what makes it the ideal candidate for safe use in the treatment of various conditions.
Having been used widely in the treatment of epilepsy for quite a while now, recent research has revealed anecdotal evidence that CBD might help alleviate the symptoms of various kinds of pains, aches, and soreness.
It does this by interacting with an inherent system present within our bodies, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The latter is an intricate cell-signaling system discovered in the early 1990s by scientists looking into THC and plays an important role in promoting stability and balance, whilst helping relieve symptoms of many chronic illnesses.
To understand how CBD works within the body, it is important to understand this system. The ECS comprises of three main components, namely endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.
- Endocannabinoids are cannabinoid molecules made within the body. They are involved in the smooth running of various internal functions, and the body manufactures them when needed.
- Endocannabinoids exert their functions by binding with and activating endocannabinoid receptors which are present throughout the body. The two main endocannabinoid receptors that have been identified within the body are CB1 receptors (found mostly within the central nervous system and target pain) and CB2 receptors (found mostly within the peripheral nervous system, immune cells, and target inflammation or autoimmune disorders).
- Enzymes break down the endocannabinoids once they have performed their function.
While experts are not definitive as to how CBD and the ECS interact, they believe it works by stopping endocannabinoids from a breakdown, allowing a more profound and long-lasting effect on the body.
CBD is available in a variety of forms, including capsules, gummies, tinctures, creams, gels, lotions, sublingual sprays, vapors, and even transdermal patches. Among the various CBD products is CBD oil, which is obtained by extracting CBD from the hemp plant and diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
CBD oil has slowly gained momentum in the medicinal community, with certain scientific studies confirming the role of CBD for pain relief and in easing many kinds of aches. Researchers claim it does this by apparently inhibiting or activating key compounds influencing the ECS which are associated with pain and soreness reduction, one of which is anandamide.
Now that we have all the basics down, let’s take a look at how CBD can help reduce different forms of pain.
Scientific studies indicate that CBD can help alleviate back pain by reducing inflammation, anxiety (which is often associated with long-term backache) and by improving sleep and relaxation.
Certain studies also suggest that CBD may impact how an individual perceives pain, but more research is required to confirm this.
Chronic pain refers to a persistent ache that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain tends to linger even after an injury or illness causing the pain or soreness has healed, due to the prolonged activation of pain receptors in the nervous system.
Chronic pain often becomes unbearable and highly stressful, causing continuous uncomfortable physiological symptoms such as stiff muscles, limited movement, and fatigue. It can also cause psychological problems, such as depression and mood swings, changes in appetite, anger, and anxiety, and an instilled fear of never getting rid of the pain.
Many scientific studies report that cannabinoids can be extremely effective for managing chronic pain and inflammation. Studies show that CBD does this by influencing endocannabinoid receptor activity and interacting with neurotransmitters.
Studies have established that a combination of THC and CBD for pain relief is extremely effective for the uncomfortable symptoms of joint pain and arthritis. This is mainly because of the potent anti-inflammatory properties of CBD that can help reduce joint pain in patients with arthritis and other ailments involving joint inflammation.
Studies involving animals show that CBD helps reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain without causing any significant side effects. Even though human studies are limited, the ones available are promising.
Among the many CBD oil benefits for pain and aches listed above, one of the major positives is that CBD oil allows for the compound to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. While the taste might not be very pleasant, the effects can be sensed within 15 to 45 minutes.
Apart from the oil, CBD can be consumed in many other forms as mentioned above. Here’s a brief guide on how to use CBD for pain:
- Edibles such as capsules, gummies, cookies, powders, etc. Ingesting these products causes CBD to be absorbed via the digestive tract before being absorbed in the bloodstream, hence the onset of effects is delayed (up to two hours). Also, with edibles such as gummies and cookies, the dose of CBD cannot be accurately determined.
- Tinctures, like oils, allow CBD to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. They are consumed by placing one to two drops of the solution under the tongue and holding the liquid there for about 60 to 120 seconds (sublingually) before swallowing.
- Topicals such as lotions, CBD muscle balm, and CBD cream for pain are applied directly onto the area or joint that is aching for immediate localized relief. These products usually contain additional active ingredients such as menthol or camphor for added comfort.
- Vapes allow CBD oils to be inhaled in the form of vapors. However, this poses many side effects and risks of other chemicals being inhaled as well, hence is not highly recommended.
When it comes to safely consume CBD, medical experts have highlighted certain guidelines for adults:
- For CBD oils and tinctures, the CBD extract is combined with a carrier oil, so keep in mind two measures when consuming the product – the amount of product to take (dose) and the amount of CBD in the dose.
- Always start with a few milligrams of CBD in sublingual form, preferably twice daily for a week. Then increase the dose by that same amount, or in small increments. Once you find relief, continue that regimen to maintain a stable level of CBD in your body.
- If you experience undesirable side effects after using a CBD product, discontinue use immediately and consult a doctor.
Topical CBD products, as mentioned above, have also been associated with providing effective relief against pain-related inflammation and behaviors. The medicinal community supports the claims that CBD topicals can be used as a safe treatment option for pain management among mammals and consequently humans.
Assessing the efficacy of CBD creams for pain relief, a study published in 2016 in the European Journal of Pain found that applying CBD cream to the joints of rats significantly reduced swelling and soreness and improved limb posture. Another study that appeared in the journal Pain focused on how CBD prevented pain among rats with osteoarthritis. Scientists found that CBD obstructed joint pain in a dose-dependent manner, and also prevented future nerve damage and related pain in arthritic joints.
Having discussed the role of CBD in alleviating pain, let’s take a brief look at how the active compound plays a role in providing relief from other ailments as well.
- Skin Conditions – topical CBD products, as per the American Academy of Dermatology, can be used safely with other preventive/treatment measures for managing skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema. The effects of topicals generally peak at about 90 minutes, and the dosage depends on the severity of the condition.
- CBD for Anxiety – anxiety is a natural reaction, but it may become a disorder when these feelings of restlessness, worry, and irritability become out of proportion and interfere with your quality of life. Research at the National Institute of Health (NIH) has indicated that CBD can help reduce symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or panic disorder. Studies demonstrate that CBD helps maintain serotonin levels, the chemical somewhat responsible for the onset of symptoms of anxiety.
- Sleep Disturbances – sleep disturbances can arise from physical problems (pain), mental health problems (anxiety depression), environmental conditions, and even certain medications. Studies looking into the link between CBD and sleep suggest that CBD can interact with the GABA and serotonin receptors in the brain. GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in our body, which helps calm unnecessary brain activity and stimulates relaxation. Serotonin, as mentioned above, helps alleviate anxiety and also improves mood – factors that promote better sleep. Moreover, scientists have noted that a combination of CBD and melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle) significantly improves sleep.
CBD, even when consumed in higher amounts, is generally considered safe. However, certain side effects from CBD can include:
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Dryness of mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Reduced appetite
As with any natural product, there is always the chance of adverse reactions and interactions with other medications. Always consult a doctor before including CBD into your daily regime, particularly for pain, ache, and soreness.
Despite needing to complete more studies, researchers agree that CBD has huge potential as part of our daily health regime. Unlike pharmacological remedies, CBD offers relief from chronic pain and inflammation without the danger of adverse side effects, drug intoxication, or drug dependence.
Bottom line: the science has spoken. CBD provides a safe and effective solution for managing pain and inflammation, and that too without the danger of drug intoxication or drug dependence. It offers a promising alternative to the drugs being currently used for pain relief, and as we’ve mentioned, has a bunch of other positive effects on health as well.
So, if you’re thinking of trying CBD for pain relief, consult your doctor and find a suitable product with a baseline starting dosage that can help with your symptoms. And if you’re looking for the best quality products, make sure you choose a brand that can guarantee the safest, most effective CBD available.
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