CBD Pain Relief: How CBD Works to Manage Pain
Unfortunately, pain is a condition of human existence. Everybody experiences pain at some point or another – whether it is from a trip or fall, a more serious accident, or if it is caused by an underlying condition, everybody feels pain.
Nowadays, people are looking for alternative methods to treat their aches and pains, as over-the-counter medications have a long list of drawbacks. Increasingly, CBD is being used for this very matter, but how exactly does this work?
First, let’s take a look at the very matter we are looking to treat.
What causes pain?
Pain might seem to be a nuisance at times, but it is there to serve a purpose.
Imagine touching a hot stove. It burns! This pain causes you to quickly retract your finger from what is causing the pain, thereby protecting you. Cuts and scrapes and inflammation that come about from injuries also serve a purpose, with inflammation helping to protect a damaged area and remove pathogens from a wound, preventing infection. The central nervous system exists to alert us to such problems.
Thousands of years of evolution hasn’t made our bodies perfect, however, and sometimes things go wrong. Certain conditions can cause constant pain and inflammation when it is not at all necessary, and this can actually do more harm than good, which is why it needs to be treated.
Things that can cause pain include:
- Prior injuries
- Treatments for illnesses like cancer
- Auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Nerve damage
- Endometriosis (in women)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Of course, a range of other things can also cause chronic pain. For reference, pain is considered chronic when it persists for 12 or more weeks.
How is pain usually treated?
It was once advised that people suffering from chronic pain should stay in bed and rest, but we now know that this is probably the worst thing you can do. If your pain is muscular, such as might be the case with lower back pain, you have to keep yourself moving, as staying still for long periods will only stiffen your muscles further. Staying in bed will also stop you sleeping well, you will become lonely, the pain with get worse, and your other muscles and bones will weaken. It’s just not worth!
Instead, it is important to keep exercising through your pain. This isn’t to say you should hit the gym and pump some iron. You can simply walk more, or take part in some swimming (where your weight will be taken by the water), peddle gently on an exercise bike, or engage in yoga.
However, this is generally not enough to rid people of chronic pain. Painkillers are extremely common for chronic pain, including over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen. Medications such as these aren’t exactly good for you, though.
First of all, you will only be masking the pain and not solving any of the underlying problems. This is why painkillers such as these need to be taken every 4-6 hours to prevent the pain from returning. But it can be harmful to take these sorts of pharmaceuticals too much, as they can cause stomach ulcers and other damage to the body.
Stronger prescriptions are available for the most serious pains, and this even extends to opioids. Opiate painkillers are very strong and very effective at relieving pain, but they are also extremely addictive. There were 30,000 opioid overdoses in the U.S. in 2017.
It’s frightening that such a dangerous drug is so widely available for patients, and yet there could be a much safer, more effective option: CBD.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is one of the active compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. These active compounds are known as cannabinoids, and they all have different effects on the body.
CBD is being widely researched for potential therapeutic effects, one of which is pain relief. However, it is also thought that it possesses properties such as being:
Furthermore, unlike another cannabinoid called THC, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it won’t get you high. A lot of people question this when they hear about CBD treatments, but rest assured that cannabidiol is a safe, well-tolerated compound that will not cause intoxication.
How might CBD be able to relieve pain?
The human body contains a network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids (ones that we produce naturally) called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This system works to keep our bodies functioning healthily by maintaining homeostasis – it keeps our body in balance and therefore is essential to our survival.
One of the functions that the ECS helps to regulate is pain and inflammation. It does this by ‘listening’ to conditions in the body through the cannabinoid receptors that sit on top of each cell. The receptors communicate this information to the inside of the cell, so that different parts of the body can respond accordingly. Hence, when injury occurs, the surrounding area is inflamed to protect it.
As we mentioned, though, things can go wrong. If the inflammation persists, it is usually the job of endocannabinoids binding to their corresponding receptors to stop it, but this doesn’t always happen.
Enter CBD. By taking CBD oil, it is thought that you can indirectly influence the behavior of the ECS. CBD stimulates the production of more endocannabinoids, allowing you to give your body an added boost in times of need. In other words, taking CBD helps your body to work better, naturally.
But does this actually work? A review in 2008 carried out by Dr. Ethan Russo looked at studies ranging from the late 1980s all the way to 2007. Based on the results of these studies, it was concluded that CBD was effective in relieving overall pain without causing any adverse side effects. It was also noted that insomnia caused by chronic pain was relieved. Furthermore, those suffering pain due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) were most likely to benefit from CBD use.
A more recent study in 2016, conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, investigated the use of CBD in rats with arthritis. In the study, CBD was administered to rats for four consecutive days in the form of a gel, containing either 0.6, 3.1, 6.2, or 62.3 mg. The researchers noticed a reduction in inflammation and overall pain in the rats’ arthritic joints, and no side effects were noted.
From the studies that have been conducted so far, combined with anecdotal evidence from people already using CBD to relieve their pain, it seems that cannabidiol could really offer some hope to people who have to deal with pain in their everyday lives.
Final thoughts on CBD and pain
CBD is a legal compound that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, meaning that oil produced from it is legal to possess and use. More and more people are turning to CBD as a means of relieving symptoms of many conditions, with chronic pain being one of them.
A number of things can cause chronic pain, but no matter what the cause, it is possible that CBD could help. If you are tired of over-the-counter medications and the risks associated with them, CBD could be a natural way to soothe your pain and tackle the underlying issue if that is inflammation.