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How Cannabidiol is Replacing Prescription Painkillers

How Cannabidiol is Replacing Prescription Painkillers

Prescription painkillers account for the highest number of overdose deaths in the United States; in 2005 there were over 22,000 overdose deaths, with opioid prescription painkillers accounting for %32.8 of those deaths. They are the most widely abused prescription, and even if taken in strict accordance to direction by a doctor, they can easily lead to abuse and addiction issues. With the high number of people suffering from chronic pain on a daily basis, big pharma continues to push these potentially dangerous and addictive pharmaceuticals out, knowing people will be forced to take them to simply survive on a day to day basis.

Nowadays, there is another alternative to harmful painkillers. The mounting research into cannabidiol (CBD), is strongly suggesting that CBD can dramatically increase the quality of life for those with chronic pain. Cannabidiol is the second most prolific cannabinoid found within cannabis plants, behind THC. Unlike THC, CBD has many of the same beneficial effects without the psychoactive components of THC. This means that CBD is more widely applicable for treatments than THC.  Unlike THC, and unlike traditional pharmaceutical painkillers, using CBD for pain also has no negative side-effects, unless of course someone considers relaxation and calmness as negative.

Pain and the Endocannabinoid System

Cannabinoids interact with the body primarily through the endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis within the human body; regulating the internal environment, no matter the external environment. The cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, but specifically within the brain, organs and nervous system. The endocannabinoid system allows for inter-cellular communication, and an open pathway between the body and mind. Endocannabinoids, produced naturally by the body, chemically manage a wide variety of activity, including sleep, memory, the immune system, stress, energy, mood and of course pain management.

Science is still trying to get to the bottom of how the endocannabinoid system and pain are connected, but their is no question that they share an intimate relationship. What has been determined through preliminary study, is that through modulation of the endocannabinoid system, neuropathic pain is reduced. Modulation of the system also reduces the debilitating impact of some of the most severe symptoms of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's,  multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. Through the reduction of symptoms, many patients often indirectly find pain relief.

Cannabidiol and Pain

As a component of cannabis, CBD for pain has been used as a treatment for hundreds of years.  There is historical precedent in ancient India, China, Greece and Rome of people turning to cannabis in order to reduce their chronic pain. Current research is diving much deeper, proving that the compounds found within cannabis, such as THC, CBD, anandamide and other cannabinoids, all have beneficial effects on various types of pain stimulated within a lab. These included thermal, mechanical and chemical inflicted pain. Within animal studies, cannabidiol in particular has proven especially powerful in the treatment of neuropathic and inflammatory pain.

How does cannabidiol reduce pain? This still remains a mystery, but some clues are beginning to be better understood. Firstly, cannabidiol mimics the body’s naturally produced endocannabinoids and can easily interact and lock with cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body, primarily within the brain, organs, and nervous system. How CBD interacts with these receptors is also still being investigated but the evidence seems to suggest it mostly affects the CB2 receptors. These receptors are responsible for the function and communication of the immune system, the brain, the nervous system, and the gastrointestinal tract. These receptors have been directly implicated in the regulation of inflammation within the body.

In sum, CB2 receptors are found in key areas throughout the body, regulating painful inflammation, and because of CBD’s ability to interact with this receptor, CBD also has the ability to affect pain and inflammation. In particular CBD is showing exciting results in reducing acute pain within the nervous system, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. Some studies have even found suggestion that CBD can trigger the production of the bodies own natural form of opioids.

CBD for Pain Treatment

The treatment options currently available for sufferers of chronic and acute pain, are often inadequate.Their ability to reduce certain types of physical pain is not in question, but the problems stem from their incredible and often overpowering strength. They come with a high risk of addiction, plus a slew of severe side effects with drastically can affect the quality of life for the patients, such as sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, tolerance, and respiratory depression.

It is because of the debilitating nature of the painkillers themselves that patients are looking elsewhere. Cannabidiol oil is proving to be a safe alternative for many, even if the scientific community is still determining how exactly it can treat pain. The good news, is that CBD for pain comes with no risk of addiction and extremely low risk of side effects, even with high dosages. Compared to the alternative, a simply risk assessment clearly favors the possible pain relieving benefits of CBD oil.

References

http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/prescription/abuse-international-statistics.html

http://norml.org/library/item/introduction-to-the-endocannabinoid-system

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18443635

https://www.merryjane.com/health/here-s-how-cbd-can-help-ease-your-pain

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid_receptor_type_2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/

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