Inflammation is the natural response of our bodies to prevent infection and heal wounds and repair damaged cells. It’s an excellent tool of protection -- until it’s not. Increasingly, chronic inflammation is linked to a host of illnesses and diseases. Although an overactive immune response is not always the cause of a disease, it often is a recurring symptom.
Some medical researchers theorize that inflammation may even be the underlying symptom of all diseases, making anti-inflammatories a unifying and novel approach to disease treatment. Cannabidiol, an increasingly popular alternative therapeutic agent with strong anti-inflammatory properties, is at the forefront of this research.
What is Inflammation?
When well-balanced, Inflammation is a completely natural and healthy response of the immune system. If you think about the last time you stubbed your toe, it likely got red and started to swell. It may have felt hot and eventually slightly itchy. That is the primary inflammatory response in action.
Underneath the surface of the skin, your body sent tons of antibodies, nutrients, and hormones to the affected area. The body first opened up arteries and increased blood flow to facilitate the free movement of these essential little repair compounds. It's much easier in times of inflammation for white blood cells to move quickly into the affected area to do their critical healing work.
The inflammatory response only becomes a serious problem if it never turns off. This is the main difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. During an acute phase, inflammation responds but then subsides naturally when the event has passed. Chronic inflammation continues long-term, never properly shutting off. The never-ending immune response triggers a trickle-down effect of more-severe health issues.
Chronic inflammation is linked to a high risk of heart disease, diabetes, lung issues and much more. Getting it under control before it wreaks havoc on the rest of your body should be your priority.
What Are the Root Causes of Inflammation?
Because inflammation, acute or chronic, is at its core an immune response, there are any number of external and internal stressors that can trigger its onset. The initial response is often a beneficial one, helping to fight off the infection and repair the damaged cells. The problems occur when the body can’t properly turn off this helpful immune response. Some common causes of chronic inflammation are:
- Bacterial infection
- Viral infection
- Fungal infection
- Food allergies
- Autoimmune diseases
- Endocannabinoid system dysfunction
- Elevated blood sugar levels
What Diseases Are Linked to Chronic Inflammation?
Surprisingly, many common diseases are linked directly to the effects of chronic inflammation. It’s now theorized to be the underlying cause of all illness. While this hypothesis continues to undergo scientific exploration, the link between inflammation and many common illnesses is well-established, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn's Disease
- Active hepatitis
Therapeutic CBD: Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Given this basic understanding of the problems associated with an overactive inflammatory response, where does cannabidiol (CBD) come into play? Is CBD an anti-inflammatory, or just another miracle all-natural trend of treatment?
It's possible that the current body of research simply builds on the ideas of the very first uses of medicinal cannabis. According to historians, ancient Chinese medicine used cannabis to treat inflammation. As documented in the Pen-ts’ao Ching (dated to around 2,000 B.C.) Chinese Emperor Shen Nung described cannabis as a potent medicine that “undoes rheumatism.” Considering that rheumatism is a well-known disease of chronic inflammation, perhaps we are only now rediscovering this ancient knowledge.
The most persuasive argument that CBD is not just another passing trend is the amount of research devoted to it. Cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory properties are perhaps the most-intensely researched and thoroughly understood of all the known medicinal benefits. The National Center for Biotechnology Inflammation alone has well over 1,200 articles exploring the link between CBD and inflammation.
In 2012, researchers from various universities in the United States compiled a literature review of CBD as an emergent therapy for inflammation and oxidative stress. They found evidence in the research to suggest CBD could safely and naturally treat inflammation associated with pain, diabetes, hypertension, neurodegenerative diseases and much more. According to their findings, “Studies on models of human diseases support the idea that CBD attenuates inflammation far beyond its antioxidant properties.”
In another review of the research, published in 2010, the authors discuss anti-inflammatory therapies for certain types of cancer, considering that they account for upwards of 20 percent of all cancer deaths a year. According to the authors, “The hallmarks of cancer-related inflammation include the presence of inflammatory cells in tumor tissue, and the regulation of tumor growth, metastasis, and angiogenesis by inflammatory mediators.” Thus, CBD as an all-natural supplement could have a powerful potential for reducing the risk of inflammatory cancers.
CBD Oil and Cancer: What You May Not Know contains more in-depth information on how CBD could target cancerous cells in the human body.
The Next Steps for CBD: Inflammation Treated Safely and Naturally
Until science catches up, people suffering from chronic inflammation can safely explore the benefits of CBD on their own. As is often the case with prescriptions, the limited side effects of CBD are often much preferred over the problem side effects of harsh pharmaceuticals. Many conventional treatments, such as simple over-the-counter painkillers and steroid treatments, are not healthy when taken over the long term. In comparison, CBD has thus far shown no serious risk of side effects, even when used in high doses and long-term. It's a perfect daily supplement to add to the mix.
As always, with anything related to CBD, individual experiences have outpaced academic study. While medical research centers play catch-up to the personal experiences of CBD chronic inflammation, a bit of patience is required. The preliminary research undoubtedly demonstrates that in many cases CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory capabilities, but regulatory approval is understandably a slow process.
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