Cannabis, well known since ancient times for its analgesic properties, makes CBD oil a viable option for pain management:
Pain is the body’s way of signaling it has been injured in some way. It is our natural protective response to let us know something is wrong. When a nerve becomes injured, its signaling system becomes muddled, and the brain interprets these abnormal signals as pain.
It is estimated chronic pain affects nearly one third of the American population. This means chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Not only does it impact overall quality of life, but it also costs society between $560 billion and $635 billion each year.
Types of Pain
The two main categories of pain are nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain.
You probably are more familiar with nociceptive pain. It is the pain felt as the result of an injury, such as a broken bone, appendicitis, or tissue damage. It’s typically described as a sharp, throbbing, or aching pain. Nociceptive pain can be visceral or somatic. Visceral pain stems from the internal organs, while somatic pain comes from the skin, bones, or muscles.
Within neuropathic pain there is central and peripheral pain. Both come from changing sensitivity of the nervous system, not necessarily from an injury itself. For example, neurons may become hypersensitive and send pain signals to the brain based on a light touch. Numerous factors can cause neuropathic pain, including a nutritional imbalance, infections, toxins, addictions, and autoimmunity. Most people describe neuropathic pain as a heavy or burning sensation, though sometimes a sort of numb feeling is felt along the path of the affected nerve.
In chronic neuropathic pain, there is an abnormal functioning in the processing of the pain sensation and the body becomes more sensitive to stimuli. The nerve cells may become so sensitive that the brain perceives the lightest touch as excruciating pain. The brain remembers stimuli and relies on past experiences to help determine what each stimulus is in the future. When the brain experiences chronic and persistent pain, it changes the way every new pain feels.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of two main cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp plants, the other being THC. CBD works with a large regulatory system in the body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is comprised of a multitude of receptors located all throughout the body. These receptors can be activated either by the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids or by cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
The ECS is basically a messenger system within the body that regulates a whole host of different functions and also is said to be implicit in pain homeostasis. In other words, it plays a vital role in maintaining balance in the body, including pain sensation.
CBD primarily interacts with two receptors within the ECS: CB1 and CB2. These receptors primarily are found within the brain, nervous system, and immune system. However, CBD does not directly bind to these receptors, unlike THC. Instead, CBD stimulates the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids to activate the receptors. This, in turn, encourages them to do more of what they normally do.
Because CBD does not directly bind to the receptors, it is not psychoactive and produces no psychological effects.
How Can CBD Help with Pain?
Cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids are said to be present in pain circuits from the peripheral sensory nerve endings up to the brain. Agonist cannabinoids bind to the receptors and stimulate the production of neurotransmitters that signal to the body. Antagonist cannabinoids do not bind to the receptors and instead block the release of neurotransmitters.
CBD acts as an antagonist and is said to modulate nociceptive thresholds and inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory molecules and as such, has tremendous therapeutic value against inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
Cannabinoids, such as CBD, are well-known to have analgesic or pain-reducing properties and have been used for the treatment of pain and sleep disorders since ancient times. Current treatment of pain often includes opioids, which are powerful analgesics that also have intense, unwanted side effects, tremendous addiction potential, and have demonstrated little success in reducing the pain caused by neuropathy.
THC is said to have twenty times the anti-inflammatory potency of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone, while CBD is said to share neuroprotective effects with THC and display antioxidant activity greater than that of vitamin C or vitamin E.
Cannabis has shown tremendous value in the treatment and management of pain for generations. With the discovery of the ECS and its role in pain sensations in the body, cannabinoids suddenly are being revisited for their powerful potential as pain management “pharmaceuticals.” Clinical trials using CBD to reduce the painful symptoms associated with a whole variety of ailments are showing great promise, and scientists are seeing the potential of this non-toxic drug for use in treating postoperative pain, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, fibromyalgia pain, migraine pain, and even the pain following an amputation.
One review from 2008 looked at studies conducted between the late 1980s and 2007. The goal was to assess just how well CBD works to relieve pain. Based on these studies, researchers were able to conclude CBD is effective in overall pain management. In addition, they concluded it was effective without any adverse side effects. The researchers also noted that CBD may help with insomnia related to chronic pain.
In addition, new synthetic forms of cannabis now are being produced to mimic the effects of THC and CBD and are showing great promise in unlocking the secrets of the ECS’s role in pain management.
Compiled below are various studies about CBD for specific conditions and types of pain.
CBD for Arthritis Pain Relief
A 2016 study examined how CBD affected rats with arthritis. The researchers applied a CBD gel to the rats for four days in a row, in different amounts: 0.6, 3.1, 6.2 and 62.3 milligrams per day. They noted significant reductions in inflammation and pain in the rats’ affected joints. In addition, they noted there were no side effects.
While more human studies are needed for this particular condition, the evidence is extremely promising.
→ For more information on how CBD can help with arthritis, click here.
CBD for Cancer Treatment Relief
CBD often is used by people who are going through intensive and debilitating cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. These treatments typically involve significant amounts of pain, which is what most studies are geared toward.
Even the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has stated CBD may be a possible option for relieving symptoms caused by chemotherapy. One NCI study tested the ability of CBD oil extracts sprayed into the mouth to relieve cancer-related pain. The CBD oil was used in conjunction with opioids. Researchers found that when the two were used together, pain was managed better.
→ For more information on how CBD can assist with various forms of cancer, click here.
CBD for Chronic Pain
In one report, researchers compiled the results of numerous systematic reviews covering dozens of trials and studies. Based upon this review, the researchers concluded there is substantial evidence that CBD is an effective treatment for chronic pain, such as back pain, joint pain, and headaches. Another study published in the May 2012 issue of Journal of Experimental Medicine found CBD significantly can reduce both pain and inflammation.
In addition, it was found test subjects did not build up a tolerance to the effects of CBD, meaning their dosages did not have to be continually increased, such as often is necessary with heavy opioids or painkillers. The researchers noted CBD could be an extremely helpful new treatment for people with chronic pain.
RELATED: CBD Tolerance: What you need to know
Substantial evidence shows CBD may be an extremely effective treatment for various types of chronic pain. Because CBD works with the body in such a unique way, it helps provide relief without any of the adverse side effects commonly associated with pharmaceuticals.
→ For more information on how CBD can help you, click here.