CBD For Pain Relief
There’s a lot of hype about using CBD for pain relief recently. Many people experiencing chronic pain are turning to this promising alternative when medical/allopathic treatments aren’t working or produce unwanted side effects.
Advocates tout it as the next miracle cure for a range of medical conditions and even as a health food supplement. It’s increasingly used as an alternative to opioids and pharmaceutical pain mediation.
With the legal status of cannabis quickly changing, CBD is becoming increasingly available. You may have seen CBD available in the form of oil and edible goods online – or even at your local yoga studio.
But does it really work?
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound found in both the hemp and marijuana plants which are closely related varieties of cannabis Sativa.
Marijuana is the plant that your cousin Vinnie used to grow in his garage. It also contains the chemical compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC ), responsible for giving you a ‘high’ feeling. Hemp is what your friend Rainbow’s pants are made of – it contains no THC.
CBD is extracted from either plant using various extraction methods. It’s then usually combined with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil so it can be used topically or ingested orally. You might have seen it sold as straight oil, made into gummies or other edible goods.
How CBD provides pain relief?
Cannabis has been used for medicinally for thousands of years. Its use can be traced from at least 2600 BC through to 1942 when it was frequently used to treat migrants and headaches.
CBD has been shown to provide relief for various kinds of pain and does so through multiple means.
Recent scientific evidence has shown that cannabidiol may work to relieve pain due to its effects on the Endocannabinoid System, present in every human body. Researchers believe that CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system, blocking the detection of pain and suppressing the body’s pain processing. Some researchers believe that CBD works by stopping natural endocannabinoids that are produced within the body being broken down, allowing them to build up and have an increased effect.
Researchers are still trying to understand more about the Endocannabinoid System and exactly how cannabidiol works to relieve pain.
CBD has been shown to produce an anti-inflammatory action, leading to a reduction in inflammatory pain.
These findings have led the World Health Organisation to conclude that CBD has analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD & Chronic Pain Relief
Chronic pain can be difficult to diagnose, manage, and treat, leaving patients without adequate relief. Unfortunately, patients are often told the cause is psychosomatic.
Pharmaceutical pain management options frequently result in undesirable side effects and developing tolerance, leading to a need for continually increased dosages.
Numerous studies have found CBD provides relief from chronic pain in animal models and pre-clinical trials. CBD may be especially helpful for those wishing to reduce their opioid use or where other forms of pain relief have failed.
A 2020 study, in particular, found that 94% of CBD users reported quality of life improvements within 8 weeks of use. Further, 53% of these chronic pain patients reduced or eliminated their opioid use in the same timeframe.
Researchers believe there is a strong possibility of CBD being used further to treat chronic pain.
CBD & Cancer Treatment
Pain is an unfortunately common experience for many cancer patients. The World Health Organisation recommends patients are supported to have adequate relief.
In a recent review of studies on the use of cannabinoids to treat cancer patients’ pain, 15 our to 18 studies demonstrated pain-relieving effects.
It has also been suggested that CBD may help in the reduction and management of side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite.
Initial studies show that a combination of CBD and THC is most effective, though the inclusion of THC isn’t always desirable for patients.
Further studies are currently needed
A study published in the European Journal of Pain demonstrated that CBD oil lowered pain and inflammation caused by arthritis when applied topically to the affected joints of rodents.
In this study, the CBD gel showed effectiveness after just 4 days of use.
CBD was also shown to be effective in reducing arthritis pain when given orally to rats.
A further study demonstrated that CBD was able to prevent pain and nerve damage during the early phases of inflammation caused by arthritis.
While high-quality medical trials in humans are still needed, the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD for arthritis are promising.
CBD has been used for the relief of various additional forms of pain.
CBD has been used in the treatment of migraines and cluster headaches, with some researchers showing highly effective results.
Sativex, a drug containing both CBD and THC is currently approved to treat Multiple Sclerosis pain in Canada and the United Kingdom.
CBD has been used to reduce pain during surgical incision in rats and may be helpful in treating postoperative pain in humans.
Other neuropathic pain may also be effectively reduced through the use of CBD.
Cautions and Side Effects
Evidence from clinical trials shows that side-effects of CBD are generally modest, but may include:
- Changes in appetite and weight
Caution should be used when taking CBD along with alcohol or other medications – particularly medications with a “grapefruit warning”.
The World Health Organization has stated there is no evidence of dependence, abuse, or public health issues related to the use of CBD.
There are growing anecdotal reports on the effectiveness of CBD for pain relief from both patients and medical practitioners. Scientific studies are also showing promising results, though more research is needed for conclusive data on this developing option.
If you are considering using CBD for pain relief, make sure you purchase from a reputable source. Consult your doctor before use for dosage advice and to avoid any harmful interactions with other medications.