by Allison Glennie July 31, 2019 4 min read

CBD’s reputation for easing pain is one of the most attractive aspects of this supplement and this benefit is responsible for its boom in popularity. The thing is, all people experience pain throughout the course of our lives, and unfortunately, some of us feel its presence daily. Whether a person is recovering from hard exercise, healing from a recent surgery, or dealing with chronic pain due to injury or illness, it inevitably touches all of our lives. Traditional pain management drugs, such as opioids, can do damage to their users health via their addictive chemical properties, dangerous side effects, and withdrawal symptoms, making CBD supplementation an even more intriguing alternative.

CBD for PainUnderstandably, THC (psychoactive) often gets more coverage as the famous pain-reducing cannabinoid, but research is showing that CBD (non-psychoactive) is a powerful contender for the title. Cannabis and cannabis products containing high levels of THC have been used to great effect by people suffering from cancer to relieve their symptoms of treatments like chemotherapy. In fact, there is currently a drug (that has been approved in Europe and Canada) that features a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. While both the CBD and THC cannabinoids work well in conjunction with each other, CBD has been studied revealing that it has some strong pain-relieving properties of its own.

So how does CBD mitigate pain?

The cannabinoid CBD interacts with a group of receptors called Vanilloid Receptors. These receptors act to mediate pain sensitivity, inflammation level, and even control the body’s internal temperature. Specifically, CBD activates the Vanilloid Type 1 Receptor which plays a role in inflammatory pain. Similarly, Capsaicin – the spicy component of chili peppers – also works with this receptor – which is why it has been used as a natural pain reliever throughout human history and up to today.

Additionally, CBD has the ability to naturally inhibit glutamate release in the body (as well as other inflammatory agents), making it a neuroprotective compound. This means that it can diminish the prickling, tingling, and burning sensations of neuropathic pain.

CBD effectively acts to combat an array of similar inflammatory agents in our bodies that can cause or worsen pain. The anti-inflammatory mechanism of cannabidiol is truly fascinating and totally unique to the cannabis plant. Most anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit two types of receptors: COX-1 and COX-2. When these receptors are inhibited, side effects ranging from stomach ulcers to heart attacks are possible. In fact, studies have shown that cannabinoids (specifically CBD and THC) are twenty times more potent than a commonly used anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.

As mentioned earlier, CBD’s popularity is in part due to a consumer/patient revolt against the rise in opioid use and the resulting societal and personal impact of its side effects, risks and addictiveness. CBD holds significant potential as an alternative to opioids, making it a highly attractive medical research topic. Research has already shown that unlike opioids, users are not likely to build a tolerance for CBD, meaning there would not be a need to continually increase their dosage. While many new studies are currently being conducted, the results that have been published thus far are extremely promising.

What types of pain can CBD help to alleviate?

CBD and Pain
  • Chronic Pain: A review of studies conducted between the late 1980s through to 2007 showed that CBD was effective in overall pain management without adverse side effects. This same review also noted that CBD was beneficial in the treatment of insomnia caused by certain types of chronic pain. 
  • Arthritis Pain: A study published in the European Journal of Pain used an animal model to conduct research into CBD’s ability to help individuals with arthritis, specifically, if it could help in the management of arthritis pain. In this study, a topical CBD gel was applied to rats suffering from arthritis. Over a four day period, researchers noted a substantial reduction in inflammation levels and indications of pain, and did not find any additional side effects with its use. While more human studies need to be conducted, the results have been enormously encouraging. 
  • Multiple Sclerosis Pain: Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is an autoimmune disease that can affect the entire body through the brain and nervous system. One of the most common symptoms is uncontrolled muscle spasms, which can cause a great deal of pain, even constant pain, in some patients. One study showed that even short-term use of CBD oil could reduce the amount of spasms and severity of spasms a person with MS feels. A study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine also supports these results. This research shows CBD as a neuroprotective compound, which protects and supports the same neurons impacted by Multiple Sclerosis.

    CBD for Pain Management

Any time you start a new supplement, CBD supplements included, it’s important to discuss your plans with a doctor or pharmacist. This will allow you to ask any questions you may have and can prevent negative interactions with prescription medications you may already be taking.

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