CBD, or Cannabidiol, is an organic compound naturally produced in all members of the cannabis plant family. The health value of this amazing phytocannabinoid was well-known to ancient herbal physicians and hasn’t diminished one bit over the ages. Even in this age of modern medicine featuring synthetic drugs of every design the world wonders at this time-tested herbal treatment.
Today’s professionals and experts in every branch of the medical community have extolled the all-encompassing efficacy of CBD in treating conditions of anxiety, the immune system, diet, and certain cancers. But, the centerpiece of CBD benefits is its unique capacity to address pain and suffering sustainably, with none of the terrible side effects associated with pharmaceutical alternatives.
Pain and the need for effective relief is no small topic either. According to statistics posted by the US Department of Health, more Americans suffer from pain than from diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined. Furthermore, chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability.
It is the diversity of pain and painful conditions that adds to the complexity of finding an effective solution. Nevertheless, clinical studies are suggesting CBD could be the answer to this tough question.
Advantages of Using CBD to Treat Pain
Anyone suffering from acute or chronic pain should always seek advice from a medical professional. But, when choosing relief to the symptoms of painful conditions, CBD has some special advantages over many of the conventional options out there.
- CBD is not addictive, whereas opioid-based painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin can cause addictions and serious pain when trying to reduce doses.
- CBD has no side-effects, yet prolonged use of ibuprofen has been associated with liver damage. Furthermore, many OTC pain meds carry the risk of hyperalgesia, which is an increased sensitivity to pain.
- CBD is impossible to overdose on, but it is essential to stay within the recommended dosages of any prescription or OTC medications for health reasons.
- CDB is good for long-term relief and as of yet, there have been no reports of health risks associated with the prolonged use of CBD. For addressing conditions that can be painful for months and even years, an all-natural analgesic will place no additional strain on the health.1,2
Types of Pain
Fundamentally, pain has been divided into two classes, neuropathic pain, and nociceptive pain. These are both completely different in their basic biological mechanism and therefore require very different treatments to properly address.
When nerve fibers are activated as a result of a chemical, mechanical or inflammatory stimulus, nociceptive pain is experienced as an alert response to the brain. Nociceptive pain is the flavor behind the stubbed toe, the insect bite, and inflammatory conditions, as well as some latent pain from old injuries.
This is the kind of pain sustained or generated in the nervous system and includes such hard to treat conditions as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and other nervous conditions. Conventional pain treatment has been found less effective against neuropathic pain.
Other Types of Pain
In addition to Neuropathic and Nociceptive pain, there are a few other types of pain that don’t properly fit into either category. Fibromyalgia and the painful symptoms associated with this condition, like migraine headaches, can cause different painful responses that are especially difficult to treat. Sometimes the combination of nociceptive and neuropathic pain is accompanied by extreme depression or fear, and treatment for these pains requires the application of antidepressants to properly address.3
How CBD Works to Relieve Pain
CBD interacts with a wide range of receptors in the body and modifying their function and initiating physiological responses that directly affect pain and suffering.
CB1 and CB2 Endocannabinoid Receptors
CBD doesn’t actually bind very well with the CB1 and CB2 receptors and has a negative modulating effect on their processes. Some of these affect pain management and help control the inflammatory response. The majority of CBD’s analgesic capacity comes from its interactions with several other non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels.4
Also known as TRPV1 receptors, these ion channels received their name from the vanilla bean which was used to treat headaches in times past. TRPV1 Vanilloid receptors are linked to the regulation of body temperatures, inflammation, and nociceptive pain management. CBD binds especially well to these ion channels and can greatly influence the experience of nociceptive pain.5,6
These receptors are found in the central nervous system and participate in several important physiological functions including the management of pain and the inflammatory response. CBD works to potentiate these receptors which affect neuropathic and nociceptive pain regulation at a spinal level.7
A1A and A2A (Adenosine Receptors)
By limiting the re-uptake of adenosine, CBD provides anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects. Reuptake is the process of absorbing neurotransmitters after their activities have been completed. Adenosine regulates the activity of A1A and A2A receptors, which in turn contribute to cardiovascular function, blood pressure, myocardial oxygen consumption, and the inflammatory response. The longer adenosine remains in the brain the more accumulates and this improves anti-inflammatory effects in the body.8
5-HT1A Serotonin Receptor
In high enough concentrations, CBD activates the 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor linked to a variety of physiological and neurological processes including appetite, addictions, anxiety, pain perception and nausea. This provides analgesic and anxiolytic properties for addressing a more complex variety of pain and mental anguish.
On a related note, CBD-A, or cannabidiolic acid, is the “raw” form of CBD as it exists in the bud before decarboxylation, the loss of a carbon dioxide molecule (CO2) when cooked, smoked or vaped. CBD-A has been found to bind to these 5-HT1A serotonin receptors even better than CBD can.9
Pains and Painful Conditions addressed by CBD
Acne vulgaris, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and even a twisted ankle can be characterized by severe inflammation that can aggravate these painful conditions. CBD addresses all these conditions and more with effective anti-inflammatory action and analgesic properties that relieve chronic discomfort in joints, bones, muscles connective tissues and skin.10,11,12
MS Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, or simply MS, is a disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nerves and brain, causing varying degrees of neuropathic pain. The nervous system under duress causes spasticity which adds to the debilitating discomfort of MS. In addition to addressing neuropathic pain through potentiating glycine receptors, CBD also functions as an antispasmodic relaxing the muscles and providing further relief.13
Migraines and Fibromyalgia
Over 3 Million Americans suffer from migraine headaches which cost the country $20 Billion each year. These can be addressed with OTC medications, but often these intense headaches are unscathed by conventional pharmaceuticals. Then again, their recurring nature can cause a resistant to be built against analgesic medications. Many who suffer from migraines find the side effects of medication as bad as a headache.
Recent studies have shown that migraine headaches could be caused by a faulty endocannabinoid system, making them closely related to another condition CBD promises to relieve.
While much is still being learned about the causes and no cures are established, tests have shown that CBD and cannabinoids can provide a measure of relief to the pain of fibromyalgia. CBD also helps to lessen the stressing and depressing aspects of this condition and improves sleep quality as well.14,15,16
The National Cancer Institute says CBD can be an effective relief to the symptoms of cancer and the various side effects of cancer treatments. Most notably, CBD improves the appetite, reduces inflammation, and ameliorates pain from nerve damage by cancer or chemotherapy (neuropathic pain).17
Final Notes on Using CBD for Pain Relief: Developing a Treatment Plan
As mentioned, it would be a good idea to discuss your plan for pain relief with your regular medical practitioner to ensure that the underlying causes of discomfort are also addressed. You may also get some helpful pointers on establishing a long term plan for pain relief.
Those using CBD to address an ongoing condition, like migraine headaches, arthritis or other chronic conditions will want to establish a baseline concentration in the system that will keep pain at bay most of the time. After, this additional doses can be taken to reduce the severity of any acute flare-ups.
Regular CBD intake will be the first step in relieving mild to severe pains in the long term. CBD edibles exist in a wide variety of forms to suit any taste. Online providers offer brownies, cookies, chewable, gummies, gel-caps, pills, drops, and tinctures. These should be eaten along with a warm meal for maximum efficacy, because CBD is soluble in oils and fats and not so much in water. Effects can be slowed by the liver’s enzymatic action.
CBD is also available in topical creams, salves, balms, and ointments. These can be applied directly to joints, muscles, and bones suffering from injury or inflammation. Because CBD is not readily absorbed through the skin, you will want to apply your product liberally and often. Expect relief within 15 to 20 minutes.
Managing Acute Flare Ups
Daily CBD intake will begin reducing a great deal of discomfort and can restore a considerable quality of life. But, until the condition is completely controlled, flare-ups can still arise at an inopportune moment and must be suppressed quickly. For this, smoking or vaping a CBD product is the fastest delivery system for their analgesic benefits. Delivery time: Instantaneous!
You may also try and edible, or sublingual tincture for their delayed effects. CBD ointments and balms can also be kept on hand for managing acute pain topically.
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