CBD for Pain and Inflammation: Reality or Myth?

A woman found relief after using CBD for pain

Day-to-day life may seem a battle when you suffer from chronic pain. For most people, the pain experienced as a result of a wound, illness or surgery fades away as soon as they recover from the injury.

For others, however, pain appears to become a longtime companion that comes and goes without much rhyme or reason, affecting their mobility and well-being. Although conventional medications used to handle chronic pain generally prove effective, some of them might have unfavourable side effects, ranging from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to analgesic tolerance or dependence. That’s one of the main reasons driving people to look for natural alternatives with minimal side effects.

 

CBD for Pain Relief

Over the last couple of years, a bunch of studies and in vitro experiments have shown that CBD (cannabidiol), a chemical component unique to cannabis plant, can help in a variety of health conditions from insomnia and depression to epileptic seizures and even cancer.

According to a 2012 research published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, CBD and its modified derivatives have shown the potential to significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rodents without causing apparent analgesic tolerance.

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More and more people have recently turned to CBD for pain and inflammation relief, despite the fact that it’s not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The major advantage of CBD over cannabis, as a whole, is that it’s a non-psychotropic component which doesn’t cause any high or intoxication and is, therefore, legal to obtain and consume (of course, depending on the type of extraction). Besides, it’s easy to use in the form of CBD edibles or oils with great flavors and easily controllable doses.

How does CBD work to reduce pain and inflammation?

The pain-killing effect of CBD stems from its ability to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a group of endogenous receptors located in the brain and throughout the nervous system and involved in a number of important processes.

Interestingly, CBD doesn’t directly activate the main cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2 which are targeted by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. This partly explains why, in contrast to THC, CBD is non-psychoactive.

However, cannabidiol affects a number of other receptors and non-cannabinoid systems in the brain involved in essential body functions.

More specifically, it shows a high binding affinity with the glycine receptors and the TPRV1 receptor, otherwise known as the vanilloid receptor, responsible for pain and heat sensation and the regulation of body temperature. In fact, the vanilloid receptor was named after the vanilla bean which was historically used as a folk cure for headaches due to its analgesic properties.

Besides, CBD interacts with the opioid receptors which have a crucial role in pain regulation. In fact, these receptors are the target of many pharmaceutical painkillers, as well as drugs, like morphine or heroin, used for the management of pain. It also affects the dopamine receptors, natural neurotransmitters affecting cognition, movement control, emotions and reward-seeking behaviour.

Preclinical studies suggest that CBD may have an immense  potential to relieve pain, at the same time dampening withdrawal symptoms and addictive behaviours. However, more research is needed to fully understand CBD’s interaction with opioid and dopamine systems.

 

Anti-inflammatory effects

Being a major issue today, inflammation is one of the main reasons behind the pain. It’s the body’s protective response to external irritants, like viruses or bacteria. When Inflammation occurs, the white blood cells and proteins called cytokines are released into the trouble areas to fight the foreign substances. But in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s immune system triggers a protective response when there are no foreign substances to fight off. inflammation results in tissue damage, severe pain, stiff joints, fever, and fatigue.

Fortunately for those who want to avoid the adverse side effects of prescription painkillers, CBD has natural properties for pain and inflammation relief, without serious side effects. Pre-clinical studies have shown that cannabinoids, including CBD, can block the release of cytokines and reduce inflammation. This means that using CBD for pain and inflammation may also help to slow down the progression of arthritis.

Not only does CBD offer anti-inflammatory features, but it’s also known for muscle and vascular relaxant properties. It has shown the ability to reduce muscle spasms – the stiffness and involuntary contraction of muscles, which occurs as a result of hard labor or serious conditions, like sclerosis, and is extremely painful.

 

Relaxing Properties

Part of the analgesic potential of CBD lies in the relaxing properties of this chemical. It’s known that severe physical pain affects the life quality leading to mood and appetite disorders, depression and trouble sleeping. Emotional distress, on the other hand, may cause physical symptoms.

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Besides healing the physical pain, CBD also calms the nervous system and brings some relaxation to your life. It helps to deal with a range of anxiety problems, including social stress and withdrawal, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It soothes the nervous system and lifts the mood without causing a high or intoxicating the body.

Finally, CBD helps those suffering from insomnia as a result of chronic pain, recover from sleep deprivation. In fact, getting healthy sleep is the best way to speed up the body’s healing process after an injury. But people experiencing chronic pains, often find it impossible to get a wink of sleep for several days in a row. Being a great relaxant, CBD is able to provide a peaceful sleep for its users, allowing them to recuperate from the illness.