The Benefits of CBD for Pain Management
One of the most common benefits reported by users is its ability to help alleviate and manage pain, both acute and chronic.
In this article, we’re going to outline some of the benefits that one might experience should they choose to use CBD for pain management.
The Issue of Pain in America
Pain is an ever-increasing problem in America. Both chronic pain, which recurs during a person’s life as a result of an injury or illness, and acute pain, which occurs over the short-term, can be devastating. As of September 2018, about 20% of Americans struggled with chronic pain, with 8% struggling with high-impact chronic pain – pain that actually prevented them from engaging in some of their life activities.
Chronic pain can lead to anxiety, depression, and a decreased quality of life. Americans currently spend more than $560 billion annually on medical care for pain alone.
There are a large number of painful conditions that Americans struggle with, many of which can be caused by certain lifestyle and dietary choices that are common in the United States.
- Arthritis and other joint problems are very common issues that are known to reduce the amount of time that some Americans are able to spend at work.
- Back pain is another very common chronic problem that many Americans struggle with. In fact, half of all working Americans report some degree of back pain every year, with back pain accounting for some 264 million lost work days annually.
- Chronic diseases like fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis can contribute to significant pain for long periods of time. Between 3 and 6 million Americans struggle with fibromyalgia.
Other conditions like neuropathy (nerve damage), chronic headaches, and digestive issues are even more examples of the types of pain commonly suffered by Americans.
Side Effects of Traditional Pain Management
The American medical system currently treats most painful conditions with opioid medications, such as morphine or fentanyl. While there’s little doubt that these medications can be effective for reducing pain in the short-term, there’s no doubt that there are a number of issues associated with opioid medications.
- Opioids present a serious risk of addiction. Opioids are notorious for being among the most addictive drugs on the planet. It’s not uncommon for people to begin taking their medication to get high, and even people following their prescribed dosage regimen run a serious risk of becoming addicted to their medication.
- Opioids cause withdrawal symptoms. Patients who are prescribed opioid medications for any significant length of time will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be very uncomfortable or painful and can require that an individual takes time off work or, in serious cases, seek out medical care at a hospital.
- Opioids run the risk of overdosing. In fact, more than 47,000 Americans overdosed on opioid drugs in 2017 alone. Many of these individuals were using prescribed medications to help them manage pain.
In addition to all of this, opioids are generally not very effective at treating neuropathy.
The Potential of CBD for Pain Management Shown By Studies
There are a number of studies that have indicated that CBD could be very effective for helping to naturally alleviate pain, without causing any of the dangerous side effects or risks associated with the use of hard opiates such as those used in traditional medicine.
CBD has shown to help alleviate pain in a number of different ways. CBD can directly interact with immune cells, modulate our ability to actually perceive pain, and reduce the rate at which the body produces compounds that create painful inflammatory reactions.
Here are some prominent studies that demonstrate how CBD might be useful for fighting pain.
- CBD was shown to help fight neuropathic pain in patients struggling with anodynia. 18% of the patients treated with CBD experienced improved relief compared to only 3% of the placebo group.
- CBD was shown to help fight neuropathic and inflammatory pain in rats who were given oral dosages.
- CBD and other cannabinoids have been proven to be effective at fighting pain and discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- CBD has been shown to prevent and reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis.
How CBD Works for Pain Management
There is a lot of evidence suggesting that CBD may work as a painkiller. The mechanisms by which CBD can do this are equally fascinating.
CBD may help fight inflammation. One of the ways that CBD helps to fight pain is by reducing inflammation. Inflammation is a normal process which is triggered when your immune system perceives a pathogen or other harmful compound. The inflammation attracts white blood cells, which work to fight off any potential danger.
Unfortunately, sometimes the body develops an inflammatory response when it is not necessary. Chronic inflammation may lead to painful conditions like arthritis. CBD has been shown to inhibit the body’s inflammatory response and can reduce pain associated with these conditions.
This is because cannabinoid receptors have been found directly attached to immune cells. The CB1 and CB2 receptors, both of which CBD acts on, are a part of immune cells. By stimulating these receptors, CBD helps to reduce the production of cytokines and chemokines, two compounds which the body produces to create an inflammatory reaction. CBD can also be useful for helping to manage acute inflammation caused by injuries.
CBD can help fight neuropathic pain
Nerve pain, or neuropathic pain, is often difficult to treat with conventional medication. Patients struggling with conditions that adversely affect the nervous system, like multiple sclerosis, often have a difficult time treating their pain.
Studies have shown that CBD and other cannabinoids are capable of alleviating neuropathic pain. The endocannabinoid system is involved in helping to regulate the body’s state of pain homeostasis – people who are in chronic pain may find that using CBD helps to re-establish an equilibrium in their pain sensitivity.
CBD may moderate the body’s perception of pain
Evidence has shown that CBD can regulate the body’s sensitivity to pain by influencing a number of different systems. In these situations, the compound may not actually target the site of the pain itself, instead of causing a cascade effect leading the individual to be less susceptible to pain overall. CBD can be immensely useful in helping to restore the damage done by injuries by helping to speed up at the rate at which our cells can heal.
Ways to Use CBD for Pain
CBD is a very versatile substance, and there are a number of ways in which it can be used. Each method of administration will have different benefits, so you may want to be certain of which method you want to use.
- Tinctures, oils, edibles. Orally consumed CBD is the simplest form of administration. Tinctures and oils can be used sublingually (taken under the tongue) or swallowed; edibles must be swallowed. Oral administration has the slowest onset and will result in changes in your body chemistry that influence the perception of pain and reduce inflammation throughout the body. A lot of CBD is lost through the digestive process, so dosages will be a bit higher.
- E-liquids, flower, smoking extracts. Vaporizing or smoking CBD causes it to take effect fastest, and can be useful for managing acute pain. However, vaporized CBD has a short duration. This can make smoking and vaporizing impractical for people with chronic pain.
- Transdermal/topical. There are a number of lotions, creams, and salves containing CBD that can be applied directly to the skin. These will fight inflammation at the site of application. Relief is generally had within 20-25 m
– Discuss how CBD can be used for pain through consumption (cbd oil tinctures, edibles, e-liquids, etc.) or by transdermal application (cbd topicals, salves, etc.) and how each method works to alleviate pain (ie. topicals reduce inflammation of the skin, while oils activate receptors in the body to moderate pain perception)