Did you know that pain is one of the three most common health reasons why people take cannabidiol (CBD)?
The other two are anxiety and depression, as reported by a neat survey from 2018.
About 36% of participants said CBD helps them ”very well” and just 4.3% said CBD isn’t very effective for them. Which a fabulous result, but what’s the science behind this effect?
What do we really know about CBD and pain relief at the moment?
CBD for pain relief: here’s what the studies say
Cannabis has been used to alleviate pain since ancient times in China, Egypt, Greece, and India. And still, the modern history of pain relief with cannabinoids is barely 20 years old.
For example, one of the first cannabis-based conventional medications was released in 2005 in Canada–the oral spray Sativex. It consisted of equal portions of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, and has been used with fairly good results to help with neuropathic, cancer-related, and chronic pain.
There is one little issue, however: THC is illegal in some American states and in most countries around the world. Mostly because it’s a psychoactive substance responsible for the intoxicating effect of marijuana, so… Using industrial cannabis-based painkillers isn’t an option for most folks out there. Just like using plain marijuana isn’t an option.
The good news is that CBD became legal all around the US after the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, and it comes with quite a few potential analgesic (pain-killing) properties.
But what does science say on the matter?
Is CBD an effective painkiller without THC?
Let’s take a good look at some of the most exciting studies available to date.
CBD may reduce local inflammation and inflammatory pain
Pain is an essential component of inflammation. In 2007, an animal study reported that oral CBD is an effective treatment for inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rats. It seems that cannabidiol achieves this effect by reducing the local levels of inflammatory messengers and enzymes, as well as inhibiting oxidative stress and thus preventing part of the free radical damage to the local tissues.
A similar effect was reported in 2016 and 2018, in studies on rats and dogs with osteoarthritis respectively. By reducing local inflammation, CBD somewhat improved pain and movement in the damaged joints.
CBD may soothe the body’s very perception of pain
Funny as it may sound, the pain we feel is always in the brain. Not in the damaged organ or part of our body. Here’s how it works.
Injured tissues send specific signals to particular portions of the brain where the sensation of pain is formed. Together, this complex of receptors, pathways, and messengers is known as the nociceptive (pain-perceiving) system. The counterpart of this structure is known as the antinociceptive system, meaning that which blocks or reduces the perception of pain.
Anyway, animal studies suggest that CBD may stimulate the body’s antinociceptive system, resulting in a reduced perception of pain. Maybe this also has something to do with the ability of CBD to increase brain levels of anandamide, which is a known ”feel good” endocannabinoid.
CBD may reduce pain by interacting with the brain’s serotonin receptors
Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter (molecular messenger) that takes part in a whole lot of processes in the human body. One of them is believed to be the triggering of a state of happiness and perceived wellbeing. Well, guess what? In 2014 a study reported that CBD could help in reducing neuropathic pain by tweaking the function of 5-HT(1A) serotonin receptors.
CBD could help with migraines and headache in general
A fresh review from 2018 mentioned that CBD could be beneficial for people suffering from migraines and headache, but this was more of a general hypothesis than a real study with experimental data.
Still sounds plausible, and here’s why:
- Studies report that patients with chronic migraine have reduced anandamide levels in their cerebrospinal fluid and plasma. Anandamide is one of the body’s primary endocannabinoids
- CBD seems to increase anandamide levels and improve anandamide signaling
In other words, this theory sounds valid but will have to be confirmed by future studies. Let’s hope for the best, because persistent migraines can really turn life into a living hell.
So, is CBD good for pain relief?
You may have noticed that the vast majority of the researches mentioned above were either laboratory or animal studies. The preliminary data we got from them is encouraging, but there are still a lot of questions regarding long-term safety, side effects, and possible interactions with other medications (including conventional painkillers).
In other words, CBD still has a long way to go before it’s universally approved as a safe and effective pain pill.
The good news is that several human trials are already on their pre-recruitment stage. For example, there’s this one on the potential of CBD in reducing neuroinflammation in chronic back pain. If everything goes as planned, studies like this one will yield quite a lot of reliable data that will help bring CBD to the next level of therapeutic acknowledgment and scientific approval.
While it’s still way too early to recommend CBD as a universal and effective method of alleviating physical pain, the data we have so far is quite encouraging. What’s even better is that there are several human studies on their way, so more information will be available soon enough.
And since cannabidiol doesn’t come with any serious side effects (or at least none that the scientific community knows of at the moment), it could be a wise idea to at least try it out and see if it works for you. Surveys report that most people experience at least partial relief from their health conditions after using CBD, so we’d say it’s really worth a shot!
A quick tip to remember: if you’re planning to use CBD for pain relief, CBD vape pens are the best way to go. Mostly because they work faster, as oral CBD products will need some time to be absorbed and start working their magic.
If you have any questions about how you may benefit from CBD then visit any of our 5 locations and one of our friendly and experienced staff would be more then happy to help!
– The Cost Plus Nutrition Team