CBD’s Role in Pain Management

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Most people, if not everyone, has experienced pain at least once in their life and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50 million Americans have suffered from or are suffering from some form of chronic pain. For many of these people, relief is almost always sought out.

There are different types of pain, from psychogenic and musculoskeletal to neuropathies and joint pain. These types can then be categorized as acute or chronic, depending on its duration. Pain, specifically chronic pain has been known to contribute to:

  • Loss of productivity
  • High healthcare costs
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased stress

Pain can be difficult to assess, and if an underlying disease process cannot be found, it can be challenging to find the proper way to treat it. While some people resort to different types of therapy and medication, some choose to take a more natural approach.

Cannabidiol oil, otherwise known as CBD oil is made using a compound (cannabidiol) derived from the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa. Although it comes from the plant, most of them do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the substance which is responsible for marijuana’s euphoric effect. The products which have THC, contain less than 0.3%, the legal amount that hemp products are allowed to have.

Over the last few years, CBD oil has been referred to as the new “wonder drug,” not only because of its ability to treat a variety of diseases, but also because it is a major breakthrough in the treatment of pain. As on June 2018, the oil has been legalized in 30 states, mostly in places where medical and recreational marijuana has been legalized. There are also some 17 other states which allow it to be used but it is tightly regulated, and specific laws must be taken into consideration.

So far, studies have shown that cannabidiol oil has significant effects in pain modulation and that although research is still on-going to discover the concoction’s exact mechanism of action, scientists have proposed a few theories as to how they believe it works.

Studies claim that cannabidiol works by impacting the endocannabinoid receptors of a specialized system. In school, we were taught that there were 11 organ systems in the human body, but it turns out that there is a 12th – the endocannabinoid system.

First discovered when scientists were trying to understand the effects of cannabis on the body, the endocannabinoid system is known to regulate some key physiological processes. These include sleep, mood, metabolism, memory, pain, and inflammation. It helps to regulate homeostasis, therefore, playing a role in how each of the other systems interact with each other.

While there is much to learn about the system, it has been found that the body is full of cannabinoid receptors specifically CB1 and CB2. When stimulated by cannabinoids, either endogenous (produced in the body) or exogenous (which come from outside of the body), it causes both physical and psychological effects.

CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the central nervous system which consists of the brain and spinal cord. CB2 receptors are mainly seen in the organs of the immune system like the spleen, tonsils and white blood cells. When the cannabinoid binds to its receptor, it goes down a pathway which eventually inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory molecules. This inhibitory action is one of the reasons why it can be used to treat inflammatory diseases as well as neuropathic pain.

The cannabinoid receptors are also responsible for a number of other functions some of which are not fully understood. With that being said, its efficacy in reducing pain and discomfort, specifically the pain and discomfort caused by an underlying condition is reason enough for celebration. Cannabidiol oil can be used to treat a variety of painful conditions, which include but are not limited to:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer pain
  • Headaches
  • Temporomandibular disorder
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Despite the fact that cannabidiol oil products have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any of the many medical conditions that it treats, its momentum has not been slowed. The use of CBD oil reduces the need to take medications that may be harmful or addictive, as well as the other side effects caused by these drugs.

With that being said, there have also been some reported side effects associated with the use of CBD oil. Some studies have listed that patients suffer from diarrhea, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, and some people report a change in their appetite. There is also the potential for harmful interactions with other medications.

CBD oil is very diverse, and it can be found in products which cover seemingly every mode of administration. It is available in a variety of products including tinctures, edibles like gummies, chocolate and gum, topical creams and salves, as well as capsules, vaping cartridges, bath bombs, and soaps. Because there are so many options, it is important to do some research and to consult a physician before choosing one of these options. Some factors that also come into play are the location of the pain and the type of pain.

The methods of administration vary from person to person, and different people require different dosages. One must also take into consideration how quickly the user wants pain relief. Some people who use these products recommend taking small doses daily, then slightly increasing the dosage until the reduction of pain is achieved.

Celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Aniston, and Michael J. Fox have all sworn by the product, and some websites claim that CBD products are estimated to generate over $2 billion in the next few years.  

CBD oil isn’t only used in the treatment of pain, and some people use it for other conditions including:

  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Sleeplessness
  • Cancer-related symptoms
  • Acne
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypertension

The bottom line is that CBD oil works, and despite not knowing enough about it, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks. Think of it this way; there was not one medication within the first few years of its release, scientist immediately knew everything about. CBD oil is a natural product proven to help reduce pain with minimal side effects.