CBD for Pain Relief: What You Need to Know
Over 20% of U.S. adults struggle with chronic pain. So it’s no wonder many people are seeking novel pain relief solutions. At a time when opioid deaths are at an all-time high, the public is crying out for all-natural solutions that can relieve pain without the threat of addiction. Could CBD be part of that solution?
There’s still a lot we don’t know about CBD for pain relief, but new research is being conducted every day. Below, we’ll go over some research findings to help you determine if CBD is effective for relieving aches and pains.
Possible Links Between CBD and Pain Relief
For decades, researchers have been intrigued by the possible links between cannabinoids and pain. We know that cannabinoids—compounds like THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, etc., interact with and bind to specific receptors in the human body.
These receptors, part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, are believed to play a role in regulating a number of human functions, including sleep, mood, memory, and fertility.
They also appear to play a vital role in how the brain processes pain. It has been suggested that certain cannabinoid receptors, when activated, may help to block pain signals to the brain. This possibility has been the focus of much of the research into CBD and pain relief, as CBD specifically appears to be instrumental for this purpose.
Current Research Into CBD for Pain Relief
The research regarding CBD for pain is still in its early stages, but there are several studies that we can refer to. One of the most famous is a study conducted by researchers from the University of South Carolina in 2010. The study looked at multiple cannabinoids but noted that CBD, when administered orally to arthritic mice, appeared to significantly reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis.
A larger clinical review from 2020 analyzed the existing body of research into CBD oil for pain relief, and the findings were promising there as well. In human subjects, CBD alone (absent of THC) was associated with reduced chronic pain, improved quality of life, and better sleep.
Although the researchers noted that we still don’t fully understand the mode of action, there definitely appears to be a direct link. More research is still needed.
The Combination of THC and CBD for Pain Relief
The effects of CBD oil for pain relief appear to be strongest when CBD is combined with other cannabinoids, particularly THC. The aforementioned clinical review noted that, while CBD alone was effective in studies for treating general chronic pain, the combination of THC and CBD proved effective for improving general chronic pain as well as neuropathic pain.
The precise ratio of CBD to THC for achieving optimal pain relief isn’t entirely clear. Some studies have involved low amounts of THC (microdoses), while others have looked at relatively balanced concentrations of THC and CBD.
A study from 2018 looked at the combination of THC and CBD for the purpose of combating pain symptoms in patients with malignant diseases. Patients were administered roughly equal doses of THC and CBD, and the researchers found that the patients experienced significant pain relief compared to the placebo group.
The Entourage Effect
The combined benefit of THC and CBD might be related to the so-called entourage effect. The entourage effect, while controversial among researchers and not fully understood, is the perceived benefit of multiple cannabinoids working in concert with one another to increase a specific benefit or effect.
If there is validity to the concept of the entourage effect (and, anecdotally, there certainly seems to be), small amounts of THC (even the trace amounts found in full-spectrum CBD oil) might be enough to provide a benefit beyond what CBD can provide alone.
One benefit of full-spectrum CBD for pain relief is that it contains enough THC to bind with cannabinoid receptors in the body but not enough to have a psychoactive effect. So for pain sufferers seeking support for their symptoms without the “high” of consuming cannabis, full-spectrum CBD might be able to assist. This is what researchers are trying to figure out.
What About CBD Cream for Pain Relief?
CBD is well-known for its ingestible formulations, like CBD gummies and tinctures. But many people are also turning to CBD cream for pain relief. Certain types of skin cells, like sebocytes and keratinocytes, contain cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. When CBD creams are applied, the cannabinoids penetrate the top layer of skin into the dermis layer, where they come into contact with these receptors.
CBD creams are often used for localized support. For instance, an arthritis sufferer might apply the cream to their hands, while a person with chronic bursitis might apply it to their knees.
One clinical review conducted by researchers in South Africa examined numerous studies related to topical CBD. As noted by the researchers, topical CBD was observed to “alter pain and stimulate wound healing.” More research is still needed regarding CBD cream for pain relief, as a majority of the data related to topical CBD is focused on conditions like acne, alopecia, and skin tumors.
Should You Use CBD for Pain Relief?
More research is needed before we can establish a definitive link between CBD and pain relief. However, given what researchers have observed regarding CBD and inflammation, it’s certainly worth exploring the possibilities. A full 60% of CBD users say that they rely on cannabidiol for pain management support, and new people are discovering the potential benefits every day.
If conventional preparations have let you down, or if you’re just looking to embrace something more natural, try exploring CBD for pain relief. Start with small doses (10mg to 20mg) and adjust as needed—or use topical CBD for localized relief. CBD is not a cure for chronic pain, but it just might help make your day a little bit easier.
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