Understanding the Science: CBD and Pain Relief
CBD connoisseurs across the world proclaim CBD as the ultimate solution to everything from mental conditions to body pain. It is seen as a safe alternative to prescription drugs such as opioids and is used to treat pain without any risk of long-term damage or addiction. The correlation between CBD and pain relief is ancient, which suggests it has a little more to do with providing relief than just blind faith.
Surveys suggest that to date the most common reason for taking CBD is to treat pain. In fact, people have been using hemp extract for pain for centuries, way before modern medicine was invented. Why is that?
If you are curious to find out the way pain works and how CBD and pain relief are related, read on!
What Is Considered “Pain”?
To understand the scientific link between CBD and pain relief, it is essential that you gauge what medical experts mean by “pain”. Pain comes in different flavors. That is to say, they arise due to different reasons, affect the body diversely, and the sensation of each type of pain is unique. CBD is only effective for some types of pain and can provide relief only to a certain extent.
Here are some of the major classifications of pain:
- Acute pain — Acute or nociceptive pain lasts for a short while (from minutes to a few months). It is usually related to a tissue or bone injury or a temporary illness. It goes away pretty soon as the injury heals or the illness subsides.
- Chronic pain — Chronic pain lasts longer (often for years). It can be constant, like arthritis, or intermittent, like migraines. This kind of pain doesn’t go away easily and is often the result of an underlying health condition.
- Neuropathic pain — This is a major subcategory of chronic pain, caused by damage to or inflammation of the nerves or the nervous system. It is a shooting or burning sensation that can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Carpal tunnel syndrome or sciatica are common examples.
- Nociplastic pain — Nociplastic pain is caused by ongoing inflammation and damage of tissues in conditions like fibromyalgia. It is difficult to characterize this type of pain scientifically and clinically because there’s no specific pathology that can be identified on an X-ray or fMRI. Nociplastic pain is a long-term complex pain that works differently than other kinds of chronic and acute pain.
Due to the mechanism of how CBD works within the body, it is best suited for treating chronic pain. Although it may still alleviate the symptoms of acute and nociplastic pain, the evidence on its effectiveness is limited.
In a 2021 study from the University of Michigan, 72% of patients (out of 878) with fibromyalgia, who used CBD as a natural pain relief remedy instead of pharmaceutical pain medications, reported CBD helped decrease their pain better than other drug therapies and caused fewer side effects. Another 2021 study from Canada, discovered that CBD-rich treatments helped improve patients with moderate to severe pain, but it had no effect on people with mild pain symptoms.
Needless to say, most of the available research is suggestive of the relationship between CBD and pain relief. But we cannot make conclusive deductions yet. Knowing how this compound works within the body may help us get an inside look into how this famous hemp extract helps treat pain
The Science Behind CBD and Pain Relief
The human body has a natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) that carries out homeostasis or stabilizes the body when faced with extreme internal or external conditions that threaten survival. The endocannabinoid is made up of mainly these two components:
- Cannabinoid receptors — There are two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1, predominantly found in the central nervous system, handles pain perception, among other activities. CB2, present in the peripheral nervous system, is in charge of several organ systems along with our immunity.
- Endocannabinoids — When our body senses inflammation or needs to return to homeostasis, endocannabinoids are released. They bind to the cannabinoid receptors and signal the ECS to take action.
CBD, a phytocannabinoid, can easily trigger our ECS much like endocannabinoids do. They do not bind to receptors, but can greatly affect the body’s central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the immune system. Here lies the relationship between CBD and pain. It is considered to induce other components of the ECS and play a significant part in pain relief.
Natural Pain Relief Remedies of CBD
Now that you know how CBD works within the body, let’s look into why people have been using hemp extract for pain for ages. Here are some potential pain relief benefits of CBD:
- CBD and pain signals — CBD can reduce pain signals, thus decreasing how much pain the patient feels. It boosts adenosine levels in the brain, which inhibits pain sensations. It can also achieve this effect by blocking pain signals from reaching processing centers in the brain that handle pain and inflammation. Research has backed up the analgesic effect of CBD.
- Anti-inflammatory properties — CBD acts as an antioxidant and helps decrease systemic inflammation. Studies show that CBD can help prevent inflammation by inhibiting T cell proliferation, which often indicates autoimmune and systemic inflammatory disorders, by inducing T cell apoptosis. It also helps by reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reducing migration and adhesion of immune cells.
How to Choose the Right CBD Product for Pain Relief?
The natural pain relief remedies of CBD may seem enticing at this point, but choosing the wrong kind of product won’t get you the desired benefits. When choosing a CBD pain relief product, keep these factors in mind: the type of pain you are experiencing, how quickly you want to feel the effects, how long you want that effect to last, and your preferred mode of administration.
There are three main ways you can use hemp extract for pain relief. They are:
- Topical applications — When you want to address a localized pain in one specific area, such as arthritic pain or neuropathic pain, topical products work best. They go directly on the skin and show effects quickly. But you have to apply the product again, once the effect wears off. Topicals include CBD creams, lotions, salves, bath bombs, and ointments.
- Oral applications — If you are trying to treat systemic inflammatory pain, autoimmune conditions, and full-body pain caused by neurological conditions, oral CBD applications provide more profound relief. They work slowly, but the effects last longer. Oral applications include CBD oils, capsules, tinctures, oral sprays, and edibles, such as brownies, gummies, and snacks.
- Vaping — You can use a CBD oil cartridge in a vaping pen for similar pain conditions as you would for oral products. The only difference is that you will feel the effects much faster. It may also have side effects such as lung damage.
Start Your Wellness Journey with CBD
Now that you understand the science behind CBD and pain relief, it’s time to try the benefits of this wonderful substance for yourself. Research and theories can only say so much; you are the ultimate judge. Use the power of plants in your wellness routine and feel the difference.