The following article on CBD for chronic pain is by guest contributor Macey Wolfer.
One of the many reasons people are incorporating the cannabis-derived compound cannabidiol (CBD) into their lifestyle is because of its potential to combat chronic pain.
CBD is a natural component of cannabis, but unlike THC, it does not cause intoxication. Instead, it targets the body’s own cannabinoid receptors in different ways resulting in therapeutic effects that do not impair users.
With its rising popularity, many are wondering if CBD is really an effective treatment for chronic pain. There’s a lot of promising anecdotal evidence from users who have found relief with CBD, but it’s important to dig deeper than this to understand if CBD is truly helpful.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
We all have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is responsible for numerous bodily processes from memory to motor control, mood, and appetite.
The system is composed of endocannabinoids, little molecules that can activate cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. External cannabinoids like THC and CBD can also activate these receptors.
When THC binds with cannabinoid receptors, it intoxicates users. When CBD binds, it influences receptors differently and promotes balance throughout the body.
When the ECS is in balance and working well, the body is at homeostasis. Many things can throw this system off and cause problems, and incorporating CBD can help restore balance necessary for relieving symptoms.
CBD is a Powerful Anti-inflammatory
CBD possesses anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce chronic pain. Since the root of most pain is a form of inflammation, CBD can help target receptors to reduce it.
Studies have shown CBD to have strong anti-inflammatory effects, including one report which found “CBD reduced acute inflammation in a murine model of collagen-induced arthritis.“
Moreover, researchers have found that CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects are linked to its impact on the cannabinoid receptor called CB2. This receptor has been shown to regulate immune cell function and suggested as a target for treating conditions rooted in inflammation.
CBD’s Impact On the Bliss Molecule
CBD may also provide relief for chronic pain by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory endocannabinoids.
Cannabidiol has been shown to reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines and reduce fatty acid amidohydrolase activity (FAAH), which causes more production of the neurotransmitter anandamide.
With its name derived from the Sanskrit word for “bliss”, anandamide is a special endocannabinoid with powerful effects. Anandamide is anti-inflammatory, but our bodies break it down quickly without allowing it to reduce inflammation when necessary.
Studies have shown CBD can help preserve anandamide in the body for longer periods of time, allowing it to produce anti-inflammatory effects for longer. CBD preserves anandamide by binding to its proteins, preventing it from breaking down quickly and in turn, lengthening its time spent regulating inflammation.
CBD and Chronic Pain: The Bottom Line
While access to comprehensive cannabis-related research has been difficult in the United States, many are recognizing the therapeutic effects of CBD for several conditions including chronic pain.
There are plenty of animal-based studies showing CBD’s potential to treat chronic pain. From CBD reducing joint inflammation in rats to protecting model subjects from the deleterious effects of multiple sclerosis-related inflammations, there’s no denying CBD may help. We need more research on human subjects to really solidify this, though.
Many people use CBD as a more natural alternative to effectively treat their chronic pain. Since CBD is well-tolerated and has minimal side effects, this is a positive thing for lots of people.
Of course, the type of CBD used and the dosage will also have a dramatic effect on the relief users find. It’s important to seek out high-quality CBD and find the right dose that works to provide relief for each individual.