CBD or cannabidiol is currently taking the US and UK by storm because of its wide range of health benefits. Pain relief is one of these benefits, as several studies have shown that CBD is capable of reducing pain discomfort on different conditions.
How does CBD help alleviate pain?
Your body is composed of a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system. This is responsible for different bodily functions, including sleep, appetite, pain, and immune system response.
Several species, including humans, naturally produce their own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. The human body is composed of cannabinoid receptor sites, which are allotted for cannabinoids that are ingested (phytocannabinoids). The receptors are where endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids attach to produce the desired medical benefits.
You need to understand that cannabinoids can be agonists, inverse agonists, or inhibitors. When it acts as an agonist, it stimulates bodily functions once they are attached to their respective receptors. If they play the role of an inverse agonist, they associate themselves with the same receptors as the agonists while creating a chemical reaction opposite to the result of the agonists. Lastly, they can be inhibitors, which stop chemical reactions or responses once they are bound to their receptors.
CBD does not directly work with the CB1 or CB2 receptors, which are present in the brain and immune system, respectively. Instead, CBD passively influences the endocannabinoid system to regulate pain as well as the immune system.
It is interesting to note that CBD works not only for acute pain but also chronic pain. In fact, several studies have shown that it can alleviate pain from conditions like arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
One study revealed that CBD produced “clinically significant reduction” in pain-related symptoms with little to no adverse side effects.
An animal lab study found that CBD injections significantly reduced the pain response of surgical incisions. Another study also found that sciatic nerve pain and inflammation were greatly reduced with oral CBD use.
Several countries have approved CBD-based medications. For instance, Sativex, which is composed of both THC and CBD, is approved for treating pain caused by multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
A study revealed that people suffering from multiple sclerosis and taking Sativex for one month reported improvement in pain and muscle spasms compared with the control group.
Sativex also reduces pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In the study, nearly 60 people said that they experienced pain relief during movement and at rest. In addition, the quality of their sleep has also significantly improved.
In the US, arthritis affects more than 50 million people, making it the leading cause of disability. Several animal studies have shown that CBD could help treat arthritis and manage its inflammatory pain symptoms.
One study found the CBD can reduce inflammatory pain in rats, thus influencing how pain receptors respond to stimuli. Another study in 2016 also found that topical application of CBD is effective in pain relief and inflammation reduction.
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in children.
Does CBD have side effects?
Further research is needed to determine if taking CBD has adverse effects, and the degree as to which cannabinoid analgesics will be adopted is yet to be determined. Although the studies about CBD still has a long way to go, there is already significant evidence of benefits from different studies. In fact, one research claimed that cannabinoids offer “significant side benefits” beyond analgesia.
In recent years, there have been high rates of overdose and addiction cases from the use of opiates and similar painkillers. Therefore, it is good that some people are beginning to look at CBD as a safer and natural alternative.