CBD has become the buzziest topic of conversation among people interested in its pain relieving properties, primarily because it is a plant-based non-pharmaceutical option that has very few reported adverse side effects. Is this buzz just hype, or is it something more?
The correct answer: most definitely “something more”.
How does CBD relieve pain? It’s complicated, but this is what scientists have found – the human body’s complex endocannabinoid system is important to the maintenance of homeostasis or stability. A system of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoid molecules and their metabolic enzymes all work together to maintain optimal conditions for proper cell performance. The body’s own cannabinoids, together with additional (ingested) cannabinoids, have advantageous effects because they promote the homeostatic or stable conditions necessary for the body’s healthy functioning. When the endocannabinoid system is not working properly, it is believed that certain conditions can develop – researchers are currently exploring a theory known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (“CECD”) as it relates to the development of pain, migraines, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
In terms of CBD’s mechanism of pain relief, research shows that CBD attaches primarily to the CB2 receptors located within the body’s peripheral nerve and immune system, which assists with the suppressions of pain and inflammation signals (in contrast, THC attaches primarily to the CB1 receptors located within the brain and central nervous system and affects cognitive functioning). However, there continues to be an on-going debate on the subject of exactly how CBD works; some believe that CBD helps prevent endocannabinoids from being broken down, while others believe that CBD binds to receptors that have not yet been identified. One thing that is not being debated, though, is whether CBD oil is an effective treatment option to reduce pain.
The results of numerous studies on pain management in peer reviewed scientific journals have been consistent, and have slowly but surely added enormous credibility to claims about the pain relieving properties of CBD in individuals suffering from arthritis, joint neuropathy and inflammation, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and cancer.
Can CBD help with arthritis pain?
Numbering in the tens of millions across North America, one of the largest groups of people suffering from pain are those with arthritis or other rheumatic diseases which cause joint pain, stiffness and mobility issues. A 2017 study confirmed that CBD oil treatment assisted with the alleviation of pain associated with arthritic joint inflammation and it was also found that CBD helped in the protection of nerves. The effects of CBD oil treatment were not just limited to pain and inflammation reduction in those suffering from arthritis – studies have shown that depression and anxiety related to their disease were also reduced. CBD oil for pain treatment had a secondary but very helpful effect on arthritis sufferers’ overall psychological well being, too.
Other studies have shown that CBD oil is effective in alleviating pain associated with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and cancer, with very few reported adverse side effects for the users. Hopefully, researchers will continue to broaden the number of pain-related conditions they study so that people who have pain caused by other conditions or injuries can learn more about CBD oil treatment for their pain.
Interestingly, the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of pain and other medical conditions dates back as far as 3000 BC. So, it seems that the modern day scientific research coming out of universities and other institutions is confirming what people centuries ago figured out – there are benefits to taking CBD oil. It make sense that medical and scientific researchers are being be drawn to investigating a substance like CBD – the endocannabinoid system has such a wide ranging effect on overall health and specifically impacts sleep, mood (including anxiety and depression), metabolism and appetite, cardiovascular functioning, liver functioning, memory and pain and inflammation, so any substance that can alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life, without harming the user, deserves serious scientific attention. This body of research findings will likely assist governmental agencies, including the FDA in the United States, as they contemplate regulations related to CBD.
With such positive CBD oil research outcomes, governmental agencies should adopt policies that ensure CBD oil and other CBD products are widely available to people who want to use them, while ensuring that manufacturers are held to high standards of production and transparency with respect to their lab results. Given the current, very tragic issues surrounding the use of opioids to manage pain, these governmental agencies would be wise to consider the advantages of a plant-based non-pharmaceutical option with very few reported adverse side effects – for people whose quality of life has been decreased by pain and who are seeking effective, non-opioid treatment options, CBD seems to fit the bill on all counts.