Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become more and more popular in recent years. But one reason you must have heard time and again is the powerful manner in which cannabinoids help manage pain.
There are a lot of people who deal with chronic pain and are looking for any fix they can find. Many people try to avoid opioids because of their addictive properties. CBD oil could be an alternative for these people, as many say that it helps with pain.
But how well do these use claims stack up against scientific evidence? Is the optimism about CBD oil and its products well-founded? Should you add CBD oil to your pain management arsenal?
In this article, we’ll put these claims to the test. Could CBD oil and pain relief really have anything in common? Let’s talk about it.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD oil
CBD is one of 113 cannabinoids that are found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. That name probably sounds familiar. That is because cannabis is a family of plants that includes hemp and marijuana. But CBD does not have the psychoactive effect often associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis.
Instead, CBD affects the receptors in the body in a different way. The human body has what is known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It is a system of receptors that are found throughout the body. These receptors, which are tiny proteins attached to your cells, receive, and translate signals from cannabinoids and help your body respond accordingly.
The response creates anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects that assist with pain management when CBD is bound to the receptors. The ECS also appears to have an effect on things like sleep.
Although a healthy mammal produces cannabinoids of its own, called endocannabinoids, CBD oil supplements strengthen and balances these. CBD oil itself has been shown to contain potent anti-inflammatory properties.
The ECS is believed to be the reason why CBD may be able to help with pain.
CBD and pain relief – how CBD counteracts pain
Research from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies suggests that roughly 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. This frustrating reality is what causes many people to turn to alternative remedies. This is especially so for those that want to avoid the addicting opioids historically the “go-to” prescription for medical practitioners to treat chronic pain relief.
But does this point to a favorable relationship between CBD oil and pain relief? While there are a lot of studies on this, most of them are focused on animals, instead of humans. CBD oil has been observed to possibly provide pain relief with regard to several medical conditions, including the following:
- Arthritis: This 2016 study inquired into the use of CBD in rats with arthritis. The researchers concluded that CBD was able to help reduce the inflammation in the rats. Another 2017 study published in the Pain journal found that treatment with CBD topicals reduced the development of joint pain in rats with osteoarthritis.
- Migraine: A 2017 study inquired into the treatment of migraine with CBD-based medications. Though this study combined CBD and THC, the researchers still found that the mixture helped. At doses of 200mg of 9% CBD and 19% THC, participants in the study saw the frequency of their migraine attacks fall by 40.4%. Pain relief was also reported amongst participants with cluster headaches, but only if they had a childhood history of migraines.
- Chronic pain: In 2018, a review of several different studies on CBD and chronic pain found that CBD may be able to help. The study, which focused on various types of pain, including fibromyalgia, found that CBD was effective in overall pain management.
- Multiple sclerosis: One report inquired into the benefits that CBD oil could have for multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the myelin sheath of the brain and nerves throughout the body. The researchers concluded that CBD was able to help reduce spasms and the pain associated with this condition.
- Neuropathic pain: This 2018 study explored the use of CBD in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. The researchers reviewed 16 previously published studies testing the use of various cannabis-based medicines in the treatment of pain. The researchers concluded that CBD was able to help reduce the pain associated with neuropathy.
- Epidermolysis bullosa: In 2018, a report published in Pediatric Dermatology studied the treatment of a rare, blistering condition with CBD. The symptoms, which affect children, were found significantly reduced after the application of CBD topicals, including oil, cream, and spray. The study reported that there was a reduction in pain and blisters. One of the patients was also able to wean off opioid analgesic pain medication completely.
As the science shows, there is quite a bit of support for the connection between CBD oil and pain relief. But it is important to remember that these studies are new. There is still a lot of room for additional research, especially those that focus on human-based tests.
Yet, the reports are encouraging, and there seems to be quite a bit of support for the potential that CBD oil has to assist with pain relief.
What side effects should I know about?
If you’re wondering whether CBD oil will make you “high,” the answer is “No.” As mentioned earlier, there are over 113 cannabinoids in cannabis. CBD is one of them, but we briefly mentioned another, THC. THC is the compound responsible for producing a “high.” CBD is typically refined with the THC completely removed.
There are some side effects, but they tend to be considered pretty mild. However, certain side effects are still possible. These include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in weight
In addition to these, there is a risk that CBD may interact with some over-the-counter drugs, prescription supplements, or dietary supplements. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you start taking any CBD.
The bottom line
Although research into the matter is still ongoing, researchers agree that there is a lot of potential for the use of CBD products for pain relief. Since hemp was recently legalized, we will hopefully see even more research about it.
If you have been suffering from chronic pain or similar conditions and have been unable to manage it with standard treatment, CBD may be an option for you. But ensure you do your own research and confirm with your doctor before making a decision.