You have a headache and you cannot sleep. Instead of reaching for that aspirin for your pain management, you decide to swallow a CBD capsule. Okay, maybe not. But then again, chances are you’re already considering it. Now, what if we told you that this could actually work?
CBD, short for cannabidiol is the new kid in town, with health manufacturers hawking it as an effective fix for everything from stress and anxiety to ADHD, despite it only recently became legal in the US.
However, research shows nearly 62% of CBD users reported using CBD to treat a medical condition. Respondents also reported feeling that CBD effectively treated their medical conditions for arthritis/joint pain, chronic pain, and anxiety.
That said, effective and safe are not the same thing. When it is a question of pain management, does CBD really work? If so, how well?
Let’s find out!
CBD oil is generally extracted from industrial hemp plants.
CBD is one of over 120 compounds known as cannabinoids.
Several plants contain cannabinoids, but we most commonly associate them with cannabis.
Now, unlike other cannabinoids — e.g. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — CBD doesn’t produce a psychoactive effect or that euphoric “high” because it doesn’t affect the same receptors as THC.
Our body features an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that obtains and translates signals from cannabinoids. It can produce cannabinoids of its own, which are often referred to as endocannabinoids. The ECS serves to regulate functions like sleep, pain management, immune-system responses, etc.
When THC goes inside the body, it makes you high via affecting your brain’s endocannabinoid receptors—this, in turn, activates the brain’s reward system, producing dopamine, a pleasure chemical.
CBD In Treating Pain
CBD comes in many different forms: oil, capsule, cream, gummies, you name it.
CBD oil is known to reduce pain linked to arthritis.
According to a study, researchers used an animal model to determine if CBD could aid patients with arthritis and joint pain. They applied a topical gel comprising CBD to rats with arthritis for a few days.
The results showed a noticeable drop in signs of pain and inflammation, without any prominent side effects
People using CBD for arthritis may benefit from it. For example, the Pain Relief Cream Pump is a 100% natural, plant-based CBD cream, specifically formulated to reduce joint pain management and arthritis using CBD extract from the hemp plant that includes more than 90% of certified organic ingredients.
While the results may look promising, more human studies are needed to fully confirm these findings.
Therapeutic effects of CBD, based on research:
- In adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with CBD are more likely to achieve a clinically notable reduction in pain symptoms.
- In adults with chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea, CBD edibles work as effective antiemetics.
- In adults with multiple sclerosis-related spasticities, short-term use of CBD enhances patient-reported spasticity symptoms.
Another study suggests that CBD can significantly reduce inflammation and chronic pain.
Subjects weren’t likely to develop a tolerance to the effects of CBD. Therefore, they wouldn’t need to continually increase their dosage, said the researchers.
More research shows that CBD, due to its anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiemetic effects, presents a promising class of compounds for acute and prophylactic treatment of migraine pain management.
CBD for Cancer Treatment Relief
People with cancer are also big fans of CBD. Why?
Research on animal models has shown that cannabinoids led to the shrinking of cancerous tumors. But then again, more research on humans is needed in order to fully confirm its potential in treating cancer.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has further labeled CBD as a viable option for reducing side effects comprising chemotherapy, such as:
- Lack of appetite
Another study conducted by researchers in 2010 found that subjects who received oral sprays of a THC-CBD extract, which was used in combination with opioids, experienced significant pain management compared to using opioids alone.
However, more studies are needed.
What Are the Side Effects of CBD?
Although CBD is usually well-tolerated and considered harmless, it can still cause adverse reactions in certain individuals.
Side effects listed in studies include:
- Changes in weight and appetite
CBD can also interact with certain medications. Therefore, we highly suggest you consult with a doctor before using it to avoid harmful interactions.
Also, if you take a supplement or medication that comes with a “grapefruit warning,” you may want to speak with your physician beforehand. Both CBD and grapefruit interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), which is a group of enzymes essential to drug metabolism.
How Much CBD Is OK?
While there’s no fixed clinical guideline, experts recommend the following for adults:
- When consuming a liquid form, note that the CBD extract is probably mixed with a carrier oil. Therefore, you have two different measures to consider: the amount of liquid to take, and the amount of CBD in a dose.
- Start low and go slow. Start with no more than a few milligrams of cannabinoids (2x/day) in sublingual form. If there’s no notable relief after the first week, increase the dosage by the same amount. If necessary, increase in small amounts over several weeks. If you notice adequate relief, continue with that dosage twice every day to keep a moderate level of cannabinoids in the blood.
- If cannabinoids alone don’t seem to work and you’re in a state where medicinal or recreational cannabis is legal, consult your doctor regarding consuming CBD with a low-dose THC product. Note that THC, even at very low levels, can get you high, promoting cognitive and balance issues. Make sure you try THC-containing CBD products at night first. This way, you can sleep off those unwanted effects.
- As soon as you start experiencing unusual side effects while using CBD, immediately discontinue the dose and consult your doctor first thing in the morning.
While there’s little to no conclusive data supporting CBD as the approved method of pain management, researchers agree that CBD has a lot of potential.
Certified CBD products may offer relief for those with chronic pain, migraine headaches, and arthritis, all without promoting drug intoxication and/or dependence.
If you’re looking to try a CBD product for the first time, make sure to consult with a doctor. They can provide specific guidelines on how much is too much for you. Better be safe than sorry.