When it comes to handling pain – whether short-term or chronic – we all want to have access to the quickest and most natural way of making it disappear. One such example that has recently become more popular in mainstream healing alternatives is that of cannabidiol (CBD) benefits for pain and improvement of one’s overall quality of life.
Of course, the advent of modern medication has been nothing short of amazing for humanity in the past centuries, but what if we could tap into those same benefits, but with less damage to our health in the long run? This is what promoters of cannabidiol argue could be achieved through using this almost ‘miraculous’ ingredient. But what is true and what is hype in their claims after all?
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol – or CBD, for short – is an active chemical compound found in cannabis (or hemp). Scientifically known as cannabinoids, there are over 100 such elements present in cannabis, each with different functions and properties.
Normally, when hearing the word ‘cannabis’ or anything similar (e.g. marijuana, weed, hashish, ganja, etc.), we tend to immediately associate it with drug indulgence or even abuse. The truth is that only a fraction of the aforementioned cannabinoids is psychoactive (such as THC), while the rest of them (CBD included) offer you the benefits of cannabis without the ‘high’ factor.
You might be asking yourself by now: but what exactly are cannabinoids? Well, cannabinoids can be described as representing specific bonds from different types of atoms that influence the cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system and subsequently modify their behavior. There are two major types of cannabinoid receptors, namely those located in the brain and in the immune system (for example, the spleen).
When stimulated by cannabinoid compounds, these receptors react in different ways. Non-psychoactive elements like cannabidiol, cannabichromene or cannabigerol have no effect on your mental clarity but instead, have been linked to numerous health benefits in the case of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and skin cancer. Conversely, psychoactive cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produce noticeable alterations in your behavior and perception in terms of euphoria and hallucinations, for example.
Nowadays, marketed cannabinoids can be both natural or synthetic; while natural varieties can be attributed for medicinal purposes, synthetic variants are almost always circulated as recreational drugs (also known as ‘designer drugs’) and therefore banned in numerous regions of the world.
Due to its non-psychoactive properties, cannabidiol has known an increase in popularity and distribution across the globe. Still, most countries require a prescription for cannabidiol consumption.
How Does Cannabidiol Work?
As previously mentioned, cannabinoids impact your body by interacting with their corresponding receptors within the brain and hence modifying the signals that stem from this area.
First discovered in the 1980s, cannabinoid receptors can be traced in a number of species besides humans, including reptiles, birds, and mammals. When cannabinoids enter an individual’s system, they react accordingly depending on the chemical compound’s nature.
Take, for instance, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC can be consumed as a recreational drug (via smoking, vaping, etc.) and lead to a pleasant ‘high’ sensation; on the other hand, some people have reported experiencing episodes of anxiety and extreme hallucinations while under the influence of this substance. THC can also have medical employments in the case of patients who suffer from HIV/AIDS (the management of anorexia) and those undergoing chemotherapy treatments (to relieve and reduce nausea).
Unlike THC, CBD does not induce a ‘fell good’ sensation in the traditional sense, although it does share a chemical precursor with THC. CBD has the capacity to trigger cannabinoid receptors in both the brain and immune system, which is why it has been widely used for therapeutic purposes in most recent years.
Benefits of Cannabidiol
Even though research is still being performed with regards to cannabidiol and its advantages to human wellness, empirical data shows that this cannabis-derived substance holds its ground when it comes to a variety of afflictions, as follows:
- Pain relief – one of the primary ways in which CBD has been used as of late is that of a natural painkiller. Studies have revealed that cannabidiol is an effective analgesic especially in the instance of chronic pain, which can seriously damage a person’s quality of life over time without proper management. Not only does CBD interact with the receptors present in your brain and immune system alike, but it has also been shown to have no serious side effects during long-term usage.
- Reducing inflammation – a reaction such as inflammation normally occurs when the body is facing a short-term trauma or long-term response to an imbalance (like chronic illnesses). Regular cannabidiol administration has been thus linked to a quick and significant reduction in the two main responses to inflammation, namely swelling and excessive sensibility to pain. Moreover, cannabidiol exhibits antioxidant properties which can speed up the healing process by promoting cell renewal and less oxidative stress.
- Managing anxiety and depression – mental illnesses are one of the today’s most acute issues since they affect social interactions and – in extreme cases – can even threaten an individual’s life. Consequently, cannabidiol-based treatments have been experimented with in order to deal with these issues, to surprising results. Many studies currently agree on the fact that CBD administration has a profound anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect on patients, as well as an antidepressant one.
- Treating neurological diseases – the benefits of cannabidiol usage are not limited to mental imbalances like those mentioned before, with research zoning in on multiple ways in which CBD can improve neurological well-being. For example, scientific inquiries have been made into cannabidiol’s ability to meliorate psychosis symptoms in the case of schizophrenia, as well as reduce the number of convulsive episodes for patients suffering from epilepsy.
- Combating cancer – although we don’t have access to a definitive cure for cancer in present times, there are certain ways of eliminating this damaging disease, with CBD being one such option. Research argues that cannabidiol can be used not only to alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea but also act as an anticarcinogenic element even in relation to more invasive types of cancer. For instance, experiments have shown that CBD dosages administered to women affected by breast cancer have resulted in the ‘death’ of carcinogenic cells, therefore reducing and eliminating tumor growths altogether.
Cannabidiol and Pain Relief
As mentioned beforehand, CBD utilization is nowadays mostly focused on how to reduce, minimize or even eliminate both physical and mental distress.
One explanation for this booming phenomenon is the fact that traditional medication often has a negative influence on your organism when used over extended periods of time for the pain that is chronic and acute in nature. In fact, pain relievers and antipsychotics are among the top culprits of liver damage when compared to other similar pharmaceuticals. As a consequence, it seems only logical that we are witnessing an increased shift towards natural and organic alternatives like CBD for pain management.
Aside from natural pain management and few potential side effects, the advantages of using CBD seem to speak for themselves. Cannabidiol utilization has the potential to aid in numerous instances by:
- alleviating chronic pain (for example, back pain, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.)
- reducing inflammatory responses in the body
- improving the management of depression and anxiety
- regulating sleeping patterns
- providing muscle relaxation
- offering support in the case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients
- creating an alternative treatment for multiple sclerosis
- diminishing sensory and kinetic stress (since chronic pain sufferers usually tend to avoid being touched, which impacts both social and romantic relationships)
- meliorating psoriasis outbreaks
- helping individuals overcome alcohol and/ or drug addictions etc.
A practical advantage of CBD is the fact that using it on a daily or regular basis does not have to feel like taking medicine at all. Dealing with chronic pain frequently entails having to keep track of complex medication schemes and schedules, which can cause extra stress, anxiety, and even unnecessary fatigue.
This does not appear to be the case for CBD since modern technologies have allowed us to extract and concentrate this cannabis-derived chemical for more effective and simpler ways of delivery. Cannabidiol thus comes in a number of formats, including:
- supplements (capsules)
- topicals etc.
This multitude of cannabidiol-based treatments means that you can adapt CBD to your own lifestyle and preferences, yet still get the same positive effect of pain relief and improved mental status. For example, some might be more comfortable using CBD in capsule format because it makes it easier to remember as an administration routine, while others prefer the on-the-go simplicity of CBD sprays or tinctures (which are generally used by placing them under the tongue).
Still, each of these CBD products should be used according to their specified instructions and dosages, only after consulting with your physician and taking into account your previous medical history. This will ensure a quality experience with cannabidiol and a higher chance of experiencing the best pain relief scenario for your particular affliction.
Tips for Using Cannabidiol
- Consult with a specialist – no matter how promising the results of CBD might seem for your general state of health, it is imperative that you first consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before undergoing such a treatment. Some cannabidiol products have been known to interact negatively with certain conditions (cardiovascular issues, diabetes, etc.) and some forms of medication (like steroids, antihistamines, immune modulators, etc.), so getting a professional’s opinion is essential towards staying both healthy and happy when utilizing CBD.
- Buy quality products – these days, you can buy practically anything off the internet – CBD included. While this means greater access to pain relief, it also implies that you are at a greater risk of purchasing either low-quality products or being downright scammed. Looking up online reviews and professional-looking website for your chosen items is the first step towards having a positive experience with cannabidiol in the first place. You can even ask your doctor for trustworthy outlets that distribute CBD-based products.
- Use in moderation – when considering using CBD to alleviate pain, moderation is the measure of success. There have been no reported cases of lethal cannabidiol overdoses, but increased quantities of CBD in your system can lead to unwanted side effects like low blood pressure, mouth dryness, feeling lightheaded, and tremors. Never surpass the recommended dosage in your CBD medication and consult with a specialist if the aforementioned symptoms persist.
- Stay informed – knowing when and how to use cannabidiol can make or break this substance’s effectiveness in terms of pain relief and life quality improvement, so keeping up the pace with the newest studies and medical breakthroughs regarding CBD can indeed help you help yourself in the future. In addition, it is also worth consulting your country’s legislation with regards to the legality of CBD possession and administration.
Using Cannabidiol for Pain – Fact or Fiction?
Whether physical or psychological, pain is nevertheless pain and trying to get rid of it can be a problem in its own right.
Resorting to cannabidiol products and medication in order to relieve this medical tension has received both praise and backlash during recent years, especially regarding this compound’s legal status and verified results.
The overall opinions and reviews concerning CBD employment for pain relief seem to fall on the positive side, hence consolidating the handful of studies that have already hinted at cannabidiol’s capacity to be used in treating anything from mild inflammation to cancerous tumors.
In the end, only you can decide whether CBD is a viable option for you or not by talking to a specialist, determining what product might work best for you, and just give it a shot. A bit of trial and error might be at play here, but experiencing a pain-free life should make it all worthwhile.
In the end, it really won’t hurt to (at least) give cannabidiol a try.