Cannabidiol (CBD) has been showing up all over. Claims of medication-free pain relief have enticed athletes, actors, actresses, moms, dads, sons, and daughters…but does it work?
Where it comes from
The cannabis plant has two varieties, marijuana and hemp. The hemp plant has high levels of CBD and legally contains less than 0.3% delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the substance which produces the feeling of being “high” that marijuana users experience. CBD is not known to have any psychoactive effects. A study looking at the effects that cannabidiol has on pain and inflammation found that CBD has “ . . . limited effect on higher brain function”. Rest assured knowing that CBD can provide all the benefits associated with cannabis, but without any of the high.
How it works for pain and inflammation
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS works to create a stable, balanced state of the interconnected bodily systems. This homeostatic state includes the bodily response to pain and inflammation. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, 2-AG, AEA, and THC, activate cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, creating a response to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen decrease the sensitivity of the nerve endings that react to pain stimuli. A recent study has found CBD to be just as potent of an anti-inflammatory agent. Pain from conditions such as the different forms of arthritis, migraines, cramps, muscle soreness, chronic pain, inflammation, and multiple sclerosis (MS) can all benefit from a soothing relief with the use of CBD.
The two most common types of arthritis are Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The immune system of RA patients mistakenly attacks joints. This causes inflammation and pain. OA patients suffer from the degeneration of joint cartilage and bones. Both inflammation and pain are regulated on some level by the ECS. Several animal studies have shed some light on the potential benefits of CBD usage in relation to arthritis pain. One study found CBD to be anti-nociceptive which means that CBD can block the detection of a pain. CBD was also found to inhibit inflammation which prevents further development of the condition. Each study has found CBD to be a safe therapeutic option for the treatment of arthritis pain.
CBD can bring relief to those with chronic pain in several ways. Depending on the source of the pain, CBD may work to relieve inflammation as with arthritis. CBD can also help to relieve pain by temporarily stopping the final step in the ECS process. As mentioned before, in the ECS, cannabinoids such as CBD activate cannabinoid receptors which then work to create a bodily response to pain. This response stops when metabolic enzymes (FAAH and MAGL) breakdown the cannabinoids and deactivate the cannabinoid receptor. CBD can inhibit these enzymes, allowing cannabinoid receptors to remain active. A study on cannabinoid use for medical purposes found “There was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain . . . ”. CBD can provide pain management with “high safety and low adverse effects . . . ”.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects 2.3 million people around the world. The pain, inflammation, and muscle spasticity associated with MS can be positively impacted by the use of CBD and other cannabinoids’ activation of the endocannabinoid system. Furthermore, CBD has been linked to a reduction in the use of prescription pain drugs. The physical dependency of opioid pain drugs can be avoided with the use of CBD as a pain management alternative. An empirical study of those using prescription opioids found that about three quarters “reduced their use since they started cannabis”.
A wide range of ailments can be positively affected by the use of CBD health and wellness products. Inflammation caused by headaches and migraines can be reduced with CBD use. Pain from cramps and sore muscles can also be alleviated. Kristen Bell, known for being the voice of Anna in the movie Frozen, advocates CBD use for her “sore muscles after working out”. Former hockey player for the Philadelphia Flyers, Riley Cote runs an advocacy group which “help[s] athletes find safe nontoxic ways to find relief, manage pain and guide them to understand selfhealing”. The National Hockey League does not include cannabis among banned substances. Many professional athletes like Cote use CBD as “the ultimate recovery tool”.
What to look for
Quality CBD products online will always have transparent lab testing results for you to view. When shopping for CBD for sale online, look for testing on the company’s website before purchasing. This is to ensure you are getting what you paid for, no more, no less. You want no less CBD than what is advertised (usually reported in milligrams, mg) and you want no more THC than legally allowed (less than 0.3%).
How Much to Take
Each person differs in their ideal dosage of CBD. Factors such as intended effects, age, weight, metabolism, application method, and quality of the product all play a role. It is recommended that users start with a small dose and work up. Taking note of pain levels on a scale of 1-10 can help you develop a better understanding of how a particular dose effects you. Usually less than 10mg is a good amount for novice users to begin with. The effects of CBD can be felt for up to six (6) hours so wait at least that long before redosing.
The side effects of CBD use have been found to be minimal. How CBD interacts with other medicines is still being explored. More research is required to fully understand how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the body. Some CBD products may contain higher levels of THC than advertised. This could create unintended effects. The importance of the consumer being able to review a product’s lab tested potency results is crucial.
Where to find it
CBD products seem to be all over. Coffee shops have CBD tinctures to add to your drink, health and wellness stores push topical treatments for healthy skin and muscles, and CBD for sale online can be found with a simple Google search. Regardless of where you find your favorite CBD product, be sure to check for testing and positive reviews.