CBD has many benefits for our health and overall well-being, but the ability to help with pain is possibly one of its most valuable. It’s estimated that around 20% of the world’s population suffers from some kind of pain, with 10% newly diagnosed with chronic pain each year. And pain isn’t just a single issue, it can go on to cause other problems for sufferers, including insomnia and depression.
Why use CBD for pain?
There are plenty of over the counter treatments and prescription medications available for pain, including acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids. However, the management of pain, especially chronic pain, continues to be a struggle for those who suffer. These medications often cause unwanted and often harmful side effects, including damage to the stomach, liver and kidneys. Those taking pain killers may find that they need to increase their dose over time, and may become dependent on the medication.
CBD offers a safe alternative to these treatments and medications, with side effects that are mild in nature. CBD can also be used on a long-term basis with no potential for abuse or dependency. Another reason that CBD is s helpful for pain relief is that it assists in reducing some of the causes of pain, such as inflammation, as well as helping to alleviate the additional problems brought on by chronic pain.
Types of pain
If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the many people who suffer from pain on a regular basis. While pain itself is a universal feeling, there are all different kinds of pain that we can experience, and depending on the cause, different kinds of treatments. For example, opioids are often used for acute pain, such as the pain after surgery, while NSAIDs are used for pain caused by inflammation. The way that CBD affects a number of aspects of our system means that it can be used in place of both of these medications.
Migraine sufferers know that this problem goes far beyond the common tension headache, and in extreme cases can last for days. While the causes of migraines can be complex, CBD can help with a number of potential triggers, including reducing inflammation, and aiding with stress and sleep.
Arthritis is a disease of the joints that has two main forms: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The cause is different in both cases – osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition – but the result is the same: painful joints. CBD assist by not only reducing the pain signals, as well as reducing inflammation in the joints.
While not all types of cancer cause pain, particularly in the early stages, most cancer patients will experience pain at some point. This is particularly true if they are undergoing chemotherapy, which may create hypersensitivity of the nerve receptors, leading to chronic pain.
Neuropathic (nerve) pain
While other types of pain stem from a particular source, neuropathic pain originates from an issue with the pain receptors themselves. Damage to the body’s peripheral nerves mean that they can continue to send pain signals to the brain, even when there is no longer any damage being done. This kind of pain is often very difficult to treat with painkillers.
As the name suggests, this kind of pain develops due to inflammation in the body, and can be separated into two different kinds. The first is acute inflammatory pain, which is what we experience when we have an injury, such as a broken bone, and is reasonably short in nature. The second is chronic inflammatory pain, which persists over a period of months or even years. Causes of chronic inflammatory pain might include irritable bowel syndrome or cardiovascular disease.
How CBD can help with pain
We all experience pain from time to time, but how exactly does pain work? The human body is filled with special receptors, known as nociceptors, that are there specifically to sense damage, transmitting signals along the spinal cord to the brain that are interpreted as pain. This is helpful if you burn yourself, for example, but in some cases the sensors send these signals when there is no damage, or send stronger signal than is necessary. To make matters worse, because of the way that the central nervous system works, the more pain that you feel, the easier it is for you to feel pain again in future. Fortunately, CBD can help with many of the elements that make up pain and how we perceive it.
Much of the pain that we experience, whether it’s acute or chronic, or whether it’s caused by injury or disease, comes down to inflammation. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation, which has a two-fold benefit for pain reduction. In the case of injury, it directly helps at the site of pain, whereas in the case of some diseases, it reduces the body’s inflammatory response, which can help reduce the impact of the disease.
Blocks pain transmission
Regardless of the cause of pain, we only feel it because of the signals that are sent from the nerve cells to our brain. CBD has been shown to activate what’s known as glycine receptors that are found in the spinal cord. These receptors actually help to prevent some of the pain signals reaching the brain – the result being that we feel less pain.
Regulates nerve cell health
The nerve cells play a vital part in the way that pain signals are transmitted through the body, and if they are not functioning correctly, this can lead to a person feeling pain where there is no injury or other cause. CBD has been shown to protect nerve cells from damage or reduce any damage that occurs, helping these cells perform as they should.
Reduces common side effects of pain
If you suffer from chronic pain, you’ll know that the pain itself is not the only thing that can have an impact on your quality of life. Pain can easily become intertwined with anxiety, depression and insomnia. These issues can all lead to an increased inflammatory response in the body, which can exacerbate pain levels and lead to heightened pain perception. CBD has been shown to have a positive impact on these conditions, helping to stop this vicious cycle.