Sooner or later in life the average American deals with some type of pain. There’s currently a lot of excitement about the prospects of pain management with cannabinoids. American culture expects a quick fix for everything and the rising star of pain resolution appears to be CBD in various forms.
“Almost 62% of CBD users reported using CBD to treat a medical condition. The top three medical conditions were pain, anxiety, and depression.” A Cross Sectional Study of Cannabinoid Users, Jamie Corroon and Joy A. Phillips
What is known about the CBD pain relationship and is CBD really the magic elixir for pain resolution? Since hemp or marijuana products were banned by the U.S. until recently, the opportunity for scientific study of pain and cannabinoids has been limited. This ban also hindered the amount of information available to the public on the effectiveness of CBD for pain.
Types of Pain
Pain is a complex medical issue. There are many types of pain and even types of pain within a pain classification. Pain serves a purpose by causing us to protect ourselves so we can heal and prevent further injury. We usually think of pain as a result of an injury or inflammation. This kind of pain is classified as musculoskeletal pain, like when you pull a muscle or break a bone.There’s another kind of pain called neuropathic pain which has many categories within it. We won’t go into all the types of neuropathic pain since we’re not physicians and it’s a complicated issue, but this is a good definition of neuropathic pain:
“Neuropathic pain, on the other hand, has no benefit. It occurs because of abnormal function of the nervous system. This includes a wide variety of disorders affecting any part of the nervous system from the brain to the spinal cord to the smallest nerves in the toes.” Types of Chronic Pain, American Society of Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine
CBD for Pain - How Does it Work?
CBD is used by people seeking relief from chronic pain for anything from muscle soreness to arthritis to cancer pain. While there is an increasing amount of evidence that CBD works for pain the FDA has not yet approved CBD for this application. But how does it work? Research is indicating that CBD interacts with a major element of the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain.
“CBD indirectly acts on the CB2 receptors, which may help with widespread pain relief by reducing inflammation.” Medical News Today
The CB2 receptors receive signals from the brain and help the body’s cells respond. These cannabinoid receptors are throughout the body, so CBD affects not only the brain, but also other organs and tissues.This response creates the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects that help with pain. This is called cannabinoid-induced analgesia.
“Increasing amounts of evidence, derived from clinical studies, have confirmed the potential of the cannabinoid system in affording benefits for patients with chronic pain and chronic inflammatory diseases (arthritis). Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment
There still isn’t enough research to definitively support CBD or CBD oil as an effective method of pain management, but there seems to be a lot of potential.
Methods of CBD Delivery for Pain
Since CBD research is in its early stages there are still some unknowns about which delivery method is the most efficient. There are four main ways to take CBD; oral, sublingual, topical, and inhaling:
- Oral CBD involves consuming gummies, edibles, and capsules.
- Tinctures deliver CBD sublingually (under the tongue).
- Topical treatments include balms, patches, creams and roll-ons.
- Vaping is the common way to inhale CBD but there are also intranasal cannabinoid sprays hitting the market soon.
Which method of CBD delivery works best for pain? For a more regular, metered dose patches appear to be the favorite amongst scientists. CBD is administered through a trans-dermal patch which has a high absorption rate because of the addition of chemicals that allow CBD molecules to make it into the bloodstream faster. Inhaling CBD provides rapid absorption but the dosage isn’t measured as accurately. Topical treatments take a bit longer to transfer through the skin into the bloodstream and it isn’t easy to measure the amount of actual CBD dose. Oral doses still have to get through the gut-blood-brain barrier so the effectiveness is based on anecdotal accounts.
While a lot is still not known about CBD, new research is shedding light on the subject with more than one thousand articles being published about it each year. The hope for CBD is that it will bring relief for people who have chronic pain and help them avoid addiction to opioids and other dangerous drugs. If you’re struggling with chronic pain it’s always a good idea to talk with your primary care physician. It might be there’s a solution for you either with CBD or with traditional treatments. As with taking all medications it’s important you research beforehand what you choose for your pain relief. The FDA hasn’t yet put it’s seal of approval on CBD for pain management, but there’s hope that new research will soon reverse this stance.