Hailed as a wonder drug, CBD has made significant strides each year, with some estimates revealing that the market could be worth as much as $20 billion in 2024. Users have said good things about the use of CBD oil for pain. However, there have not been many experiments carried out to determine its effectiveness, but those conducted have shown that users experience pharmacological action when they take CBD.
So, how does CBD work to treat chronic pain?
The compound is extracted from the cannabis plant, which does not produce the psychoactive effects that come with tetrahydrocannabinol. Many people are finding that it can complement their pain regimens.
Research indicates that as many as 6 out of 10 people who use CBD for a medical condition are either treating arthritis, chronic pain, joint pain, or even anxiety. Its effects are minimal, low-risk, and usage will not lead to addiction.
So, what is CBD’s place in managing pain? Let us find out in this guide.
Table of contents:
- What is CBD?
- The best CBD Oil for pain
- The Medical Benefits of CBD
- CBD, Medical Marijuana, and Hemp
- The Science of CBD Pain Relief
- The Nature of Natural Endocannabinoids
- The impact of your body chemistry on CBD’s effects
- The Potential for Pain Management
- Conditions/symptoms Eased by CBD
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is found in the cannabis plant, which harbours another ingredient that users smoke or eat to get high; THC. THC is psychoactive, while CBD is not. This lack of psychoactive properties is what makes pure CBD so appealing to many of its users.
Even though it does not produce the high associated with THC, CBD is powerful in its own right and offers a slew of medical and therapeutic benefits.
As such, it can be used by individuals who would like to reap the benefits of the cannabis plant but don’t want to be ‘stoned’ while at it.
NOTE: A theory known as the entourage effect is worth mentioning here. It says that taking pure CBD may be beneficial but combining all the compounds in the cannabis plant (including THC) provide more benefits. However, those living in places that have not legalized medical marijuana cannot have the full spectrum yet.
The best CBD Oil for pain
So which CBD oil for pain should you choose? While there is no particular one for everyone, we recommend the following CBD oil for pain (available in the UK):
The Medical Benefits of CBD
CBD oil is known to affect brain activity, but it is not in any way that you need to worry about. The CBD interacts with two receptors known as CB2 and CB1 to alleviate pain and inflammation. CB2 is also known for augmenting your immune system.
Triggering an immune system receptor like CB2 helps with things rheumatoid arthritis because the immune system is the one that causes RA to develop when it attacks joint tissue. A relationship like this explains why CBD is so effective in reducing the effects of RA.
Here are the main properties of CBD:
- Anti-oxidant- CBD reduces oxidative stress in the body and combats symptoms of autoimmune conditions like lupus.
- Anti-inflammatory- It has the potential to combat pain associated with arthritis, which inflames joints. Augmented with CBD cream for arthritis pain, a user can experience enhanced pain reduction.
- Anti-psychotic- The symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and anxiety can be reduced with CBD.
- Anti-emetic- It reduces vomiting and nausea that comes with cancer treatment.
- Neuroprotective- Since CBD makes it to the brain, it works by slowing the advance of disorders like Multiple Sclerosis, as well as protecting against inflammation
The specific conditions that CBD impacts and helps with directly include:
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Neuropathic pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- System inflammation
When we get into the details of the differences between CBD and medical marijuana and hemp, things get a little complex.
CBD, Medical Marijuana, and Hemp
What are they, what are the differences between them, and what do they do for you? To make it all make sense, let’s break it all down into digestible bits of information.
- CBD is a cannabinoid found in cannabis plants that may have beneficial effects but none of the psychoactive properties that make people high.
- The cannabinoid can be extracted from different marijuana plants, including Sativa and Indica.
- Hemp is a species of the Sativa variety. It has unique features that include: no psychoactive effects when smoked, has 0.3% or less THC, the compounds present in it are limited, it may be used in making textiles or clothes, and is legally sold in many stores (as well as online).
- CBD that comes from hemp is legal in many places. In the UK, the levels of THC have to be kept at or below 0.2% to qualify as legal.
- The pure CBD derived from the cannabis plant may not have the same effects as a full-spectrum extract, as it lacks the entourage effect associated with ingesting all the cannabis plant's ingredients.
- Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is sold containing all the ingredients of the plant so they can work together to produce better effects. It is not legal in the UK yet but has been legalized in many US states.
Now that you can tell all of them apart, we’ll talk about how CBD works to alleviate pain, so you know how to use CBD oil for pain.
The Science of CBD Pain Relief
There are three main components in our body’s natural endocannabinoid system. They include:
1. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2)
These receptors are usually located in your Central Nervous System (CNS), which attaches to your spinal cord and brain. That makes them responsible for the emotional and cognitive effects of cannabis, as well as our pain sensitivity.
CB2 receptors are more abundant in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The PNS refers to outer nerves beyond the spinal cord and brain (like arms and legs, for instance). These PNS receptors may also be found in your CNS and immune cells.
2. Endogenous cannabinoids
This term refers to the cannabinoids produced naturally by our bodies.
The enzymes in our bodies help us break down and utilize the cannabinoids we take.
The Nature of Natural Endocannabinoids
The endocannabinoids in your body function on an 'on demand' basis. That means that the body senses inflammation, or an imbalance, which prompts the release of endocannabinoids to bind with cannabinoid receptors to adjust the body and bring it back to stability.
When using CBD for pain, it does not bind to the receptors. However, the research indicates that it works by triggering components of the cannabinoid system.
CBD does not just trigger this system to help relieve pain. It also produces a slew of other effects on the CNS, PNS, and immune systems. It collaborates with the endocannabinoid system to exhibit antioxidant properties.
In addition, early model studies have shown that the CBD may even contain properties that slow down osteoarthritis and curb nerve damage.
The impact of your body chemistry on CBD’s effects
Your body’s constitution affects how the CBD oil pain relief works. Let’s walk through the concept of bioavailability to understand how your body affects the efficiency of CBD pain relief.
To make this easier to conceptualize, let’s use the example of medication instructions you have probably heard before. Sometimes, you will be told by the doctor to take medications without food or water (an empty stomach). The reason for this is to ensure that most of the drug gets absorbed into your body.
The same reasoning is used for CBD because its absorption rate directly translates to its benefits. The better the absorption rate, the more profound the effects.
Some of the things that affect the absorption rate include:
The delivery method
Some of the edibles may be better absorbed when taken with food, especially fatty foods. Sublingually, the absorption goes directly into the bloodstream, where you want the CBD to be.
Your history of marijuana and body weight
Metabolism, your history of marijuana use, and body composition determine how much you need to take. As a rule of thumb, it is best to start with low CBD doses that you can then increase over weeks. The product you choose should be as pure as it gets, with consistent usage and proper dosing.
How much you sleep, your stress levels and other factors affected by habits/lifestyle can affect how your body absorbs and responds to the supplement. That is why we recommend taking it about an hour before you go to sleep, at a time when you feel relaxed.
The Potential for Pain Management
CBD is hydrophobic and lipophilic, which means that it dissolves in fats. That ability helps it to be carried across the blood-brain barrier for maximum impact on your CNS. Once it reaches the nervous system, the effects experienced include:
1. A reduction in pain signals
Pain inhibition in the brain happens when there is reuptake of a neurotransmitter called adenosine. CBD modulates pain by triggering the reuptake of adenosine, leading to higher levels and lowered pain sensations. CBD oil for pain prevents pain signals from reaching the brain by binding itself to TPRV1, which causes pain and inflammation.
2. Boosted immunity
Having mentioned the connection to the immune system before, the details of how CBD interacts with your body’s ‘armour’ relate to autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The cannabis extract can reduce the number of cytokines (inflammatory) and inhibit T-cells (present in autoimmune and systemic inflammatory disorders).
3. Reduced inflammation
CBD reduces systemic inflammation and oxidative stress using its antioxidant properties. Inflammation can also be reduced by CBD intake, which prevents lowered levels of microelements like selenium and zinc, which are essential in balancing the immune response.
CBD oil for back pain and fibromyalgia works by easing neuropathic stress and inflammation.
4. Sleep and mood improvement
Chronic pain has a way of disrupting your entire life. How you enjoy your days, manage stress, get things done and fight off things like depression, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. All these are associated with chronic pain.
Because it interacts with your endocannabinoid system, CBD oil for back pain and associated nervous system pains produces a relaxing effect, allowing users to get much-needed sleep.
NOTE: Many studies that relate CBD to improved sleep usually use full-spectrum CBD, which contains all the ingredients of the cannabis plant in various quantities, including significant THC levels, terpenes, and various cannabinoids, which are not legal under UK law. The entourage effect is thought to be responsible for sleep improvement.
Conditions/symptoms Eased by CBD
The research offers us some hope that we could find out how every cannabis ingredient works and leverage it to ease chronic pain. With time, the laws could be reasonable enough to allow the public to be comfortable with the plant and its benefits.
Here are some of the conditions CBD is thought to help with:
Anxiety is related to chronic pain or other types of persistent pain. The feeling can be eased using CBD on a temporary or long-term basis.
Reducing pain and spasticity caused by MS is one of the things CBD in conjunction with THC can help your body do.
Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
CBD studies are in progress to look into the inflammatory and autoimmune conditions present in humans and how CBD helps with fibromyalgia.
Though studies have not uncovered enough yet, it can inhibit the GPR55 receptors in the body and activate the PPAR-gamma receptor, thereby degrading the key molecule (amyloid-beta plaque) connected with the occurrence of Alzheimer’s.
Type 2 Diabetes
CBD may activate a receptor named PPAR-gamma, which increases insulin sensitivity, significantly improving type 2 diabetes and decreasing the risk of developing neuropathic pain associated with diabetes.
This is a joint condition that results in a lot of pain. Early studies indicate that CBD may debilitate the GPR55 receptor, slowing down osteoarthritis and facilitating bone reabsorption.
To sum up
There is no best CBD oil for pain. It all depends on what condition you are dealing with, how you consume CBD, how much you consume, and your body chemistry. The consideration is whether you need to take full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate versions of the extracts.
If you live in the UK, all you can get is CBD isolate. The law does not allow anything with more than 0.2% THC.
Even with just CBD oil for pain relief, you can get many of the benefits associated with its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, nervous systems, gut, brain, and more. For instance, if you are using CBD cream for pain, UK suppliers only give you options with 0.2% THC or less, which may not have the entourage effect needed to produce an effect.