Whether it’s a short or long-term experience, we have all endured pain at some point during our lives – often, taking medication is the only way of getting genuine relief. But over the past few years, the dangers of painkiller drugs have become more apparent, and with opioids in particular. The highly addictive nature of opioid-based painkillers, and the tolerance that the user acquires to them after sustained consumption means these drugs can come with a high overdose risk.
The effects of this in the United States have been devastating, with more than 72,000 deaths by overdose in 2017 – over two-thirds of those coming from opioids, and nearly 30,000 from synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The demand for an alternative that doesn’t cause tolerance or subject the patient to unwanted side effects has never been higher. Cannabis has historically been used as an analgesic for millennia, but with unpredictable psychoactive effects that could impact mental health, the plant has not yet re-emerged as a mainstream painkiller, despite the renaissance it is currently enjoying.
However, there is a non-psychoactive constituent in cannabis that, when taken isolated or in whole-plant form from non-intoxicating hemp, looks to provide some potent therapeutic benefits. The constituent in question is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD products from hemp are perfectly legal in the US, providing THC levels are kept below 0.3 percent. The past few years have seen a number of brands, including Chill Plus CBD, rise to prominence.
CBD, the endocannabinoid system and pain
The most intriguing of CBD’s effects occur in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a newly-found biological network that is involved with several important areas of health. The ECS has two confirmed cannabinoid receptors, named CB1 and CB2. CBD itself has a blocking effect on these receptors, but as a reuptake inhibitor of the endocannabinoid anandamide, also indirectly stimulates them.
The CB2 receptor has been shown to influence the immune system, while the CB1 receptor serves as a gateway to regulating pain perception, mood, appetite and more. It is, therefore, the latter that is of interest in regard to CBD’s potential analgesic effects.
While psychoactive, THC has a pain-alleviating effect when it binds to the CB1 receptor, and as a compound that is more potent than anandamide, can produce powerful relief. It’s also well-known that during intense exercise, we become less sensitive to pain – this is thanks to increased levels of anandamide in the body, which enters the brain and binds with CB1 receptors.
Study suggests CBD has a unique way of relieving pain
A study from the McGill University Health Centre, which was published in the renowned peer-reviewed journal PAIN in 2018 uncovered a new mechanism in which CBD appears to relieve pain – and one that indicates the effects of CBD go beyond the ECS.
Researchers showed that administering low doses of CBD to animals, over a period of seven days, helped to reduce pain by binding to the TRPV-1 (vanilloid) receptor. The study’s lead author, Dr Gabriella Gobbi, suggested that the finding has moved the case forward for CBD as a treatment for sciatica and back pain, and that CBD could be an effective substitute to opioids.
CBD is already a popular treatment for pain
The scientists may still be trying to establish exactly how CBD manages pain, and whether the treatment is more efficient than those currently available, but CBD users are taking matters into their own hands. A giant survey of CBD users revealed put chronic pain and arthritis as the most common conditions that people are taking various products for. The research, which was carried out as an anonymous questionnaire, was published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2018.
Best CBD products for tackling pain
We’re spoilt for choice nowadays with CBD, but each type of product has a specific purpose, and the best one really does depend on the pain.
Vaporizing can be a brilliant way of managing intense pain that comes and goes. This is because of the speed of delivery, which is faster than any other method. With a Veedverks vape juice, it takes less than a minute to turn the vaporizer on, get it up to temperature and consume a dose.
However, for pain that is ever present, vaporizing may be less economical, and an edible or capsule product may work better. And it is also worth experimenting with topical products, especially if the pain affects an isolated area.