MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Chronic pain

chronic-pain-cbd
Written by Stefan K.

CBD for pain relief

Chronic pain is pain which persists over a long period of time. This serious pain not only affects physical well-being; its persistence can also lead to psychological changes in the person affected. Many people use pharmaceutical painkillers for relief, but these also have disadvantages due to their side effects and interactions with other medication.

Since the research community has become interested in cannabinoids in connection with pain reduction and pain elimination, the positive properties of CBD, especially in combatting pain, have become more and more apparent.

Special varieties of hemp have been bred in order to significantly increase the levels of CBD they contain. In the EU, for example, only varieties of hemp which have a maximum THC content of 0.2% can be cultivated. THC is a psychoactive antagonist of CBD, whilst CBD itself is neither psychoactive nor does it cause states of intoxication.

The causes of chronic pain

Chronic pain is not only painful, it also affects one’s ability to work and personal quality of life. The causes of chronic pain include the following:

  • injuries
  • nerve damage from operations
  • nerve damage due to infections
  • degenerative disc disease

Symptoms of chronic pain range from mild discomfort to completely restricted freedom of movement. Those affected also report sharp pain, a burning sensation, or dull muscle pain. Patients describe the affected body parts as becoming more sensitive to pressure and that movement causes the pain to intensify. Over the course of the day, the pain can also change.

How painkillers work

Painkillers, more formally known as analgesics, do not address the cause of pain, but they instead suppress the sensation of pain. In addition to therapeutic measures, painkillers are considered to be a cornerstone of pain treatment.

Specialist books have long divided painkillers into the opioids and non-opioids. Now, however, experts have come to recognise CBD as a third kind of painkiller. Opioids have pain-relieving, sedative effects and various side effects such as causing hypoventilation (respiratory depression) or reduced alertness (i.e. they have a soporific effect). Besides causing constipation, opioids can also result in addiction. Non-opioids usually have analgesic (pain-killing), antipyretic (fever-reducing) and anti-inflammatory effects. The transition in mechanisms of action from non-opioids to cannabinoids is therefore fluid.

CBD for chronic pain – How does cannabidiol help?

A number of studies have confirmed the pain-relieving or pain-inhibiting effects of CBD. Various clinical pictures which are associated with chronic pain were investigated in combination with the use of CBD. These include:

In particular, conditions in which inflammatory pain is also involved can be alleviated by taking, for example, CBD oil. CBD relieves and relaxes the whole body. Patients report that it is this effect which has significantly improved their quality of life.

CBD has also been used very successfully for restless legs syndrome and many kinds of migraine. The positive properties of CBD when it comes to migraine pain are that it not only noticeably reduces pain, but that it also helps the body to relax and heal.

Cannabinoids have long been used for pain relief, especially in the tradition of natural medicine. An important field of application of CBD for pain is that it relieves nervous tensions, as well as fears of new pain, by relaxing the body and the mind. Patients who suffer from pain use it to help them fall asleep, for example.

chronic-pain

It is also important to mention the influence of the CBD on what is termed the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved in the body’s inflammatory response. The CB2 receptors in this system help the immune system to induce pain-relieving reactions to inflammation. When it comes to pain, CBD therefore has a suppressing effect on the formation of various inflammation-promoting hormones.

It is very likely that patients suffering from chronic pain will already have been treated with conventional painkillers before ever trying CBD. In such cases, CBD can be an alternative to painkillers. It is not just that CBD can eliminate the pain; it can also reduce the side effects of conventional painkillers. What should be noted is that

  • CBD is well tolerated by humans and animals alike
  • CBD does not have psychoactive effects
  • CBD does not cause physical dependence

For patients with (chronic) pain, however, the speed with which a substance takes effect is often important. The rule of thumb is simple – the faster the better. CBD works most quickly when it is absorbed through inhalation. The perfect system for this purpose is vaporisers, which are also known as e-cigarettes. There are special e-liquids for this purpose which contain an appropriate dose of CBD. According to users, this method results in the rapid onset of CBD’s effects.

For those who would rather not use vaporisers, CBD can also be used as an oil and thus taken in the form of drops. To relieve the pain, the desired amount of CBD oil should simply be placed under the tongue and allowed to act for between 30 and 60 seconds before swallowing it for “recycling”. Under the tongue, the cannabidiol is absorbed through the mucous membrane which lines the mouth. Observations show that the CBD develops its full effects in about 15 minutes. In addition to CBD oils, CBD pastes can also be taken in this way.

CBD capsules or CBD teas need a certain amount of time for the pain-relieving effect to develop. The reason for this is that the active ingredient is first absorbed in the stomach, and thus enters the bloodstream via this somewhat longer path. In general, it takes about an hour before the effects begin.

If CBD oil, CBD ointments or CBD creams are applied to the skin, it also takes about an hour for the active ingredients to enter the bloodstream.

Study – CBD against inflammatory pain

Due to the CBD’s success as a treatment for chronic pain up to now, more studies have been commissioned on the use of CBD. One[1] of these shows that cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

Conclusion

  • Studies have clearly shown that CBD is a powerful agent against pain. Both the analgesic (pain-killing) and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are beneficial for many chronic pain disorders.
  • CBD cannot replace all painkillers, but it can often significantly reduce the need for them.


[1] http://jem.rupress.org/content/209/6/1121 – 01.08.2019

Further studies

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17257464

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16553576

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17712817

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17997224

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25160710

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25150831

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18035205

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157290

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15313881

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24117398

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18618522

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20942863

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585736

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Role+of+the+cannabinoid+system+in+pain+control+and+therapeutic+implications+for+the+management+of+acute+and+chronic+pain+episodes

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18728714

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19896326

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2011/09/27/Marijuana-extract-helps-prevent-chemo-pain/UPI-64641317159672/?spt=hs&or=hn

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28445853

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28680401

Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.