Today, CBD is used to treat a myriad of conditions and its effects are reflected in both controlled scientific studies and personal accounts. While not a cure for any specific condition, it promotes healing from within through neurological interactions rather than synthetic pharmaceutical painkillers. With the information we now have about this treatment, many are asking whether CBD is the future of pain management.
What’s The Problem With The Current Pain Management?
In 2005, the FDA released a warning regarding NSAID usage, revealing shocking and dangerous risks from heart attack to stroke. A decade later, they doubled down on these warnings.
In the United States alone, 40% of seniors fill at least one NSAID prescription per year, are far more likely to use over-the-counter NSAIDs, and tend to take them very regularly. What results is over 40,000 hospitalizations and 3,300 deaths per year — all in the name of pain management.
Compared to typical treatments for these conditions which call for prescription level NSAIDs, CBD is incredibly gentle. It has very few side effects both long and short-term.
- CBD usage, in lieu or in tandem with prescription NSAIDs, effectively treats chronic physical pain and inflammation
- Has fewer, less severe, and no long-term side effects
- Does not prompt a user to build up a tolerance, eliminating the need for dosage increases further down the line
What Makes CBD So Effective?
So, how exactly does CBD treatment hit all the high points on this wide variety of conditions? The answer lies within our own bodies.
Interacting with the natural processes of our own bodies, CBD offers a boost to alleviate pain and kickstart healing. Cannabinoids, similar to the compounds of CBD itself, are actually naturally occurring in the body, known as endocannabinoids.
Receptors in our brain help translate signals from endocannabinoids into actions. The key comes from plant-based cannabinoids triggering the very same receptors. Cannabinoid 1 receptor, or CB1R, found primarily in the brain helps regulate:
- Motor control
- Reward and addiction
- Mood, depression, and anxiety
Interactions with CB1R in the brain is the source of feeling “high” when in contact with THC, the psychoactive compound within marijuana. Yet, very different effects come from CBD interactions, only weakly binding to the receptors and eliminating the high.
Instead, CBD enhances the effects of other signaling molecules through the brain and along the nervous system. New research has even gone so far as to suggest that natural endocannabinoid deficiency in the body could be responsible for migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fibromyalgia. This potentially makes CBD a big player in terms of effective treatment options.
N-Arachidonoyl-Ethanolamine (AEA), or Anandamide regulates pain, mood, and cognition, an imbalance of which can result in effects similar to experiences from THC. Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is the receptor that regulates healthy body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation levels.
Anandamide, the endocannabinoid responsible for regulating our mood and feeling of pain, connects to the “bliss” molecule. Familiar experiences of Anandamide such as runner’s high, meditation, and even munching on a piece of chocolate are closely related.
On its own, Anandamide helps limit the extent of pain initiation and paired with CBD, anandamide is prevented from breaking down and instead helps increase its natural levels throughout the whole body. For individuals suffering from chronic joint pain or inflammation, this is great news.
Further Studies on CBD and Pain Management
In one study, it had been shown that continuous low-dosage CBD treatments relieve these specific painful effects by activating TRPV1. Acetaminophen, the ingredient in drugs like Tylenol, affect both anandamide and TRPV1 in a very similar way to CBD but has very little effect on the inflammation itself.
All told, CBD is an interesting and thought-provoking treatment plan for anything — from anxiety to runner’s knee. Its controversial origins and potential legal issues aside, this fascinating treatment option continues to grow in popularity, countless ongoing studies looking into the extent of its effects.
A study found that even short term use of CBD reduces nerve pain associated with even extreme conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as effectively reducing muscle spasms. In 2010, a study among colitis-induced rats revealed that CBD reduced levels of inflammation and improved mobility just as well, or better than, prescription drugs. This study further suggests that CBD could become a viable treatment in humans suffering from a wide range of digestion conditions from IBS to Crohn’s disease.
In 2016, topical CBD gel was applied to rats with inflamed knee joints in a study over four consecutive days. Following this treatment, rats exhibited greatly reduced inflammation, improved mobility, and showed both normal behavior and activity levels.
The Future of Pain Management
For decades, it was NSAIDs to the rescue when it came to most pain, including many types of chronic pain. Today, it seems we have cause to be wary of these OTC drugs. CBD is growing as an effective and safe option for managing chronic pain, no matter the cause.
This infographic details the current state of CBD treatment research, its scientific background and interactions, and why it just may be the beginning of the future of modern holistic healthcare.
Please include attribution to https://www.everydayoptimalcbd.com with this graphic.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.