CBD is everywhere these days. Even A-list celebrities are talking about it on the red carpet, and for good reason. The infamous compound that is found in the cannabis plant is considered to be good for treating headaches, muscle pain, and anxiety, among other things.
CBD is in literally everything – you can drink it, eat it, bathe in it, apply it topically in the form of lotion from head to toe, or ingest it in the form of an oil or capsule. Never ones to ignore the latest wellness trend, Hollywood’s biggest names – including, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Emma Roberts – are becoming advocates for CBD.
If you are one of the 40 million adults in the United States who suffers from anxiety or one of the nearly 100 million who suffers from chronic pain, then there’s a good chance that you’ve been curious about whether CBD could help you.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, which means that it won’t make users high. It’s an entirely different compound from THC, the cannabinoid which does make users high. Since CBD is non-psychoactive, it’s non-intoxicating and will not change an individual’s state of mind. But, what it does do is influence the body to use its own endocannabinoids more effectively.
Researchers believe that this is because the CBD itself doesn’t do much to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Rather, it either activates or inhibits other compounds in the ECS.
By now, you might be very confused. So let’s take a closer look at how CBD works in the body. It’s all got to do with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an integral part of the human body which receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. The ECS helps to regulate important bodily functions like sleep, pain, immune-system responses, and mood.
The brain and immune system contain receptors that respond to endocannabinoids – neurotransmitters that the human body produces naturally. These are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. And this is where it gets very interesting. Some of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, such as THC and CBD, are very similar to the body’s natural endocannabinoids, and they act on the same receptors.
Essentially, because endocannabinoids are found throughout the body, researchers believe that they help to facilitate and monitor key functions in the body. If you picture the human body as a machine, think of each system working together to keep the machine moving. The immune system is basically the filtration system, and the brain is like the motherboard, and the endocannabinoids help to maintain these systems.
Just like any other machine, over time the human body can deteriorate or malfunction – perhaps due to natural aging, damage, or maybe poor maintenance. When this happens, the entire body is often affected, and it can lead to various health problems.
Endocannabinoids are designed to help maintain the health level in the body. However, if that level decreases, they are likely only to maintain the existing health level and might not be enough to stop it from deteriorating further. This is where cannabinoids, like CBD, come into play.
How CBD Works
When CBD binds with either the CB1 or CB2 receptors, it changes and/or improves the abilities of the receptor, thus improving the functionality of the receptors. Furthermore, if there is a cannabinoid deficiency in the body, CBD could help to equalize the deficiency.
A cannabinoid deficiency can result in irritability, headaches, and other health issues, and research suggests that cannabinoids are a finite source. They’re basically like a power-up for the ECS.
By interacting with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD doesn’t only help to maintain important health functions; it also helps to restore balance (homeostasis) within the body. This is the root of the many health benefits associated with CBD.
CBD for Pain and Anxiety
When you think about it, most health problems are caused by an imbalance in the body. This is certainly often the case with both pain and anxiety. In a healthy body, all is as it should be, and the body is in balance. But, in an unhealthy body, there’s either too much or too little of something, and this affects the natural balance of the body.
CBD and Pain
Researchers are still trying to establish how exactly CBD might alleviate pain. However, based on the above, it should come as no surprise that evidence suggests that it may affect the ECS. Along with contributing to brain functions like mood and memory, the ECS also influences how we experience pain.
To date, most evidence pertaining to the effects of CBD on pain management is based on animal studies. When ingested orally, CBD has poor bioavailability. Applying CBD topically to localized areas of pain is said to offer more consistent levels of CBD with less systemic involvement.
A few animal and test tube studies have found that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and often, pain is related to inflammation. Furthermore, according to a few preliminary human trials, there is the chance that CBD could even help to alleviate neuropathic pain. Also, when combined with THC, it may help to manage cancer-related pain.
CBD and Anxiety
Just like with pain, most research into whether CBD helps with anxiety has been in the form of animal studies. In other words, it’s very preliminary and needs to be done on actual humans. But, it does show a lot of promise, and one particular study that was done on people asked to speak in public found that CBD significantly reduced anxiety.
When taken orally – either in the form of a capsule or tincture, or if it is vaped – many people find that it is able to alleviate depression and anxiety by working on the ECS, which plays a role in relaxation, self-regulation, and mood.
Despite the growing amount of evidence as discussed above, we don’t currently have nearly enough clinical trials to support the efficacy and safety of CBD to suggest that it would definitely work. However, the evidence that we do have is certainly promising, and there’s no harm in giving it a try.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Pain and Anxiety
Pain and anxiety are just two of the ways that CBD could change your life. In reality, there are various studies supporting CBD as an effective treatment option for numerous health conditions. It’s all thanks to the endocannabinoid system, so make sure to take care of it.
Cannabis compounds like CBD exist for a reason, and it’s definitely no accident that we have an ECS. The fact that we have been designed with body parts that are directly linked to cannabis is truly mind-blowing. Hopefully, this article has given you more insight into the ability of CBD to treat both pain and anxiety.