Do you have to combat pain on a daily basis? If so, you’re far from being alone. An incredible 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as persistent pain that plagues you for weeks, months, or even years. Approximately 10% of Americans have suffered from pain every day for the last three months or more. The most common types of chronic pain are as follows:
- Lower Back Pain: 27%
- Headache/Migraine: 15%
- Neck Pain: 15%
- Facial Pain: 4%
Additionally, chronic pain costs American society over $560 billion a year, which includes up to $325 billion in lost productivity. This astonishing data means the painkiller industry is thriving. CBD, however (the non-intoxicating compound in marijuana), is finally threatening Big Pharma’s monopoly now that it is legal for medicinal use in 46 states (as long as it comes from industrial hemp and has little or no THC).
Before we get into the benefits of CBD for pain management, though, let’s outline why you should at least consider ditching your pills to go all-natural.
The Problem with Painkillers
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sales of painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone have quadrupled since 1999. It is difficult to understand why American society is content to allow a small minority of people to steer the whole country towards oblivion, but the same thing is happening with gun control measures – vigorous opposition exists, despite an increasing number of mass shootings each year.
Likewise, most people would agree that something drastic has to be done about opioid abuse, as prescription drugs are taking the lives of literally dozens of people every single day. Regardless, they remain available to buy with ease — while marijuana is federally illegal!
In 2016 alone, for example, over 42,000 people died from an opioid overdose. To put that figure in perspective, it is nearly as much as the number of American soldiers that were killed in the entire Vietnam War!
Also, in the same year, roughly 236 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to U.S citizens, and the International Narcotics Control Board recently reported that America is responsible for 99.7% of the world’s consumption of hydrocodone!
Whatever your political stance, it is certainly ironic that while the FDA, DEA, and various other political entities (we’re looking at you Jeff Sessions) continue to parrot their anti-marijuana rhetoric, opioids are killing people by the thousands, with nothing being done.
Marijuana is supposedly “highly addictive” (at least according to its status as a Schedule I narcotic), yet the reason so many people die from opioid use each year is for that exact reason — addiction!
There are no doubt people who suffered from migraine headaches, went to the doctor, were prescribed opioid painkillers, became addicted, and are now lying in a cemetery somewhere. Fortunately – and this is way overdue – there appears to be a genuine painkilling alternative that won’t get you high, and won’t lead to addiction.
And best of all, an increasing number of legitimate scientific studies are suggesting that it really works.
Meet CBD, The Non-Addictive Painkiller
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 identified compounds in marijuana, but unlike its famous brother THC, it is not intoxicating. In other words, there is no concern about getting ‘high’ after consuming it.
The human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is known to interact with and be affected by CBD, with a series of chemical receptors producing an indirect influence on pain management. By interacting with other major pain control systems in the body, CBD (along with other cannabinoids) decreases the signaling in neural pathways that are responsible for sending pain messages to the brain.
Studies have shown that CBD helps all three categories of pain, which are classified as:
- Neuropathic Pain: This arises due to nervous system damage, and includes conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and sciatica.
- Nociceptive Pain: This comes from different types of problems in the tissues that are involved with pain signaling to the brain. It can include conditions such as repetitive strain injuries and inflammatory arthritis.
- Other: This of course refers to pain that doesn’t fit neatly into either of the other two categories. It can include conditions such as a migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Of course, ‘pain’ can relate to different areas of the body, with seemingly no end to the number of ways in which it can produce debilitating symptoms. Let’s see how CBD may be able to help the most common kinds of pain.
The American Chiropractic Association says that 31 million Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. This is like Christmas Day for Big Pharma, as it allows them to sell NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Valium, and Voltaren like candy. Of course, the side effects of using these medications frequently over the long term (including things like cramps and constipation), mean you’ll likely have a whole new set of problems to deal with once the pain has subsided.
In terms of the actual causes of back pain, the initial onset can of course arise for any number of reasons. The degeneration of your intervertebral discs (IVD) is the main cause of both chronic back pain and neck pain, and a 2015 study on 19 rodents with an intentionally created condition similar to IVD degeneration had some interesting results. CBD doses were divided into small, medium and large, with results showing that the smaller doses had little effect while the large doses reduced damage within 15 days.
CBD is believed to work for back pain because of its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoind system, or ECS. The chemical interaction between receptors has been shown to trigger the ECS to release pain-relieving compounds. Moreover, CBD is believed to be capable of reducing neuropathic pain by interacting with 5-HT1A receptors, which regulate the release of serotonin (a neurotransmitter associated with pain processing in the body’s peripheral nervous system).
Migraines are far more debilitating than a ‘normal’ headache, and can last up to 72 hours. Although CBD research is still regulated (which makes it hard to conduct studies), some fascinating data has recently come to light. A 2017 study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, for example, focused on 26 people with migraines over a six-month period.
Researchers used a combination of oral cannabis with nabilone or ibuprofen, and each combination was used for eight weeks with the same period off between combinations. The cannabis-nabilone combination indisputably worked better than the ibuprofen combination.
A more pertinent study in 2016 found that people who used medical marijuana had 40% fewer headaches than those who did not; simple proof that cannabis – including both THC and CBD – can be a great therapeutic relief for chronic migraines.
As far as CBD, it is believed to have positive effects on migraines because it impacts serotonin levels in the central nervous system. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that affects things like mood, digestive processes, memory, and sleep patterns, and a lack of it can lead to depression (among other things), which is a known migraine trigger.
Moreover, CBD has been known to affect the way the body’s serotonin transport system works by slowing down its molecular decomposition. This helps maintain higher serotonin levels, which in turn reduces the risk of depression and related conditions, including migraine.
Once again, it is the interaction with receptors in the brain and immune system that makes CBD appear to have pain-relieving properties. The receptors receive chemical signals from varying stimuli, and your cells respond. The result is anti-inflammatory and painkilling effect that can potentially assist with chronic pain management.
Pretty much everything depends on the ECS’ reaction to CBD (and other cannabinoids), and the more research we have on the issue, the more we’ll understand.
However, there are dozens of studies available right now that show CBD’s potential benefits for treating chronic pain associated with an array of medical conditions. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), for example, has suggested that CBD could be a viable option for relieving pain caused by chemotherapy – a notion that has been supported by several scientific publications.
Likewise, back in 2008 Dr. Ethan Russo published a review which covered a variety of studies (from 1980 to 2007) relating to CBD’s painkilling qualities. He concluded that CBD was extremely effective when it came to pain management, and best of all, it did not appear to induce any major adverse side effects or possess any kinds of addictive properties.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Pain Management
Even though we need more evidence, the available research already suggests that CBD could be a safer alternative to NSAIDs and prescription opioid painkillers. And unlike those drugs, CBD is not addictive nor will it cause a raft of harmful side effects.
While over 100 people die from opioid overdose every single day, not one person in recorded history has ever died specifically from a cannabis overdose. Researchers have tried to induce mortality on animals with extremely high doses of cannabis extract, in fact, and have so far been unable to do so.
When choosing CBD for pain management, choose a brand that sells products high in CBD but low in THC. We also recommend full-spectrum products (which contain the full range of natural cannabinoids and terpenes), as these have been shown to work together via the ‘entourage effect’ to provide faster, better, and longer-lasting pain relief.
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