One of the most incredible things about the cannabis plant is the broad range of ailments that it appears to have the potential to alleviate. Many patients who have relied on painkillers for years have started to take note, and researchers have been curious about the effectiveness of the switch. According to a recent survey that was conducted by the Brightfield Group, nearly 50% of people who use CBD report that they have been able to give up pharmaceutical drugs and replace them with some form of marijuana-based therapy.
Anyone who suffers or has suffered from chronic pain will know that it can have an extremely detrimental effect on your life. Sadly, one of the biggest problems is that opioid painkillers account for the highest number of overdoses in the United States. They are also the most widely abused prescription drugs and can easily lead to abuse and addiction issues.
With the high number of people who suffer from chronic pain on a daily basis, Big Pharma is continuing to push the sales of these addictive pharmaceuticals and potentially dangerous prescription drugs. The good news is that there is an alternative to harmful painkillers in the form of CBD. The mounting research into CBD appears to suggest that it can drastically increase the quality of life for those who suffer from chronic pain, with little to no side effects or risk of addiction. Let’s take a closer look at how CBD matches up to traditional painkillers.
Pain and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Among other things, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the human body and regulating the internal environment. This is the same system that cannabinoids interact with. Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, but specifically in the organs, brain, and nervous system. The ECS enables inter-cellular communication as well as an open pathway between the mind and body.
Endocannabinoids that are naturally produced by the body chemically manage a range of activities and functions, including memory, stress, energy, pain, mood, and the immune response system. While science is still looking into how the ECS and pain are connected, it is pretty clear that they share an intimate relationship.
For example, studies have determined that, through modulation of the ECS, neuropathic pain is reduced. Modulating this system also reduces the severe impact of some of the most debilitating symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and Parkinson’s. Reducing these symptoms often indirectly results in pain relief for many patients.
CBD and Pain Relief
Believe it or not, CBD has been used to treat pain for thousands of years. Even more astounding to many is that CBD is not thought to cause any physical dependency, and hasn’t ever been shown to cause a single fatality. The use of CBD in the treatment of chronic pain by all accounts seems to be a very safe option.
According to a scientific paper that was published in the Journal of Pain, using medical cannabis to treat chronic pain over a period of one year seems to have a reasonably safe profile. The researchers stated that using medical cannabis was associated with improvement in movement, pain, cognitive function, and quality of life. They also noted that they found no evidence of any harmful effects on blood tests or cognitive function among cannabis users. Moreover, they observed a significant improvement in mood, pain levels, symptoms of distress, and overall quality of life.
How exactly CBD reduces pain remains somewhat of a mystery, but some cues are beginning to be better understood.
First off, CBD mimics the endocannabinoids that are naturally produced by the body, and it is easily able to interact with the cannabinoids receptors, known more specifically as the CB1 and CB2 receptors. While it is still unclear exactly how CBD interacts with these receptors, research has found that it attaches itself to both types of receptor, thereby affecting many of our basic functions. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties seem to aid in fighting discomfort and pain.
To sum it up, the CB1 and CB2 receptors can be found throughout the body and can help regulate painful inflammation. Because of the ability of CBD to interact with these receptors, CBD is also able to affect inflammation and pain. More specifically, CBD is showing positive results in reducing acute pain in the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and spinal cord. There are also some theories that CBD could potentially trigger the production of the body’s own natural form of pain-relieving opioids.
CBD is a Safer Option than Pharmaceuticals for Managing Pain
CBD is derived from cannabis, which is an ancient, natural herbal medicine that has a wide range of medical uses and applications. It has been found to treat the same painful sensations that traditional painkillers are used for, but in contrast to opioids, CBD is an incredibly safe and non-toxic substance.
A scientific study that was published in the journal Scientific Reports did a comparison between a long list of substances in terms of toxicity and safety. These substances included nicotine, cannabis, heroin, alcohol, MDMA, and amphetamine. The drugs that were classed as high risk include nicotine, heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Cannabis was the only substance shown to pose a low risk of death.
The fact is that the treatment options that are available for those who suffer from acute and chronic pain are often inadequate. While their ability to reduce specific types of physical pain cannot be disputed, their incredible and overwhelming strength poses a big dilemma.
Painkillers have a high risk of addiction, along with an array of severe side effects such as sedation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, tolerance, and respiratory depression. These all have the potential to affect a patient’s quality of life over the long term.
At the end of the day, the debilitating nature of painkillers are galvanizing countless patients to seek out safer alternatives. CBD is proving to be a safe alternative for many, even if the medical community is still unsure how exactly it functions on a molecular level to treat pain.
CBD vs. Traditional Painkillers
In reality, traditional painkillers serve only to mask the symptoms caused by the inflammation or ailment itself. CBD, on the other hand, is believed to be able to help treat the symptoms of pain by communicating with the body’s own receptors on a chemical level. Also, most traditional painkillers contain synthetic substances that can cause harmful side effects, while CBD is, of course, a 100% natural plant extract.
Switching to CBD for pain relief carries many advantages over traditional painkillers, one of the most significant being that the risk of overdose fatality is practically non-existent.
In addition, CBD users are not thought to experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be very severe with traditional painkillers.
Final Thoughts on How CBD Matches Up Against Traditional Painkillers
CBD is a natural substance that delivers incredible benefits which are very much similar to traditional painkillers. The difference is that CBD comes with virtually no risk of addiction, and has an extremely low risk of side effects — even at high dosages.
CBD offers an effective alternative for those who are worried about the side effects and risks of using traditional painkillers. However, as with all pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, it’s best to check with your doctor before switching the painkillers in your medicine cabinet for CBD. This is especially important if you take other medications that could lead to undesirable drug interactions.