Experiments with rodents and humans have shown that cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana, can actually amplify and prolong pain rather than attenuate it. CBD is emerging as a promising pharmaceutical agent for treating pain, inflammation, seizures and anxiety without the psychoactive effects of THC. Our understanding of the role of CBD in pain management continues to evolve, and evidence from animal studies has shown that CBD exerts its analgesic effects through its diverse interactions and modulation of the endocannabinoid, inflammatory and nociceptive (pain detection) systems. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors that interact with our own natural cannabinoids.
This system is involved in regulating many body functions, including metabolism and appetite, mood and anxiety, and pain perception. CBD is one of the compounds in the cannabis plant, better known as marijuana. Unlike the famous cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not cause the typical psychological effects of being “high”. Both CBD and THC act on the body's natural endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in many processes, such as appetite, pain and memory.
And in states where CBD is legal, laws may vary as to the amount of THC allowed in CBD products to be legally sold. That means CBD bypasses your digestive system, which can increase the bioavailability or the amount of CBD your body can use. However, most human studies have investigated the role of CBD in managing cancer-related pain and treating cancer. Previous animal studies suggest that CBD and THC may act synergistically to combat inflammation and pain, while CBD may attenuate cognitive decline associated with THC.
They also provided guidance to the Arthritis Foundation, which recently surveyed 2,600 people with arthritis and found that 29% currently use CBD to treat arthritis symptoms. Until now, pharmaceutical CBD is only approved by the FDA as an adjunctive therapy for the treatment of a special and rare form of epilepsy. Boehnke and Clauw recommend that people with chronic pain talk to their doctor about adding CBD to their treatment plan and that they continue to use prescribed medications. Epidiolex, a prescription drug for epilepsy, is the only CBD product on the market that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
CBD products could offer relief to many people who have chronic pain, all without causing intoxication or drug dependence. CBD is best taken in pill or capsule form for slow and prolonged release or as an oral tincture (infused oil containing CBD) for a faster onset of effect. Some people with chronic pain use topical CBD products, in particular CBD oil, to control their symptoms. People report using CBD for anxiety, pain, sleep, all things that go hand in hand with chronic pain, he says.
Given its promising results in animal models, along with its relative safety, non-psychoactive properties, and low potential for abuse, CBD is an attractive candidate for pain relief.