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Does cannabidiol (CBD) work for chronic pain management?

Does cannabidiol (CBD) work for chronic pain management?



A question we often hear people asking is ‘Does CBD work for chronic pain management?’. Well…CBD has certainly gained popularity in recent times as a natural approach to pain relief for many people experiencing chronic pain. CBD has also been touted as an alternative to pain medication in the treatment of certain common conditions like arthritis and back pain.

The use of cannabis for pain relief dates back to ancient China, according to a report published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. It’s thought that CBD might help ease chronic pain in part by reducing inflammation. In addition, CBD is said to promote sounder sleep and, in turn, treat sleep disruption commonly experienced by people with chronic pain.

It’s important to note that all CBD products sold by CBD Porter do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound responsible for producing the “high” associated with marijuana use. Unlike THC, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and does not have psychoactive effects.


Why People Use CBD

According to research carried out by The British Pain Society, chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer. This is truly astonishing results. Along with drastically reducing quality of life, chronic pain can increase healthcare costs and also have a negative impact on productivity at work.


Common types of chronic pain include: 

  • Cancer pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Low back pain
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Temporomandibular disorder (often referred to as “TMJ”)


Over-the-counter and prescription pain medications are often recommended in the treatment of chronic pain, but many people are now seeking out alternative forms of relief (such as herbs, nutritional supplements, and products like CBD oil). Some of these people wish to avoid the side effects frequently associated with standard pain medication, while others have concerns about becoming dependent on such medications, particularly more dangerous, habit-forming medications like opioids. Thus CBD can offer an alternative for people who have chronic pain and rely on more dangerous, habit-forming medications like opioids.


Evidence for CBD’s effects on pain management

Studies on CBD oil and pain management have shown a great deal of promise. Scientists are still researching exactly how CBD oil might alleviate pain. However, there’s already evidence to suggest that cannabidiol affects the body’s endocannabinoid system (a complex system of cell-to-cell communication). Along with contributing to brain functions like memory and mood, the endocannabinoid system influences how we experience pain.

Research suggests that CBD interacts with receptors in your brain and immune system. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical signals from different stimuli and help your cells respond. This creates anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects that help with pain management. This means that CBD oil may benefit people with chronic pain.

So far, much of the evidence for CBD’s effects on pain management comes from animal-based research, however its only a short matter of time before we start to see more human based research being conducted.

One 2008 review assessed how good CBD works to relieve chronic pain. The review looked at studies conducted between the late 1980s and 2007. Based on these reviews, researchers concluded CBD was effective in overall pain management without adverse side effects. They also noted that CBD was beneficial in treating insomnia related to chronic pain.The authors of the study also noted that CBD was most helpful in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

In a study published in the journal Pain in 2017, scientists observed that treatment with topical CBD helped thwart the development of joint pain in rats with osteoarthritis. Another study, published in the European Journal of Pain in 2016, found that topical CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling and measures of pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. Thus the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of the CBD gel could hold promise for people with arthritis.

In a report published in Pediatric Dermatology in 2018, scientists reported three cases of topical CBD (applied as an oil, cream, and spray) use in children with a rare, blistering skin condition known as epidermolysis bullosa. Applied by their parents, all three people reported faster wound healing, less blisters, and improvement of pain. One person was able to completely wean off oral opioid analgesic pain medication. There were no adverse effects reported.

A report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2018 examined the use of a variety of cannabis-based medicines and found they might be of some benefit in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. A type of pain triggered by damage to the somatosensory system (i.e., the system responsible for processing sensory stimuli), neuropathic pain often occurs in people with conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

In this report, researchers reviewed 16 previously published studies testing the use of various cannabis-based medicines in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain and found some evidence that cannabis-based medicines may help with pain relief and reduce pain intensity, sleep difficulties, and psychological distress.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine also suggests that using CBD can reduce pain and inflammation. The researchers noted that cannabinoids, such as CBD, could offer helpful new treatments for people with chronic pain.

CBD oil is also used by some people who have cancer. A few studies in mice have shown a reduction of cancerous tumours. However most human studies have involved research into the role of CBD oil in managing pain related to cancer and cancer treatment. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has pointed to CBD as a possible option for relieving symptoms caused by chemotherapy.

One study by the NCI tested CBD oil extracts sprayed into the mouth. The CBD oil was used in conjunction with opioids. This study revealed better pain management with the help of CBD oil.


A Word of Warning

If you’re suffering from chronic pain and fancy giving CBD a try, be sure to purchase a CBD product containing the content and purity that its claimed to have. At CBD Porter, we only stock high quality CBD products, which are all third party tested to ensure potency and purity. We also only source from brands who practise the safest and most controlled CBD processing. Why not click on our ‘shop’ now to check out the vast range of CBD products we have for you to try.


The Takeaway

Chronic pain is the most common reason for medicinal cannabis use, according to a recent survey. If you have a chronic pain condition and have not been able to manage it with standard treatment (or wish to avoid the adverse effects of other medications), you may be considering CBD oil for pain relief.

Preclinical research certainly suggests that CBD may have pain-relieving effects without the cannabinoid-like side effects. Scientists are currently actively studying the array of effects and uses of CBD, and more human based research is imminent. 

Keep in mind that the purity and content of CBD products can vary. Be sure to purchase your CBD products from a reputable and trust-worthy source, such as CBD Porter.

If you live with chronic pain, you may have experienced how it can disrupt sleep and, in some cases, can contribute to anxiety and depression. Alongside CBD, why not try other natural therapies, including exercise and taking up mind-body practices, such as meditation and yoga. Following an anti-inflammatory diet may also help improve quality of life for some people who experience regular pain.

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