CBD has been making headlines recently. The compound’s proponents say that CBD can cure anything from cancer to insomnia. However, CBD has not yet been approved to be prescribed as a painkiller. One of CBD’s best-known properties is its ability to manage pain. You can find people all over the internet speaking anecdotally about CBD’s benefits. The non-psychoactive compound, a cousin of THC, definitely shows some promise. In addition, it’s there are many studies that have tested CBD’s effectiveness at fighting pain. But really, can CBD be used to treat pain?
What Does CBD Do?
CBD has been used by humans to treat pain for thousands of years. Ancient humans used CBD to treat headaches. CBD affects the endocannabinoid system in vertebrates. This system transmits neurochemicals through your body to regulate things like inflammation and stress response. CBD is one of over 120 cannabinoids, including the compound that gets you high, THC. However, unlike its cannabinoid cousin, CBD does not cause any kind of “buzz” or high that’s usually associated with cannabis consumption. Instead, it has a variety of other effects.
Aside from reducing inflammation, CBD can also cause a person to feel less pain. CBD works by blocking a neurotransmitter called anandamide. This causes a person to feel less physical pain. CBD also affects the way the human body uses its own endocannabinoids.
Can CBD Help Manage Pain?
One study found that CBD reduced pain and inflammation based on information collected over a 20-year span. Based off this, the study determined that CBD can be an effective pain management tool. This is especially true for those who experience chronic pain. The study also found that CBD does not build up tolerance in the body like other compounds do. As a result, you don’t need to continually increase your dosage to achieve the same effects. The study noted that CBD extracts were especially effective at treating pain from multiple sclerosis (MS).
CBD extracts have also been used to treat pain from arthritis. A study published in 2016 found that topical CBD creams were effective in treating arthritis in mice. Doctors noticed inflammation in the mice’s joints was reduced. In addition, the mice showed fewer behavioral symptoms of pain.
Using CBD Instead of Opiates
The main way to manage pain in Western Medicine is through prescribing opiates. However, some studies have found that CBD may have some advantages over opiates. Arguably the biggest argument for using CBD to manage pain is that it’s impossible to overdose on cannabinoids. That’s a marked difference from opiates, which killed over half a million people in 2016 alone according to the CDC. That’s not even including non-fatal overdoses.
Ironically, opiates are apparently becoming the public health menace that cannabinoids were accused of being before cannabis prohibition in the 1940s. And CBD has also been shown in some studies to be non-habit forming. That’s in stark contrast to opiates, which are one of the most addictive substances available today.
One of the biggest issues with using opiates to treat long-term chronic pain is the human body’s tolerance to opiates. This is because the body slowly builds up tolerance to opiates, so a patient needs to keep increasing their dosage. As previously mentioned, the body doesn’t gain tolerance for CBD. This means there’s no need to increase your dosage. As a result, CBD could be an attractive alternative to opiates for treating pain. If you are currently taking opiates to manage your pain, make sure to talk to your doctor before you make any changes to your medication.