CBD Oil for Pain
CBD is effective for pain because of its natural analgesic, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Pain is a generalized term that can be applied to almost any problem that a person encounters during the normal course of living life.
A person can consider something as simple as an itch as a type of pain. A person could bite their tongue or the side of their inner cheek and experience pain. A person that has a migraine can also be said to be in pain. And people can feel pain for emotional situations.
No matter how a person experiences pain, there’s a desire for it to end quickly. And while many will look for aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen as a quick relief to dull the pain, a better alternative may be CBD.
What Is Pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” https://www.iasp-pain.org/Education/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=1698#Pain
Medical science generally classifies pain is one of 6 ways:
- Duration or Chronic
- Breakthrough pain
- Pain asymbolia and insensitivity
Duration or Chronic pain is pain that a person has for a long period of time. The IASP defines it as pain with no biological value that persists past normal tissue healing.
The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases has categorized chronic pain into 7 classifications:
- Chronic primary pain – defined by 3 months of persistent pain in one or more anatomical regions that are unexplainable by another pain condition.
- Chronic cancer pain – defined as cancer or treatment-related visceral, musculoskeletal, or bony pain.
- Chronic posttraumatic pain – pain lasting 3 months post trauma or surgery, excluding infectious or preexisting conditions.
- Chronic neuropathic pain – pain caused by damage to the somatosensory nervous system damage.
- Chronic headache and orofacial pain – pain that originates in the head or face, and occurs for 50% or more days over a 3 months period.
- Chronic visceral pain – pain originating in an internal organ.
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain – pain originating in the bones, muscles, joints, or connective tissue.
Nociceptive pain is caused by intense chemical, mechanical, or thermal stimulation of sensory nerve cells called nociceptors. These cells produce a signal that travels along nerve fibers via the spinal cord to the brain.
Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage or disease affecting sensory neurons and pathways that at the surface or inside the body.
Neuropathic pain may be associated with abnormal sensations that are manifested by burning, wetness, itching, electric shock, and pins and needles despite any evidence of damage or pain from normally non-painful, often repetitive stimulation.
Psychogenic pain is physical pain that is caused, increased, or prolonged by mental, emotional, or behavioral elements.
Some examples of psychogenic pain include:
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
- Social rejection
- Broken heart
Breakthrough pain is temporary pain that occurs abruptly and is not affected by the patient’s regular pain management. This type of pain is experienced by patients already on a measured course of medication, but pain spikes and “breaks through” the relief barrier that the medication offers.
Pain asymbolia and insensitivity are situations where a normal person would feel pain, however, the patient isn’t feeling the pain due to a temporary situation (such as a rush of adrenaline) or a congenital condition that makes the person incapable of feeling pain. The inability to feel pain can be dangerous to a person as pain is usually a “warning sign” to prevent a person from inflicting more damage upon themselves.
What Is CBD?
The last decade has thrown the CBD into the limelight. Most people that hear the letters CBD automatically think marijuana. And it’s true that CBD can be derived from marijuana. After all, CBD stands for cannabidiol and it is derived from the cannabis plant.
But not all cannabis is marijuana and not all CBD comes from marijuana.
In order for cannabis to be considered marijuana, it usually has a high concentration of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the psychoactive part of marijuana that makes the user “high”.
If the cannabis only has trace amounts of THC, then it is considered hemp.
CBD, like THC, is a cannabinoid. Cannabis plants have 113 known cannabinoids. These cannabinoids have been found to react to a system that regulates the central nervous system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in both animals and humans that affect appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.
In the United States, over-the-counter CBD is extracted primarily from hemp. In order for it to be considered legal, the THC content must be less than 0.3%.
The entire hemp plant is pressed to extract the CBD concentrate, however, the seeds of the plant are the most potent source of CBD, and some manufacturers only press the seeds for their CBD.
Once the pure CBD is extracted, manufacturers develop it into a variety of forms. These forms include:
- Tinctures – Tinctures are liquids that are created by steeping and cooking hemp in grain alcohol for several hours. Once the concentrated CBD liquid is completed, flavored oils are added to remove any bitter taste. The tinctures are generally sold in bottled form and administered via an eye dropper under the tongue.
- Pills – CBD can also come in pill form. Much like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, the term “pill” can mean a tablet, a gel cap, a capsule, or a gummy. Pills take longer for the body to metabolize than other forms as they have to go through the digestive system, but for some pain, such as migraines or pain in large areas of the body, this may be a great method to help with the issue.
- Topicals – With localized pain, such as arthritis in the knees or a sprain, topicals are a possible solution. Topicals can include creams, ointments, oils, or even transdermal patches. In addition, several manufacturers make skin care products such as soaps, shampoos, and lotions that contain CBD that can also play a part in helping with pain management.
- Vapes – A popular method to ingest CBD is via an electronic cigarette or vape. Vapes allow users to insert oil into the device and the device heats it allowing the user to inhale the CBD vapor aerosol similar to cigarette smoke.
- Edibles – Food is another popular method of ingesting CBD. Users have the option of purchasing a CBD infused food product or cooking food and adding CBD directly as part of the recipe. In a recent publicity stunt, on April 20, 2019, the fast-food chain Carl’s Jr. created a one-day event where it offered a product called the Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight. The burger was topped with a special Santa Fe sauce infused with CBD oil.
- Beverages – Many companies offer CBD beverages include coffee, hot chocolate, energy drinks, sodas, and waters.
- Suppositories – A solid form of CBD that can be inserted into the rectum or the vagina that dissolves and is absorbed into the bloodstream via the vascular system.
CBD for Pain
CBD can be an effective tool for many kinds of pain. One reason is that CBD has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Touch receptors, follicles, sebaceous glands, blood vessels, and nerve endings are all served by the ECS that processes CBD.
The CBD and the natural cannabinoid receptors work together to send relief to the affected area.
Joint pain can come in many forms. It could be a physical injury that can heal over time or a degenerative condition that may worsen over time. In either case, CBD has been shown to help.
Some forms of joint pain that CBD can help treat are:
Over the last 15 years, The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) has conducted several studies on the effects of CBD on joint pain.
Among these studies are:
- The Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28885454) – This report showed that CBD is effective against pain and found that it protected the brain. A quote from the reports states: “Prophylactic administration of CBD prevented the development of MIA-induced joint pain at later time points, and was also found to be neuroprotective. The data presented here indicate that local administration of CBD blocked OA pain. Prophylactic CBD treatment prevented the later development of pain and nerve damage in these OA joints. These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”
- The involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24494687) – This report provided the following insight: “Increasing evidence from preclinical studies supports the interest of the endocannabinoid system as an emerging therapeutic target for osteoarthritis pain. Indeed, pharmacological studies have shown the anti-nociceptive effects of cannabinoids in different rodent models of osteoarthritis, and compelling evidence suggests an active participation of the endocannabinoid system in the pathophysiology of this disease. The ubiquitous distribution of cannabinoid receptors, together with the physiological role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of pain, inflammation and even joint function further support the therapeutic interest of cannabinoids for osteoarthritis.”
- Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/) – This report concludes “These studies demonstrate transdermal administration of CBD has long-lasting therapeutic effects without psychoactive side-effects. Thus, use of topical CBD has potential as an effective treatment of arthritic symptomatology. At present, 21% of adults worldwide are diagnosed with some form of arthritis by their physicians. The data presented suggest transdermal CBD is a good candidate for developing improved therapies for these debilitating disease.”
When skin is damaged due to burns, the pain can be intolerable. The skin is one of the more pain sensitive organs because it contains nerve endings, blood vessels, glands, touch receptors and more. CBD not only provides pain relief through anti-inflammatory properties but also through its analgesic properties.
A study published in 2016 evaluated traditional Iranian folk medicine. It involved a mixture of CBD with sesame oil, wild pistachio oil, and walnut oil.
The study found that “when compared to the controls, [oils] significantly improved wound contraction after day 10. Epithelialization (the beginning of new tissue) time in the [oils] group was significantly faster than in the other groups (20 vs. 25.5 days). Histopathological and immunohistochemical findings confirmed the efficacy of the [oils].
A new therapeutic remedy was introduced for the treatment of burn wounds. Further clinical and molecular studies are suggested to determine the exact mechanism(s) involved in the burn wound healing effect of [oil].”
It further went on to talk about CBD and hemp: “other components of (cannabis) influence its pharmacological activity. One of these components is cannabidiol (CBD). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects have been reported in animal studies on the CBD present in hemp seed oil.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5292211/)
Migraines and Headaches
The effects of CBD on migraines was studied and the results were presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology. The study was conducted over 3 months with a 1 month follow up. The results showed that cannabinoids reduced pain intensity among migraine patients by 43.5%. https://www.ean.org/amsterdam2017/fileadmin/user_upload/E-EAN_2017_-
This fits in with the fact that CBD has neuroprotective properties. One study that evaluated the effects of CBD on Parkinson’s disease stated that: “In summary, our results indicate that those cannabinoids having antioxidant cannabinoid receptor-independent properties provide neuroprotection against the progressive degeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons occurring in Parkinson’s disease.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306034718
Minor and Transitory Pain
The study on Iranian folk medicine that was cited above mentioned: “analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects have been reported in animal studies on the CBD present in hemp seed oil.” As an analgesic, CBD can be used for minor pain. Injuries such as a sprain or a pulled muscle can benefit from the use of CBD.
If the skin or muscle is inflamed, CBD can be of benefit in that case as well, allowing it to not only kill the pain but quell the inflammation.
In these cases, topicals such as creams, ointments, and transdermal patches prove very effective in helping ease the pain and speed up healing.
The natural anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties of CBD make the cannabinoid an obvious candidate to treat pain.
Pain involves both the location of the affected area and the signals that the nervous system sends to the brain. So when a substance that works with both naturally (which CBD does because of the ECS) then it will be more effective than something synthetic in most cases because the human body was designed to accommodate the natural substance.