As many as 8-10% of the population suffers from chronic pain, and approximately 100 million people suffer from chronic pain.
Of these, 50% of people with advanced diabetes experience nerve-damaging pain, and 75% of people with advanced cancer also experience intractable pain.
And CBD’s ability to relieve pain offers significant advantages over traditional pain treatment options, which often involve addictive and potentially harmful drugs.
In contrast, this natural supplement has virtually no side effects, is very safe, and does not interfere with the efficacy of other medications.
Mechanisms of CBD for Pain Relief
As CBD becomes increasingly popular worldwide, scientists publish new research on cannabinoids almost weekly. Currently, experts are working to elucidate the complex mechanisms that CBD and other cannabis derivatives use to support all different sources of acute and chronic pain.
The following are the main findings of the current research.
- CBD inhibits inflammation to varying degrees.
- CBD provides antioxidant support.
- CBD relieves muscle tension and inflammation.
- CBD interacts with vanilloid receptors in the brain that are responsible for regulating inflammatory pain transmission.
How CBD Can Reduce the Spread of Pain
What does all this have to do with pain? The answer lies in the way pain is transmitted to the brain.
When we are injured, neighboring cells begin to release compounds that trigger a cascade of inflammation and sensory activation, which is how pain is transmitted.
Pain signals are then sent to the spinal cord through a network of nerves throughout the body.
Once in the spine, the pain signal is sent out through a channel (opioid and vanilloid receptors) that is designed to limit the amount of signal that ends up in the brain for processing. This is like a border crossing point. Border security decides if you can enter the country and what you can bring with you.
In the case of pain, these channels can limit the amount of pain signals that continue to cross the border into the brain. If more pain signals are allowed to pass out, the brain will perceive more pain. If the pain stops at the boundary, the brain perceives less pain.
Traditional painkillers work by activating opioid receptors, which are key pathways for pain transmission to the brain.
CBD has a similar effect, but through a different kind of receptor called vanilloid receptors. These vanilloid receptors are tasked with modulating a specific form of pain caused by heat or inflammation. CBD has been reported to modulate vanilloid receptors and reduce pain signals caused by inflammation, such as arthritis, muscle damage or infection.
CBD has other ways of limiting pain transmission.
- CBD can reduce inflammation and limit the initial cause of pain in the body.
- CBD acts as an antioxidant, helping the body resist and recover from damage.
- CBD relaxes muscle fibers, reducing pain caused by muscle spasms and tension.
Scientific Proof of CBD for Pain Relief
Chronic back and nerve pain
The pain-relieving properties of CBD have been most thoroughly studied in animal models and in a small number of human clinical trials.
One of the best studies we have available on this topic is a meta-analysis published in 2017. This analysis looked at 24 different clinical trials involving 1,334 patients, including time spans and demographics.
The analysis reported that many studies showed a 50% or greater reduction in chronic pain scores, suggesting that CBD is a potential chronic pain treatment.
Another clinical trial examined the effectiveness of CBD in combination with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the treatment of intractable cancer pain. This study found that twice as many patients in the treatment group receiving CBD and THC had a 30% or greater reduction in pain symptoms by the end of the trial.
Although more human clinical trials are needed to evaluate the effects of CBD on specific forms of pain or other conditions, scientists believe that CBD’s efficacy in treating chronic pain is linked to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Arthritis pain relief
CBD has been extensively studied as a potential alternative to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers for arthritis pain relief.
Researchers have found a clear link between the endogenous cannabinoid system and the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease associated with chronic pain and inflammation.
Researchers believe that a key area in which CBD supports osteoarthritis is through its action on an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase (AKA 5-LOX).CBD has been shown to inhibit this enzyme, which converts fatty acids into pro-inflammatory compounds. These inflammatory compounds have been shown to be a key component of the underlying inflammation in osteoarthritis.
By reducing the underlying cause of arthritis pain, CBD may reduce the pain burden of arthritis in the long term.
Relieving Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Pain
Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is an effective neuroprotective agent. As a result, researchers believe that CBD can relieve debilitating MS pain. About 50 to 70 percent of patients diagnosed with MS experience pain as a symptom.
The Cajan Institute conducted a study in animals that tested the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD on mice, and the researchers wanted to know if CBD could provide a reversal of the inflammatory response on these cells. Ten days later, the researchers found a reduction in inflammatory markers in a rodent model of encephalitis that mimicked the effects of multiple sclerosis on humans.
Of course, more research is needed to understand how these effects translate to humans. More research is needed to understand exactly how these effects translate to humans. There are currently 23 clinical trials underway or planned to explore the effects of CBD on MS in the next 12 months.