For persistent pain, the usual remedies are sometimes not enough and more often than not people look for alternatives. CBD (cannabidiol oil) has seen an increase in popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness in reducing chronic pain for many people.
What is CBD?
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant, also known as marijuana. Unlike other compounds found in the plant, CBD does not give the effect or feeling of being “high”. Once taken, when the CBD oil enters the brain area it triggers the blood-brain barrier and interacts with a hormone called adenosine, which in turn affects how pain is experienced.
CBD comes not just in the form of oil, but can be used as a cream or lotion, and can even be infused in food and drink.
In the last few years, there have been well documented stories in the media of families battling governments to allow for medicinal use only, CBD for the relief of epilepsy. Many countries prohibit its use and indeed to import CBD is illegal in some countries. Yet while the available research shows that CBD can be a significant factor in reducing pain and other conditions, many governments remain unconvinced and CBD is listed as a banned substance or a substance that requires individual clearance for use which can take months if to years to achieve.
What can it be used for?
Due to CBD being considered illegal in many jurisdictions, research into its effectiveness is slow and patchy, but there is mounting evidence that for some pain conditions, CBD can have a positive effect in relieving some if not all of the pain. Research has shown that people with arthritic conditions including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis have found relief after using CBD. The same has been said by people with shoulder and neck injuries, back or knee pain and other joint problems. Other research findings show that some migraine sufferers have benefitted from using CBD as have people with cancer related conditions and fibromyalgia. Of course, it goes without saying that just because it has worked for one person, it does not mean it will have the same effect for someone else and professional medical guidance is necessary. Generally speaking, CBD is considered as being a pain-relief treatment that affects the whole body. So for example, while it doesn’t specifically target back pain, it can reduce the pain from this area, contributing to full-body relaxation. Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Michigan Medicine Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, has noted, “There are also observational studies that ask why people use CBD and if it’s effective, and results tend to be quite positive. People report using CBD for anxiety, pain, and sleep— all things that go hand-in-hand with chronic pain.”
Points to consider
For people wanting to use CBD it is important to take advice from your doctor first and to check if CBD is classified as a legal or illegal substance where you live.
Consider how you will use CBD. It comes in different forms and in most cases is best taken in tablet or capsule form to allow for a slow extended release. You can also take it as an oral tincture (infused oil that contains CBD) for a faster effect.
Whatever way you take CBD start with a small amount and slowly increase the dosage until you start to feel relief which can take more than a few days. Track your symptoms to get a sense of whether or not CBD is a helpful part of your treatment plan. Remember, it is strongly recommended not to smoke or vape due to the effect it has on the lungs.
Just like vitamins and other supplements, CBD products aren’t regulated or generally approved to treat illnesses and diseases, so be buyer aware. Look for products that have been tested by an independent third party lab “so you don’t end up with a product that has THC in it or a product contaminated with heavy metals or pesticides,” says Boehnke.