Can CBD be Used for Pain Management?

CBD and pain management

Throughout history, dating back to 2000 BC, some form of the cannabis plant has been employed by people around the world to help relax, live better, alleviate certain medical conditions, and manage pain. As an all-natural alternative form of pain relief, this might seem like a very attractive option for some, however for others they believe that the success stories which surround it are merely urban myths.

Today CBD (cannabidiol), which is found in high doses in the hemp plant (part of the cannabis family), which has been legalised across America and the European Union. CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies, which consists of CB1 and CB2 receptors in our brain and immune system. A new wave of medical attention has been drawn to CBD after it was found that it could have positive effects on those who suffer from severe epilepsy.

Unfortunately pain is not uncommon and we will all experience forms of pain throughout our lifetime. Consequently, people are very keen to look into how CBD could alleviate this. Whilst some people are  happy to dive in and try a new remedy for themselves, others would prefer to wait for some scientific data for backup. So let’s take a look at what claims and evidence currently exist around the relationship between CBD and pain management. 

Arthritis

In 2016 a study from the University of Kentucky was published in the European Journal of Pain, looking into how CBD could help arthritis.1 This study was carried out on rats. For four days a topical gel was applied to a group of rats with arthritis, and at the end of the study it was found that the group which received this topical gel had a noted drop in inflammation and signs of pain. No additional side effects were noted. This is excellent news for the advancement of arthritis treatment, however more research must be carried out to confirm if this could be successful in humans.

Chronic Pain and Inflammation

Evidence strongly supports suggestions that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. Thanks to this, some people use CBD for sports and muscle injuries. Using CBD also has a natural advantage over over-the-counter painkillers, which can be harsh on the gastronomical system. Following this, researchers are looking into how CBD and its anti-inflammatory properties might help to manage chronic pain. So far the results are looking largely positive, with an added advantage that patients were not building up any kind of tolerance against CBD. Nevertheless, more research is needed into specific areas of pain and it’s causes before a final conclusion can be made.

Multiple Sclerosis

MS is an autoimmune disease which can affect the whole body, through nerves and the brain. Some of the most common symptoms of MS are muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. In 2014 a study was carried out which revealed that - of the people with MS who took part - one in five had used cannabis to help their symptoms. In the UK studies have been carried out on the effect of oral cannabis extract containing both CBD and THC with mixed responses.2 Studies are currently being carried out on the effect of THC -free CBD products.

While the results so far in advocating the use of CBD to manage pain seem overwhelmingly positive, more data is needed before a sound conclusion can be drawn. What needs to be taken into consideration is the potential placebo effect. The CBD industry is currently booming, and the attention surrounding medical cannabis is growing everyday. Thanks to this more and more funding is coming forward from medical organisations and governments to carry out conclusive research. However, due to the current hype which sometimes brands CBD as a miracle medicine, it may be essential that these tests are double-blind or even triple-blind to avoid the results being swayed by the placebo effect. New studies are being published everyday, so keep an eye on this space for all new developments.

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31 July 2019