Chronic pain and inflammation affect many people in many different ways, and sufferers will spend a large part of their lives looking for remedies when normal medications and therapies don’t help, or the side effects from these medications become intolerable or dangerous.
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This leaves a lot of people thinking they’ll have to just live with the pain, which then limits what they can and can’t do. Quality of life starts to decline, which can lead to other problems like chronic fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression. All of this stress on the body can also affect the immune systems ability to fight off illnesses.
Pain medications are often the first port of call, but when they don’t help…
Inflammation is a necessary aspect in the initial healing process to acute injuries. But when it extends past that first response to an injury, it can become chronic, and tissues in the body aren’t healing properly. The normal go-to medications and anti-inflammatory drugs that can be bought over the counter. As the pain begins to last longer, people will start to look for stronger painkillers.
With stronger painkillers (normally prescribed from a GP) comes the risk of more upsetting side effects and in some cases of opioid medication, addiction. Over time these painkillers can lose their effectiveness, and then people start to get more and more desperate to reduce the pain and will look for even stronger drugs, which only increases the risk of addiction and dependency.
The situation usually gets to a point where sufferers will look for an alternative, and because of promising research CBD oil has become a more popular choice for the relief and management of chronic pain and inflammation.
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How exactly can CBD oil help with pain?
The endocannabinoid system’s main objective is homeostasis or balance in the body. There are 2 receptors in this system, CB1 receptors, and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors targets motor activity and coordination, short-term memory, thinking, appetite, sedation and pain perception in the spinal cord. CB2 receptors target the lymphocytes in the immune system.
It is accepted that CBD has little effect on the CB1 receptors, but it can indirectly benefit the endocannabinoid system by binding to non-cannabinoid receptors such as Vallinoid and G-coupled protein receptors. Complicated scientific names aside, this basically means CBD oil can indirectly help regulate pain perception and inflammation processes.
What is pain?
Pain is the body’s way of telling us what is happening within our bodies and alerts us of danger, for instance when you put your finger on something hot, signals get sent to your nervous system to tell your body to quickly move your hand out of the way, the movement is almost involuntary. It is the nerve ending or nociceptors that send the signals to the brain via the peripheral nerves and the spinal cord. The brain then sends messages back for an action to escape the pain. Nociceptors respond to tissue damage, and this can cause pain in the form of, a dull ache, burning, tingling, sharp or stabbing pain.
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So where does CBD come into this pain-process?
When your brain receives messages of pain, it sends back chemicals that promote the healing process, such as controlling blood flow via the autonomic nervous system to send more white blood cells and platelets to help repair tissue, and it can also send pain suppressing chemicals. The receptors that CBD can directly affect can help to control and maintain a normal level of how pain is perceived in the brain and the body.
Serotonin receptors are found in both the central and the peripheral nervous systems, and they trigger various chemical messages to produce an excitatory or inhibitory response. This means they increase or decrease the body’s response to a stimulus. As a result, this may mean that when CBD activates these receptors it could help cause an inhibitory response to pain or cause an excitatory response to the pain suppressant chemicals sent from the brain. In plain English, CBD will either decrease how much you “feel the pain”, or increase the release of pain suppressing chemicals.
Another receptor that CBD activates, the TRPV or Vallinoid receptor which helps to influence pain perception. The compound Capsaicin, found in hot chill peppers also activates these receptors, a reason why some health care professionals will recommend spicy chilis for people with chronic pain.
CBD helps pain in other ways too!
Chronic pain can affect people in various ways, some can suffer mental health issues like anxiety and depression, others may struggle to sleep with the pain. CBD can have a positive effect on these knock-on effects of chronic pain. It helps to control normal serotonin levels – an important neurotransmitter associated with our mood.
One effect of taking CBD, especially just before going to bed, is that it can make you feel sleepy as it “turns on” the parasympathetic or “rest and digest” parts of our nervous system. A lot of people report saying that they find it easier to get to sleep, and also getting a better nights sleep when taking modest doses of CBD oil.
While CBD is not a cure for chronic pain and inflammation, early research has found that it can have a positive effect on the control of pain perception and inflammation. One common benefit from using CBD is that it doesn’t have the nasty side effects of the stronger painkilling drugs. This is a benefit reported in almost all literature, whether it CBD oil for pain, or CBD oil for Anxiety or any other condition, the lack of side effects is always a big positive point identified in the research.
It could also be beneficial to use CBD oil in combination with other non-invasive treatment methods, this is something that we find works remarkably well at here at The Mayfair Clinic.
As we always say, make sure you check with your doctor before you decide to take CBD oil, especially if you are on medication already so they can check if there are any interactions.