How CBD Can Help Alleviate Pain

Finding ways to deal with — and hopefully get rid of — chronic pain can be a daunting task. Maybe you're familiar with CBD and products that tout it as an ingredient. CBD, known medically as cannabidiol, has garnered popularity for its potential to help with a myriad of problems. Whether you're looking to get a good night's sleep, suffering from depression, or experiencing nerve pain and seeking the best treatments for neuropathy, you may have come across CBD in the form of oils for your skin, CBD massages, or pills. For some, CBD has been an answer to their search for chronic pain relief.

CBD is a naturally occurring substance that comes from the hemp plant, making it a relative of tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, according to Edward-Elmhurst Health. However, unlike THC, CBD does not cause psychoactive effects, meaning that it doesn't produce a "high" like its cousin THC. The World Health Organization approves of CBD since it doesn't create the risk of developing a dependency, unlike some other chronic pain treatments. Whether applied topically as a cream or ingested as a supplement, CBD can play a role in alleviating pain.

Using CBD for chronic pain

Research studies have shown that CBD has served as an effective treatment for chronic pain since the early 2000s. Multiple reports estimate that somewhere between 50 and 116 million Americans experience some form of chronic pain, resulting in economic losses of up to $635 million due to medical expenses and lost productivity. A 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine found that CBD offered a collection of benefits for those living with chronic pain, including improved quality of life, effectiveness for treating intractable pain, and improved sleep.

According to Medical News Today, CBD works by binding onto two kinds of receptors in the body: CB1 receptors, which impact pain, emotional states, and brain functions, and CB2 receptors, which interact with the immune system and can help pain and inflammation. The way that CBD alleviates pain without causing psychoactive effects is promising to those who want to avoid traditional chronic pain treatments like opioids, according to another 2020 study. Animal studies show even more exciting news for treating chronic pain with CBD. According to a 2009 study using mice, researchers found that the "rational use of cannabis based medications" like CBD "deserves serious consideration to alleviate the suffering of patients due to severe pain."

Deciding if CBD is right for you

You've probably seen CBD-labeled products at your local pharmacy or grocery store, but not all CBD products are made equal. The FDA is yet to regulate CBD products, including supplements and oils. That means that it's not fully possible to know what's exactly in commercial CBD products, according to Medical News Today. Though most people experience less intense pain and tolerate CBD well, some potential side effects include fatigue, changes in appetite, and liver problems, according to Edward-Elmhurst Health.

CBD has been federally legal since the Farm Bill passed in 2018. Harvard Health Publishing, a platform by Harvard Medical School, says that while more research is needed, CBD could be an effective option for treating chronic pain. For those experiencing pain related to arthritis, nerve damage, and muscle aches, topical CBD creams could be a solution, according to Forbes. And as noted by Healthline, CBD gummies are a convenient and fun way to ensure you're taking a proper dose of CBD. CBD in its various forms could be the way you lessen your chronic pain.