Chronic pain affects millions each day, often reaching debilitating levels that cause disability, depression, and a variety of associated symptoms. For many, taking a slew of daily medications, while effective and safe under the advice of a medical professional, is not the preferred solution. When faced with a lifetime of chronic pain because of medical conditions, illness, or previous injuries, the idea of relying on a personal pharmacy is daunting and not ideal. In these instances, patients will turn to holistic remedies and natural approaches for relief. Rising in popularity among these chronic-illness warriors is cannabidiol, or CBD.
Chronic Pain 101
Chronic pain comes in many forms and is often associated with an array of symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disruption, restlessness, and memory fog. Many chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis, and chronic migraines come with both daily and occasional symptoms.
Flare-ups of chronic pain conditions can be triggered by both outside sources such as weather patterns and physical injuries, and internal sources like stress, sleep deprivation, and trauma. During flare-ups, patients experience their day-to-day symptoms at heightened levels, along with possible new symptoms caused by the unique trigger. While many of these patients choose traditional medications such as anti-inflammatories, opioids, or corticosteroids, some turn to natural remedies for both short-term and long-term results. High on the list of holistic options is CBD.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is derived naturally from the cannabis plant and works in conjunction with the body’s biochemical pathways known as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Put simply, the ECS regulates physiology, specifically involving emotions, pain management, and inflammatory response. For patients with chronic pain, CBD can reduce inflammation, and improve sleep cycles and pain responses.
On the surface of the cells in the body are cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are attached to nerve cells in the brain and play a key role in motor skills, pain signals, and cognitive functions. CB2 receptors work hand in hand with the inflammatory responses in the body. When CBD enters the body, it triggers these two receptors and improves their effectiveness, thus boosting the functions they regulate.
Common uses of CBD for pain
One of the best ways that CBD can alleviate chronic pain is by improving sleep. When a person is unable to achieve the deep, restorative state of REM sleep, they aren’t able to fully process the mental intake of the day or repair any injuries in the physical body. Lack of proper sleep can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, mental fog, and general aches and pains. For a patient who experiences these symptoms at a higher level on a regular basis, poor sleep can exacerbate what is already debilitating. CBD can help sleep quality by alleviating pain and anxiety as well as interacting with receptors that control the body’s circadian rhythm—the body’s internal clock, alerting the brain when it’s day versus night.
CBD oils work by blocking nerve impulses that conduct pain in the body, which lowers the brain’s perception of said pain. Patients can take CBD in various forms, from sublingual drops to capsules, even with topical creams and massage oils. Companies such as Select CBD oil offer their consumers a wide range of intake methods to meet individual needs and preferences. For those with inflammatory conditions, salves and oils applied directly to the area of pain can help. For others with more wide-ranging symptoms, sublingual drops (taken under the tongue) or capsules/chewables can be more efficient as they dissolve slowly and move throughout the body as needed.
Ultimately, the intake methods and effectiveness of CBD will vary case by case, because each patient is unique. When it comes to seeking relief from chronic pain in a holistic manner, CBD is high on the list, offering both short-term and potentially long-term mitigation of symptoms.