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One of the most common medicinal uses of cannabis is to treat pain. So of course, one of the most common questions we get is if CBD can treat pain. CBD is often used in concert with THC to treat pain, and a study from 2014 found that patients who used a CBD/THC spray reported “clinically important improvements” in pain and sleep quality. So if people are using CBD to alleviate different types of pain, is there any evidence this works? If so, what’s the latest research saying about CBD and pain?
Studies on CBD oil and pain management have shown positive results, demonstrating the benefits of the compound when used as a pain relief. Using cannabidiol for chronic pain could offer a natural alternative for people who do not wish to use opioids which also can be habit-forming. While more research on the subject of chronic pain is needed, there is a sufficient amount of evidence pointing that CBD is promising. CBD is a compound of cannabis which doesn’t have psychotropic properties, which makes it more appealing to use daily. The human body also produces its own cannabinoids and has its own CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and body. The CB1 receptors in the brain control emotions, thinking, appetite, movements, pain and memories. The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, influence the body’s immune system.
What We Know - and What We Don't
CBD has been praised by many for helping treat so many health issues, including chronic pain. However, many of the studies available on CBD and pain were carried out using animal models. Here’s an overview of what we know about CBD and pain, and what we still need to know.
There is a study from the European Journal of Pain which showed CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis.
Studies on CBD and migraine are limited but the studies that exist indicate that a combination of CBD and THC can lead to less migraine pain. Participants with cluster headaches also found pain relief with the combination of CBD and THC compounds.
There are currently no studies that are specific to menstrual cramps; however, there are studies that support acute and chronic pain relief.
Inflammation has everything to do with pain, if you notice pain, warmth and swelling in the area, that’s because your body raises the blood flow to the area of injury or infection. Swelling is the body’s immune system trying to protect its parts from a harmful or damaged cell, by attempting to remove it from itself. Although the signs of inflammation can be annoying, it is your body’s way of protecting you. This study demonstrates the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, but more research with humans is needed to substantiate the claims of CBD and pain control.
Types of Pain
Pain can either be categorized as nociceptive or neuropathic. Nociceptive pain is pain by physical damage. It usually comes with some impact and goes away when the injury is healed. This type of pain is a common reaction by the nervous system.
Neuropathic pain happens when the nervous system is damaged or not working properly due to disease or injury. This type of pain does not happen due to a specific circumstance or outside stimulus. Neuropathic pain is also referred to as nerve pain and is usually chronic.
The Bottom Line
Currently, it is not entirely understood if and how CBD reduces pain symptoms. It’s thought that CBD works with the Endocannabinoid system (located in the brain and immune system). It is hypothesized that CBD can interact with this system and thereby cause anti-inflammatory responses and pain-relieving effects. Research Labs in Israel were the first to research CBD and pain. Later on, Spain and the US followed with more research. With all the clinical research there was one thing that was clear – there is a correlation between CBD and pain management.. There are many indefensible claims all over the internet about CBD being a magical cure-all, which it is not. We need more research on humans to prove CBD to be an option for managing chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses.