What can CBD (aka: cannabidiol) do for your chronic pain? This natural compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant will not get you high, since it does not produce the same psychotropic effects as its cannabinoid sibling, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but many people are finding that it can complement their pain care plan. In fact, research shows that of the 62% of people who use CBD for a medical condition, the majority are treating chronic pain, arthritis, and joint pain, as well as anxiety. 1
Scientists are still discovering the different ways in which CBD may help to fight disease and reduce pain and its related symptoms. They are also still working to understand the functionality of CBD as an isolated compound versus a whole plant. For example, you may come across product descriptions such as CBD isolate, Full Spectrum CBD, and Broad Spectrum CBD.
SO, WHAT IS CBD EXACTLY?
What about all those CBD products you’re seeing in line at the supermarket, the local health food store, and online? The market for CBD has basically exploded in the past few years but is completely unregulated. The CBD you buy may come from hemp or may not. It may contain the amount of CBD it claims or may not. It also may contain more THC than it claims. Welcome to the budding world (pun intended) of medicinal CBD.
Our natural endocannabinoids function on demand, meaning that when our body senses inflammation, or needs to return to homeostasis (a state of stable balance) it will release endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors.
But it’s not that simple. CBD has been shown to decrease the psychotropic effects of THC, meaning that if a full spectrum extract has a greater ratio of THC to CBD, you won’t necessarily feel so high. Of course, everyone responds differently to marijuana and this will involve a lot of trial and error.
They also provided guidance for the Arthritis Foundation, who recently surveyed 2,600 people with arthritis and found that 29% currently use CBD to treat arthritis symptoms.
Boehnke and Clauw recommend that people with chronic pain talk to their doctor about adding CBD to their treatment plan, and continue to use their prescribed medication. They offer the following advice for people wanting to try CBD:
People looking for a safer pain reliever are turning to cannabis-derived CBD. Michigan Medicine experts weigh in on what’s currently known about the trendy supplement.
Want to learn more on this topic? Listen to this podcast from the Rogel Cancer Center on Medical Marijuana for Cancer Patients.
Purchase from reputable sources. Like vitamins and other supplements, CBD products aren’t regulated or FDA approved to treat disease, so buyer beware. Look for products that have been tested by an independent third party lab “so you don’t end up with a product that has THC in it or a product contaminated with heavy metals or pesticides,” says Boehnke.
The scientific evidence around CBD use is thin, a fact that is mainly due to politics. “Cannabis has been a Schedule 1 drug for a long time, which has limited the type of research needed to figure out how best to use it therapeutically,” says Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Michigan Medicine Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. Under the U.S. Federal Controlled Substances Act, Schedule 1 drugs are defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
So many people are turning to CBD as an alternative pain reliever, especially in light of the opioid crisis, that in a commentary published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Boehnke and Daniel Clauw, M.D., director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, provided advice for clinicians on how to counsel their patients about CBD and cannabis use.
CBD is one of the compounds in the cannabis plant, better known as marijuana. Unlike the famous cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t cause the psychological effects typical of being “high”. Both CBD and THC act on the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in many processes including appetite, pain and memory.
CBD oil should not be used as a substitute for standard care. In the case of chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, for instance, chronic inflammation can lead to joint damage (causing destruction and disability) if the condition is not effectively managed.
Some of these people wish to avoid the side effects frequently associated with standard pain medication, such as damage to the liver and kidneys, while others have concerns about becoming dependent on such medications.
While very few clinical trials have explored the pain-relieving effects of CBD oil, a report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2018 examined the use of a variety of cannabis-based medicines and found they might be of some benefit in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain.
Availability of CBD Oil
Side effects included sleepiness, dizziness, and mental confusion. The authors concluded that the potential harm of such medicines may outweigh their possible benefit.
So far, much of the evidence for CBD oil’s effects on pain management comes from animal-based research. This research includes a study published in the journal Pain in 2017, in which scientists observed that treatment with topical CBD helped thwart the development of joint pain in rats with osteoarthritis.
Applied by their parents, all three people reported faster wound healing, fewer blisters, and improvement of pain. One person was able to completely wean off oral opioid analgesic pain medication. There were no adverse effects reported.
In a report published in Pediatric Dermatology in 2018, scientists reported three cases of topical CBD (applied as an oil, cream, and spray) use in children with a rare, blistering skin condition known as epidermolysis bullosa.