Does hemp CBD oil help with pain? What about other treatments?
On a summer 2018 getaway to the mountains of Colorado, Olga Cohen was offered a sample of hemp CBD cream to try on her knees. Olga had suffered from knee pain for many years due to Chondromalacia Patellae, also known as “runner’s knee”, and had not been able to enjoy some of the activities she loved like hiking and HIIT workouts.
Within a few minutes of applying the CBD cream, she felt a sense of relief that she hadn’t experienced in a long time! This was her first encounter with CBD, which led to many months of research and development with this miracle compound, until finally launching Tessera Naturals with her husband, Jason.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the different types of pain, and some of the common and alternative treatments available.
What is pain?
Most of us are not big fans of pain. Although unpleasant, it is one of the most important functions of our body. It’s what makes your brain tell the muscles in your arm to snatch your finger off a hot stove.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and needs attention.
In simple terms, pain starts when a specific nerve ending is stimulated, and sends a message to the brain. This could be caused by tissue damage, such as a cut or scrape, or when you stub your pinky toe on the bed frame in the middle of the night! Pain can also come from damage to the nerves themselves.
Nerves function like cables transmitting signals (including pain signals), through your spinal cord to and from the brain. Your brain responds by beginning the healing process, such as sending additional white blood cells and platelets to help repair the tissue at the injury site. Your brain can also release pain-suppressing chemicals during the healing process.
Different types of pain
Acute pain refers to sudden pain, or pain for a limited duration, usually resulting from damaged tissue (cuts, scrapes, broken bones, torn muscles, etc.)
Chronic pain is ongoing and is usually associated with a long-term illness, such as osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia. Chronic pain often results from nerve damage and causes severe muscle or joint pain. Oftentimes, chronic pain is the defining characteristic of the disease.
All pain can affect a person’s state of mind. In the case of chronic pain, it can cause emotional triggers like anger, depression, mood swings or irritability. The emotional toll can even amplify the pain, causing a vicious cycle and worsening the situation.
Psychogenic pain refers to pain that is caused by psychological factors. Psychogenic pain can stem from physical pain (tissue damage, nerve damage, etc.) but the pain perpetuates and leads to anxiety, depression, stress, or fear.
Some types of pain can be localized, such as shingles, while some pain such as damage to the central nervous system, can affect a large part of the body.
Inflammation is a natural immune system response to pain and is part of the healing process.
When the body senses some sort of damage, it begins sending inflammatory agents to the affected cells. The inflammation works to kill damaged cells, which is the body’s way of ridding itself of possible cancers and maintaining optimal functionality. Unfortunately, inflammation can cause pain as well, exacerbating the impairment.
Everyone experiences some sort of acute pain on a regular basis, but according to a CDC study in 2016, more than 20% of adults in the US experience chronic pain, with 8% having high-impact chronic pain, meaning the pain has limited at least one major life activity.
Common types of chronic pain include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Multiple sclerosis
Along with drastically reducing quality of life, chronic pain can negatively impact our productivity and wreak financial havoc due to healthcare costs.
Different Ways to Treat Pain
Conventional pain treatments
Standard pain medications are the most common form of treating pain. NSAIDs relieve pain by preventing the body’s cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes from working. COX enzymes make hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which contribute to pain and inflammation. NSAIDs include over the counter products such as ibuprofen and naproxen, as well as more powerful, prescription-level drugs.
Opioids are another type of pain medication. Opioids are considered narcotics, and are currently the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States overall. Opioids are typically used to relieve more severe forms of pain such as chronic pain, pain from cancer, terminal illnesses or severe injury.
Unfortunately, many standard pain medications carry a long list of side-effects from dizziness or drowsiness, to more severe conditions like blood clots and liver disorders.
Opioids are extremely addictive, which has led many pain sufferers down a path of abuse. Prescriptions for opioids have quadrupled in the US since 1999 and the rate of opioid overdose has tripled in that time. Some statistics conclude that opioid addiction, overdose and deaths are at an all-time high in the United States.
Physical Therapy and Chiropractic
Physical manipulation techniques such as physical therapy and chiropractic treatments are extremely popular for conditions such as back pain, injuries and sports recovery. Physical therapists and chiropractors usually work on aligning the body’s musculoskeletal structure to restore mobility to joints, and to aid the body in healing itself without surgery or medication.
Advances in technology have resulted in sophisticated surgical options to treat chronic pain. There are many types of procedures used in various categories of pain.
The drawback of surgery is that is can be very invasive, risky and extremely costly, causing many to seek alternative treatments for pain management and leaving surgery as a last resort.
Traditional Eastern medicine has existed for thousands of years and many believe it is far more advanced and effective than conventional Western medicine.
Eastern medicine involves various techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, exercises and dietary approach.
Massage therapy is extremely popular for the treatment of stress and pain. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different types of massage techniques all treating various needs and providing different benefits.
For chronic pain sufferers, a good massage can be a godsend, but the results are often very temporary.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation often go hand in hand. The main purpose of these techniques is to decompress the mind and body and relieve pain through relaxation.
Our bodies have a built-in healing capacity. Holding a relaxing pose can put the body and mind at ease. This, along with breathing exercises, can strengthen the flow of energy and promote a sense of well-being, directing our body’s energy towards growth and repair.
There are many natural supplements available to help relieve a variety of pain conditions. Below are 6 natural options for pain management.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and can be a powerful natural pain reliever. Turmeric contains Curcumin, which has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and promotes immune response. Besides pain and inflammation, there are many other health benefits of turmeric and curcumin that show much promise as a natural treatment for various conditions.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)
Fish oil has also been found to contain anti-inflammatory properties, and should be part of your supplemental regimen if you don’t consume enough fish in your diet.
3. Chili peppers
Chili peppers contain Capsaicin, which is an analgesic used for pain relief. Capsaicin is typically applied in a topical cream for muscle and joint pain, and for minor strains and sprains.
4. Bone broth
While delicious as it is, bone broth can promote healing, recovery, immune support as well as pain relief. Bone broth is jam packed with nutrients such as collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin which acts as a pain reliever for stiff joints.
There are many herbal pain remedies that people have used for centuries, such as Willow Bark, Cloves and Boswellia to name a few.
As more and more people are seeking natural ways to treat pain because of the negative side effects often associated with standard pain medications, CBD hemp oil for pain is showing much promise in this regard.
Some people are suffering from conditions that cause chronic pain and are looking for ways to avoid or get off opioids. As concerns over opioids continue to escalate, there is preliminary evidence that suggests CBD oil can reduce substance abuse behaviors and may provide a solution to opioid addiction.
What is CBD?
Using cannabis for pain relief dates back to ancient China. Recently, CBD derived from hemp (a strain of cannabis) has become extremely popular, and is showing significant promise as a treatment for many conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, nausea, neurological disorders as well as pain with little to no side effects.
CBD, which stands or cannabidiol, is one of 100+ cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The hemp strain of cannabis contains high levels of CBD and low levels of THC, which makes hemp ideal for those seeking the therapeutic effects of cannabis, without the “high” associated with recreational marijuana.
How Does CBD oil Help With Pain?
Along with contributing to brain functions like memory and mood, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies influence pain sensation and inflammation response.
CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes from hemp interacts specifically with CB2 receptors in our ECS, which are thought to serve an important role in immune function and inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD is unique, in that it does not work like other anti-inflammatory drugs by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2 receptors. This means there is no risk of developing ulcers, kidney and liver damage or heart attacks, unlike traditional NSAIDs. Some studies have even shown that cannabinoids (CBD and THC) are up to twenty times more potent anti-inflammatory agents when compared to NSAIDs.
How To Use CBD Oil for Pain
For localized pain relief, topical hemp products are a great way to provide treatment as CBD is delivered through the skin directly to the affected area. This process bypasses the digestive system, which leads to higher bioavailability and absorption over oral ingestion.
For more severe conditions and chronic pain, CBD oil can be taken orally in order to enter the bloodstream and address neuropathic pain, which is chronic pain resulting from injury to the nervous system. How much CBD oil you should take will depend on the severity of your condition, as well as several factors such as your diet, metabolism, sleep pattern, stress levels, etc.
Note: When ingesting CBD oil orally, it’s best to use the sublingual method in order for it to absorb directly into the bloodstream through the capillaries under the tongue, rather than going through the digestive system.
To reap the most benefit of pain relief from hemp derived CBD, you should seek out either a full spectrum or broad spectrum hemp product, rather than a CBD Isolate. This is due to the “entourage effect”, which is the exponential positive effects of consuming the various plant compounds together. The combination of cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp, especially CBD and β-caryophyllene, appear to be very promising for the treatment of chronic pain when taken together.
As mentioned above, pain can also lead to emotional and psychological break down. CBD oil from hemp can also aid in this effort by curbing anxiety, stabilizing mood and reducing insomnia.
While CBD oil may not necessarily cure your underlying cause for pain, you might want to give it a try and see if it will provide some relief in order to restore balance and quality of life. If you’ve never tried CBD from hemp before, start by reading our Beginners Guide to CBD, which answers many of the common questions from newbies.
As with any treatment, a multi-disciplinary approach is always best to attack your ailments from all angles, so we hope you take note of some of the various suggestions and options above and get back to living!
A word of caution: If you are currently taking any medications, CBD may temporarily deactivate cytochrome P450, which is an enzyme in our liver used to metabolize a wide range of compounds and drugs. Please speak with your doctor before introducing CBD (or any new supplement) to make sure it will not cause any adverse drug interactions.
- Pain is our body’s natural response telling us something is wrong.
- Different types of pain include acute, chronic and psychogenic.
- At least 20% of adults in the US experience chronic pain, with 8% having limited quality of life.
- There are various conventional pain treatments including medication, physical therapy and surgery.
- Many alternative pain treatments exist such as acupuncture, yoga, massage and herbal supplements.
- CBD oil is a rising star in the treatment of acute to severe chronic pain.
- CBD can be used topically as well as ingested and should be a full spectrum or broad spectrum hemp product, rather than CBD isolate.
- It’s best to use a layered approach by combining Hemp CBD with other conventional or alternative treatments.
- Always check with your doctor before beginning any new health regimen.