Decoding CBD: A Deep Dive into Pain Relief

Decoding CBD: A Deep Dive into Pain Relief


CBD for Pain: Uncovering the Science

Since the dawn of humanity, the experience of pain has been an essential aspect of human life. People have sought remedies from ancient civilisations to modern societies to alleviate discomfort and improve the quality of everyday life. Thousands of years ago, quite understandably, our ancestors turned to nature's pharmacy, harnessing the healing properties of various herbs and botanicals to alleviate their ailments.

Among the myriad plants people explored for their pain-relieving potential, cannabis emerged as a notable contender. For thousands of years, civilisations around the world have used marijuana for its therapeutic properties, recognising its potential to ease pain and promote needed relaxation. But it's only in recent decades that science has begun to unlock the secrets of this unusual plant, leading to the isolation and identification of its active compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD for pain relief attracts significant attention from researchers, healthcare professionals and individuals seeking alternative, more natural remedies. Unlike its psychoactive counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (called THC), CBD offers potential therapeutic benefits without inducing a high, making it a more attractive option for those wary of the psychoactive mind-altering effects associated with traditional cannabis use.

As interest in CBD continues to grow, fuelled by a lack of scientific research and questions about its efficacy, safety and suitability, this article is on a mission to provide an in-depth exploration of the effects of CBD on pain management, drawing on relevant research studies to consider its potential benefits and drawbacks. By analysing various research findings and sources, this article seeks to address critical questions regarding CBD's efficacy in pain relief and its implications for different demographic groups. In addition, the article will discuss considerations regarding dosage, routes of administration, potential side effects, and the best CBD for pain management.

Examining Research: Positive and Negative Effects of CBD Oil for Pain

In a 2021 study published in the Journal of Pain Research, 253 participants completed a survey on the effects of CBD on pain. Of the participants, 62.0% reported having tried a CBD product, including those containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). A significant majority of respondents reported that these products helped relieve their pain (59.0%) and allowed to reduce the number of use of pain medications, including opioids (67.6%). In addition, the majority considered CBD to be a beneficial treatme nt option (71.1%), non-harmful (74.9%) and non-addictive (65.3%). Approximately half of the participants expressed a preference for their doctor to prescribe CBD products. Overall, participants' attitudes and experiences with CBD were positive, with 91.9% expressing a desire to learn more about it.

In the April 2024 Pain Management Nursing issue, a systematic literature review was published that extensively searched eight databases and grey literature sources, covering studies published up to 30 August 2022. The review focused on original English-language research articles that examined patients using CBD for chronic pain management. The review analysed the collected data using narrative synthesis to provide comprehensive insights.

The results of the review included 15 studies selected from a pool of 1,516 identified articles. The majority of these studies reported varying degrees of pain reduction, ranging from 42% to 66%, in patients using CBD alone or in combination with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While three trials found no significant improvement in pain reduction, one trial reported mixed results in terms of pain control. These included trials were using different methods to measure pain reduction, with self-report and scales such as visual analogue scales and verbal numeric scales being the most commonly used methods.

On the contrary, in findings published in The Journal of Pain, researchers raise potential concerns about CBD products, citing inconsistencies in dosage, the presence of potentially harmful excipients, and limited evidence of significant pain relief. In addition, a meta-analysis suggests a possible link between CBD use and increased rates of serious adverse events, such as liver toxicity. The authors argue that regulators should address shortcomings in the oversight of CBD products, including issues with labelling accuracy and potential contamination. They emphasise the importance of robust regulation and consumer awareness to ensure product safety and efficacy.

CBD Side Effects

CBD Side Effects Considerations for Various Groups

It is important to note that according to WHO, CBD is considered to be a safe and non-addictive substance and not everyone will experience adverse reactions to CBD. CBD's side effects can vary depending on individual factors such as dosage, method of administration, and overall health.

  • Commonly reported side effects of CBD may include dryness in the mouth, feelings of drowsiness after taking CBD, especially at higher doses, increased or decreased hunger in some people, digestive upset (including diarrhoea), nausea or gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • While CBD is often touted for its anxiolytic properties, some individuals may experience mood changes, including increased anxiety or irritability, especially at higher doses.
  • Drug interactions: CBD might interact with medications, particularly those metabolised by the liver enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2C19, which could lead to adverse effects or reduced efficacy of the medication.
  • There is little research on the safety of CBD use during pregnancy, and its effects on fetal development are not well understood. Pregnant individuals are generally advised to avoid using CBD products unless consulted by a healthcare professional.
  • Similarly, older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of CBD. That might happen due to age-related changes in metabolism and medication sensitivity. Older people are more likely to have health problems and take lots of drugs, so they are more likely to have side effects with CBD. Older people should be careful when using CBD and talk to a doctor to make sure it is safe for them.

Please note that research into CBD side effects is ongoing, and more studies are needed. As with any supplement or medication, it's wise to speak with a healthcare professional (preferably familiar with CBD) before adding CBD to your wellness regimen. This especially crucial if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

CBD Allergies: Understanding reactions and risks

It is possible to be allergic to CBD, although this is relatively rare. Allergic reactions to CBD products are infrequent. In severe cases, potential reactions include skin irritation, rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. Typically, these reactions cause not CBD but other ingredients in the product rather than CBD itself. The CBD market is unregulated and flooded with products that contain additives, preservatives, or other compounds that can trigger allergic responses, especially in individuals with a history of allergies to cannabis or related plants.

Should you suspect that you are experiencing an allergic reaction to CBD, it is imperative to cease using the product immediately and speak with a doctor to determine the cause of your allergic reaction.

Finding the Right Fit: Dosages and Forms of CBD for Pain Relief

Understanding CBD dosage:

Determining the correct dosage of CBD for pain relief requires keeping in mind several factors, including individual tolerance, severity of pain, body weight, and the specific condition being treated. Generally, starting with a low dosage is what recommended, gradually increasing until the desired effects are achieved.

For beginners, a standard starting dosage of 5-10 milligrams of CBD per day is often recommended. This can be adjusted later on based on individual response, with some people finding relief with lower doses while for others higher amounts are required.

The concentration of CBD in the product is the next important thing to consider. For example, CBD oils come in different potencies, ranging from 250mg to 1500mg per bottle. Higher-potency CBD oil for pain management may require less volume for the same dosage, making them a more cost-effective option for those needing higher doses of CBD.

Consultation with a healthcare professional qualified in the use of CBD, supplemented by reading the manufacturer's dosage recommendations on the packaging, can provide personalised dosage guidance and help ensure safe and effective pain management.

Exploring different forms

Nowadays, CBD comes in a wide variety of forms and tastes, each offering unique benefits and considerations for pain relief to suit different preferences and needs. These various forms, like CBD gummies for pain and CBD patches for pain, have been developed to provide users with options that suit their lifestyle, consumption preferences and specific pain relief requirements. Here are some common forms of CBD products:

  • Oils: the most popular forms of CBD, offering versatility and ease of dosing. They can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) for rapid absorption or easily added to your favourite food and drink. Discover CBD-infused food recipes here.
  • Capsules: CBD capsules offer a more convenient and discreet option than oils. As each capsule contains a pre-measured dose of CBD capsules for pain relief, it makes it easy to track your consumption.
  • Gummies: CBD-infused gummies provide a tasty and enjoyable way to consume CBD. They come in a wide range of flavours and strengths, making them suitable for those who prefer a more palatable option.
  • Sprays: CBD sprays are another convenient and portable option for relief on the go. They offer quick absorption when you spray them under the tongue and a variety of flavours for those who don’t like the earthy taste of hemp.
  • Skincare products: CBD-infused skincare products such as muscle relief massage oils, warming and cooling gels, foot creams and muscle and joint recovery balms provide targeted relief for localised pain and inflammation.

Conclusion: CBD's Role in Pain Relief

In conclusion, while studies suggest that CBD may provide relief for some people, the evidence needs to be more conclusive, and more research is required to understand its efficacy and safety fully. Recent findings from studies published in reputable journals like The Journal of Pain and Pain Management Nursing highlight both positive and negative aspects of using CBD for pain relief, underscoring the need for careful consideration and informed decision-making.

While CBD shows promise for pain management, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. By staying informed, consulting with healthcare professionals, and approaching CBD use with caution, individuals can navigate the complexities of CBD for pain relief with greater confidence and effectiveness.


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