CBD for Pain Relief: One of Cannabidiol’s Greatest Potential Benefits

cbd for pain relief

Posted on March 28th, 2021

Consuming cannabis can induce a wide array of effects. Based on the potency, product type, and strain, cannabis may make you feel social and energized, or cause a soothing calm and peace of mind. Furthermore, cannabis may also contain medical effects that can address nausea, anxiety, chronic pain, seizures, and other symptoms and conditions. But what component in marijuana produces these potential therapeutic benefits? The answer is cannabinoids. They are chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that work with systems in the human body. Keep reading for a closer look at cannabinoids – what their effects are, how they work, and how many of them exist. You will also get to learn everything you need to know about CBD, how it works, and specifically using CBD for pain relief.

What Are Cannabinoids?

A cannabinoid is any chemical substance, regardless of its structure or origin, that interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the body. There are some naturally present in the body that have the same effects as those that cannabis creates. You should know that it is a large and broad group of substances. You’ll find a detailed look at some of them below.

What Are Endocannabinoids?

Did you know that almost all animals in the animal kingdom produce endocannabinoids? They’re natural endogenous ligands in animal and human organisms that affect the cannabinoid receptors. Furthermore, both cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for a wide array of physiological processes. Some include pain perception, the release of neurotransmitters, and cardiovascular, liver, and gastrointestinal functions. These interactions are why CBD for pain relief works for many people. 

The two primary endocannabinoids are anandamide (ANA or N-arachidonoylethanolamine) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Endocannabinoids are basically the molecules that serve as the natural key for the primary cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2) and activate them. CB1 receptors exist predominantly in the central nervous system.

On the other hand, CB2 receptors are mainly situated in the immune system and are associated with immunomodulatory effects. These receptors have been recently found in the microglial cells, the central nervous system, and they also seem to be in central neurons. Nevertheless, it is a subject that many scientists are currently researching, looking for more clarity.

What Are Phytocannabinoids?

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that occur naturally in plants. It just so happens that cannabis boasts a particularly high concentration of these compounds. So far we know about 70+ phytocannabinoids, including their analogous, neutral, and acidic forms. Typically, the plant can synthesize the phytocannabinoids directly when they’re in their non-psychoactive forms. Because of this, the primary phytocannabinoids available in fresh plant material are CBDA, Δ9-THCA, CBGA and CBCA. Nonetheless, the carboxyl group isn’t very stable and is easily lost as CO2 with excessive light or heat. This decarboxylation causes the change in the active neutral forms. 

During the drying and curing procedure of buds, the acidic phytocannabinoids get partial decarboxylation. As a result, acidic phytocannabinoids and a group of their active neutral forms (CBD, Δ9-THC, CBG, and CBC) are primarily present in the dry plant material. If you cook or smoke the plant, every acidic cannabinoid undergoes decarboxylation and becomes its neutral form. Now, let’s look at how they all work. For instance, this is how CBDA becomes CBD for pain relief.

How the ECS Enables CBD For Pain Relief 

Generally speaking, most medical cannabis studies prioritize the study of phytocannabinoids like CBD. Typically, they are the same in structure as the endocannabinoids in our central and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is basically the network of these endocannabinoids in our bodies. 

CB1 and CB2 receptors connect the compounds with bodily systems, causing changes in the body. For example, THC adheres to CB1 receptors which exist in specific regions of the brain. Researchers believe that this is the reason why humans encounter an intoxicating high after they use THC. 

The ECS regulates your body’s core physiological processes, such as memory, appetite, mood, pain, and much more. If your nervous system falters, phytocannabinoids like CBD might help our bodies get back their stability and natural balance. When we use cannabis, these compounds may interact on a cellular level with specific neurotransmitters. In short, this concept acts as the basis of cannabis as medicine. This is the basic process that enables CBD for pain relief.

Where Does CBD Come From?

As you might have learned, CBD originates from the cannabis plant. Most people use the term “marijuana” or “hemp” to refer to cannabis plants, based on the THC amount they have. The federal government legalized hemp plants according to the 2018 Farm Bill, provided they don’t exceed 0.3% THC.

For some time now, marijuana farmers have bred their plants to possess high THC levels to satisfy recreational users. In a similar way, hemp growers try to modify the plant to maximize levels of CBD and minimize THC. The actual source of CBD for pain relief is these legal hemp plants.

Hands holding CBD hemp extract lotion bottleCBD For Pain Relief

Are you interested in CBD for pain relief? Here’s the section you’ve been waiting for. As you’ve learned, everyone possesses a cell-signaling system called the ECS. According to several researchers, CBD interacts with it in a somewhat mysterious way to accomplish its pain relieving effects.

Receptors are simply small proteins adhered to your cells. They receive signals, usually chemical ones, from various stimuli and help with your cells’ response. The response creates pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects that aid with pain management. That means that CBD oil as well as other products might benefit patients with chronic pain, including chronic pain.

Several studies also look into how well CBD functions to alleviate chronic pain. One 2018 review looked at several studies conducted from 1975 to March 2018. The studies assessed different types of pain, such as fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and cancer pain. According to these studies, scientists concluded that CBD was beneficial when it comes to overall pain management and doesn’t cause adverse side effects. The exact process CBD uses to decrease pain perception is complex. For example, CBD’s ability to increase serotonin levels is one indirect way that CBD for pain relief actually takes effect.

Christina Polovich aerial shot of opened salve sitting on twigs with greeneryTopical CBD for Pain Relief

CBD creams are just like any other topical lotion out there. However, they have the added advantage of natural terpenes and cannabinoids that hasten pain relief. What’s more, CBD creams sometimes consist of essential oils that are effective aromatherapy agents. They can also help with symptoms of skin conditions like dryness or painful rashes.

Just like other topicals, CBD creams have to be applied on the skin’s surface (not meant for internal consumption). Areas where skin allergies, musculoskeletal pain or inflammation, or rashes or inflammations are manifesting are good candidates for topical CBD. In this case, rather than entering your bloodstream, CBD directly percolates the affected tissues, offering them relief. There are cannabinoid receptors in your skin that facilitate this process. The other added advantage of topical CBD for pain relief is that the active ingredients won’t interact with your other prescription drugs. 

Nevertheless, you should always consult with a doctor if you are considering trying CBD for pain relief. There are still many unknowns about how cannabidiol interacts with prescription medications. Your doctor may have good insight about your specific medications and potential risks of negative interactions. 

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