CBD & Pain
CBD is a novel chemical that is beginning to show a lot of promise in relieving various disorders of the mind and body. The clinical evidence isn’t fully there to back it up yet, due to the current legal status of CBD, though these conditions include: anxiety, pain, and inflammation. The primary supports for this are present in the literature that does exist, pointing to consistent success in helping to manage disorders like the ones listed above.
Pain can be a very debilitating experience, or disorder, to encounter in life. At the very least, there is the obvious discomfort of noticing pain and then having that feeling run through your body. In other words, if you hurt yourself, you know it! When this experience is prolonged, like in those who have chronic pain or even in muscle fatigue, that experience can broaden to feelings of depression and anxiety. The longer someone experiences pain, the more distracting and dysfunctional it may become.
How We Experience Pain
As is well known, the perception of pain involves the transmission of signals from receptor cells in the area of the body where the pain is experienced to receptor cells in the brain that interpret the signal and cause the sensation of pain. There are numerous pathways in the body that facilitate this experience and that are in charge of its regulation. In a properly functioning person, there is little to no signal for pain being sent to the brain unless there is a direct input, like stubbing your toe or burning yourself on a hot surface. This is a bit of a trivialized summary but when these systems activate, whether due to a malfunction or an input, pain is experienced. In either case, relief from this pain is something that we all seek.
How CBD Aids in Pain Management
In biology, we know that one integral portion of this nervous system is a pathway known as the endocannabinoid system. This branch-like system extends from the brain throughout the rest of the body. In part, the evidence that supports this is present in research indicating that the the pathway by which opioids stimulate relief exists along this same route. The receptors associated with this pathway are known as CB1 receptor cells. CBD interacts directly with these cells, which helps to simulate similar pain management effects to opioids. When receptors are stimulated, which are identically activated by two separate substances, their neurotransmitter release yields a response that is similar to one another. This is how CBD may aid in pain management.
At the same time, CBD interacts with another set of cells in endocannabinoid system known as CB2 receptors. These receptor cells run along the same neurological pathway as the immune system. The immune system regulates the reaction of inflammation, a natural bodily response to unwanted cell/cell material entering the body. Inflammation signals to the body that a certain area needs an influx of cells to repair damages. This means that, in the mechanism through which CBD interacts with this system, anti-inflammatory properties emerge in the same way that CBD mimics opiate-like effects. Anti-inflammatory benefits are also, in part, aided by the other cannabinoids that make CBD a powerful antioxidant; these operate in a similar fashion.