CBD's effects on pain

Research Studies: CBD’s Effects On Pain

Studies into CBD’s effects on pain suggest that CBD oil may provide a natural alternative for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. In the middle of a U.S. opioid epidemic, could CBD oil be a safer and even more effective alternative for pain relief?

Pain is an everyday problem for billions of people worldwide. Acute and chronic pain can be difficult to manage and can affect many aspects of health and lifestyle. But both prescription and over-the-counter drugs used to treat pain have harmful and sometimes fatal side effects.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is being studied for a variety of potential therapeutic benefits. And early research is yielding promising results which suggest CBD oil may reduce various types of pain. CBD’s effects on pain may provide a potential natural alternative to dangerous pharmaceuticals.

Understanding Pain

Chronic pain afflicts much of the modern world today and has become a serious issue.

And there are a myriad of conditions that can cause acute pain. Anyone who has ever broken a bone, sprained an ankle, hurt their back or neck, had a toothache, undergone surgery, or who suffers from chronic pain associated with diabetes, arthritis, migraines, and other conditions knows the misery that acute pain can cause.

Pain is an evolutionary adaptation that helps to prevent further injury. It is often the result of inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and some illnesses. When a person feels pain they will generally try to avoid making it worse, which allows the injury or illness time to heal. But this system can be flawed.

Although in the distant past any injury could be fatal, today very few injuries and chronic pain conditions are fatal. But pain still hurts and affects our health and lifestyle. We crave relief, and we find it in over-the-counter and prescription drugs. But these sometimes cause unwanted side effects and other health problems. They can even result in death.

Types of Pain

There are various types of pain including acute, chronic, and neuropathic pain, and treating each requires a different approach.

Acute pain alerts the body that it is injured. For example, touching a hot stovetop will quickly trigger pain receptors which tell the brain to remove the hand from the stovetop or risk further injury. And the pain which follows due to the burn tells the brain to take care to not further aggravate the injury by using that hand.

Acute pain can also be the result of other injuries, surgery, repeated stress on the body, and nerve damage.

Chronic pain—pain which does not subside or which occurs over and over again—is generally caused by an injury which has not fully healed, but can also be caused by a wide variety of illnesses.

There are many reasons for experiencing chronic pain. Some of the most common causes of long-term chronic pain are:

  • Chronic, low-grade inflammation
  • Muscle tension, spasms, and contracture
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Injury and surgery
  • Disease or illness

Furthermore, the effects of chronic pain can cause mental health problems.

Neuropathic Pain

Chronic pain is often attributable to health conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or fibromyalgia. Patients afflicted with these diseases experience a form of chronic pain referred to as neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain—also known as neuropathy—refers to pain experienced as a result of nerve damage. There are numerous conditions that can cause nerve damage and neuropathic pain such as:

  • Injury
  • Physical trauma
  • Infections
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Genetic disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Toxins and poisons
  • Drugs and medications

Some Facts About Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has become a serious health issue around the globe, affecting more than a billion people worldwide. Here are some statistics of interest related to chronic pain. [1]

  • 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain.
  • 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.
  • 1 in 10 Americans has experienced pain every day for three months or more.

The most common types of chronic pain include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Neck pain
  • Facial pain

Women are twice as likely as men to experience chronic pain related to the head, face, and neck.

Research indicates that:

  • 77% of people report feeling depressed due to their chronic pain.
  • 51% of chronic pain sufferers feel they have little or no control over their pain.
  • 20% of American adults report that pain disrupts their sleep at least a few nights a week.
  • The majority of chronic pain sufferers expect to live the rest of their lives with some pain.
  • Less than one third expect that they could ever have a pain free life.

Treating Pain With Opioids

Opioids are the most widely used prescription pain medications. While somewhat effective, they are not safe for long-term use. And according to Dr. Erin Krebs, the lead author of a brand new JAMA study, opioids don’t really help patients with chronic pain over the long-term. [2]

Research indicates that opioids provide relief for only about 23% of patients with chronic pain. [3]

Hare some recent findings from a report released by the CDC:

  • From July 2016 to September 2017, in the U.S., overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30%.
  • Some 42,000 people died from opioid-overdose in 2016.
  • A full 40% of those deaths are the result of an overdose of legally prescribed opioids. [4]

Research Studies on CBD’s Effects on Pain

Numerous research studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of CBD for treating a variety of types of pain.

In 2016, a study entitled, “Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis,” looked at the effects of CBD on rats with arthritis. Researchers applied CBD gel to rats for four consecutive days. The rats that received the CBD showed reductions in inflammation and overall pain in the affected joints. [5]

The researchers concluded the study by stating, “These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.”

Other studies on lab animals also show a correlation between treatment with CBD and a reduction of inflammation and symptoms.

In 2011, a study entitled, “The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55,” found that CBD helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way pain receptors respond to stimuli. [6]

A 2014 review entitled, “Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain,” noted that CBD had shown promise as an effective treatment for pain resulting from arthritis. [7]

And in 2017, a study entitled “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis,” found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment for joint pain. [8]

CBD in the Treatment of Pain

In animal studies, CBD has shown great promise as a potential pain-relief drug, but what about in humans? Not only has there been a number of human studies on CBD’s effects on pain, some governments have legalized CBD’s use specifically for treating pain.

In 2005, CBD was approved in Canada for treatment of central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, and later in 2007 for intractable cancer pain. Many U.S. states have also approved CBD to treat multiple types of painful conditions.

In 2010, the Journal of Pain Symptom Management published a research paper from a team of U.K. researchers. The scientists conducted a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study into CBD’s effects on pain in patients with intractable cancer. [9]

The study compared the efficacy of a THC/CBD extracts with a THC-only extract in relieving pain in patients with advanced cancer. The two-week clinical study involved 177 participants who experienced inadequate pain relief despite chronic opioid dosing.

Of patients given CBD, twice as many reported more than a 30% reduction in pain. Interestingly, in this particular study, the THC-only treatment didn’t fare much better than a placebo.

As hemp inches closer to full federal legalization, and more studies are done with CBD, given the promising results so far, we may see CBD as a featured ingredient in products that compete with Tylenol and Excedrin and Advil in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, you can purchase CBD oil without a prescription in the US, and begin taking advantage of its numerous beneficial properties.

Sources for “CBD’s Effects On Pain:”

  1. Chronic Pain Statistics: Facts, Figures And Research. The Good Body. Web. 2017 https://www.thegoodbody.com/chronic-pain-statistics/
  2. Effect of Opioid vs. Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients With Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain. Erin E. Krebs. MD, MPH. Original Investigation JAMA. 2018. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2673971?redirect=true
  3. Chronic Pain Statistics: Facts, Figures, and Research (infographic) The Good Body. Web. 2017 https://www.thegoodbody.com/chronic-pain-statistics/
  4. Chronic Pain Statistics: Facts, Figures, and Research (infographic) The Good Body. Web. 2017 https://www.thegoodbody.com/chronic-pain-statistics/
  5. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/
  6. The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21683763
  7. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24494687
  8. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28885454
  9. Multicenter, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC/CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. Johnson JR. J. Pain Symptom Manage. 2010 Feb. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19896326

Research Papers on CBD’s Effects on Pain

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