Chronic pain is a beast like no other, and it can leave a lasting negative impact on both your body and mind. So, how exactly does CBD Oil help with chronic pain?
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To a certain extent, pain is normal. A headache may let us know that we’re dehydrated, we’ve all sprained an ankle at some point, and muscle soreness from an intense workout is par for the course. Chronic pain, however, can be debilitating. The physical toll that chronic pain takes on your body is obviously awful, but the lasting psychological impact of managing pain on a daily basis can be devastating. That’s why many are turning to CBD oil to help manage chronic pain and take back control.
We won’t pretend that CBD is a miracle cure for pain. However, it can provide you with the tools you need to manage your chronic pain and get back to feeling like yourself.
What Exactly is Chronic Pain?
The pain we feel when we hit our elbow on something or scrape a knee is called acute pain. When that happens, our nervous system is letting us know that we’ve been injured and might need to take action. After the injury or irritation is healed, acute pain generally subsides and life goes back to normal. Chronic pain, however, isn’t so simple.
Chronic pain can actually sometimes start out as acute pain. If the acute pain, like a sports injury, isn’t treated properly or if it keeps getting injured, it can sometimes turn into chronic pain. Once that happens, the National Pharmaceutical Council says, “Undertreated chronic pain can impair an individual’s ability to carry out daily activities and diminish quality of life.”
Someone may also develop chronic pain from ongoing conditions like cancer or arthritis. But what’s even scarier is that sometimes there’s no definitive cause. Part of our lack of understanding here is because we don’t fully comprehend the physiological mechanisms of pain.
If you’re lucky, the chronic pain will only last a few weeks, or perhaps a month or two. Unfortunately, some chronic pain can last several months or even years after the inciting injury or illness.
Who Has Chronic Pain?
The CDC says “In 2016, an estimated 20.4% of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults had high-impact chronic pain.” That’s roughly 1 in 5 adults or almost 50 million people. “High-impact chronic pain” means that the pain is debilitating and that it greatly impacts their day-to-day life.
It’s one thing to be in pain, but to know that at some point you’ll recover. However, the hopelessness that accompanies chronic pain takes a huge mental toll. WebMD says, “About 25% of people with chronic pain will go on to have a condition called chronic pain syndrome (CPS.)” When someone develops CPS, their mental health begins to decline and they may experience moderate or even severe depression and anxiety.
Many people dealing with CPS will use prescription benzodiazepines to combat anxiety and/or prescription opioids to help manage pain. While these medicines provide relief for some, they come with a long list of side-effects and a high risk of dependency.
Other items to consider when using these prescriptions is that mixing these drugs can cause serious health complications and even death. Plus, when people stop using these prescriptions, sometimes the pain and anxiety can come back even worse than before.
Those with chronic pain, however, often deal with intense feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. The pain, and the fear of that pain, make them desperate for solutions. Unfortunately, resources are scarce, not always available, and often not comprehensive enough.
That’s why so many people are turning to CBD to manage their chronic pain, get control of their anxiety, and get back to feeling like themselves.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD for short) is manufactured from the industrial hemp plant that was legalized in 2018 with the passing of the Farm Bill. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound is now legal in most states and widely available.
But what exactly does it do? What does it feel like to take CBD?
First, it’s non-psychoactive. So CBD won’t get you high. And when you use CBD, it’s not so much about how it makes you feel, it’s more about what you don’t feel. Basically, CBD just helps your body function more efficiently. It does that, specifically, through your ECS (endocannabinoid system).
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
You may be surprised to find out that all vertebrate animals have an endocannabinoid system. The ECS is a regulatory system that promotes homeostasis (balance) in the other systems in your body. When something becomes unbalanced, your ECS will send its own endocannabinoids (yes, your body produces its own cannabinoids) to the unbalanced area to fix things.
For example, say that you’re really stressed from work and it’s slowly starting to make it harder to get to sleep at night. Your body senses this stress and responds by activating your adrenal glands which boost cortisol levels. Your body thinks it’s helping because your stress is activating the fight-or-flight response, but if it sticks around too long, that extra cortisol can cause metabolism problems and weight gain.
Luckily, cortisol can be reabsorbed by sleeping…which you’re not doing so well with. That’s when the ECS would kick in, and it might help in several different ways. Maybe it will calm your fight-or-flight response so that you’re less anxious and your body stops boosting cortisol levels. Or perhaps it will work to balance your sleep/wake cycle so it’s easier to process all that cortisol. Maybe both!
The truth is, we’re still learning about the different mechanisms the ECS uses to accomplish all of those tasks. The bottom line, however, is that it DOES help.
So, how does taking CBD oil help?
Taking CBD Boosts the Effectiveness of Your Endocannabinoid System
On a chemical level, CBD has a similar shape to the natural endocannabinoids your body produces. It’s so similar, that when you take CBD, your ECS can use those cannabinoids in place of its own. Basically, you’re giving your ECS more tools to complete its many tasks.
It’s particularly good at helping people manage pain, and can do so in several ways.
How Does CBD Oil Help With Chronic Pain?
CBD May Balance Neurotransmitters That Influence Pain Perception
Frontiers in Pharmacology published a review saying, “The mechanisms of the analgesic effect of cannabinoids include inhibition of the release of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides from presynaptic nerve endings, modulation of postsynaptic neuron excitability, activation of descending inhibitory pain pathways, and reduction of neural inflammation.”
For anyone without a degree in biochemistry, it means CBD can actually reduce the messages in your brain that are communicating pain signals. For anyone with chronic pain, it means that by using CBD their everyday activities can be more manageable.
CBD Reduces Inflammation
One of the leading causes of chronic pain is actually chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation, just like acute pain, is a normal response to a variety of injuries or illnesses. In theory, when the issue goes away, so should the acute inflammation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen and it can develop into chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation and chronic pain often go hand in hand, so finding a resource that can address both is the goal. Luckily, one of the things CBD is best at is treating inflammation.
For maximum relief of inflammation and pain, using CBD oil sublingually is recommended. Hold the CBD oil under your tongue for a few minutes before swallowing to allow your mucous glands to absorb the CBD. This is the most bioavailable option.
CBD Can Reduce Anxiety Associated with Chronic Pain
If you deal with chronic pain it can be hard to fully engage with your life. Fear and anxiety become normal and sometimes simple errands can be too overwhelming. Even if you’re not experiencing full-blown panic attacks, anxiety can fray your nerves and wear you down over time. CBD, however, can help combat anxiety throughout the day and promote a more relaxed state of mind.
There have been several studies indicating that CBD can actually boost serotonin signals. That particular neurotransmitter regulates emotions and helps elevate your mood and reduce anxiety. Other studies show that CBD can boost GABA as well. This neurotransmitter pumps the breaks on your “excitatory” neurotransmitters. Basically, GABA helps you feel calm and slow racing thoughts.
When it comes to anxiety, the many different ways you can use CBD are immensely helpful. Over time, supplementing with CBD will decrease anxiety, but for an unexpected panic attack in the middle of the day having CBD gummies on hand is a convenient way to fight anxiety and keep moving on with your day.
CBD Can Help Promote Better Sleep
At first glance, you might not think that sleep has much to do with pain. But you’d be wrong. Pain can make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get quality sleep. Not to mention that not getting enough sleep can actually make your brain more sensitive to pain. SPINE Health even says, “Among those with chronic pain, an estimated 50% to 80% have ongoing sleep difficulties.”
The anecdotal evidence supporting CBD as a sleep aid is vast, but the distinct mechanism for how it does so is still being studied. Consumer Reports says that it may be due to the specific receptors CBD interacts with, “At least one of those type of receptors is thought to affect the body’s sleep/wake cycle.”
Regardless of whether or not that’s true, CBD can also help people sleep better simply by reducing pain and anxiety. When people aren’t in pain, they’re better able to relax and become comfortable enough for a good night’s sleep. The same thing goes for anxiety.
When you’re laying in bed rehashing your day, trying to remember the million things your kids need in the morning, or basically just worrying nonstop…sleep can be impossible. However, CBD can slow racing thoughts and induce calm by boosting GABA levels. This helps people quiet their minds and fall into a deeper, more healing sleep.
Try CBD Oil Today and Take Control of Your Life Back
Until you’ve experienced chronic pain yourself, or watched a loved one suffer from it, you may have difficulty understanding just how all-consuming it can be. If you, or someone you know, is suffering, we highly recommend starting a CBD supplement today.
As always, remember to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements, especially if you’re on any medications.
Be sure to check out our new Stress Relief Bundles and our Relief Bundle that includes a topical for targeted relief. Chronic pain can be isolating, but you’re not alone and you don’t deserve to live in pain. Contact us today with questions and start feeling like yourself again.