What’s a low-risk, addiction-free solution for pain? CBD! Whether it’s ingested or applied, CBD might be the right remedy for you whether you experience the occasional achy muscle or suffer from chronic inflammation.
While CBD is often associated with other great benefits including stress-relief, focus and sleep-support, CBD is also a powerful analgesic, or pain killer, but without negative or harmful side effects.
CBD is a naturally-occurring phytocannabinoid derived from the hardworking hemp plant. Unlike THC, CBD won’t impair your functioning or get you high but can influence the body to work better by using its endocannabinoid system (ECS) more effectively.
There is growing evidence from human studies to support the benefits of CBD for pain, but it’s limited due to restrictions on the use of and research on cannabis. As cannabis is becoming legalized in various regions, however, research is gaining momentum and showing surprising, and promising results.
The ECS is an ancient system that evolved over 500 million years ago. Wired throughout the human body it’s designed to help maintain homeostasis, a balance that helps regulate everything from our appetite to our mood to the way we experience pain.
In fairly recent times, scientists discovered that the human body has cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids chemically similar to the natural endocannabinoids produced by the human body.
Our natural endocannabinoids work on demand, meaning that when our body senses inflammation, or pain, it will release endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors. CBD itself does not bind to receptors but activates other parts of the cannabinoid system.
In fact, CBD exerts a wide array of effects on the body’s central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the immune system. It works in partnership with our endocannabinoid system in order to act as an analgesic, or pain reliever.
CBD can help both acute and chronic pain including:
Arthritis and joint pain: Some people with arthritis who’ve tried CBD have reported noticeable pain relief, sleep improvement and anxiety reduction.
Migraines: CBD might help decrease neck pain, soreness, nausea and vomiting — all common symptoms associated with migraines.
Menstrual cramps: CBD may alleviate menstrual cramp pain and could be a great alternative to popping OTC pills.
Back and Muscle Pain: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and can help ease swelling and pain. It’s a great recovery tool for post-workout muscle fatigue.
Topical, sublingual and edible forms of CBD may all work for you. It’s a personal preference and may require a little experimentation before you discover what method of CBD works best for your pain. Topical creams may work more immediately but could require multiple applications. Oftentimes, there are other substances such as camphor that are added to increase the efficacy, and this might turn you off if you’re sensitive to strong smells.
Edibles, on the other hand, take longer to feel the effects (30 min-2 hours) since your body has to digest and absorb the CBD. Unlike our sugar-free confections, edibles typically contain additives and have a strong hemp taste that’s masked with lots of sugar.
The CBD product you choose will also determine when and how often you take it. Consuming too many edibles at once, or in the morning, may make you too drowsy but frequently reapplying a topical may provide all-day relief without making you tired at all.
When dosing with CBD, consider several factors including your weight, lifestyle, and tolerance for cannabis. Start small, see how you feel – and what you like! – then eventually up your daily dosage.
“It’s best to start small and gradually increase your dose up to a level that gives you the desired effect,” says Cheryl Bugailiskis, M.D. a cannabis specialist at Heally, a telehealth platform for alternative medicine.
Whether you’ve just eaten, slept, or are stressed out also can affect how your body responds to taking CBD. While current science doesn’t explicitly say not to mix alcohol with CBD, it’s probably a good idea to avoid this combo as you might get too sedated!