Cannabis products have exploded in popularity since the government legalized hemp-based CBD for over-the-counter use. One reason it’s so popular is because cannabis can treat pain, even severe pain in some cases, in a way that isn’t addictive like opioids.
The nation is in the middle of an opioid addiction epidemic. They relieve pain well, but the body builds up a tolerance to them after a while. This means people need stronger doses to get the same effect. Once the level of opioid gets too high, it becomes dangerous. It can even lead to death.
Most people are familiar with marijuana, hemp’s cousin. There are records of using this plant to treat pain dating back nearly five millennia. Now we have a way to get pain relief without the high, which is important because marijuana is still illegal in many states.
The two primary compounds found in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive and produces the high when someone consumes marijuana. The second compound, CBD, is non-psychoactive and can even counter the euphoric effects of THC.
Cannabis dispensaries and cultivators are isolating these compounds and creating concentrated oils that can be used in several ways, including vaporizing, edibles, and drinkables. There have been many studies about the use of CBD to treat chronic pain, but how does it work?
How Does CBD Work to Treat Pain?
The big discovery that showed how CBD works is the existence of the endocannabinoid system in the body. Our bodies have a natural mechanism that works with these compounds. There are many cannabinoids besides CBD and THC, and our body produces some naturally.
The receptors in this system have control over things like how you feel pain, your immune system, and inflammation. This is why CBD has so many effects on the body and is used for so many conditions.
When you take CBD, it binds with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system and activates it to cause the effects. THC also binds with this same system. It just causes a much different effect.
A 2007 study concluded that cannabinoids, including cannabidiol, was effective in relieving the neuropathic pain that is experienced by 50%-70% of multiple sclerosis patients.
A more recent 2014 study showed that analgesia is one of the principal therapeutic targets of the endocannabinoid system and many studies have confirmed the efficacy of cannabinoids to treat neuropathic pain.
What seems to be the key thing with CBD is the reduction in inflammation. Inflammation has been targeted as a cause of many chronic health conditions.
Another benefit to CBD is that you do not build a tolerance to the compound. Unlike opioids, CBD is not addictive. Thus, if it works for your condition, it’s a long-term solution for managing your chronic pain without side effects. This is also why you can get it over the counter.
Since you can get it over the counter, you can find CBD in many products. But how much CBD do you need to get pain relief? The answer is that it depends on your condition. You will likely need to experiment.
One recommendation from the Mayo Clinic is to start with 2.5mg of CBD and gradually increase the dose until you get the level of relief you want.
If you reach 20mg doses without relief, then either CBD doesn’t work for your condition or you may need to combine it with THC. Of course, this requires your state to legalize medical marijuana and for you to go through your state’s procedures to get on their program. You might also need to get a dry herb vaporizer for home use.
It is also good to tell your doctor that you’re taking CBD and to get recommendations for products. Unfortunately, there are some products on the market that contain very little CBD. Those companies want to cash in on the trend. Therefore, getting advice on products is wise.
Most people tolerate CBD well, but there are a few side effects that you need to be aware of, particularly with higher doses of CBD. This is why it’s best to use the minimum effective dose. These side-effects include:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Mild low blood pressure
Choosing a CBD Oil
For your first product, CBD oil is the best choice. It is the easiest to dose and you can use it in many ways. You can mix it with food or vaporize it in a vape pen. You can also take it under the tongue. Know that the way you take it will also change the effects. Eating it takes longer to take effect than other methods.
Over-the-counter CBD products are made from hemp. By law, they should contain no more than 0.03% THC. At this level, it’s unlikely that your use of CBD oil will show up on a drug test. However, if you live in a state with legal recreational marijuana, read the labels carefully to confirm this. If it says “hemp-derived”, you’re probably in good shape.
There are also oils that are “full-spectrum”. These contain all the oils from the hemp (or marijuana) plant. Some people respond better to these oils than with pure CBD oil. Again, you must experiment.
If you don’t have a doctor or a local dispensary you can ask for advice, you must do your research. Legitimate companies will tell you where they sourced their hemp and how they extract their oil on their website. They should also be able to share test results from an independent lab that shows the level of CBD and other cannabinoids in their products. If they are unwilling to share this information, find another vendor.
Thanks to the long prohibition on marijuana, research into the medical effects of CBD, THC, and other cannabis-derived medicines is far behind where it could have been. But scientists are making up for lost time. As more research comes in, we’ll gain a much better understanding of how to use this plant.
Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with a healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.