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How Does CBD Relieve Pain?


Picture: Sasun Bughdaryan

There is so much we don’t yet know about CBD products, including all of their confirmed benefits beyond what individuals believe they can help with. You might purchase edibles, tinctures, lotions, and other products to assist with various ailments, but the science is yet to catch up to what those using the products already believe they feel.

One of the most common reasons given for CBD use is pain relief, with many people experiencing aches and pains they insist CBD helps with. However, before you purchase a new CBD product for the first time, believing you’ll increase your comfort levels, it’s worth learning what we currently understand about CBD’s connection to pain relief.

What is Pain?

We’ve all felt pain before, and it’s anything but comfortable. Reputable CBD companies like Joy Organics extract CBD from hemp and create CBD oil to potentially help people experience relief from pain.

However, there is more than one type of pain. The most common are neuropathic pain, acute pain, and centralized pain. Neuropathic pain generally results from nerve inflammation, presenting as conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Acute pain, called nociceptive pain, results from injuries and tissue damage like broken bones.

Lastly, centralized pain, also recently called nociplastic pain, relates to chronic pain health conditions like migraines. These pain types may respond differently to various medications and therapies, and CBD is no different. It may provide pain relief for some people and not for others.

How Does CBD Treat Chronic Pain?

As CBD was a Schedule 1 substance up until the 2018 Farm Bill came into effect, very few studies have looked at the potential for CBD to treat chronic pain. Many individuals swear by CBD for pain relief, but the research is still in its infancy to let people know that what they’re experiencing is real.

However, in a 2020 study looking at a balanced approach for CBD use in chronic pain, we gained insight into how it possibly does relieve pain – at least in rodent and in vitro models. These studies suggest that molecular pathways may enhance CBD use in a clinic or provide alternative approaches for ‘higher efficacy.’

Evidence suggests that CBD treatment spanning at least seven days was also able to alleviate chronic pain caused by sciatic nerve chronic constriction injury in rats and mice. In vitro studies with human embryonic kidney cells revealed that CBD interacts and activates specific receptors at high doses, and interaction with a3-glycine receptors may allow for reduced inflammation and hyperalgesia.

Promising Studies for CBD Pain Relief

While we may only have in vitro and animal studies to show how CBD relieves pain, more human studies are underway to determine if CBD does provide adequate pain relief.

A 2021 Syracuse University study showed that CBD could reduce pain, but participants also reported decreased pain when they received a placebo. Those given CBD, but told they weren’t, reported a pain unpleasantness reduction.

A University of Michigan study involving 878 patients with fibromyalgia, falling under the nociplastic pain type, concluded that 72% used CBD instead of pharmaceutical pain medication to manage their pain and believed it decreased pain levels and caused fewer side effects than other drug therapies.

Research is still ongoing, and we don’t yet know at a scientific level how exactly CBD relieves pain due to how few studies have been conducted and how many pain types there are. However, due to the number of people experiencing relief by consuming CBD products and the evidence to suggest it has an excellent safety profile, you may see the value in trying it for yourself.

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