When you have a headache, back pain, or weird cramp in your foot, what do you do? If you're like a significant portion of the population, the answer is probably to take some kind of anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen.
Did you know that there's a different option you can try, though?
CBD oil and other CBD-infused products can do just as good of a job as over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatories when it comes to reducing inflammation and minimizing pain. Many people have also given up using stronger, prescription painkillers, like Vicodin, in favor of CBD.
Read on to learn more about the relationship between CBD and inflammation and how you can use it to kick traditional anti-inflammatory drugs to the curb.
What is CBD?
First things first, let's go over what CBD is and isn't.
CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Although it is part of the cannabis plant, CBD does not get you high in the same way that THC (another well-known cannabinoid) does.
CBD offers many of the same medicinal benefits as THC, but without any of the psychoactive effects.
People use CBD to help with everything in their daily lives. It may also incredibly beneficial to people who struggle with chronic pain.
What is the Connection Between CBD and Inflammation?
CBD is so effective at reducing pain because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
The nervous system contains two primary types of cannabinoid receptors -- CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The CB1 receptors are found primarily in the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. The body's CB1 receptors to influence mood, perception, memory, appetite, and sleep.
The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are part of the body's immune system.
Researchers used to believe that THC stimulated the CB1 receptors and CBD stimulated these receptors to help fight off inflammation (which is an immune response) in the body. They've since found that this is not the case, though.
In reality, THC stimulates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD, on the other hand, doesn't interact with either.
Instead, CBD activates other receptors in the body. Some of the receptors it activates include:
- Vanilloid receptors
- Adenosine receptors
- Serotonin receptors
By activating these receptors, CBD helps mediate inflammation, pain, temperature, and other sensations in the body.
CBD also minimizes THC's activation of the CB1 receptors. This helps dampen the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
What's Wrong with Regular Anti-Inflammatories?
As you can see, CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory that does a great job of fighting off pain and inflammation. But, why should people be using it instead of traditional anti-inflammatory drugs? What's wrong with taking ibuprofen for your pain?
On occasion, there doesn't seem to be much, if anything wrong with taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen to deal with acute pain. But, when you take these drugs on a consistent basis or overconsume them (as 15 percent of all users do), there's a lot that can go wrong.
Research shows that chronic use of anti-inflammatories, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (also known as NSAIDs) can have serious consequences to your health.
How Anti-Inflammatories Work
Anti-inflammatories work by blocking enzymes known as COX-1 and COX-2. These enzymes produce hormones known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins trigger inflammation in the body and send pain signals to the brain.
The problem is that, when the COX-1 enzyme is blocked long-term, the stomach is left vulnerable to bleeding and ulcers. This is because prostaglandins, in addition to triggering inflammation, also play an important role in protecting the stomach lining from stomach acid.
People who take NSAIDs long-term are highly susceptible to ulcers, gastrointestinal distress, and small intestinal injuries. In fact, one study found that 71 percent of people who took NSAIDs for more than 90 days had visible injuries (which ranged from small erosions to very severe ulcers) to their small intestine.
Long-term NSAID use also causes over 100,000 hospitalizations and 16,5000 deaths each year.
What are the Long-Term Consequences of CBD?
Clearly, regular NSAID use comes with some pretty serious consequences? But, are there any consequences that come with using CBD on a consistent basis?
So far, the answer seems to be no.
Although CBD is gaining popularity throughout the world for its pain-relieving and inflammation-fighting benefits, it's still not considered a mainstream treatment option, and much more information needs to be gathered to come to a conclusion like that.
There also is no long-term research to look at the effects of people using CBD for pain relief.
What we do know, though, is that CBD is not habit-forming the way other painkillers are. It also does not appear to come with any unpleasant effects. Furthermore, no one has ever fatally overdosed on cannabis or CBD.
Ways to Use CBD to Fight Inflammation
At this point, you're probably at least somewhat interested in using CBD to fight pain and inflammation.
There are a number of ways you can consume CBD to reap its main pain-relieving benefits. Some of the most popular administration methods include:
If you're using CBD to relieve pain or inflammation, the best option is probably to vape it or use a tincture.
Vaping CBD helps you experience benefits almost instantly, as does consuming it sublingually in the form of a tincture. Many people also find that CBD topicals work quickly when applied to the site of your pain.
Oral consumption of CBD -- in the form of an oil, an edible, or a capsule -- does not work as quickly since it has to travel through the digestive tract. Many people find that CBD's effects are less potent when it is consumed this way.
This doesn't mean that oral consumption of CBD is useless, though. You can consume CBD orally on a regular basis as a preventative measure and use the other administration methods to deal with acute pain.