Over the last few years, we have witnessed a seismic shift in global attitudes towards cannabis. Not only is cannabis now legally sold for recreational use in a number of US states, and the entirety of Canada, across the world there has been a sharp increase in the number of cannabis-derived medicines available to patients in numerous countries.
Of these, CBD is of particular interest to those who suffer from arthritis and joint pain.
What is CBD?
There’s a plethora of compounds present in the cannabis plant, some of which have psychoactive effects, others of which mediate the medical benefits of the plant, and some that fall into both categories. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one such compound.
CBD doesn’t produce the high that is associated with the cannabis plant via THC, but it does have a positive impact on depression and anxiety.
It has also been shown to be a very effective non-opioid painkiller and anti-inflammatory.
How Does it help in Pain Management?
Treating patients who require long-term pain management is difficult. For mild pain, aspirin, paracetamol, and NSAIDs can all be effective.
The anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs are desirable for those who suffer from arthritis and joint pain, however, aspirin and NSAIDs can cause gastric issues, especially when used in high doses or for a prolonged period.
Paracetamol is also hepatotoxic and can accumulate in the system, making it less than ideal for long term use.
For more severe pain, we have few options other than opioids. Opioids mimic the effect of our body’s endogenous painkiller; endogenous morphine, commonly known as endorphin.
Opioids are effective painkillers, and for the most severe forms of pain, they are essential. For many chronic pain patients, opioids have been the only viable option. However, in the long term they can cause physical dependence and psychological addiction.
Coupled with the development of tolerance, and the feelings of euphoria that stronger opioids cause at medical doses, dose escalation is a concern.
What are the Benefits of CBD?
Many patients are apprehensive about using opioids, but have few other options for effective pain management. CBD can provide these patients with a lifeline.
For severe acute pain, such as a broken bone or serious laceration, opioids are the most effective option. But for chronic pain patients, CBD has been shown to be an effective painkiller for mild, moderate, and severe pain.
Not only is CBD effective at killing pain, it has anti-inflammatory properties similar to NSAIDs but without the gastric side effects. The anti-inflammatory effects of both NSAIDs and CBD are mediated via cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition.
Our stomachs are protected from their own acids by a barrier of COX enzymes, inhibiting their production therefore leaving our stomachs vulnerable.
However, whereas the COX inhibition of NSAIDs leaves the stomach lining vulnerable to irritation from its own acids, the more complex pharmacodynamics of CBD include a gastro protective effect which balances out the side effects of COX inhibition.
Not only is CBD an effective painkiller, it doesn’t require a prescription to buy. Buying through a CBD wholesaler can, therefore, be one of the most cost-effective ways for patients to manage chronic pain.
CBD is also a very safe substance. In fact, it is practically impossible to overdose on, and negative side effects are rare.
Sufferers from arthritis and joint pain should consider whether CBD could help them. It can be taken in a variety of forms, most commonly as an oil or an e-liquid. However it is taken, CBD is an effective and safe medication.