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freya CBCCURE: Can CBD Help with Pain?
Chronic pain is a growing public health problem of enormous proportions, particularly in the context of aging populations in industrialized countries.
The associated facts and figures are discouraging:
This article aims to provide information on the cannabinoid mechanisms of analgesia, review randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of available and emerging cannabinoid substances, and address the many sensitive issues that have arisen in the clinical application of cannabis as a medicinal plant ("medical marijuana"). It attempts to contextualize the problems and propose rational approaches that mitigate concerns and demonstrate how standardized pharmaceutical cannabinoids can be a welcome addition to the pharmacotherapeutic toolkit for treating chronic pain.
A study published in the European Journal of Pain used an animal model to determine whether CBD can help people with arthritis find relief from their pain. The researchers applied a topical CBD gel to rats with arthritis for four days. Their research findings showed a significant reduction in inflammation and pain symptoms without any additional negative effects. People using CBD oil for arthritis may experience relief from their pain, but further studies with human subjects are necessary to confirm these results.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body through nerves and the brain. Muscle spasms are one of the most common symptoms of MS. These spasms can be so severe in some individuals that they cause constant pain. A report found that short-term use of CBD could reduce a person's spasticity. The results are modest, but many people reported a reduction in symptoms.
The same report examined the general use of CBD for chronic pain. The researchers summarized the results of several systematic reviews that included dozens of studies and investigations. Their research concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. A separate study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine supports these findings. This research suggests that the use of CBD can alleviate pain and inflammation. The researchers also found that volunteers were unlikely to develop a tolerance to the effects of CBD, so they would not need to constantly increase their dosage. They concluded that cannabinoids like CBD offer promising new treatment options for people with chronic pain. CBD, in particular, has great potential for pain relief. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it can be used in many cases to treat chronic pain. CBD is particularly promising because it does not have intoxicating effects and may have a potentially lower risk of side effects compared to many other pain medications.
In Europe, more than a quarter of older adults suffer from chronic musculoskeletal pain with disability (Frondini et al., 2007), while in Australia, half of older adults have persistent pain, and up to 80% in nursing homes (Gibson, 2007). According to a survey by ABC News in the United States, 19% of adults (38 million) have chronic pain, and 6% (or 12 million) have used cannabis for treatment (ABC News et al., 2005).
Particularly challenging is the treatment of refractory patients suffering from cancer-related pain, neuropathic pain, and central pain conditions (e.g., pain associated with multiple sclerosis) who often do not respond adequately to existing opioids, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Physicians are seeking new approaches to treat these conditions but are often concerned about increased government control over their prescribing practices (Fishman, 2006), prescription drug abuse, or diversion. The introduction of cannabinoid medicines into the pharmacopoeia provides a novel approach to the treatment of chronic pain, offering hope to many but also sparking controversies among politicians and the public.
Overall, researchers agree that while there is no conclusive data supporting CBD as the preferred method for pain treatment, this type of product has great potential. CBD products can help many people with chronic pain without causing intoxication or dependence. Although many studies have shown that CBD is helpful for pain, further investigations are needed, especially in long-term studies involving human subjects.