Is using CBD for pain effective?
If you’re one of millions of people living with chronic pain, you know how debilitating it can be. You’re also not alone: according to a 2005 survey, over 38 million Americans live in chronic pain. As the population ages, experts say that up to 1 in 4 elderly people in industrialized nations may be forced to cope with chronic pain later in life.
While chronic pain can occur without a root cause (called Chronic Pain Syndrome), it can also accompany a host of other conditions. Whether it’s owed to Multiple Sclerosis, cancer, arthritis, or diabetic neuropathy, chronic pain can be both uncomfortable and debilitating.
Chronic pain also comes with a whole host of symptoms of its own. You might experience reduced range of movement, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and sleep issues.
It’s little wonder that many people have turned to prescription drugs to help cope with the various symptoms of chronic pain, as well as the pain itself.
And, with Western medicine’s emphasis on treating symptoms instead of underlying causes, many adults end up addicted to prescription medicines used to treat the pain, but not the underlying issue. Chronic pain is just one of many factors contributing to the current opioid epidemic.
The Negative Effects of Prescription Pain Pills
With many states finally relaxing stringent laws regarding the sale and use of marijuana, enterprising entrepreneurs have created a wide variety of ingestible cannabis and hemp products.
In fact, common drugs prescribed for pain relief, like Oxycontin and Vicodin, come with a suite of undesirable side effects. Weight gain, constipation, and brain fog are just a few of them.
Worse, these prescription drugs are highly addictive. Even if the condition causing the underlying pain somehow gets resolved, people continue seeking prescription drugs, leading to a lifelong addiction. And because the drugs are so addictive, withdrawal can be so intense it can cause sweating, shakes, cramps, and suicidal ideation, among other symptoms.
For these reasons, many people have begun to try an alternative: CBD oil for pain management.
CBD Oil for Pain Management—A Safer Alternative?
With a pain-filled life being neither desirable nor comfortable, and prescription drugs being very expensive and highly addictive, more and more people are turning to CBD oil for pain management.
According to the entrepreneurs at the forefront of the cannabis revolution, CBD oil has many advantages over traditional pain management.
- CBD oil comes in many forms. Elderly adults sometimes have trouble swallowing the unwieldy pill-forms that traditional medicine comes in. CBD oil can be taken orally as a tincture, sprayed inside the mouth, applied topically, dissolved under the tongue, or mixed into edible sweets to be consumed.
- CBD doesn’t cause brain fog. While many people have the misconception that, because CBD oil is marijuana adjacent, it causes a high—it doesn’t. Made from hemp, CBD oil contains only trace amounts of THC, the chemical in marijuana makes people “high.” This low amount of THC allows CBD oil to provide pain relief without the accompanying brain fog.
- CBD oil doesn’t require a prescription. Many people in the United States are turning away from traditional medicine as the cost of visits to the doctor rises. Because it isn’t locked behind expensive prescriptions or doctors’ visits, anyone can purchase and use CBD oil for pain management.
- CBD oil doesn’t have painful or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Unlike prescription pain management drugs, CBD oil doesn’t cause withdrawal. Symptoms are light and rarely present.
CBD Oil and Clinical Studies
Because so many people have turned to CBD oil so quickly, the FDA (the United States’ drug regulatory body) hasn’t had time to evaluate it. Thus, you’ll find that CBD oil is labeled with, “These statements are not intended to diagnose or treat any illness, and have not been evaluated by the FDA.”
In fact, the majority of supplements, from Vitamin C to fish oil, carry the same warning. FDA clinical trials can take years, and contribute to the high cost of prescription drugs.
That being said, there are some promising scientific studies carried out by researchers which indicate CBD’s potential for pain management.
Arthritis: A 2016 study found that rats with arthritis benefited from CBD oil treatment. Researchers discovered that the joints affected by arthritis had reduced pain and inflammation, with no additional side effects.
Insomnia: A 2008 study demonstrated that people may benefit from reduced pain and inflammation if they have chronic pain, like back pain. The researchers also discovered that CBD oil might help treat insomnia related to chronic pain.
Multiple Sclerosis: A 2018 presentation by a licensed medical doctor indicated that CBD oil can help treat the painful muscle spasms that accompany multiple sclerosis (MS). Treating these muscle spasms could lead to improved pain management, better sleep, and an improved range of movement.
Is CBD oil the miracle drug that many people claim it is? Science doesn’t have enough evidence to prove the claims true or false.
The facts are: CBD oil has been shown, in some scientific studies, to help manage chronic pain, insomnia, and muscle spasms. There are also exploratory findings that suggest it might be helpful in stopping seizures in children and young adults. Other claims, like that it inhibits tumor growth and cures fibromyalgia, have not been thoroughly researched—but researchers are working to discover the truth.
In the meantime, if you suffer from chronic pain and don’t want to commit to taking highly addictive prescription pills, CBD oil for pain management might be the answer for you. As always, make sure to consult your doctor to determine what’s best for you.