Chronic or persistent pain is pain that carries on for longer than 12 weeks despite the use of medication or treatment. Common examples of chronic pain are arthritis, migraine, and fibromyalgia. Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a Phyto cannabinoid derived from the Cannabis species. CBD is free from psychoactive activity and has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. CBD differs from its Cannabis counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in this respect as it does not produce a euphoric high.
The Risk of Using Traditional Analgesics and Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Chronic pain treatment can be extremely grueling on individuals who suffer from it, which includes 20 million Americans. There has never been a cut and dry solution for chronic pain, but different treatment plans have taken their course over time. Many treatments do include the use of oral analgesics, specifically nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). While NSAIDS and other oral medications can be effective in the short-term, there are negative consequences to their continuous use. Many of which include chronic constipation and damage to the internal organs such as the liver or kidneys. It is important to be in-tune with what is beneficial for the body and what is potentially causing the entire body to function at a disadvantage. Other limitations of oral analgesics such as NSAIDS that are not present in topical CBD treatment include the risk of stomach ulcers if not taken properly or taken without food. Oral medications taken without food have a higher absorption into the stomach since there is not a barrier present and this can cause many complications over time. Topical treatments do not need to be taken with food which is a bonus since many people suffer from nausea due to their chronic pains.
Benefits to the Use of CBD
Topical CBD can be used locally to treat specific areas of concern. The use of topical CBD on the joints for arthritis can be effectively therapeutic as it absorbs deeply into the skin and can even reach certain muscle levels. The physical act of rubbing the topical CBD into the body can also provide relief as the massaging of the product stimulates blood flow and can allow for a sense of relaxation.
When using topical CBD, it is important to consider the dosage as this will indicate its potency. Most topical forms of CBD are measured in milligrams, and it is best to start with a lower dose first and increase as needed. The great benefit of topical CBD treatments is being able to control how much is being applied to the specific area and create a customized plan for unique needs. Unlike oral medications which disperse through the entire body to take effect, direct application of topical products allows for fast absorption and inherently fast relief from pain.
Use of Topical CBD & Absorption Study
A preclinical study on a knee osteoarthritis using CBD gels found that “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.”
One small crossover study examining the topical application of commercial CBD oil on 29 patients with peripheral neuropathy concluded that “the transdermal application of CBD oil can achieve significant improvement in pain and other disturbing sensations in patients with peripheral neuropathy. The treatment product was well tolerated and may provide a more effective alternative compared to other current therapies in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy.”
A 2020 randomized, double-blind crossover study in humans examined the effectiveness of topical CBD for treating neuropathic pain. Investigators found “a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations in the CBD group,” and no adverse events. They concluded that transdermal CBD “may provide a more effective alternative compared to other current therapies in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy.”
By Clinicians, For Clinicians
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