Normal pain (acute pain) has a traceable source, a cure, and ends after administration. However, when pain persists beyond treatment, it ceases to be perceptive and becomes chronic pain, affecting various aspects of your life, such as mobility and sleep.
Fortunately, while chronic pain has no cure, ancillary treatments like CBD may help in pain management. According to a patient survey, 62% of respondents reported using CBD products for chronic pain.
Moreover, 59% of the respondents who had tried CBD reported that the cannabinoid was effective, lowering their prescription opioid dosages. Below is how CBD facilitates chronic pain management.
CBD Works as a Sleep Aid
The relationship between chronic pain and sleeplessness is bidirectional, which aggravates the other. According to one observational survey, 20% of chronic pain patients have at least one insomnia symptom, which causes them to experience more severe, lingering pain.
CBD has a sedative effect that induces sleep, reducing chronic pain intensity. Chronic pain patients can use CBD products like vapes, edibles, and tinctures for rest. However, CBD gummies are a popular option for people who need help winding down before bed because they are easy to dose, and their effects last longer.
Sleep issues for chronic pain patients include restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, and waking up in the middle of the night. CBD is a biphasic compound, inducing wakefulness at low doses and sedation at high doses. According to one study, 160mg/day increases total sleep time and reduces mid-sleep arousal frequency.
The cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an elaborate body system constituting receptors that regulate multiple body functions, including sleep. So, CBD interacts with the ECS’ CB2 receptors, triggering a drop in cortisol levels within the bloodstream.
Cortisol is a stress hormone released from the adrenal gland and induces wakefulness due to its role in the body’s fight-or-flight response. Besides lowering cortisol levels, CBD raises serotonin levels; serotonin is a “happy hormone” that induces sleep and is a precursor for melatonin (another sleep hormone). So, one way via which CBD tackles chronic pain is by inducing restful sleep and lengthening sleep duration.
CBD is A Natural Analgesic
The body’s acute pain pathway begins with receptors located on nerve cells’ surfaces. Such pain receptors transmit pain signals across the nervous system until they reach the thalamus portion of the brain for interpretation. Once the brain interprets the signal, it relays corrective action signals to target organs or systems.
However, chronic pain is more challenging than acute pain for various reasons. For starters, chronic pain causes a shift in how the nervous system typically works so that the pain receptors on the nerve cells’ surface move deeper into the cell. Chronic pain may also trigger hyperalgesia (enhanced pain sensitivity), causing the pain receptors to go on overdrive, sending pain signals with little downtime.
CBD’s mechanism of action as an analgesic entails interacting with ECS, which regulates pain. The cannabinoid activates the ECS’s CB1 receptors, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain.
CBD also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping prevent cell and tissue damage that leads to chronic pain, especially with autoimmune diseases. Moreover, CBD is non-psychoactive and does not share the dependency risk typical of prescription medications.
CBD Enhances Mood
Besides the hypothalamus, pain signals transmitted to the brain also pass through the limbic system or the portion of the brain that tackles emotions. Therefore, people experience pain on a physical and emotional level.
According to one clinical study, 85% of chronic pain patients also suffer from depression, a mood disorder. However, CBD is a potent antidepressant that helps alleviate chronic pain aggravation resulting from mood swings.
Besides sleep and pain, the ECS also regulates moods and emotions. Mood disorders typically arise from hormonal imbalances caused by plummeting levels of neurotransmitters that enhance moods. Such neurotransmitters include serotonin and dopamine.
According to one study, CBD’s interaction with the ECS’s receptors impacts serotonin and dopamine receptors located in the brain. The cannabinoid interaction causes a spike in serotonin levels in the brain, tackling the chemical imbalance that causes depression. By elevating mood, CBD prevents mood disorders from aggravating chronic pain.
CBD Induces Relaxation
Stress and anxiety are other factors that have a bidirectional relationship with chronic pain. Although stress is primarily a psychological phenomenon, it also impacts physical health, including pain patterns.
For starters, stress manifests as emotional tension that causes mental health issues, including mood and anxiety disorders. It may also trigger physical symptoms like muscle tension and headaches, classic chronic pain symptoms. Furthermore, chronic stress is also a trigger for inflammation, a risk factor for various diseases that lead to chronic pain.
However, CBD has an anxiolytic effect, preventing anxiety from exacerbating chronic pain’s physical or emotional aspects. The cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system to activate 5-HT1A receptors; which modulate nervous system activity, countering anxiety symptoms like elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
Research supports CBD’s efficacy in tackling chronic pain from multiple angles for the best results. However, note that not all CBD products are made equal. So, only buy your CBD for chronic pain from trusted brands and dispensaries to enjoy the benefits.