CBD: What We Know So Far
Until recently, pain sufferers had little choice other than turning to opioids for pain relief. However, opioids often come with addictive properties and unpleasant side effects. Many people are now looking for opioid alternatives. The country’s stance on medical marijuana is changing. States’ moves to legalize cannabis for therapeutic uses are leading to a new and promising alternative for those living with pain: cannabidiol, or CBD.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of the key chemical components of the cannabis plant. CBD belongs to a class of substances called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids include not just CBD, but THC (the chemical primarily responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects) and some 60 other chemical compounds. Many of these also appear to have therapeutic properties. CBD and THC are the most well-studied of these.
Unlike THC, cannabidiol does not induce feelings of intoxication or euphoria associated with recreational marijuana use. However, it has a profound effect on pain.
How does Cannabidiol work?
CBD acts on a specialized system in the body called the endocannabinoid system. This is a network of receptors designed to accept cannabinoid molecules such as CBD and THC. These receptors are present in nearly every part of the body. They are especially numerous in the brain and the immune system.
When cannabinoid receptors are activated by CBD molecules, it both reduces inflammation and modulates or blocks pain signals.
In clinical testing, CBD shows to be as effective as opioids for managing chronic pain. But unlike opioids, CBD is non-habit forming and does not appear to have any major side-effects. Also, accidental overdose does not appear to be a problem.
What about sleep?
Some people report that CBD intake has anti-inflammatory benefits. Especially when combined and made a part of a plant-based diet and balanced, sustainable exercise routine. Reducing inflammation in the body often leads to pain-relief. The reduction of inflammation in the joints, muscles, and organs leads to more activity and fast recovery.
For some, CBD intake is just one part of a more comprehensive strategy to eliminate inflammatory foods and increase habits and activity that promote your healthiest self. Some report that CBD intake has calming effects – because of a lack of research on CBD, it’s unclear whether CBD intake can promote more healthy sleep. Some report that potential calming effects of CBD intake improves their sleep and rest routine. A small but growing number of athletes experiement with CBD and THC as part of their routines. Some anecdotal reports from training routines that include CBD some athletes report feeling like CBD may be promoting faster recovery after training sessions.
There is still a great deal of research to be done into CBD and THC. Especially how they interact in the human body and how the body’s endocannabinoid system and its network of receptors communicate with the rest of our body’s systems. At this time the seemingly incredible benefits of CBD intake are not conclusively proven.