Cannabis sativa is a plant that has been the center of controversy and debate lately. There are records of the plant’s use to treat pain dating back to 2737 B.C.E. Fast forward to today and we are more aware of the compounds in marijuana and their role in pain relief.
More than 30 states have legalized medical marijuana and ten states, along with the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.
The two primary compounds found in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive, which means many people experience a euphoric “high” when they consume cannabis. The second compound, CBD, is non-psychoactive and acts to counter the euphoric effects of THC.
See our informative article on CBD vs. THC
Cannabis dispensaries and cultivators are isolating these compounds and creating concentrated oils that can be used in several ways, including vaporizing, edibles, and drinkables. Many feel the compound responsible for pain relief is CBD.
How Does CBD Work to Treat Pain?
CBD interacts with both your immune system and receptors in your brain. These receptors receive signals from stimuli and can help your cells react. When CBD is introduced to these receptors, they form an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to reduce pain.
Be sure to read our article on CBD and Homeostasis to learn how CBD interacts with the brain and body to restore balance.
A 2007 study concluded that cannabinoids, including cannabidiol, was effective in relieving the neuropathic pain that is experienced by 50%-70% of multiple sclerosis patients.
A more recent 2014 study indicated that analgesia is one of the principal therapeutic targets of the endocannabinoid system and many studies have confirmed the efficacy of cannabinoids for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
The benefit to CBD is that you do not build a tolerance to the compound. Unlike opiates, CBD is not addictive, so it offers a long-term solution that is ideal for managing chronic pain.
The Mayo Clinic makes recommendations on both THC and CBD dosage. It bases these recommendations on scientific research, publication, traditional use, and expert opinion. For the treatment of pain, the Mayo Clinic recommends that patients take anywhere from 2.5mg to 20mg of CBD with or without THC. It is best to start with the lowest dose and gradually increase in small increments until you obtain the level of relief you want.
Please see our complete article on CBD Dosage for a variety of different medical conditions, based on peer-reviewed academic research.
Most people tolerate CBD well, but there are a few side-effects that you need to be aware of that can occur, particularly with higher doses of CBD. These side-effects include:
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Mild low blood pressure
Choosing a CBD Oil
When looking to purchase a CBD oil, research is key. You will want to look for an oil that says “whole plant” or “full spectrum.” This means that the oil may contain trace amounts of THC, but not enough for a high and usually not enough to be detected in a drug test (in fact, it needs to contain below .3% THC for the CBD to be sold
All of this information should be available on the company’s website. If not, contact the company and request the information. If they are not willing to provide this, find a company that does share it.
As with any therapy regimen, speak with your doctor about adding CBD oil. Let your doctor know of any medications you are taking and follow their advice regarding dosage and ingestion method, like whether to use a vape pen with a concentrate or a dry herb vaporizer.