Is CBD better than most painkillers?
Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to simply as CBD, is getting a lot of good press lately. It is being promoted by companies as having a miraculous ability to treat certain symptoms naturally, avoiding the need for potentially harmful pharmaceuticals. One of the most loved qualities is CBD oil for pain. But, anecdotal evidence and some scientific research is suggesting that CBD could be helpful for a wide range of conditions.
Just how true are these claims, though? How could CBD be capable of assisting with problems like chronic pain? And even if it does have this ability, is it really better than using traditional painkillers?
In this article, we will be investigating whether CBD is better than most traditional painkillers, and whether you could make the switch to improve your lifestyle.
About chronic pain
Pain is a common occurrence, and everybody experiences it at some point in their lives. The experience of pain is often related to inflammation, which occurs whenever the body detects physical trauma. This can be a bump or graze, a virus, or a pulled muscle.
When this occurs, the cells in the affected area produce chemicals called cytokines. These summon white blood cells to the area to combat the issue. The white blood cells secrete enzymes which digest invading pathogens and preventing infection in the wound or stopping the virus from spreading. Some white blood cells also produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), sometimes called free radicals. The free radicals remove dead or damaged tissue so that healing can begin.
This entire process can cause things like redness, swelling (inflammation), and possibly more pain. However, these side effects should be temporary and subside when your body has healed itself. Unfortunately, nothing ever works perfectly, and sometimes pain can persist.
There are many reasons for persistent pain, but it does mean that your inflammation response hasn’t really been switched off. If a pain persists for more than 12 weeks, it is officially a chronic pain. Chronic pain can be very difficult to live with, as it makes you feel uncomfortable, fatigued, and weak. In order to live life as normal, you have to find a way to get rid of the pain.
How is pain usually treated?
With acute pains such as headaches or injuries that you have just sustained, you can take over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers like aspirin. Anti-inflammatory tablets (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can also be used, since aspirin can have negative side effects such as stomach ulcers if used often. These OTC painkillers, despite having some negative side effects, are not very strong – this is why you are able to buy them without a prescription. As a result, they won’t work for severe pain.
For persistent pain that is not severe, it is recommended to keep moving and not let the pain get in the way of your life. For back pain, for example, lying in bed all the time will make the pain worse, not better. Not going to work and not exercising (gently, of course) can cause muscle stiffness, fatigue, and even depression. If the pain is not preventing you from moving entirely, then you should try to go about your normal routine.
Severe pains may require the use of opioids in treatment. These must be prescribed as they are quite dangerous, but they tend to be effective in controlling certain types of chronic pain; they may not work for nerve-related pain, however.
When it comes to treating chronic pain, consult a doctor and discuss all the possible options so that you can decide which method is best for you. There are other treatments than the ones discussed above, including using a Transcutaneous Electro-Nerve Stimulator (TENS) unit to provide stimulation around the affected area. However, painkillers tend to be more commonly used.
The negatives of painkillers
Although painkillers may be able to solve your pain in the short-term, they are not a long-term solution. As chronic pain is persistent, painkillers can become dangerous.
Aspirin, for example, can cause stomach ulcers when used excessively, and it is also mildly addictive. Since the body can develop a tolerance to painkillers, you will need to take more and more to experience any benefit. NSAIDs are similar in this respect, as taking them for an extended period of time or in large quantities can lead to blood clots and bleeding ulcers. Liver failure can occur if taken in very large quantities.
Opioids are often used for severe pain, but many of us have already heard of the opioid crisis that is gripping America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 115 people in the United States die every day from an opioid overdose. Prescription opioids are highly addictive, and they are easy to build a tolerance to. A combination of these factors is what has led to this epidemic, and sad as it is, doctors are still over-prescribing this type of medication. There are mild side effects other than addiction, such as constipation and drowsiness, but the scary thing is of course that they are so addictive and potentially fatal.
While painkillers are generally fine for short-term use and relieving the symptoms of acute pain, it appears that it is dangerous to take them in the long term. Is there another, safer option for those experiencing chronic pain?
Why could CBD be good for pain?
One of the most common applications for CBD is to help treat the symptoms of pain. If it truly works, then it could provide an all-natural, safer alternative to painkillers. According to a recent report from the World Health Organization, CBD is safe, non-toxic, and non-addictive. This makes a refreshing change from prescription meds like opioids which run a high risk of addiction.
CBD is known to combat inflammation. In fact, the US government has CBD listed as a patented anti-inflammatory, meaning that it could be able to switch off the inflammation response. If your chronic pain comes as a result of persistent inflammation, CBD could be able to tackle the problem at its source. Rather than just covering up the pain and stopping you from feeling it, CBD may be able to reduce the inflammation that is causing the pain in the first place.
It is able to do this through its impact on our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which maintains homeostasis and regulates a vast number of bodily functions. One of these functions includes the inflammation response. Through its effects on the ECS, CBD can encourage your body to function normally and heal itself properly.
There have been several studies conducted into CBD and pain. It is possible that cannabidiol could be used on a number of different types of pain. For example, a 2016 study from the European Journal of Pain investigated the effects of CBD on arthritis pain in rats, finding that transdermal application reduced swelling and pain. Another study from the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD could be used to treat general pain and inflammation.
You might still prefer to take painkillers for the convenience of it, but in fact CBD could be more convenient than you ever imagined. Most people take CBD using sublingual oils, which can provide fast and effective relief for pain. However, you can also take capsules containing CBD; this will resemble a typical painkiller and provides ease of use and a premeasured dose. Furthermore, the fact that capsules have to be broken down in the digestive system means that the CBD will be released slowly over time. In other words, you won’t get relief fast, but you will be able to benefit from long-lasting relief.
Another option is to use CBD topicals. These include lotions and balms that you can apply directly to the skin. For arthritis and joint pain, this can be very effective, as the CBD can target specific affected areas.
Conclusion: Painkillers or CBD?
When it comes to choosing between painkillers and CBD, the choice is really up to you. No matter what, you should be consulting a doctor about your chronic pain and listening to the medical advice they give you. If you feel that CBD is an appropriate option, don’t be afraid to bring this up with a physician and ask if it could work for you.
All in all, CBD is safer than painkillers because there are fewer side effects and no risk of overdose. It may also be able to target the pain at its source, helping you to overcome pain in a more natural way. That being said, the most severe pains may not be effectively combatted by CBD oil.
If you are on any medication already, consult a physician before starting CBD as the two may interact negatively. At the end of the day, we think that CBD is worth a shot. Since it is safe to take, you can try it out for yourself with no harm done, even if you find that it’s not the treatment for you.