CBD & Pain: Understanding Types of Pain

Pain, when used as an umbrella term, is vast than the pacific ocean. Using CBD to treat pain can be effective only under the pretense that the type of pain is well-understood and properly diagnosed.

Most of us have crossed paths with the loud, piercing, cuss-worthy persona of acute pain: an elbow dings the edge of the table or a pinky toe that has found the bed frame yet again at 3 AM. Other types of pain produce less shock value but are no less odious in nature.

For the sake of this article, I’ll simply go into the types of pain that CBD has shown to treat effectively: neuropathic and inflammatory pain.

CBD treats neuropathic pain like Cinderella’s foot fit the magic shoe— a blissful, but unexpected, union. Neuropathic pain is largely created and sustained due to the glutamatergic system, which is a major excitatory neuronal pathway. Glutamate is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for turning neurons on, which is great, sometimes.

For humans, communication is key, not only interpersonally but also molecularly. Problems arise in paradise when neurons become damaged due to injury or chronic illness. When your body senses this damage, it cranks inflammation to HIGH and begins pumping glutamate all over your damaged nerves.

The point of this is to promote the death of the damaged neuron. Our bodies don’t enjoy malfunctioning cells and would prefer that they throw in the towel— this is important in ridding ourselves of possibly cancerous cells and maintaining optimal functioning. However, when this becomes a chronic condition, it is named neuropathic pain.

CBD inhibits glutamate release, which makes it ‘neuroprotective’, and excellent at dulling the prickling, tingling and burning sensations that neuropathic pain is known for. CBD can be used as a supplement to help manage neuropathic pain, alongside other natural supplements such as magnesium glycinate.

Pain due to inflammation is not as easily characterized as other types of pain, mostly because its origins of pain vary. On the bright side, CBD is good at calming inflammation, no matter what the root cause.

It doesn’t work like other anti-inflammatory drugs by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2 receptors, which means you don’t run the risk of developing gastrointestinal ulcers or heart attacks, hooray! Some studies have shown that cannabinoids (CBD and THC) are twenty times more potent anti-inflammatory agents when compared to NSAIDs (eg. ibuprofen).

When taken regularly alongside other natural anti-inflammatory supplements (eg. curcumin, turmeric), CBD can provide systemic relief of inflammation. Usually taken three times per day, dosing at each interval depends on your unique needs. Typically patients start with 0.5 ml per dose and increase until maximum relief.

The takeaway? CBD isn’t effective in treating all types of pain— for that reason, it’s important to understand your pain. If you experience inflammatory or neuropathic pain, talk to your doctor. CBD supplementation could be right for you.