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Cbd oil for pain pros and cons

Pros & Cons of CBD Oil for Pain Management

CBD or Cannabidiol oil is derived from a cannabis plant which is controversial in its usage because of recreational marijuana usage. Even though it is extracted from marijuana or hemp plants, CBD oil is popular for its medicinal usage with the least amount of intoxication in comparison to other cannabinoids.

CBD is available as various products including oils, tinctures, balms, and candy that are extremely helpful for people experiencing physical pain. According to recent studies about 62% of people use CBD for a medical condition such as treating chronic pain, arthritis, joint pain or anxiety.

CBD oil is a mixture of CBD mixed with an inert carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil in various concentrations.

Cannabidiol or CBD is a chemical found in cannabis sativa or marijuana or hemp plants. CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, and CBD does not cause high effects.

How does CBD work?

Cannabidiol affects the sensation and messages travelling to the brain. The exact result and causes of these effects is not clear. Cannabidiol prevents the breakdown of a chemical in the brain which affects pain, mood, and mental function of the brain. Increasing the level of this chemical in blood and preventing its breakdown helps to reduce psychotic symptoms associated with conditions like schizophrenia.

Cannabidiol would block some psychoactive effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is effective in reducing pain and anxiety.

The cannabinoids produce effect in the body by interacting with 2 cannabinoid receptors that form part of the endo-cannabinoid system (central nervous system). These receptors are largely responsible for the cognitive and emotional effects which are the perception of pain.

  • CB1 receptors – These are present throughout the body mainly in the brain and help coordinate movement, pain, emotion, mood, thinking, appetite, memories, and other functions.
  • CB2 receptors – These are present commonly in the immune system affecting inflammation and pain.

CBD stimulates these receptors for the body to produce its own cannabinoids referred to as endocannabinoids released that bind to cannabinoid receptors involved in functions such as body’s senses of inflammation, or needs to return to homeostasis (a state of stable balance).

What Medical Conditions are treated with CBD?

CBD is a promising option for pain relief treatment, researchers are still skeptical about its safety and effectiveness. CBD is effective for relieving chronic pain, improving sleep, and reducing inflammation, however these effects are condition-specific. CBD has properties helpful in treating medical condition such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory – Potential to reduce joint pain associated with arthritis
  • Anti-oxidative – Helps in reducing systemic inflammation by fighting oxidative stress as well as potent in decreasing symptoms of autoimmune conditions such as lupus
  • Antiemetic- It is beneficial in decreasing vomiting and nausea associated with cancer treatments
  • Antipsychotic – Affecting in easing symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Neuroprotective – It may help to slow the progression of neurological disorders like Multiple Sclerosis

Some of the medical conditions treated with CBD are:

  • Neuro-protection – This is mainly caused by damage to the nerves and is a result of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, injuries like herniated discs, and infections like shingles. Body produces neurotransmitters which bind to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system thus reducing chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptors and reducing inflammation as well as interacting with neurotransmitters. CBD oil helps in reducing the inflammation that might worsen the neurodegenerative symptoms.
  • Pain Relief – The effects of CBD oil on the brain’s receptors would also help in managing the pain. Cannabis offers many benefits taken after chemotherapy treatments. Other roles of cannabis in relieving symptoms caused by arthritis, chronic pain, muscle pain and spinal cord injuries.
  • Anxiety relief – CBD helps in managing and providing relief from anxiety by reducing stress, decreasing physiological effects of anxiety like increased heart rate, relief in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as inducing sleep in case of insomnia.
  • Anti-Seizure – Seizures are caused due to changes in the electrical activity in the brain. CBD helps in reducing the frequency of seizures in people suffering with epilepsy. Epidiolex is a commonly prescribed CBD drug which is approved by FDA and is used to treat epilepsy.
  • Multiple sclerosis – Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune condition which affects the body through the nerves and brain with muscle spasms as one of the most common symptoms of MS. The spasms might be strong causing constant pain. The short-term use of CBD oil helps in reducing the levels of muscle spasms resulting in reduction of symptoms.
  • Cancer Treatment – CBD is effective in preventing the growth of cancer cells, reducing anxiety, improving the action of chemotherapy as well as lessen the side effects of conventional chemotherapy. CBD might also reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting that are common chemotherapy-related side effects for those suffering with cancer.
  • Acne – CBD oil helps in reducing acne which is a common condition affecting more than 9% of the population. Acne might be caused by a number of factors such as genetics, bacteria, underlying inflammation and the overproduction of sebum which is an oily secretion made by sebaceous glands in the skin. CBD oil has anti-inflammatory properties as well as ability to reduce sebum production from sebaceous glands (secreting excessive sebum) and prevents the activation of pro-acne agents like inflammatory cytokines.
  • Heart Health – CBD has several benefits for the heart and circulatory system such as lowering high blood pressure that is linked to higher risks of health conditions, such as stroke, heart attack and metabolic syndrome. The stress and anxiety-reducing properties of CBD are responsible for lowering the blood pressure. CBD also helps in reducing the inflammation and cell death related with heart disease because of its powerful antioxidant and stress-reducing properties.
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CBD is also helpful in other conditions like:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Reducing effects of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Reducing antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia
  • Potentially combating type 1 diabetes
  • Reducing symptoms and side effects of cancer
  • Reducing the effects of tumor

CBD has also shown promising improvement in symptoms related to medical conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Migraine, Osteoarthritis, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What are the Side Effects of CBD?

The CBD oil is beneficial in treating multiple medical conditions; however there are many side-effects of CBD such as:

  • sleepiness
  • drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • liver damage
  • fertility problems in males
  • potentially severe interactions with alcohol and certain medications

Most people tolerate CBD oil easily without the side-effects but rarely there are some possible side effects. CBD oil taken with other medications might make other medications a little less effective.

CBD might interact with certain over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications as well as certain dietary supplements. CBD should not be used with medications or supplements containing grapefruit warning as grapefruit and CBD might interfere with enzymes that are crucial to drug metabolism.

CBD might also increase the risk of liver toxicity due to increase in level of liver enzymes (a marker of liver inflammation).

CBD oil should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it causes potential risks to a baby’s development.


CBD oil is available as full-spectrum oils or in forms containing CBD isolates. Full-spectrum CBD oils contain a variety of compounds available naturally in the cannabis plant such as proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll providing various health benefits.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from pain, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.

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What to Know Before You Try CBD Oil for Pain Relief

The science behind CBD oil for pain is still lacking, but what we do know is promising.

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Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is having a major moment. Most commonly consumed as an oil, the marijuana compound doesn’t give you that floaty feeling of being high—but it does have its own set of uplifting properties. CBD oil users say it melts away anxiety, eases sleep issues, and relieves depression. And last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved CBD to treat two severe forms of epilepsy, making it the first marijuana-derived drug approved at the federal level.

But the CBD oil use that might be most intriguing—and could perhaps be the biggest game-changer—is for pain relief. As the United States grapples with the opioid epidemic and struggles to treat the 50 million plus Americans who struggle with chronic pain, CBD oil has emerged as a nonaddictive alternative that people are applying as a topical oil, ingesting as a pill, or smoking through a vape pen.

But does CBD oil for pain really work—or is it just a passing fad amplified by the placebo effect? Here’s what we know so far.

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CBD oil as a painkiller just hasn’t been studied much

There has been lots of anecdotal proof for CBD and pain relief, so researchers have often focused on finding out whether that’s due to the placebo effect, says Rebecca M. Craft, PhD, H. L. Eastlick professor of psychology and director of the experimental psychology doctoral program at Washington State University.

Currently, the U.S. National Library of Medicine lists just 25 clinical studies involving CBD and its effects on pain. Only a handful of those have been completed so far, but there are more in the works. Many of these trials involve pain in people with advanced cancer, and while some show positive pay-offs, others demonstrate that cannabis treatment doesn’t provide any more relief than a placebo. The catch: Most of this science involves both CBD and THC (or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the part of cannabis that does give you a high).

There are a few other drawbacks to studies on CBD. First off, many involve rats rather than humans (including one that focuses on arthritis-related ache relief). Also, the science that does involve people doesn’t often include a large test group, Craft says. Finally, as Craft notes along with a review of CBD studies, there’s not much research out there about the long-term effects of cannabis-based meds.

In the end, science just needs to catch up with the draw toward CBD, at least in terms of easing aches.

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CBD oil for pain relief boils down to your brain

It likely comes down to neurotransmitters in the brain. “One mechanism of action is that it de-sensitizes a particular receptor known to be involved in pain, called TRPV1,” Craft explains. TRPV1 creates that sort of burning sensation pain you might feel from something like nerve damage. As Craft points out, that’s only one particular form of pain that CBD could affect—and one in which scientists are still trying to learn more about.

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Trying CBD oil for back pain and other run-of-the-mill aches probably won’t hurt you

None of this is to say trying CBD is off limits. “Cannabidiol is generally well-tolerated, which gives it a distinct advantage over other medications currently available for pain, including (and especially) opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant medications,” says Seth Waldman, MD, anesthesiologist and director of the pain management division at the Hospital for Special Surgery. “I have seen a number of patients with difficult neuropathic pain syndromes who found it helpful.” (There’s also a study on this neuropathic pain—that burning-like sensation that affects the nervous system as Craft mentioned earlier. Research showed, though weak, it had a positive effect.)

Also, while using it topically as an oil is probably safer, more promising results come from taking it orally, Dr. Waldman notes. So you’ll want to be extra careful going the ingested route.

Your biggest concern should be making sure you’re not getting the THC along with the CBD, Craft says, and that can be difficult to ensure. “Very low doses are unlikely to have side effects,” she says. “But if you have higher concentrations and you’re pre-disposed for mental illness, it could actually make it worse.”

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CBD oil for chronic pain has pros and cons

A strong draw to CBD: There’s no record of severe side effects. You might feel a little drowsy—and probably shouldn’t operate a vehicle while on it—but otherwise, you’re likely in the clear.

The bad news: CBD, just like any other supplement sold in the U.S., isn’t regulated. That means you can never be totally sure of the amount of CBD you’re getting. “If you and I go into a local cannabis shop, even a shop with a lot of experience of people coming in for medical reasons—unless you’re in Canada or Netherlands, where they have federally-produced drugs—we can’t trust that what’s on the label is what we’re actually getting,” Craft says. That means you could be getting more or less of CBD, as well as THC (which has its own set of side effects).

Using CBD oil for pain: The takeaway

“If it’s safe and you feel it works for you, then that’s great,” Craft says. “As far as helping the general public make a decision, we just want to know if it’s going to work for more people,” and that calls for more research.

Dr. Waldman says it is worth trying, at least for that neurological pain, but you’ll want to follow a few precautions considering dosage is hard to decipher. “Try only one new treatment at a time, so that any effects or side effects can be attributed to the right one,” he says. Then, “start low and go slow. That is, begin with the lowest dose, used once daily, and if tolerated and necessary, the dose could be increased slowly and deliberately. It is more difficult to gauge the effects of a new treatment if it is used irregularly.” One last important note is, of course, talk to your doctor first before trying.

This type of pain treatment, “is trendy and may have legitimate medicinal properties that are incredible—or it could go by to the wayside in a few years,” Craft says. “We just have to wait and see.”

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