cbd and pain management

Purpose of review: Given the growing challenges in chronic pain management coupled with the ongoing consequences of the opioid epidemic, pain management practitioners are looking into more effective, innovative, and safer alternatives to treat pain. Cannabis-based medicine had been described for hundreds of years but only recently have we seen the more scientific, evidence-based approach to its use, and ongoing investigations continue to explore its potential medical benefits. While historically more attention has been paid to the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there have been fewer scientific studies on the medical use of the cannabidiol (CBD) – a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Recent findings: By examining recent literature, we investigated the use of CBD and its potential role in pain management. Since there are currently no approved pharmaceutical products that contain CBD alone for the management of pain, this review focused on nabiximols (which is a combined product of THC/CBD in a 1:1 ratio) as the only pharmaceutical product available that contains CBD and is being used for the management of pain. It is difficult to definitely attribute the therapeutic properties to CBD alone since it is always administered with THC. Based on the available literature, it is difficult to make a recommendation for the use of CBD in chronic pain management. It is also important to note that there are many CBD products currently available as supplements, but these products are non-pharmaceuticals and lack the appropriate clinical studies to support their efficacy claims.

Keywords: CBD; Cannabidiol; Cannabinoids; Efficacy; Pain; THC; Treatment.

Cbd and pain management

In fact, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies and individuals that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain CBD. The FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD the manufacturers had claimed they contain.

If you ask health care providers about the most challenging condition to treat, chronic pain is mentioned frequently. By its nature, chronic pain is a complex and multidimensional experience. Pain perception is affected by our unique biology, our mood, our social environment, and past experiences. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, you already know the heavy burden.

If you or someone close to you is considering trying CBD, I would recommend Dr. Robert Shmerling’s advice about the dos and don’ts in choosing an appropriate product. Until there is high-quality scientific evidence in humans, it is difficult to make a recommendation for the regular use of CBD in chronic pain management.

Beware of powerful testimonials

CBD is emerging as a promising pharmaceutical agent to treat pain, inflammation, seizures, and anxiety without the psychoactive effects of THC. Our understanding of the role of CBD in pain management continues to evolve, and evidence from animal studies has shown that CBD exerts its pain-relieving effects through its various interactions and modulation of the endocannabinoid, inflammatory, and nociceptive (pain sensing) systems. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors that interact with our own naturally occurring cannabinoids. This system is involved in regulating many functions in the body, including metabolism and appetite, mood and anxiety, and pain perception.

Finally, there is anecdotal wisdom, when experiences by patients and health professionals have positive results. While the experience or medication could be beneficial, that doesn’t mean it is going to work for everyone. That’s because each and every person is unique, and what works perfectly for one patient could have no effect on another patient. This is especially true for pain, where many other factors (our mood and stress level, our environment and other medical conditions, and our previous experiences) can affect the perception of pain. Please be careful, and keep in mind that some of these incredible-sounding testimonials are merely marketing materials meant to lure consumers to buy more products, as the CBD market is expected to hit $20 billion by 2024.

Most importantly, CBD can interact with other important medications like blood thinners, heart medications, and immunosuppressants (medications given after organ transplantation), potentially changing the levels of these important medications in the blood and leading to catastrophic results, including death. Also, more information needs to be gathered about its safety in special populations such as the elderly, children, those who are immunocompromised, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

People are looking for novel, nonaddictive ways to treat pain

Cannabis (most commonly obtained from the Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants) has three major components: cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. While there are over a hundred different cannabinoids, the two major components are tetrahydrocannabional (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Historically more attention has been paid to the psychoactive (euphoric “getting high”) component of the cannabis plant, THC; there have been fewer scientific studies on the medical use of CBD, a non-psychoactive component of the plant.

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