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CBD for Inflammation: Relief Without the Side Effects

Inflammation is a routine healing response within the human body. But our lifestyles and environment can cause the scales to tip from a brief, acute response to a chronic disruption.

When this shift happens, long-term disease states can settle in, causing discomfort and reducing quality of life. Fortunately, a growing body of research supports using CBD products for inflammation.

About CBD for Inflammation

Claim

CBD can safely and effectively reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Research Shows

Increasing numbers of studies are showing conclusive evidence that CBD is highly effective in treating the inflammation associated with a variety of conditions. The research topics vary widely, but conclusions are similar.

Just the Facts

Both anecdotal evidence and peer-reviewed studies support the use of CBD for inflammation.

About Inflammation

Inflammation is a body-wide phenomenon and manifests differently from person to person. That’s because disease states rooted in the inflammatory response can vary widely. Inflammation can affect the skin, joints, muscles, nerves, airway, digestive tract and brain, among other locations.

A diverse collection of pharmaceuticals and other remedies exists to treat this wide range of inflammatory issues. Unfortunately, each of them come with their own lineup of side effects.

As an alternative, many people are turning to CBD for relief. But does it really deliver on the promise to safely reduce inflammation?

About CBD Oil

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many cannabis sativa-derived chemical compounds classified as cannabinoids.

This group includes the famously psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the dominant cannabinoid in marijuana plants. But it also includes dozens of non-intoxicating compounds which are just beginning to step into the spotlight.

Today, researchers are studying CBD and other cannabinoids for the treatment of everything from chronic pain to anxiety disorders. While large-scale clinical trials have not yet been conducted for many of these potential health benefits, preclinical research and small human studies have been promising.

That’s likely because cannabinoids like CBD interact with a system of transmitters and receptors located throughout the body. This system is known as the endocannabinoid system, and its cannabinoid receptors are present in the nervous system, organs, skin, and more. Cannabis plant-derived cannabinoids mimic endocannabinoids, the transmitters that the body produces naturally.

Why People Are Trying CBD for Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a defining component of a long list of common diseases. Just a few examples include:

These conditions can continue for years, significantly reducing quality of life. At this point, people typically turn to prescription medications or over-the-counter painkillers.

Available drugs can fall into two categories: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids. While effective against inflammation, both of these groups can cause side effects that can range from undesirable to devastating.

NSAIDS

NSAIDs are readily available over-the-counter. Most medicine cabinets contain at least one of these common painkillers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin or naproxen.

But it is well established that these products cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Additionally, liver and DNA damage are possible.

Corticosteroids

This group of drugs replicate the effects of the hormone cortisol.

When taken in the presence of an inflammatory condition, inflammation is reduced and the immune system is suppressed. This brings temporary relief from inflammatory symptoms.

The side effects associated with corticosteroids are numerous, though. High blood pressure, osteoporosis, mood swings, weight gain and infections are just some of the possibilities.

How CBD can help people with inflammation

Despite the investments pharmaceutical companies place on research and development, many patients are turning their backs on conventional drugs.

A novel option for treating the pain and discomfort of inflammation is actually an ancient and traditional one. Cannabidiol, or CBD, holds great promise for effectively treating inflammation, and without the side effects.

CBD for post-injury inflammation

John K., a real estate agent, is all too familiar with the inflammatory process. A series of dislocations left his shoulders particularly sensitive to inflammatory triggers.

“Some nights my shoulders get what I call ‘the tingles,’ mostly after I’ve eaten something with vegetable oils. They can keep me up for hours,” he said. “Ibuprofen helps a little, but I know I shouldn’t take it all the time. CBD brings complete relief and helps me sleep.

CBD brings complete relief and helps me sleep.
— John K.
When there are injured tissues within the body, certain immune cells are triggered to release inflammation-causing chemicals. This is an essential part of the healing process, since inflammation draws blood and nutrients to the site. Extended periods in this state, however, cause additional damage to the tissues rather than healing. Studies show that CBD reduces the activity of the immune cells which trigger the inflammatory process.

Again, these effects come without accompanying downfalls. Studies are able to replicate the safety of CBD again and again.

Because of this impressive trifecta – reduced inflammation, lack of side effects, and proven safety – CBD use is a promising strategy for a plethora of conditions.

Newer research is suggesting that inflammation takes part in more disease states than previously expected, rendering CBD as a potential therapy option for depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and atherosclerosis to start.

CBD for multiple sclerosis

I started using CBD oil because I had heard from more than one person that they used it to sleep better. So, I read up on it, and I was immediately drawn in by all its benefits.”
— Paul Gutierrez
Another condition for which CBD has shown to be effective is multiple sclerosis. This autoimmune disease features inflammatory attacks on the myelin sheath protecting the nerve cells, resulting in pain and muscle control issues, among other symptoms.

Paul Gutierrez, a multiple sclerosis patient, used conventional treatments to manage his symptoms. While his condition remained mostly in remission, he would occasionally experience inflammatory pain episodes. Although these episodes were tolerable, if they struck at night, they would keep him up.

“I would wake up in the middle of the night with pain, and I just couldn’t fall asleep for a few hours,” he said. “Consequently, I was running on very little sleep.  I have a very long work week, and I could feel the effects of this by the middle of the week.”

Trying CBD changed Gutierrez’s story. “I started using CBD oil because I had heard from more than one person that they used it to sleep better. So, I read up on it, and I was immediately drawn in by all its benefits, aside from sleeping through the night.  Within a few weeks of taking it, I was able to sleep through the night, and in the past few months of using it, I very rarely have any trouble sleeping through the night. It is now a part of my daily routine.”

Research Highlights

Click the studies listed below for more details about the latest research on CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. You’ll also find links to peer-reviewed scientific articles on the topic.

2018: CBD for Airway Inflammation

This animal-model study looked at the interaction between CBD and airway inflammation in asthma in mouse models.

Researchers observed that CBD treatment reduced the inflammatory process within the airways of the models. After treatment, they recorded decreased markers for inflammation and improvements in other indicators of lung function.[/accordion]

2016: CBD and Joint Inflammation

This 2016 animal study looked at using CBD for arthritis pain.

The trial showed significant benefits when using CBD to treat arthritis-related inflammation. Researchers used transdermal CBD gel on rat models. The study showed great reduction in joint pain and inflammation with no side effects.

2014: CBD for Acne

This 2014 laboratory study focused on the effects of CBD on the main causes of acne. The researchers discovered that CBD positively impacted all three acne triggers: oil overproduction, increase in oil-producing cells, and inflammation.

Specifically, the application of CBD normalized oil production and cell growth as well as reducing the accompanying inflammation.

The paper authors commented that common acne medications can cause severe side effects. On the other hand, CBD is well tolerated, safe, and lacks side effects.

Recommended CBD use for acne included a system-wide approach, such as using oils or tinctures. It was noted that topical products, like CBD face creams, are also likely to be effective.

2010: CBD for Colitis Inflammation

In 2010, researchers looked at the ways intestinal inflammation and function responded to CBD, THC, and a combination of both in rat models. They compared the effects of these cannabinoids to sulfasalazine, a common medication used for colitis and other autoimmune conditions.

The study concluded that CBD treated the inflammation and motility issues notable in colitis as well as sulfasalazine. But they saw the greatest benefit in rats that received a combination of THC and CBD.

Concerns About Using CBD for Inflammation

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD as dietary supplement, or as a treatment for pain or inflammation. The only FDA-approved CBD medication at the time of this writing is the epilepsy medication Epidiolex, which is approved for the rare, severe seizure disorders Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

That said, there is no shortage of studies that support the use of CBD to relieve the inflammation seen in many chronic diseases.

For those suffering from these conditions – as well as acute cases of inflammation – CBD provides hope for a reduction in pain and a greater quality of life.

One key idea to note, however, is that while CBD may seem miraculous for some, it is serving as a symptom reliever. While CBD may reduce inflammation, there is likely an underlying condition stimulating the inflammatory process.

Ultimately, CBD can help people feel more like themselves as they search for additional solutions to their conditions.

 


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The Author

Sara Kennedy

Sara Kennedy

Sara Kennedy lives in Alaska. She spends the dark winters reading and fat biking and the summers racing bikes and camping with her family.

She is a nutritional therapy consultant and certified personal trainer. You can also find her writing at Echo magazine.