The science of CBD pain relief

Medical marijuana has been making headlines all around the world in recent years. This is not only due to the fact that it has been legalized in many parts of the world, but also because new findings are constantly being released that expose the medicinal benefits CBD, a cannabinoid within marijuana, brings, particularly when dealing with pain relief. But while those who take things such as CBD oil or capsules understand that it takes away some of their pain, they may not know exactly how it works. Or what it actually does in the body. So, how exactly does CBD work?

How does it work?

The medicinal benefits of marijuana come primarily from CBD, a cannabinoid that does not contain the psychoactive components associated with the high or stone felt when certain strains are consumed. The cannabinoid that provides those effects is THC, and while it doesn’t contain a lot of the medicinal benefits that CBD does, it still has some medicinal properties. But perhaps more importantly, THC is important to CBD because these two also work together to provide relief from certain conditions and ailments.cannabinoid-recepters

To understand how CBD works within the body, it’s important to first understand that cannabinoid receptors can be found throughout the body. THC works by attaching itself to CB1 or CB2. CBD also works with both of these receptors, but instead of attaching itself to them, CBD instead works with them, encouraging certain reactions and suppressing others. This cannabinoid works with what are known as ‘endogenous cannabinoids’, which aren’t really cannabinoids at all, but work in a way that’s very similar to them.

One way CBD does this is by slowing the production of an enzyme known as fatty acid amide hydroxylase, or FAAH. This enzyme breaks down one of those endogenous cannabinoids known as anandamide. As it breaks down, more anandamide stays in the system, which helps to intensify its effects. In particular, anandamide works with the central nervous system, bringing pain relief as it does, and it also works with the CB1 receptors found in the brain.

But even after accentuating the effects of anandamide, CBD’s job is not yet done. It also works to release another endogenous cannabinoid into the system, one known as 2-AG. This also stimulates the CB1 receptor that is found in the brain, but the CB2 receptor as well, a receptor that is found in white blood cells in the tonsils and the spleen. Heavier concentrations of CB2 can also be found in the immune system.

While CBD doesn’t bind to these receptors, but instead helps enzymes break them down and make them more powerful, there is one receptor that this cannabinoid does bind to; that’s TRPV-1, a G-protein receptor. This receptor is known as the ‘vanilloid receptor’ because it acts in a way very similar to the vanilla bean, which has been shown to be an effective treatment for headaches. Once CBD binds to this receptor, it works as both an antiseptic and an analgesic, which brings pain relief.

As CBD does its work, it also stimulates another receptor known as the adenosine receptor; and it’s this work that helps to reduce anxiety. In addition to bringing calmness to feelings of anxiety, when these receptors are activated by CBD, they also work throughout the cardiovascular system, helping to regulate blood flow and increasing oxygen consumption. While it does this, it has an anti-inflammatory effect, which also helps contribute to the pain relief properties CBD can bring.

But CBD also has an influence on serotonin, a neuropathic transmitter that is sometimes called ‘the happy hormone’. When CBD is consumed, especially in large amounts, it stimulates the serotonin receptor known as 5-HT1A. These receptors are known to be linked to many feelings within the body, including pain and anxiety. But CBD can work to inhibit these receptors, bringing pain relief by simply not activating that feeling, and keeping feelings of anxiety at bay.

In addition to just bringing pain relief benefits though, CBD also has an impact with very serious conditions such as cancer. It does this by stimulating another group of receptors known as peroxisome proliferator activated receptors or PPARs for short. These receptors are known to slow the growth of tumors, particularly within the lungs. These receptors have also been linked to Alzheimer’s, and while CBD will likely not cure this disease, it can work with the PPARs to help slow or prevent it.

List of CBD Health Benefits

It’s easy to see that once CBD is consumed, it goes to work in many different parts of the body, suppressing some receptors while stimulating and engaging with others. This work done by CBD helps with many different ailments, sicknesses and conditions including:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Stiff/sore muscles
  • Insomnia, lack of sleep due to pain
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Digestive problems
  • Diabetes
  • Seizures and epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Mood disorders
  • Nausea
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stress
  • Strokes

It’s really no wonder that CBD has been making so many headlines over the recent years, or why new breakthroughs are being made every day. Working in many different parts of the body, this is one cannabinoid that holds many benefits without any psychoactive effects. And that makes it a useful treatment for just about anyone suffering from certain conditions and sicknesses.

2 thoughts on “The science of CBD pain relief”

  • Diane Gracely

    Unfortunately CBD alone does not help my chronic pain, I need THC. I've tried different strains and brands of CBD and so far none of it has helped me with PAIN. However it does help me with anxiety.

    • John Doe

      That is true, CBD and THC work well together to combat pain. It also depends on the type of pain and where it is coming from. Thanks for reading!

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