How Does Topical CBD Help Relieve Pain?
Topical CBD products are on the rise. There are products out there marketed towards everyone, from pets with arthritis to athletes with sore muscles. Whether it’s a salve or a cream, more people swear by the pain relieving effects of topical CBD. New products are being rolled out every single day. But the question is: do they work?
Research, while still in its infancy, is showing promising results.
Let’s take a look at the science behind CBD, how it works with your body, and what to look for when you’re searching for a topical CBD to suit your needs.
The Science Behind CBD
While studies are still ongoing, scientists have so far confirmed that CBD is effective in providing pain relief, as well as treating a host of other ailments. While researchers are still learning all of the different ways CBD works in the body, many of them agree that, at this point, it remains a viable and relatively harmless method for pain relief.
How Does it Work?
CBD acts on a system of receptors in your body called cannabinoid receptors. The cannabinoids found in CBD are similar to compounds that are naturally occurring in the body, but – and this often gets misconstrued – they are not the exact same compounds.
These naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the body are called endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system plays a number of functions in the body, including regulating the immune system, metabolism, and memory.
To date, researchers have discovered two major types of receptors: CB1, which is found primarily in the central nervous system, and CB2, which is found mainly in immune system tissues.
Both receptors – CB1 and CB2 – are also found on our skin cells.
From what we know, CBD blocks the effects of these receptors, so when you apply topical CBD to your skin, it bypasses both CB1 and CB2 receptors, effectively ‘blocking’ pain.
The National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering evaluated decades of cannabis research and found that adults who experienced chronic pain experienced a significant reduction in pain symptoms when they were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids.
Additionally, current research indicates that some of CBD’s effects may occur outside of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, impacting other receptors like serotonin and adenosine. This means that while CBD may block pain, it can also impact mood and taste. This explains why people use CBD for a host of other reasons, including treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, and a host of other ailments.
It’s important that we acknowledge that most scientific studies to date on CBD have been limited to animals. Currently, there are human clinical trials underway, so there is still much to be learned about CBD.
CBD as a Popular Alternative to Addiction-Causing Opioids
It’s no secret that pain is a big driver behind opioid addiction. Many people who are given prescription opioids to manage pain quickly become addicted and turn to other drugs. CBD gives you an alternative method for pain relief, without any of the addictive properties that other drugs have. It doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive compound that gives you the “high” feeling.
CBD is believed to be the safest treatment for pain relief as there are few side effects, most of which are benign, and there is no addiction risk.
That being said, some companies may take shortcuts, and may include harmful ingredients to their products. This is why it is always recommended that you consult your doctor or a health professional if you are new to CBD.
What to Look for in Your Topical CBD
It’s important to note that CBD products are still unregulated, so companies can take shortcuts and fill their products with ingredients that may not be optimal for you, or they may interact negatively with other existing medications you may be taking. Before you purchase your topical CBD, make sure you take a close look at the ingredients and consult your doctor if you have any concerns. If in doubt, start at a low dosage of CBD, then increase it as needed. The dosage is often written in milligrams, and many brands offer a range of doses per product.
Some CBD products also have a certificate of analysis that gives consumers greater transparency and a peace of mind. While the certificate of analysis is not required, it certainly helps quell some anxiety that consumers -- especially new ones -- may have.
Make sure you also look out for non-CBD ingredients like menthol, which can also be effective in managing pain. Combined, these ingredients may be more effective in alleviating pain.