The third quarter of 2018 showed full-steam movement of CBD into the mainstream. The first CBD-based treatment hit the market, big beverage companies announced intentions to produce infused beverages and over 20 clinical trials involving cannabis-based medicines concluded with promising results. The benefits of CBD are becoming so widely recognized that the compound is beginning to find its way onto kitchen counters as a food supplement and into bathroom cabinets as a pain relief alternative. CBD is replacing common over the counter (OTC) pain relief medicines at an increasing rate, serving as an all-natural, side-effect free option for treating pain and inflammation.
In order to understand why we can (and should) replace OTC drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen with CBD oil, we can start by looking at the way the synthetic compounds interact with the body.
NSAIDs and Pain Relief
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, are a common option for treating mild to moderate pain. The main way these painkillers work is through the inhibition of special enzymes COX-1 and COX-2. By blocking these enzymes, the body produces fewer prostaglandins, pro-inflammation lipids found at sites of tissue damage and infection that cause pain symptoms. The fewer prostaglandins, the less swelling and pain.
Ingesting NSAIDs is relatively harmless for most people. But for those who require regular pain relief, problems may occur. The synthetic compounds that comprise NSAIDs are not directed to specific prostaglandins in distress when ingested. Rather all prostaglandins within the body experience a block in production. This decrease in synthesis results in an irritant and toxic effect upon the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, and can cause ulcers and issues within the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Other side effects can include high blood pressure, kidney damage and allergic reactions.
Acetaminophen and Pain Relief
The ways in which Acetaminophen works to relieve pain still cast shadows of mystery. What isknown, however, is that the compound helps to relieve inflammatory pain through indirect activation of CB1 receptors and it increases levels of anandamide (the bliss molecule) leading to analgesia (the inability to feel pain). These interactions with the body are similar to the ways in which cannabidiol works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to decrease pain - but the side effects of OTC pain relief medicines are vastly different from that of the natural option.
The list of side effects from acetaminophen includes everything from upset stomach to vomiting, insomnia, rash, swelling and overdose. So the question is why risk it if there is a natural option, that has minimal side effects and zero history of overdose?
CBD for Pain Relief & Prevention
As we know, CBD is one of more than 120 phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The cannabinoid, when introduced to our endocannabinoid system, interacts with our CB2 receptors to perform a myriad of tasks, dependent upon the system’s areas of imbalance. Two ways in which it is known to assist with pain management include 1) its treatment and limitation of inflammation within the nervous system and brain, and 2) its ability to prevent the body from absorbing anandamide, resulting in increased levels within the body and decreased ability to recognize/feel pain.
Further, CBD works with the body’s entire immune and nervous systems to reach homeostasis, meaning pain prevention comes into play through the avoidance of inflammation. And it does all this while never affecting a person’s brainstem, which is responsible for controlling breathing and heart rate. This means that cannabinoids do not have the ability to shut down the body’s breathing and blood circulatory system, unlike other chemicals found in OTC pain aids.In fact, this inability to cause a fatal overdose is one reason why medical professionals are researching cannabis treatments as alternatives to opioid prescriptions for pain management. What is important to know now is that cannabidiol is proving to be a safe, effective and beneficial alternative to the widely-consumed and potentially harmful lot of synthetic over-the-counter painkillers.It’s also proving to be a versatile option for individuals searching for pain relief as well. Not only can it serve as a preventative option, ensuring nervous system balance and deterring inflammatory responses, but it also offers various methods of application. From CBD Salves that allow you to apply infused oils directly to points of pain and inflammation to CBD capsules that provide pre-measured amounts of the medicinal cannabinoid and tinctures, which allow you to measure your own doses, individuals are now able to replace their run-of-the-mill OTC painkillers with specific CBD infusions, tailored to their specific ailments and treatment preferences.
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