How Chronic Pain Occurs
Chronic pain may result from chronic inflammation or malfunction of the nervous system that result in overactivation of neurons that sense pain (nociceptors). Malfunction of the TRPV1 receptor is a known contributor to chronic pain.
In fact, it’s the impact on brain circuitry and chemistry that is the mechanism behind how the placebo effect works.
Chronic pain may actually be tied to an overactive limbic system, seen in anxiety disorders and states of chronic stress. The limbic system includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex and plays an important role in learning and making decisions. This circuitry can become disrupted and remodeled in conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain where the brain holds on to the physical or emotional trauma rather than letting it go and returning to balance. As a result, pain persists and becomes chronic.
How CBD Works
CBD can help to balance the inflammatory response, reduces oxidative stress, and produces a calming effect on the nervous system. It may even help with reducing inflammatory cytokines (some include TNF, IL-1, and IFN-γ).
It was the research into the workings of plant cannabinoids from hemp (Cannabis sativa) that led to the discovery of our innate cannabis targets –our endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for helping the body maintain homeostasis (balance) in some key areas –particularly within the nervous system and the immune system.
While the cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) activates CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CBD actually works around that system. CBD could signal TRPV1 and possibly influence opiate signaling in the brain.
The amygdala (part of the limbic system in the brain) stores traumatic and fearful memories, so overactivation of the amygdala is an underlying mechanism of PTSD. CBD at an oral dose of 400 mg reduced blood flow to the limbic system and may help normalize its activity.
The Chinese were already using cannabis medicinally in 2900 B.C. While the Chinese primarily used the seeds containing trace amounts of THC, other parts of the plant were used in India beginning around 1000 B.C. Flowers from the female plant were made into medicines of varying strengths and used for spasms, pain, and inflammation; even as a hypnotic and tranquilizer.
Now, modern medicine is looking into cannabis as a medicine. At this point, most studies of CBD for pain have been done in animals –particularly in mice and rats. As of halfway through 2019, there aren’t a lot of human trials out there yet.
As you can see, the overall evidence suggests that CBD products can be very beneficial. However, keep in mind that effective dosages can vary widely, depending on the condition, and that tolerance by individuals can be all over the map. Start on the lower side and keep your doctor in the loop.
The FDA has not approved CBD or CBDV products as a treatment for any medical condition. The information in this document is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.