Chronic pain is affecting millions of Americans. Since almost all medication produces unwanted side effects, more and more people turn to natural pain relief remedies. Is CBD a breakthrough for those suffering from chronic pain?
Natural Pain Relief: The Highlights
- Conventional drugs used to reduce pain are generally effective and work quickly, but aren’t always tolerated well and pose serious health risks with long-term use.
- Natural pain relief remedies are often better tolerated and healthier over the long-term as long as they are used appropriately.
- Common natural remedies are willow bark, capsaicin (chili pepper), curcumin (turmeric), acupuncture, mindfulness meditation, cloves, and lavender essential oil.
- CBD has been shown to be quite effective when taken internally or applied topically by itself or in conjunction with conventional painkillers at relieving chronic pain even for MS and arthritis.
- A dosage of 1mg to 6mg per 10 pounds of body weight is recommended when using CBD for pain.
The Advantages Of Natural Pain Relievers
Doctors often prescribe or recommend painkillers for chronic pain which can be caused by a variety of conditions including arthritis, lower back pain, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. They generally work quickly and in some cases, have a stronger effect.
But long-term use of common painkillers, even those available on the shelves or over the counter such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, can up the risk for health problems like bleeding in the digestive system, stomach ulcers, kidney failure, and heart attack.
Natural pain relief methods may take a little bit longer to work and may not be as effective for severe pain, but they are much better for the body. There are far fewer risks involved as long as they are used correctly.
For example, the use of some essential oils or spices in medicinal quantities shouldn’t be used along with blood thinners or blood pressure medication or while pregnant. Discussing what you are able to use with your doctor is important.
As long as there is no allergy to the natural painkillers, they are usually much better tolerated. Unlike conventional drugs, with most natural pain relievers, there is very little risk of overdose as well.
In fact, there have been no reports of an overdose of CBD at all, although very high doses can bring about some side effects such as digestive discomfort and dry mouth.
The main way in which these natural pain relief remedies work is either by reducing prostaglandins and cytokines, which are compounds that cause inflammation, by way of an anti-inflammatory agent or relieving pain due to analgesic (pain relieving) properties, or a combination of the two.
Some herbal remedies may even have additional benefits such as stress relief and being helpful in treating anxiety and depression. These mental health conditions often develop along with chronic pain and illness.
Natural Ways To Relieve Pain
There has been quite a bit of research going into natural medicine lately as the need for healthier and cheaper alternatives is rising. They are available as supplements which are more concentrated, but using the actual fresh ingredients will also work. Here is what the research says:
It’s been used for centuries to reduce fevers and pain in traditional medicine. A 2009 review published in the Journal Phytotherapy Research found that willow bark can help to reduce lower back pain but more research is needed for arthritis. Willow bark has similar actions to aspirin so it shouldn’t be taken if you are on blood thinners.
Capsaicin is a compound in chili peppers and cayenne pepper. Despite the fact that it burns slightly or tingles initially, it has shown promise when being used to treat nerve pain, migraines, as well as muscle and joint pain as noted in a 2016 review published in Molecules.
Turmeric contains curcumin, the yellow pigment, which is responsible for its natural anti-inflammatory properties. A 2017 review published in the Foods journal found that curcumin can help to treat pain caused by inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and muscle soreness.
Despite sounding dubious and looking scary, acupuncture may actually help some people with chronic pain and the relief is often instant. Acupuncture involves placing needles around the body in the acupressure points to release qi, the flow of energy.
In modern medicine, the needles are thought to stimulate the nerves which result in the release of endorphins (painkilling hormones) by the brain.
Mindfulness meditation can help to reduce chronic pain management as well as help with secondary pain which is the anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration that can develop as a result of chronic pain.
Mindfulness meditation can help people to deal with the actual pain instead of any additional pain projected on top of it by these emotions and memories of past pain.
Cloves are well-known for helping for toothache but cloves may also help to reduce other types of inflammatory pain due to the anti-inflammatory active ingredient, eugenol, as seen in a 2015 study published in the Libyan Journal of Medicine.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil can help to decrease pain after surgery as well as migraines whether inhaled or applied topically. Results were comparable to the prescription painkiller, tramadol. It also has a calming effect.
CBD For Natural Pain Relief
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the most abundant compounds in the cannabis plant and it doesn’t have psychoactive properties. Medical marijuana, which contains much higher levels of THC, the psychoactive compound, has long been used to treat pain and nausea.
But not everyone enjoys getting high and because of the need to care for children, operate machinery, or drive, marijuana isn’t suitable for everyone. Hemp-derived CBD oil offers an effective alternative without all the high. It’s also legal across all states at a federal level as long as less than 0.3 percent of THC is present.
In addition to relieving pain which we’ll get into shortly, it helps for anxiety, depression, stress, epilepsy, and improves sleep quality as well seen in a 2018 cross-sectional study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Some people may find full-spectrum CBD or PCR hemp more effective as more cannabinoids are preserved and they all work together synergistically to bring about relief. CBD oil products can include gummies, vape oil, edibles, and topical balms with other natural ingredients.
CBD For Chronic Pain
CBD has been shown to help for chronic pain without building up a tolerance over time. It’s one of the biggest reasons that people turn to CBD and many find it effective on its own or in conjunction with pain medication. The fact that CBD is non-addictive is another plus as this isn’t the case with some types of pain medications.
CBD For Arthritis Pain
While clinical trials regarding CBD for arthritis pain relief are still only in the animal stage, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that backs up the findings in the animal trials. Topical pain reducing CBD products are available and they help to reduce the pain in the joints due to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
CBD For MS
Multiple sclerosis is a disease affecting the nervous system. It causes nerve pain, fatigue, and muscle spasms, all of which CBD may help to relieve while improving mobility as seen in a 2018 review published in Frontiers in Neurology. For increased results, a combination of physical therapy and CBD is best if mobility is very poor.
How Much CBD Should You Take For Pain Relief?
The dosage isn’t regulated by the FDA but all reputable products will have dosing information available. Medium suggests that 1mg to 6mg for every 10 pounds of body weight is the best way to determine your dose.
What works for one person might not work for someone else, so start at a low dose and work your way up if needed. Doing this will also reduce the likelihood of side effects developing.
Natural Pain Relief – The Final Thought
Pain can reduce the quality of life considerably, as can side effects of conventional medication. CBD and/or other natural pain relief methods can help. While natural remedies aren’t completely without side effects, they are often better tolerated and have fewer if any long-term risks.
If you are on medication, first speak to your doctor before using any natural remedies or going off prescription medication. If you want to use any of these remedies on children, first speak to the pediatrician. CBD has been used to treat severe forms of childhood epilepsy, so it may be safe to use for children under the guidance of a doctor.
In addition to the above-mentioned remedies, green tea may be helpful for joint pain, arnica is a common remedy for sore muscles, and the fatty acids found in fish oil, borage oil, hemp oil, and evening primrose oil may also help to reduce inflammation. Ginger can help to relieve menstrual cramps and breast pain due to PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
A diet high in anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables and low in inflammatory foods such as alcohol, cakes, pastries, and soda, can also help to reduce inflammation overall. This may also help the body to release only enough inflammation to heal rather than cause chronic pain.
If you have been self-treating your pain without having seen a medical professional and it doesn’t go away after a week or two, it’s best to see a doctor to rule out anything serious.