The increased dependence upon opioid medications to treat pain has become alarming given the potential to grow dependent upon and overdose on these medications. More than 130 individuals die every day due to opioid overdose according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This includes prescription opioid medications, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. In 2017, more than 47 000 people in the U.S. died from overdosing on one of these medications. This has created what has been commonly termed “the opioid crisis.”
Does hemp provide a solution for pain?
CBD is a phytocannabinoid derived from hemp, and is the most popular extract from the plant that is used as a dietary supplement. There are a number of applications where CBD supplements have been found to be successful, one of which has been relieving pain.
Unlike the primary cannabis-derived phytocannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has no psychoactive effects. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is integrally involved in pain perception. The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain bodily homeostasis—biological harmony in response to changes in the environment. Research indicates that low endocannabinoid levels in your body or ECS dysfunction can contribute to the development of certain conditions such as pain.
CBD has been directly studied in different forms of pain in humans. Following are some promising examples:
- Seven kidney transplant patients suffering from pain were given an initial dose of up to 100 mg/day of CBD. Two subjects experienced complete resolution of pain, four had a partial improvement in the first 15 days, and one subject did not have any improvement.
- Additionally, cannabinoid-rich hemp oil was associated with less body pain and alleviated other symptoms in girls who had suffered from an adverse reaction to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.17
- Another study observed that the oil of cannabis seeds reduces pain in people with chronic musculoskeletal inflammation.18 It was thought this effect was due to the ideal omega-3/omega-6 ratio content in the oil.
The addictive nature of opioids indicates that a natural alternative to these drugs is needed. Based on accumulating evidence, hemp derived CBD oil may be that alternative.