What is CBD oil?

The cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa, contains a number of active ingredients, including THC and CBD. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the most active ingredient of marijuana, is the component that makes a person high when either smoked or ingested. Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, is not psychoactive: it doesn’t induce a mind-altering effect.

CBD oil is a way of delivering CBD. This chemical is first extracted from the plant and then diluted with a carrier oil like hemp seed. It can then be consumed as either the oil itself or within drinks or confectionary. In the UK, it can be found in health shops.

How does CBD work?

The human body has two currently-known types of points where cannabinoids can bind, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids can attach to the CB1 and CB2 docking points since they have a similar structure to the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids. From here, CBD can impact movement, pain, emotions, mood and other functions regulated by endocannabinoids. This is still an area of active research and much of how it all works is still being explored.

Is CBD oil effective?

Many users of CBD oil claim it helps to relieve pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety and make them calm. Currently, scientific studies cannot say whether the small CBD quantities available in CBD products have any effect at all, but that hasn’t held back use. This is an area of ongoing research – we just haven’t reached a point where we have all the answers. Science is working to catch up with the demand.

CBD products available in health food shops and on the internet are not controlled or regulated as medicines, other than the legal limit on THC content. As doctors, we are advised to tell patients that ‘over-the-counter or internet’ CBD products lack quality assurance and should not be treated as medicines. There’s no way to be sure of what’s in the products you buy.

CBD products available in health food shops and on the internet are not controlled or regulated as medicines, other than the legal limit on THC content. As doctors, we are advised to tell patients that ‘over-the-counter or internet’ CBD products lack quality assurance and should not be treated as medicines. There’s no way to be sure of what’s in the products you buy.

What conditions can CBD oil help?

The list of things we’re told CBD oil can do for us is long, but there is still only preliminary evidence.

There is some belief that CBD is a natural painkiller. It’s also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, and so it may help as a treatment for inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease. Indeed, some small studies in mice have supported this claim by showing that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain. This has led hope that it may one day help chronic pain, but we won’t know until human tests are complete.

CBD is also believed to help people who suffer from anxiety and mood-related symptoms, as well as insomnia.

The condition that brought CBD oil to prominence is epilepsy. Scientific reviews have found that CBD has anti-seizure properties and there are several clinical trials well underway, some of which use pure CBD product. Stronger forms of CBD have been found to reduce the number of epileptic seizures suffered by some patients by more than 40%.

Source: Science Focus

Treating chronic pain in the right place: Remotely

By David Yarnitsky

An estimated 20.4 percent, or 50 million, Americans live with chronic pain, leading to nearly $560 billion each year in direct medical costs, lowering productivity and increasing disability. Today, chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for adults to seek medical care and has led to opioid dependence, anxiety, depression, restrictions in mobility and daily activities and overall reduction in quality of life. While short-term pain-relieving therapies provide relatively good solutions, an effective long-term solution for chronic pain has yet to be identified.

To establish what we are missing in chronic pain treatment, we first need to understand how the body perceives and responds to pain. Throughout the body we have pain-receptive neurons, known as nociceptors, which respond to damaging or potentially damaging stimuli by sending a “possible threat” signal. The signal travels through the nerves to the spinal cord, which processes the pain message and carries it up to the brain, where it is further processed by the thalamus and then sent to the cerebral cortex, where we perceive it.

Upon receiving a nociceptive pain message, the brain’s pain regulation network can either inhibit or enhance the pain experience according to the context. Typically, an acute pain message is often considered a “good” signal since it alerts the body to potential damage, allowing protective action that can thereafter be inhibited. Chronic pain, however, is usually a “bad” signal, reflecting some dysfunction of the system that fails to inhibit the pain and allows it to go on.

A common question that pain researchers face is why similar diseases or injuries cause varying pain levels in different people. We have come to understand that those living with a balanced pain regulation system are able to better inhibit unnecessary or non-threatening pain messages, while those with an imbalanced system lack this inhibitory capacity and are more susceptible to acute and chronic pains. Research has shown that patients with pain disorders such as migraine, tension-type headache, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and osteoarthritis usually have lower ability to inhibit pain.

Individuals living with these chronic pain conditions often rely on over-the-counter (OTC) medications or stronger pharmacological solutions to block unnecessary pain signals. In fact, the global opioid market was sized at $25.4 billion in 2018. However, neither OTCs nor prescription pain medication are ideal for long-term use. Instead of developing more medication combinations for long-term pain management, it is time to rethink how we approach pain modulation altogether. With the advancement of technology in the medical device space, recent technologies are making it possible to treat pain conditions non-invasively.

Treating pain where it doesn’t hurt

“Pain inhibits pain” is a time-honored medical observation, where pain in one body site will be perceived as less intensive upon the introduction of another pain at a remote site. The underlying mechanism is the activation of internal inhibitory circuits evoked by the new remote pain that inhibit the original pain. When studying this mechanism in humans, we call this phenomenon “conditioned pain modulation” (CPM), a term that is often used to describe the process of endogenous pain inhibition.

In recent years, consistent data have accumulated demonstrating that CPM is less efficient in patients suffering from chronic pain, especially for those living with an idiopathic pain syndrome. That is, their ability to inhibit the perception of one pain by another is reduced—either as a cause or as a consequence of their chronic pain.

Source: Scientific American