Clinical uses of CBD, General

CBD for Inflammation

Cannabidiol has earned itself a reputation as a powerful natural antidote to a number of ailments, but it is CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect that is being celebrated by many sufferers of chronic inflammation.

Whether you have suffered an injury or are battling a health condition, you will have no doubt experienced the painful effects of inflammation in the body. While inflammation is an important part of your body’s immune response and a means of fighting off infection or illness, long periods of inflammation can create long-term problems.

Continued elevated levels of inflammation increase the production of free radicals in the body, a process called oxidative stress. If oxidative stress isn’t brought under control it can wreak havoc, damaging tissue, proteins, fat and even DNA.

For those suffering from chronic inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly prescribed and, in some cases, even steroid medication. But, as with most allopathic medications, these come with the risk of side-effects, ranging from heartburn and headaches to more severe health issues such as stomach ulcers and liver problems. Fortunately, mainstream medicine isn’t your only option – cannabidiol (CBD) is considered to be a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and shows promise as an alternative treatment.

While research on the health benefits of CBD is still in its infancy, it is believed to reduce inflammation (and the pain associated with it) by working with the body’s inflammatory response, inhibiting eicosanoid enzymes, which can cause inflammation, and elevating the anti-inflammatory cytokine molecules.

But key to reducing inflammation in the body is addressing its underlying cause. Chronic inflammation is often a symptom of an autoimmune disease, which occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. This is where CBD offers further support as it works with the endocannabinoid system, which is believed to regulate the functions of the body, including immunity. While there are over 80 registered autoimmune diseases, here are three that research shows CBD can assist with.  

Rheumatoid arthritis
An autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the tissues that line your joints, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be an excruciatingly painful condition that can lead to loss of joint function and causes damage to other organs.

While CBD doesn’t offer a cure, it works with receptors in the brain to not only help reduce pain and inflammation but also assist in bringing the body’s immune function back into balance. By triggering the CB2 receptor in the brain, which suppresses the body’s immune response, CBD is believed to help slow down the progression of the disease. Activating the CB2 receptor also inhibits production of pro-inflammatory cytokines while boosting levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, helping to reduce inflammation and in turn, pain.

In a five-week study conducted in 2006, researchers looked at the effect of cannabis-based medication (CBM) in the treatment of pain associated with RA. A group of 58 participants were split into two groups – one group was given CBM and the other was given a placebo. After the trial period, researchers found that a significant number of those taking CBM experienced less pain when moving and when at rest, indicating a suppression of disease activity, compared to the placebo group.

Psoriasis
A condition that results in itchy, raised patches on the skin and causes intense discomfort, redness and swelling, psoriasis can often lead to fatigue and chronic pain. These scaly patches on the skin are a result of skin cells being produced too quickly and building up on the surface of the skin before they have matured. One study suggested that CBD can help slow the rapid growth of these immature skin cells, called keratinocytes, by activating the CB1 receptor in the brain. CBD is also known to assist with pain relief, making it a treatment worth considering for the management of psoriasis.  

Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, which produce antibodies that protect against infection. As a result, the body isn’t able to heal as quickly from illness or injury, which can lead to complications. While more research needs to be done on the effects of CBD on Type 1 diabetes, a 2008 study of mice found that it helped to prevent the onset of the disease. The study involved three groups of mice all showing symptoms of diabetes.

One group was treated with CBD, a second group was treated with an emulsifier and the third group was left untreated. The results? Diabetes was diagnosed in just over 30% of the mice in the CBD-treated group compared to 80% in the emulsifier-treated group and 100% in the untreated group. Even more telling was that the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines was significantly reduced, while those of anti-inflammatory cytokines were elevated after CBD treatment. 

While more researched evidence is needed to determine its real impact, CBD is certainly earning a reputation as a potent natural antidote to inflammation, with clear benefits for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. With studies suggesting it can help to suppress the immune system, reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, CBD might just be the secret weapon in your treatment arsenal.  

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