While some pain is a symptom of nerve or tissue damage – think neuropathic and nociceptive pain – there is another type of pain which is considered a primary condition, meaning it is not a symptom of any injury or disease. This is known as nociplastic pain or centralized pain. Fibromyalgia, non-specific lower back pain and even tension headaches are examples of nociplastic pain and with no underlying condition, it can be difficult to treat. Fortunately CBD is showing promise as a natural way to manage pain without the unpleasant side-effects of commonly prescribed opiods.
By working with our endocannabinoid system, which regulates our immune function, sleep and pain response among other things, cannabidiol (CBD) is believed to be able to alter our pain perception and deliver a potent analgesic effect.
Research suggests that CBD acts on two main receptors to help alleviate pain, these being the CB1 receptors, which are located in the central nervous system where pain is controlled, and the CB2 receptors, which are found in our immune system and help to regulate pain. While more scientific investigation is needed, there are two existing reviews*, consisting of 18 randomised trials and 11 published studies, that look into the effect of CBD on chronic non-cancer pain, including fibromyalgia. Of the 29 trials, a total of 22 found that CBD delivered a strong analgesic effect along with the ability to improve a number of other pain-related issues, such as poor sleep. Some may argue CBD’s effectiveness in treating these secondary symptoms of pain, namely insomina and heightened anxiety, is what makes it such a popular choice.
While nociplastic pain is not linked to any particular illness, experts have suggested that it can occur in combination with other types of chronic pain, including inflammatory pain. Given that CBD delivers a strong anti-inflammatory effect, it is a smart choice to tackle these underlying health issues.
Equally important is its ability to bind to receptors in the peripheral nervous system that trigger the sensation of pain. This binding action ultimately helps to increase our pain threshold, making pain more manageable.
While CBD alone doesn’t offer a cure-all for pain, it is considered by many to be a valuable addition to any conventional treatment plan. In fact, a 2009 review** into CBD as a remedy for pain, confirmed that it is a useful supplementary medication. But, finding the right dose and the right route to administer CBD is important when it comes to how effective it will be. For more immediate relief from pain, CBD vapes are often recommended as the CBD is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream. CBD oils also offer relatively quick relief and can be dissolved under the tongue.