Cannabidiol (CBD) - A promising solution for inflammation

Inflammation is an aspect of the immune system to protect the body from harmful factors, such as bacteria and viruses. When the body is harmed or damaged, the immune system unleashes immune cells to the affected area to kill harmful bacteria, resulting in some common symptoms including pain, heat, redness and swelling.

There are two kinds of the inflammatory response: acute and chronic inflammation. While short-term or acute inflammation often involves protective effects and occurs following an injury, infection or illness, chronic inflammation refers to a prolonged inflammatory response which is linked to several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. 

When the inflammatory lingers, it can detrimentally impact tissues and organs because of an imbalance between antioxidants and oxidative stress. Risk factors such as smoking, obesity and stress may also contribute to long-term inflammatory response.

Generally, inflammation can be alleviated by anti-inflammatory drugs, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroid medications. However such medications might cause some adverse effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, liver impact, kidney toxicity and heart issues. In addition, a state of ongoing inflammation is undesirable and a source of significant pain, anxiety which are linked with depression. Can people discover a remedy with an established safety profile to reduce inflammation, enhancing wellness?

Current research suggests that the answer may be Yes. CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp, with  anti-inflammatory effect and almost no side effect, perfect for helping chronic inflammatory conditions.

How can CBD alleviate symptoms of inflammation?

To gain a clear understanding of CBD’s effect on inflammatory processes, one should know the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system affects the nervous system and is responsible for important body functions, such as the perception of pain, appetite, mood and so on.

Cannabinoids interact with the ECS and its receptors, known as cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1 receptor) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2 receptor) either directly or indirectly, to regulate vital body functions. Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, are called phytocannabinoids, as they come from the cannabis plant. 

Cannabinoids have immunomodulatory properties that help them regulate the immune system. According to a study published in Future Medicinal Chemistry, cannabinoids reduce symptoms of diseases related to inflammation by alleviating inflammatory responses via 2 mechanisms. Firstly, the immunomodulatory properties include the role of cannabinoids in the induction of apoptosis (cell death) in activated immune cells. Cell death is essential in the regulation of inflammation. To maintain balance in the body, microbial pathogens (viruses), unwanted substances and dying cells should be removed. Failure to clear apoptotic neutrophils as well as foreign objects may result in a long-term inflammatory response.

In addition, cannabidiols have the ability to suppress cytokines and chemical substances in inflammatory areas, resulting in reducing inflammatory signals. Meanwhile, cytokines refer to signaling molecules, chemical substances known as chemokines are cytokines that attract white blood cells to damaged tissues.

Human wellness: What do scientists say?

According to the research of CBD in animal models, the compound seems to be able to interact with the immune system to a certain extent via reducing inflammation, and alleviating pain from a number of conditions. Studies date back as far as 2019 but the most recent are highlighted here. 

In a 2019 study published in La Clinica Terapeutica, 20 patients with eczema and psoriasis were received CBD-enriched ointments. The test subjects reported that there was a significant improvement in their inflammatory skin symptoms and QOL (quality of life). Results suggested that CBD may be a safe and effective alternative treatment for chronic skin conditions. More extensive research is needed to validate the study results.

An inflammatory response is essential to wound-healing. Inflammation is the body’s response to any kind of injury. A 2019 study has concluded that CBD may be involved in wound-healing and inflammatory processes in the skin. The researchers noted that CBD may be promising in treating inflammation-based skin diseases.

In a placebo-controlled study, 64 patients with multiple sclerosis were administered an oral spray with either a mixture of THC and CBD or a placebo. The patients who were given the whole-plant cannabis-based medicine reported a decrease of their central neuropathic pain related to multiple sclerosis. The patients also observed reduced sleep disturbance.

Arthritis, which is the swelling of an individual’s joints, is characterized by joint pain and stiffness. The most common arthritis types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. A study in the journal Pain discovered the effects of CBD on rodents with osteoarthritis. The researchers found that CBD reduced acute inflammation in the test animals’ joints.

Moreover, disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes are said to be connected with inflammation.

A 2017 study showed that CBD combined with THC may have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. The authors also found that CBD, as an antioxidant, may reduce oxidative stress.

What patients say?

Amy Orr, author of the book “Taming Chronic Pain,” has been using CBD oil for three years to treat the inflammation and pain associated with irritable bowel disease, an autoimmune illness. 

“I have had IBD for over 20 years, and have been on a range of medications, from steroids to opioids,” Orr told Weedmaps. “The steroids helped a lot with inflammation but not with the pain, and the Oxy was like trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer — brutal side effects. It made me feel awful due to bad nausea and extreme fogginess.”

Orr first experimented with medical marijuana with mixed results, then discovered CBD. “I've found more long-term success with fewer side effects from CBD oil,” Orr stated. 

“I'd say switching to CBD oil was like a 'eureka' moment for me, and I couldn't really believe that something this good and simple hadn't been available to me from the get-go.”

For Orr, CBD was immediately more effective than both opioids and steroids, and even better than edibles.

Adam Kemp is a professional basketball player who used CBD products after breaking a bone in his back at the beginning of the 2017 season. 

“I was able to undertake my whole recovery from the back injury by using only CBD products, and now I continue to use them to help with inflammation and other muscle pains,” Kemp said.

Generally, the research literature indicates that cannabinoids, including CBD, could potentially act as an effective immunomodulatory agent for nervous tissue inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, vascular inflammation and certain types of cancers that are triggered by chronic inflammation. Inflammation is an extremely complex and varied process, and the effect of CBD and other cannabinoids is not completely understood at this time. The mechanisms by which CBD interacts on the body, its specific applications, and rational doses require further study. That being said, scientists also find that CBD represents a low-risk, high-reward treatment for inflammation, as it is non-toxic and has minor side effects.


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