Can CBD replace Opioids for pain relief?

What are the benefits of using CBD for pain relief?

Research suggests that CBD may have several properties that can control acute and chronic pain, as well as a range of related symptoms. Although there is still a lot to learn about its potential therapeutic applications, CBD may provide pain-relief benefits including:

  1. Fighting inflammation

When you are injured, your immune system reacts by causing inflammation that helps your body heal. But in some cases, inflammation can become chronic. Although ibuprofen is a popular over-the-counter medication that can be used to control pain and reduce inflammation, it can cause side effects that may harm your liver and kidneys after prolonged use, Research suggests that CBD can provide inflammation relief with few or zero side effects.

  1. Relaxing tense muscles

Some injuries or chronic conditions cause your muscles to become tight, which then causes pain. CBD can help to relieve soreness caused by strained muscles or health conditions such as fibromyalgia. 

  1. Relieving anxiety and depression

In a 2017 report, the World Health Organization acknowledged that CBD might offer a range of therapeutic benefits for people who have anxiety disorders. Studies also suggest that CBD may have similar effects on the brain as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are medications that are commonly used to treat depression. Because anxiety and depression are often associated with chronic pain, CBD may be able to help people who have these co-occurring conditions find relief.

  1. Promoting a regular sleep cycle

Sleep is critical to your body’s ability to heal, but chronic pain may prevent you from getting the rest you need. CBD produces a calming effect by changing the activity of cells throughout your brain and body, which can help to promote relaxation and encourage sleep.


Anecdotal evidence surrounding CBD for pain relief

In addition to research findings, anecdotal evidence for the pain-relieving properties of CBD is strong. Many people who have health conditions that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, back pain, and other conditions, have reported decreased pain and inflammation after using CBD.

But CBD has also shown strong anecdotal support for treatment of chronic and acute pain related to sports injuries. In 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency issued a statement saying it removed CBD from its 2018 list of prohibited substances. Several former professional athletes have gone public about turning to CBD for pain relief.

For example, in an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reporter Lori Nickel describes how Cullen Jenkins, a former NFL player, turned to CBD to help manage chronic pain and insomnia associated with injuries sustained during his football career.


Research on CBD for pain relief

Research suggests that CBD may be beneficial to help control chronic and acute pain. But so far, most of the research on CBD and pain has been based on animal studies. In one study, applying CBD to the skin of rats with arthritis decreased joint swelling and improved limb posture.

However, studies also show encouraging results about the effectiveness of CBD for pain management in humans. A 2008 review of CBD studies conducted during the past 20 years suggested that “the future for cannabinoid therapeutics appears very bright, indeed.


Could CBD be an alternative to Opioids?

With the use and abuse of opioids reaching epidemic proportions, doctors and patients alike are looking for alternatives to the use of these medications for chronic and acute pain. Researchers and medical professionals are hopeful that cannabidiol, or CBD, may offer a solution to this national crisis, providing pain relief without the dangers of addiction and overdose.

CBD is a cannabinoid molecule produced by cannabis. Unlike THC, which is the most common cannabinoid, CBD is non-intoxicating and non-addictive.


The risks of Opioids

Many adults are prescribed opioids to manage pain. For some patients, pain relief is essential to being able to function normally, but opioid medications usually do little more than mask symptoms and control pain for a short time.

More importantly, with long-term use, opioid painkillers can lead to addiction, which can have devastating effects on addicts and their families. Even when they are used for a short time, prescription opioids may cause side effects that make it difficult — or even unsafe —to perform daily activities. Side effects of prescription opioids may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Taking opioid prescription painkillers, which include drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Norco, also can put you at risk for dangerous drug interactions and overdose. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2016, more than 46 Americans died every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids.