Are you offering your patients this alternative treatment?
Many of today’s common treatment options are not ideal solutions for pain. The opioid epidemic is one example of modern pain treatments gone off the rails, and concerns are growing over the side effects of NSAIDs.
There are also cases where traditional drugs don’t work for certain individuals. Fortunately, there is a natural alternative pain treatment that is gaining more popularity and scientific backing every day.
The ABCs of CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis, which has been used for its medicinal benefits by cultures around the world for centuries. Research into cannabis and cannabinoids was crippled when marijuana was restricted as a Schedule I drug in 1970, but we are now finding evidence for its therapeutic value.
CBD has pulled ahead of other alternatives as a safe and highly beneficial compound that comes without the uncomfortable side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in typical marijuana strains. CBD and topical cream can help treat a wide variety of conditions, but your focus is likely to be on back pain, a condition that affects at least 31 million Americans at any given time.
Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids effect change by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is present in every mammal, and studies show it is involved in the functions required to “relax, eat, sleep, forget, and protect.” It also has a hand in sensing and managing pain.
Research has shown that making changes to endocannabinoid system activity has clear therapeutic potential for a range of diseases and conditions, “ranging from mood and anxiety disorders … neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer … obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis,” among other conditions.
Supplementing a person’s natural, internally-produced cannabinoids with “phytocannabinoids” from hemp can help encourage homeostasis within the body and promote a better quality of life, whether they suffer from chronic pain or other debilitating health challenges.
Fight pain and inflammation
While scientific study of marijuana has been limited, there is widespread evidence for the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and forms including topical cream.
“Cannabinoids have been observed to markedly decrease signaling in specific neural pathways that transmit messages about pain,” 3 one study establishes, and there is also a clear consensus that cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system have an important interaction with the body’s immune system and inflammatory response. Not only can cannabidiol help reduce a person’s experience of pain, it can also reduce the inflammation that may be causing that pain.
Published studies are few and far between because of the aforementioned federal restrictions, but there are mountains of anecdotal evidence to be found online from people who have used cannabidiol and experienced real results. If you are looking for an alternative treatment for back pain, CBD is a strong contender.
Why concentrate on topicals?
Cannabidiol comes in many forms of delivery, from chocolate to e-liquid, but topical application is ideal for treating back pain. It can be applied directly to an area for localized relief of inflammation, tension, aches and pain.
Compared to forms of CBD that need to pass through the digestive system, topical CBD’s effects can be experienced faster and its controlled, long-term release means that relief is lasting. In some cases, people have felt the benefits of cannabidiol for days rather than hours. Topical CBD cream also doesn’t experience first-pass metabolism, an effect that can rob edible cannabidiol of its efficacy before it reaches systemic circulation.
Education is ongoing, and some remain wary of CBD because of its association with marijuana, but remember that CBD offers therapeutic power without the euphoric effect of THC delivered by traditional marijuana.
The range of topical CBD products, including lotions, balms, oils and more, may be more palatable to skeptics than a delivery method like vaping, and topical application means cannabidiol won’t enter the bloodstream. It won’t show up on drug tests, if that’s a concern, but it’s worth repeating for patients: Cannabidiol and marijuana are not the same, and there should be no hallucinogenic effects from any products in which cannabidiol is the main active ingredient.
Cannabidiol is extracted from cannabis plants, but not all cannabis is the same. Marijuana is one strain of cannabis that is typically bred with high THC levels, since most recreational users are looking for the hallucinogenic effects of THC. Many CBD products are made from a different strain of cannabis called hemp.
The hemp used to create these products is bred for its therapeutic value, so the plants have high levels of CBD and only trace amounts of THC. As a result, hemp-derived CBD products have no psychoactive effects. For a clear comparison, most marijuana contains around 25 percent THC by dry weight, while hemp contains less than 1 percent. It is impossible to get “high” from hemp, because it simply doesn’t have enough THC.
“Hemp extract” refers to cannabidiol extracted from plants that are high-CBD and low-THC, and hemp extract products such as supplements, body care merchandise, and food that is legal to purchase and use in all 50 U.S. states.
There are some CBD products that contain high levels of both CBD and THC, but these products are only legal in states where recreational marijuana has also been legalized.
Topical application minimizes the side effects of any drug, and offers a safe, easy method of pain management for people of any age or health status. It’s important to mention in any conversation about CBD that it has not been studied by the FDA, and dosage recommendations and possible downsides can vary depending on the cannabidiol product. However, the research that has been done on CBD indicates that it is likely safe to use, even with chronic use in high doses.
See the results for your patients
If you are looking for a natural, alternative treatment for back pain, topical CBD is an option that has been adopted by many DCs, and that is under consideration by others in this fast-growing market. Federal regulations have forced gaps in our understanding of dosage and side effects, but there is strong scientific support for the effect cannabidiol has in reducing pain and inflammation, and the evidence grows with each passing day. Surveys also show strong support among cannabinoid users for CBD’s ability to relieve pain and a number of other conditions.
If you want to explore the effects of cannabidiol, there is a wide range of products available on the market made to improve quality of life for everyone. To learn more, you are encouraged to do your own research on the benefits of cannabidiol.
JOSEPH ROSENBLATT is an entrepreneur and COO of Enliven Essentials, a New York CBD-infused product company. He helped found Enliven Essentials with his family when he discovered the astonishing benefits CBD oil could provide for close family members suffering from pain and anxiety. He also writes, travels and meets with people to help educate about CBD oil and the benefits it carries. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through enlivenessentials.com.