Chronic pain is now thought to affect about half of the UK’s population. It can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental wellbeing, but there’s surprisingly little help out there for sufferers. That’s why lots of people are turning to natural pain solutions like CBD gummies.
Pain management is one of the most common reasons for trying CBD gummies. The anecdotal evidence is strong, but does the scientific evidence support it? In this article, we’ll look at what causes chronic pain, how CBD can help, and what science has to say about it.
Cutting your finger, getting a sunburn, banging your head, having a stomach ache, touching a hot stove, breaking a bone, giving birth… From the irritating to the excruciating, pain is an unavoidable fact of life.
Painful experiences like this cause what’s known as acute pain, meaning that when you heal from the illness or injury, the pain goes away. However, many people experience chronic pain, which can go on indefinitely.
Sometimes chronic pain has an obvious cause. These generally fall into two categories:
- Tissue damage. Arthritis, for example, is caused by damage to the joints, while back pain might be caused by muscle damage or spinal injury. Tissue can also be damaged by medical treatments, like radiation for cancer.
- Nerve damage. Also called neuropathic pain, nerve damage can be caused by physical injury, certain infections, or diseases like diabetes or alcoholism.
However, in lots of cases, there’s no clear cause of chronic pain. Take fibromyalgia, for example. Sufferers experience near-constant pain and debilitating fatigue, but experts are still unsure what causes it or how to treat it.
Whether you know the cause or not, chronic pain tends to be resistant to medical treatment. That can make you feel hopeless, frustrated, anxious and depressed, which often makes your pain even worse.
Until recently, the go-to medications were opioid painkillers, but we now know that these can be horribly addictive and cause even more problems than they solve. With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that people are looking at natural alternatives like CBD gummies to manage their pain.
How do CBD gummies work?
CBD gummies work by acting on your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This recently-discovered system keeps everything in your body in state of balance (homeostasis), and it’s also involved in pain perception and response.
Your ECS is controlled by messenger chemicals called endocannabinoids, or internally produced cannabinoids. They travel around the body, attaching to receptors and sending signals to the ECS when something needs to be done.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is also a cannabinoid. When you eat a CBD gummy, for example, the CBD cannabinoid interacts with your ECS, just like your own endocannabinoids.
So can CBD gummies help with pain?
One big problem when you’re talking about the benefits of CBD is that research is still in its early days. We didn’t even discover the ECS until the 1990s, and at that time, CBD was still strongly associated with cannabis. It was hard to study because of ethical and legal issues, so we’re only just scratching the surface of what CBD is capable of.
That said, pain is one of the few areas where research is moving fairly quickly. The scientific evidence we have so far suggests that CBD can be effective at managing pain, supporting what lots of us chronic pain sufferers have been saying for years!
What does the research say?
In 2018, a large-scale review looked at over 1000 clinical studies on cannabinoids and pain relief. The researchers discussed a number of studies that showed the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, and commented that this could help relieve pain in chronic conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They also mentioned that CBD had been found to reduce pain sensitivity in rats with neuropathic pain from diabetes.
It’s worth noting that a fair few of the studies to date have been animal studies. While we can’t automatically assume that humans would experience the same benefits, the sheer weight of the evidence is promising.
This study, for example, found CBD to be effective at reducing neuropathic and inflammatory pain in rodents. This study came to the same conclusion, also finding that CBD was an effective treatment for sciatica, a painful condition affecting the sciatic nerve in the lower back and legs. A third study found that not only did CBD reduce pain perception in rats, it also relieved the anxiety that came with it.
Most human studies done so far have looked at CBD used together with THC. Also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is another cannabinoid found in the hemp plant. THC is also found in higher levels in marijuana, and it’s responsible for the high feeling you get from smoking cannabis. (Don’t worry though – there’s not enough THC in CBD gummies to get you high!)
One study found that a THC/CBD combination significantly reduced chronic pain, and it eased muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis. Another study showed that the THC/CBD combo was an effective pain reliever for people with neuropathic pain.
In those studies, it’s hard to say which was responsible for the pain relief – CBD, THC, or both? Luckily, this study compared the individual cannabinoids to their combo form, and it showed that both were effective at reducing neuropathic pain and muscle spasms.
CBD and anxiety
If you suffer from chronic pain, you know that it can cause serious stress and anxiety. When you’re stressed or anxious, you tend to tense up, which can often make your pain even worse.
CBD may be able to help break this cycle by relieving the anxiety and stress that come with chronic pain. We’ve written a whole article about CBD and anxiety here, where we talk about how study after study after study shows that CBD can reduce anxiety. As we explain in the article, this is most likely because it calms the central nervous system.
How to take CBD for pain
There are lots of ways to take CBD, but gummies are our favourite! They come pre-dosed, so you don’t have to worry about measuring like you do with oils. You can take them anywhere, which is ideal if you like to be discreet. And of course, they taste great, so they’re perfect if you’re not keen on the taste or texture of oils.
You would usually get relatively low bioavailability with CBD gummies. That’s because most of the CBD from oil is absorbed directly into the bloodstream from under the tongue (sublingually). Gummies, on the other hand, have to pass through the digestive system first, where some of the CBD is lost.
We say usually, because unlike most CBD gummies, ZenBears have a highly bioavailable CBD coating. This special pharmaceutical layer of CBD means that much more of the CBD is absorbed in your mouth, so you get more CBD, and you get it faster. If you’re in pain, that’s going to make all the difference!
How much CBD should you take for pain?
If you’re new to CBD gummies, it’s best to start with a low dose until you get a feel for how it affects you. Around 10mg (half a ZenBear) is a good starting dose. If you feel like you want or need a higher dose, wait a couple of hours and increase your dose to 20mg.
Keep going like this, little by little, until you reach the best dose for you. If you start to feel side effects, drop back down to your last comfortable dose.
Are CBD gummies safe?
Yes, for most people. You might experience a few mild side effects at first, like drowsiness or an upset stomach, but these usually go away quickly. For lots of people, these mild side effects are much more tolerable than those of typical pain medications, like NSAIDs or opioids.
However, if you are taking prescription medications for pain, don’t stop taking them without discussing it with your doctor. Depending on the medication, stopping suddenly can be harmful and may even make your pain worse.
It’s also important to note that CBD can interact with some medications. If you’re taking medication for your pain, or for any other condition, you should speak to your doctor first to check if you can safely take CBD too.
Where can I buy CBD gummies?
Right here! Our ZenBears are made with only the best organic hemp, 100% vegan ingredients, and all-natural flavours. If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your wellbeing, find out more about ZenBears here and get yours now.