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Can CBD Oil Help With Chronic Pain? Yes, but There’s More to It

There is some evidence to suggest that CBD may help treat chronic pain, like fibromyalgia. But hear out the experts.

Updated
Alt Remedies
5 min read
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Cannabis has been used for thousands of years to treat pain and other medical conditions, and recent research has shown that compounds found in the plant, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), may be effective in treating chronic pain as well.

Dr N Srikant, Deputy Director General, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) says that the history of medical cannabis use in India can be traced back to 1000 BC.

"Dried leaves of cannabis collected from cultivated or wild source are not covered under psychotropic substance act and are legal as an ayurvedic drug."
Dr N Srikant, Deputy Director General, CCRAS

But, does this mean it's a good idea to treat pain with CBD? What do experts suggest? FIT breaks it down.

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Cannabis for Management of Chronic Pain

First things first, how do they do this?

Our body has a system of cannabinoid receptors, known as the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in pain sensation, among other functions. THC and CBD interact with these receptors, as well as other receptors in the body, to produce various effects.

Studies have shown that by binding to these receptors, cannabis may be effective in treating chronic pain associated with conditions such as neuropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and cancer.

Cannabis may also be useful in treating pain that does not respond well to other treatments, such as opioids.

"One of the benefits of using cannabis for chronic pain is that it may have fewer side effects than other pain medications, such as opioids. Additionally, cannabis may help reduce inflammation, which often aggravates chronic pain."
Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals

In fact, a study released in 2017 by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) shows that both inhaled marijuana and cannabinoid compounds that come from the plant can help reduce pain.

Moreover, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not produce a "high" or alter the user's state of mind.

This makes it a potentially attractive option for people seeking pain relief without the unwanted side effects of traditional pain medications.

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Medicine or an Addictive Drug?

CBD (cannabidiol) oil is not considered to be addictive. Additionally, CBD is not believed to have the potential for abuse or dependence that is associated with substances like opioids, alcohol, and tobacco.

"It is however important to note that some CBD oils may contain small amounts of THC, which could potentially lead to a positive drug test," says Dr Rohatgi.

"Additionally, some people may develop a tolerance to CBD over time, which could require them to take higher doses to achieve the same effects. However, this does not necessarily indicate addiction."
Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals

‘Not Enough Research’: Potential Risks to Know

"The use of cannabis for chronic pain is still a topic of ongoing research, and more studies are needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks," says Dr Rohtagi.

More studies are needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks.

"CBD oil is not currently regulated by the FDA, so it is important to do your research and choose a reputable brand that has undergone third-party testing to ensure quality and purity."
Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals
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Every Helpful Remedy Comes With a Set of Dos & Don’ts

It goes without saying that if you are considering using CBD for pain management, it must be done under the supervision of a qualified expert, much like in the case of any medication.

On top of that, here are some potential pros and cons of using CBD oil to keep in mind if you're considering it.

Pros:

● As mentioned earlier, CBD may help you alleviate chronic pain, where other pain relief methods have failed.

● There is also some early evidence to suggest, CBD may also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

● CBD may have neuroprotective properties, meaning it may help protect the brain from damage and reduce the risk of neurological disorders.

Cons:

● Lack of regulation: CBD oil is not currently regulated by the Drugs Control General of India, which means that there is no standardized dosing or quality control.

● Side effects: While CBD is generally considered safe, some people may experience side effects such as dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, anxiety attacks, and changes in appetite or weight.

● Interactions with medications: CBD can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and anti-seizure drugs. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting CBD if you are taking any medications.

● Unknown long-term effects: While studies have shown that CBD is generally well-tolerated, we do not yet know what the long-term effects of CBD use may be, especially at higher doses or with prolonged use.

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Potential Side effects to Keep in Mind

CBD is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated, even in high doses. However, it may not be for everyone.

Moreover, taking CBD oil in incorrectly may lead to some side effects in some individuals. These may include:

  • Dry mouth

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness

  • Drowsiness, particularly when taken in higher doses or at night

  • Increased or decreased appetite

  • It may cause irritability or changes in emotional state

  • Diarrhoea or other digestive issues

It is important to note that these side effects are generally mild and temporary, and usually go away on their own within a few hours or days. Additionally, they are often dose-dependent, meaning that they are more likely to occur at higher doses of CBD oil.

To minimize the risk of side effects,

  • Start with a low dose of CBD oil and gradually increase as needed

  • Choose high-quality CBD products from reputable sources

  • Consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD oil

Keep these in mind especially if you have any underlying health conditions or if you are taking other medications.

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Is it legal in India?

In India, although cannabis for recreational use is outlawed, CBD oil can be sold and used legally if it is manufactured under a licence issued by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

In many countries, CBD oil is legally available without a prescription if it contains only trace amounts of THC (typically less than 0.3% THC).

Dr Rohtagi says that despite this, there are many companies and individuals who market and sell CBD oil as a dietary supplement or wellness product, even if it contains higher levels of THC or other cannabinoids that would require a prescription.

It is important to note that the legality and regulation of CBD oil can vary widely between different countries and regions, and individuals should always check local laws and regulations before buying or using any CBD products.

Additionally, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before using any new supplement or medication.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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