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This is for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor to determine if CBD is right for you
Inflammation is often associated with pain, discomfort, loss of mobility, skin issues and a wide range of other symptoms that are associated with disease.
Current literature focuses on inflammation in a superficial way without understanding the root causes. Failure to understand how it is caused and seeking treatment that addresses the superficial symptoms will often drive the disease deeper into the body.
This article addresses the inflammation process, the positive aspects of how it works, signs and symptoms, and how CBD may help you heal inflammation naturally.
CBD can help heal acute inflammation naturally
CBD has been shown to reduce pain in animal studies, and more recently studied as a way to treat anxiety, cognition and pain in humans.(1)
Research has shown that CBD can block inflammatory pain through the action of the endocannabinoid system in the body.
Inflammation activates the immune system and endocannabinoids are produced to regulate the immune response by acting as anti-inflammatory agents. This helps to reduce pain.
CBD can be taken in various ways. For topical use on sore muscles and other skin conditions, CBD balms and creams can be applied directly.
In the case of internal conditions, such as those associated with cold or flu, CBD oil taken internally may provide relief.
Hard to believe as it is, Inflammation can be your friend. It is a response to stimuli that cause damage to the body as part of an immune response. These harmful stimuli include chemicals, stress hormones, physical injury and anything else that may cause disease.
While the symptoms it produces are considered negative, it is actually part of the healing process occurring within the body. The immune system recognizes damaged cells, irritants, and pathogens, and then releases white blood cells to the affected tissues in response causing heat, swelling redness and pain in most cases.
Inflammation takes on many forms and can be divided into two main groups: acute & chronic. These depend on the stage of the disease and since acute inflammation occurs first, let’s start with that.
Acute inflammation is the result of something immediate like a tissue injury or harmful bacteria. Often temporary, the duration can last a few days to weeks and the onset is rapid, as in the case of a knee sprain or stomach upset.
Signs and symptoms of acute inflammation include:
- cough (bronchitis)
- sore throat
- redness and swelling (from a physical injury)
- stomach issues (like appendicitis)
- sinus issues
- scratches/wounds to the skin
A good example of this is a repetitive stress injury at the gym, such as performing a squat without proper knee alignment. This can damage the joints and cause pain.
If the movement is corrected and the patient rests, the injury will heal. If they continue and “work through” the pain, it may progress to a chronic inflammatory condition where the cartilage degrades and results in a chronic condition.
Addressing issues like this involves a 2-part strategy: (1) Correcting the behaviour that caused the damage in the first place, and (2) Treating the pain to kickstart the healing process.
When the underlying causes of acute inflammation are not addressed, the condition may progress to a more serious disease.
The body can become overloaded with viruses, foreign bodies and other chronic irritants, resulting in an overactive immune response.
The progress can be slow (from months to years) and the results come increasingly serious and can include scarred connective tissue, tumours and other effects associated with chronic diseases.
Taking the example above concerning the knee injury, if the patient continues to exercise the cartilage will continue to wear down, resulting in an arthritic condition.
Chronic inflammatory diseases include:
- Chronic stomach ulcers
- Digestive issues
Self-diagnosis of inflammation may start with observing chronic or acute symptoms such as fatigue, morning joint stiffness, pain or flu-like symptoms. A more thorough diagnosis is done by a complete physical exam from a health professional whereby all behaviours can be examined to isolate the causes.
CBD can help heal chronic inflammation naturally
Since chronic inflammation is a progression of acute inflammation, the root cause of the disease must be addressed.
CBD can be used to reduce the pain while other treatments are used to treat the underlying condition by addressing inflammatory pain through activation of the endocannabinoid system in the body.
Taking the knee example from earlier, if the patient undergoes reconstructive physical therapy CBD can be used topically to treat the interim pain.
CBD oil has been used by many patients undergoing treatment for serious internal diseases like fibromyalgia and cancer in conjunction with mainstream therapy. Taken internally as a tincture, it has been shown to help treat pain and nausea associated with these conditions.
Other Inflammation Treatments
Inflammation has also be treated in other ways, including:
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often prescribed to alleviate the pain caused by inflammation.
As mentioned above, the inflammation process produces white blood cells that work to heal the site of injury or infection. Along with these white blood cells are enzymes that function as catalysts powering this process.
NSAIDs reduce the pain associated with this process by counteracting the enzymes that work with the white blood cells and disabling their function. This action reduces the pain because these medications interfere with the process being undertaken by white blood cells.
Popular NSAIDs available without a prescription include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen.
Long-term use of NSAIDs has been associated with increased risk of stomach ulcers, a worsening of asthma symptoms, kidney damage, and increased risk of a stroke or heart attack.(2)
Medications like acetaminophen or Tylenol are known to help relieve pain without affecting the healing process associated with inflammation. Risks with Tylenol still exist including liver failure in people taking standard doses for pain relief. (3)
Similar to NSAIDs, corticosteroids are a class of medications that interfere with the mechanisms involved in the inflammatory healing process.
Corticosteroids are divided into two sets: glucocorticoids & mineralocorticoids.
Glucocorticoids are prescribed for a range of conditions, including arthritis, asthma, lupus, dermatitis, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) & allergies.
Mineralocorticoids are used to treat adrenal insufficiency (often associated with fatigue) and designed to replace key hormones in the body.
Corticosteroids forms include pills/capsules, creams, ointments and inhalers.
General side effects associated with use include bruising, muscle weakness, weight gain, skin changes, sleep disturbances, cataracts, and pathologic fractures.(4)
The bottom line
Inflammation is usually the first warning sign that something is going wrong in the body. Learning to recognize and appreciate these signs is the first step to understanding the healing process of the body.
The key to finding the right treatment depends on finding the underlying cause of the inflammation, choosing the best path forward to support healing, and managing the pain that may occur throughout the entire process.
Use of CBD has been associated with pain relief in cases of both acute and chronic inflammation.
Taken internally, CBD oil has been known to help internal inflammation, promote better quality sleep, and assist in pain management.
CBD balms and creams, when applied topically, can help treat the pain, redness and swelling associated with arthritis, sprains and other skin and muscular conditions.
Treating the causes of inflammation and managing the pain and discomfort can present a holistic approach to treating disease, promoting healing and enhancing wellbeing in a holistic way that can promote long-term health.