Alternative treatments for pain have been in practice for thousands of years. The use of herbs, plants, and the ancient practice of acupuncture for medicinal purposes were in existence long before modern medicine. In recent years, CBD oils and products have seemingly risen to popularity out of nowhere, but scientists have been studying cannabidiol (CBD) since the 1970s.
Dr. Nichelle Renk of Alpenglow Pain & Wellness, in Anchorage, Alaska, is a board-certified pain management physician and anesthesiologist who takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating pain. Dr. Renk customizes a variety of treatments for your specific needs, merging traditional medicine and alternative treatments, so you can get the most effective, long-term pain relief from your chronic condition.
If you’re considering CBD oil for pain management, explore this overview of the risks, side effects, and other important information, so you can make an educated decision about what’s best for you.
What is cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in the cannabis (marijuana) and hemp plants. According to the World Health Organization, CBD “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” meaning that CBD is not addictive or habit-forming like other pain medications, including opioids, which are commonly prescribed for pain.
CBD oil has demonstrated effectiveness in treating several types of medical conditions, including epilepsy, and it may help relieve chronic pain. Additionally, one does not need increased dose of CBD over time.
Unlike another cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not cause a “high” feeling, so you can potentially relieve pain without alterations to your mood or thinking.
Risk and side effects of CBD
While there’s no evidence to support an addictive nature of CBD oil, you should consult Dr. Renk before you begin using it to help manage your pain. For example, if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, if your immune system is compromised in some way, or you currently take prescription drugs, CBD oil may not be an ideal treatment.
Otherwise, the vast majority of studies of CBD conclude that CBD is safe and effective at helping you manage an array of health issues.
In clinical trials, when high doses of CBD oil were given to patients, the most common side effects included feeling tired, gastrointestinal issues, and a decreased appetite. Altered liver enzymes were another concern, but again, only after receiving very high doses of CBD in clinical trials, and participants were also taking prescription medications known to damage the liver.
It’s important to note that CBD may interact with your current medications, so it’s imperative that you consult with Dr. Renk before adding CBD oil to your pain management treatments.
CBD oil for chronic pain management
With minimal side effects and risks, you might be wondering if adding CBD to your pain management treatment plan is beneficial. How exactly does CBD relieve pain?
It inhibits inflammatory agents so it can help dull tingling, prickling, and burning sensations associated with some types of chronic pain. This often makes CBD oil an effective supplement for neuropathic pain and other types of pain caused by inflammation.
Recent studies also indicate that CBD oil may be effective at relieving headache and migraine pain, and for arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, which causes joint pain and stiffness. The National Cancer Institute also notes that CBD can potentially reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatments, including pain, decreased appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
The bottom line on CBD for pain management
Based on what we know about CBD oil and the clinical trials that are available, for the most part, you don’t have to worry about unpleasant side effects or a long-term, addictive nature to CBD oil. As part of a comprehensive pain management plan, CBD oil may help you reduce other medications that do come with side effects and the potential to form a drug dependency.
However, as with any type of treatment, it’s best to consult your physician before beginning something new. Dr. Renk can warn you of any potential drug interactions that CBD could have with your current prescription or over-the-counter pain medications.
Schedule a consultation by calling our office in Anchorage at 907-313-2976, or send us a message online anytime.