No Pain, Only Gain: CBD Softgels for Aches and Pains
Aches and pains, when used as an umbrella term, can have a much wider scope than all the largest oceans in the world combined. Most of us have probably experienced a sharp, stabbing sensation in our muscles after pushing them too hard during a strenuous workout or any other overwhelming physical activities.
Sometimes the perception of pain can be even more shocking- for instance, when you accidentally hit your elbows on the edge of the table or stub your pinky toe on the frame of your bed. However, other types of pain may produce a less ‘piercing’ effect but can last for a few months (or even longer) if left untreated.
In a nutshell, there is a wide range of pain sensations that we may feel in many different ways, depending on their underlying cause(s). While not all pain can be treated, most pain can be managed well with proper medications, as well as health supplements, relaxation techniques, and mainstream pain-relievers.
Due to the promising natural components found in cannabis subspecies like industrial hemp, a lot of people have sought hemp supplements (like CBD oil) out for many years in hopes of finding a potential complementary solution to various types of aches and pains. One of those naturally occurring compounds (also known as cannabinoids) has recently drawn the attention of both medical researchers and wellness enthusiasts across the world for having shown some impressive potential impacts on pain management.
Of course, one derivative of hemp stands out among the rest as a health supplement. We are talking about cannabidiol, or CBD, as it is commonly known in the market. This newly-developed wellness compound has been widely used to supplement the treatments for various symptoms of chronic pain, particularly that which is caused by inflammation.
Although scientific evidence to support the potential benefits of CBD is quite limited due to certain restrictions on cannabis utilisation and research, some existing anecdotal reports are gaining momentum for their increasingly impressive reputation when it comes to managing pain-related symptoms. In this article, we look into some specific types of aches and pains that CBD has been thought to help manage effectively, how this cannabinoid might potentially work inside our body, and which different types of CBD formulations might be best for pain management.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 active cannabinoids found in various cannabis plants. It is mainly extracted from hemp and formulated into many different commercial products like CBD oils, capsules, creams, and more.
CBD is partly different from other cannabinoids (such as the main psychoactive component of cannabis, known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC), especially when it comes to its own natural compositions and potential effects. For instance, when THC is consumed, it tends to produce a “high” sensation by potentially stimulating the endocannabinoid receptors (such as CB1 receptors) that are located in the brain. These receptors are considered an essential counterpart of plant-based cannabinoids like CBD, and are produced naturally by our body’s endocannabinoid system (also known as the ECS). The ECS is a specialised network of various cell receptors that collect and translate signals from the cannabinoids that enter the body. Along with its primary role of governing a variety of brain functions like mood and memory, the ECS impacts the way we experience pain, giving you a hint as to how CBD might be beneficial for pain management.
Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating— meaning it does not produce any euphoric sensations that usually impair a person’s mindset and behaviour. Instead of activating the brain’s reward system (which often causes extreme pleasure), CBD is thought to possibly act differently, by working with the CB2 receptors located in the immune system and other essential receptors distributed throughout the body. By targeting those areas, CBD may potentially encourage our ECS to function more effectively, in a way that can easily promote a sense of inner balance known as homeostasis.
CBD and Pain Management
Pain is one of the primary reasons some people consume CBD. In fact, one article published in the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has reported some evidence suggesting that CBD might have some potential benefits when it comes to managing various pain-related conditions. This proposition has started with some anecdotal reports from early users, which partly paved the way for a massive influx of preliminary studies involving animal subjects in various laboratories. As more and more countries around the world are slowly reconsidering cannabis legalisation and regulation, human studies are now starting to fill in the gaps surrounding CBD’s therapeutic potential. In light of this simmering progress in the CBD industry, let us learn what evidence suggests about CBD’s purported impact on different types of pain.
One 2017 study has found that CBD might have a promising role in supplementing a variety of symptoms associated with neuropathic pain. This type of pain is usually characterised by a shooting or burning sensation, which can either last a long time, or disappear on its own in some cases. This condition is a result of nerve damage that often causes a malfunction in the nervous system, thereby affecting the nerve function at the injured part of the body, or the areas surrounding it. A rare condition called phantom limb syndrome is one of the most common examples of neuropathic pain.
Phantom limb syndrome occurs when patients (who are amputees) experience painful sensations in a limb that does not exist due to specific injuries. For example, even if an arm or a leg has been surgically removed because of a specific illness or injury, the brain still receives signals of pain perceptions from the nerves that previously gathered impulses from the missing upper or lower limbs, causing a misfire of painful sensations.
Neuropathic pain management may be primarily sustained by the glutamatergic system, which is a fast-signalling system that plays an essential role in the information processing of the nervous system. The glutamatergic system has its primary excitatory neurotransmitter, called glutamate, which is highly involved in sensitisation (known as a process of enhancing stimuli response that is sometimes beneficial for immune health and chronic pain recovery).
Interestingly, CBD is reported to contain its own natural properties that may mimic our body’s glutamate in order to potentially help manage the prickling and burning sensations often experienced by patients with neuropathic pain. For some people, this condition may even lead to severe disability if it does not respond fully to mainstream treatments. However, a proper approach that combines traditional medications (including therapies and pain treatments), a healthy lifestyle, and CBD as a complementary supplement, might be an effective way to provide potential relief from neuropathic pain.
Our immune system has its own natural response to specific injuries or illnesses, commonly known as an ‘inflammatory response’. One of the primary functions of the inflammatory cells found in our bloodstream is to protect our body from foreign invaders, such as allergens, bacteria, and viruses. This kind of response can cause our body to feel symptoms like pain and fatigue, as it puts all of our energy towards fighting off such infections. Likewise, when we are injured, a localised inflammatory response also plays a vital role in the healing process. However, pain caused by inflammation is not as easily distinguished as neuropathic pain, since the origins and experiences of inflammatory pain may vary from one person to another.
While inflammatory pain is often associated with neuropathic pain, it is not limited to neurons alone. Pain due to inflammation can be considered acute or chronic. Acute inflammatory pain is typically caused by either an injury (such as broken bones, sprained ankles, and even cuts) or an auto-immune disease (such as bacterial infections or viruses). Other examples of acute inflammatory pain include all types of arthritis, as well as temporary, simple conditions like muscle pain, headaches, and cramps. These cases can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of months without treatment, depending on the root cause and severity of the injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammatory pain is a long-term condition that can last for years, or even an entire lifetime in severe cases. While acute inflammatory pain is a normal response of our immune system, long-term inflammatory pain can be detrimental to our overall health. This condition is one of the many contributing factors in the onset and progression of many chronic diseases that often require ongoing treatments.
On the bright side, CBD is thought to be beneficial when it comes to managing different types of inflammatory pain symptoms, regardless of the root cause. Early studies have shown that CBD might have an ability to potentially enhance our body’s level of anandamide (also known as the ‘bliss’ molecule)- an endocannabinoid responsible for regulating pain perceptions in the brain. It has been further stated in a separate study that CBD may help with the management of inflammation symptoms in the nervous system, which may benefit not only a variety of pain-related symptoms, but also other conditions associated with them, including anxiety, insomnia, and specific immune system responses.
What are CBD Softgels?
As you dive into a vast ocean of CBD products that are now readily available in health and wellness stores across the world, it is crucial to know what to look for in order to find the best possible CBD product for your individual needs. CBD is sold in many different forms, including oils, capsules, creams, and more!
Each CBD product requires specific considerations when it comes to the optimal use and dosage of CBD. For instance, many various forms of CBD may offer a different set of potential natural benefits towards pain management. If the pain is localised on the surface of the skin, CBD topicals (such as creams, salves, and massage oils) are usually considered the best option for localised areas of pain. Otherwise, if the pain originates from inside the body (such as menstrual cramps or deep joint pain), the symptoms may be more effectively managed through a CBD capsule.
There is no shortage of choices when it comes to CBD capsules. Typical CBD capsules are made of two hard-shelled caps that fit together into a cylindrical container of either a jelly, powder, or liquid. CBD softgels are simply a one-piece capsule that is made from combined gelatin and glycerin (a colourless, odourless liquid compound). Some users find CBD softgels to be easier to swallow, because they are tasteless (unlike CBD oil, which some find unpleasant) and have a smoother shape when compared to regular capsules. They are so discreet that you won’t probably even notice you have taken CBD until the potential effects kick in. The best part is that CBD softgels are sealed with gel-like coverings, which means they are more airtight and can have a longer shelf life and better nutrient retention than CBD capsules.
CBD softgels may help your body receive the potential nutrients of this compound by means of oral ingestion- a well-known process of swallowing a substance through the mouth. Oral consumption is one of the easiest and most popular ways to consume CBD, as you can simply take CBD softgels like you would take any other food supplements- merely place on or under your tongue, and swallow with a glass of water.
By taking CBD softgels orally, the cannabinoid’s active ingredients are said to pass through the digestive tract and liver before they finally reach the bloodstream and deliver their potential effects to the targeted areas in the body. Inside the liver is an essential metabolic organ, where CBD undergoes the first-pass metabolic process, which in turn causes some of the active ingredients to partially break down and be carried out of the body. As a result, it may take slightly longer for you to feel the potential effects of CBD through oral ingestion when compared to, say, a CBD vape or oil. Nonetheless, this lengthy route also indicates that CBD may stay longer in your system than it would when compared with other consumption methods.
Proper CBD Dosing for Pain Management
Calculating the optimal dosage for CBD products may seem a bit complicated, especially if you’re new to the world of CBD. Proper dosing can vary from person to person, depending on an individual’s tastes and preferences. Moreover, your unique dose is dependent on some specific factors and personal variables that dictate correct CBD dosages, such as your age, weight, body mass index (BMI), metabolism, current health condition, and consumption method.
The risk of taking an excessive amount of any substance does not only apply to mainstream medications, but also to a wide range of plant-derived supplements- like CBD.
While the active ingredients found in most CBD products are all-natural and non-intoxicating, this does not mean you can take CBD as liberally as you want. Just like any other health supplement, CBD can also have a few adverse effects (such as dry mouth, diarrhoea, and drowsiness). However, chances of unwanted effects may depend mainly on an individual’s underlying health conditions or tolerance to the cannabis compound. With this in mind, it is essential to always consider proper dosing before you begin your CBD routine.
To avoid any undesired effects, beginners are usually advised to start with the lowest possible dose of CBD (that is practically around 5 mg per day) before moving on to much higher doses. This way allows you to monitor how your body may potentially react to CBD, and, from there, you can decide for yourself when to start gradually working your way up in order to reach your desired level of CBD strength.
Most of the studies surrounding the potential effects of CBD on pain management have initially recommended taking CBD in higher doses to potentially achieve more appealing results. This mechanism, also known as a ‘dose-dependent effect’, suggests that the higher dose of CBD you take, the more it may be useful in supplementing various pain sensations.
In general, the standard ratio of high CBD doses is usually around 1 to 1.5 milligrams of CBD for every kilogram of your body weight. Let’s say, for instance, if your weight is approximately 65 kg, then you may work out somewhere between 65 and 100 mg of CBD per day (however, it is suggested that you never exceed 70mg of CBD daily, no matter your body weight).
Suppose you feel the need for something more potent than 70 mg of CBD. In that case, it may be beneficial to consume CBD alongside other pain-management techniques like regular therapies, light workouts, a healthy sleep schedule, and a well-balanced diet.
Once you’ve come up with an efficient CBD dose that potentially matches the symptoms of specific pain you’re trying to manage, the next step is to create a routine of incorporating CBD into your daily diet. Be sure to keep in mind that it may take a few days for you to start feeling the potential effects of CBD softgels, depending on the type and severity of pain. Hence, if you want to receive the full potential benefits of CBD, make sure to use it correctly by finding the correct dose for your body and taking your preferred CBD dosage regularly.
When used correctly alongside different traditional pain treatments and a healthy lifestyle, CBD might potentially offer a holistic relief from pain and its underlying roots. However, it always pays to remember that CBD cannot directly treat any types of pain. Instead, CBD is thought to help activate a variety of cell receptors that work hand in hand when it comes to regulating pain perceptions in the brain.
In addition, CBD may not be efficient in managing all types of pain. Hence, it is essential to understand the type of pain you are trying to manage, and to consult with a medical professional if the pain is severe or does not go away after a prolonged period. If you experience symptoms that are associated with the types of pain we’ve covered above, CBD might just be a potential complementary solution. Above all, do not forget to consult a specialist when contemplating the use of CBD for pain management.