Can CBD help with chronic inflammation?

Inflammation is an immune response, the body’s way of working to heal itself from the effects of injuries or toxins. When you experience inflammation, your body increases blood flow and releases antibodies and proteins to the damaged area. These actions are intended to provide the body the tools it needs to heal itself.

When we think about inflammation, we usually think of injuries that cause swelling and bruising like bumps and sprains, or redness and puffiness around an injury site like bites, stings, and scrapes. Inflammation caused by injuries or toxins is known as acute, and fades as the body heals itself.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is caused by an underlying condition and can last for months, years, or even indefinitely. CBD has been reported to help ease the symptoms.

What is chronic inflammation?

When the inflammatory response lingers over time, it is considered chronic. When this is the case, your body enters a constant state of alert. Over time, chronic inflammation may have a negative impact on your tissues, organs, and immune system. And when your cells are damaged, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system.

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Unfortunately, there are many cases of chronic inflammation where the underlying cause can’t be determined. When identifiable, common causes of chronic inflammation include:Untreated infection or injury

  • An autoimmune disorder
  • Long-term exposure to irritants, such as industrial chemicals or polluted air
  • Unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking and alcohol use, obesity and chronic stress

The best defense against unchecked chronic inflammation is a healthy lifestyle. As a complement, Cannabidiol (CBD) supplements may be an effective alternative to treating chronic inflammation for those who want to limit their intake of commonly used pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen.

How do I recognize chronic inflammation?

Signs of chronic inflammation can be easy to overlook. Common symptoms include:

  • Body pain
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Frequent infections
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Bloating and weight gain

Chronic inflammation is linked to several serious diseases, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Arthritis and joint diseases
  • Asthma
  • Diseases that cause dementia
  • Psoriasis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

How can CBD help with chronic inflammation?

Research shows that cannabinoids like CBD may be powerful anti-inflammatory agents because of the way they affect cells and the immune system. More specifically, CBD tends to reduce the effects of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines, thereby reducing inflammation.

CBD has been shown to suppress immune response and subsequently ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis and others.

Additional research points to CBD’s involvement in the increased production of eicosanoids, or compounds derived from polyunsaturated fatty acids, that may resolve the inflammatory response.

Cannabidiol also may have distinct interactions with the bodys endocannabinoid system, which assists in fighting off inflammation, making CBD a potentially useful supplement in managing symptoms of some disease states.

How do I use CBD for chronic inflammation?

Once CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, it can be added to other substances for topical use or consumption. When ingested orally in high doses, CBD oil, edibles, tinctures, syrups or drinks may reduce anxiety and have antipsychotic effects. It may also alleviate internal inflammation, but every body metabolizes it differently.

When used topically, a CBD-infused cream has been shown to reduce inflammation, among other benefits, in patients with multiple sclerosis. And inhaling CBD through use of a vaporizer may also safely provide a quick, concentrated dose of CBD, without respiratory toxins involved when smoking.

Keep in mind that higher doses of CBD may not be helpful, and it may take some time to find the optimal dose for your individual chemical makeup.  This is because CBD follows a bell-shaped dose-response curve.  This means that the beneficial properties of CBD may be within a limited dose range and may even have the opposite effect at higher doses. 

The quality of CBD products is not regulated, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products. Be sure to check the label to confirm the product has received third-party testing for quality. CBD supplements can interact with other medications, so it is important to talk with your doctor before beginning the regular use of any CBD products.

The Bottom Line

Chronic inflammation increases your risk of many serious diseases like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Research supports the idea that cannabinoids including CBD may be an effective anti-inflammatory agent, although more research is needed to determine how CBD works, dosage and the best applications for specific types of inflammation.

The quality of CBD products is not regulated, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products. Be sure to check the label to confirm the product has received third-party testing for quality. CBD supplements can interact with other medications, so it is important to talk with your doctor before beginning the regular use of any CBD products.

 Sources

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  2.  Booz. September, 2011. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21238581
  3.  Understanding inflammation. health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-inflammation
  4.  Viljoen, Mncwangi, and Vermaak. May, 2012. Anti-Inflammatory Iridoids of Botanical Origin. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3873812/
  5.  Pahwa, Goyal, Bansal, and Jialal. February, 2020. Chronic Inflammation. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  6.  Klein. May, 2005. Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics. nature.com/articles/nri1602
  7.  Witkamp, Meijerink. March, 2014.The endocannabinoid system: an emerging key player in inflammation. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The%20endocannabinoid%20system%3A%20an%20emerging%20key%20player%20in%20inflammation
  8.  Burstein, Zurier. March, 2009. Cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and related analogs in inflammation. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19199042
  9.  Mecha, Feliú, Iñigo,Mestre, Carrillo-Salinas, and Guaza. Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: A role for A2A receptors. June, 2013.

    sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969996113001939

  10.  Solowij, Broyd, van Hell and Hazekamp. October, 2014. A protocol for the delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) and combined CBD and ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by vaporisation. doi: 10.1186/2050-6511-15-58
  11.  Daru. October, 2015. A new formulation of cannabidiol in cream shows therapeutic effects in a mouse model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.  10.1186/s40199-015-0131-8
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