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Pain and CBD: How it works and how to use it

Banepā Written by cheap trick lyrics cursedly Rebecca Lazarou

Introduction

Pain, especially chronic pain, can be extremely debilitating. In 2016 the British Pain Society researched the population to find that more than two fifths of the UK population (around 28 million adults) live with pain that lasts for 3 months or longer. Overall, 14.3% had chronic pain that was either moderately or severely disabling (1). This problem is not just prevalent in the UK but is common globally.

Common treatments include opioids like codeine (or in extreme cases morphine), and NSAID’s like ibuprofen. The problem is that the long-term use of NSAID’s can lead gastrointestinal problems like stomach ulcers, and in some cases issues with kidneys and the liver. Opioids are also highly addictive and have caused a devastating opioid crisis leading the destruction of hundreds and thousands of lives (2). Furthermore opioids do not actually work very well for neuropathic pain (3).

What causes pain is multifaceted, and varies from person to person.  For example the cause can be inflammatory in nature as pain is one of the five symptoms of inflammation (along with heat, swelling, redness and loss of function). This is predominantly down to the immune system. Neuropathic pain is caused by the nervous system, and flare ups are often spontaneous without stimulation. Neuropathic pain can feel like electric shocks, tingling, numbness, pins and needles, shooting, stabbing or burning pain. There is a neurotransmitter called substance P that acts as a nociceptor, meaning it detects pain. It is found in specific sensory nerves, predominantly in the brain and spinal cord and reacts to potentially damaging stimuli by causing pain. It is an important factor in both inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

There is also mental and emotional factors when it comes to how we experience pain. Though of course some events and conditions cause us to feel pain, in many cases (in particular chronic pain conditions) the way we perceive pain effects the severity. This is why some people use modalities such as hypnotherapy to deal with chronic pain conditions.

Driven by a yearning to understand wellbeing, I studied a degree in Biomedical Sciences- Human Biology. I wanted to help bridge the gap between science and natural medicines, and was keen to get a scientific understanding of the body. During this time I studied and qualified in the healing modalities of massage and hypnotherapy (after all I believe there is no health without the mind).

I then went on to complete an MSc at UCL in Medicinal Natural Products and Phytochemistry. Here I learnt about active compounds, how to investigate plants in the lab, pharmacognosy, quality control, regulations, indigenous medicines, cosmeceuticals and much more. It is easy for me to say this was one of the best and most inspiring years of my life. I was lead by great teachers including Dr Jose Prieto and Professor Michael Heinrich. I am now a medicinal plant researcher at Kew Gardens, an editor for the academic Journal of Herbal Medicine, science teacher at herbalism schools, writer and educator. I am also the proud founder of Laz The Plant Scientist, which is an educational platform for holistic wellness, science and plant medicines and soon I will be offering my botanical creations.
I want to facilitate a shift in culture on how people perceive health and wellbeing, as well as progress research. I believe a step towards nature is a step towards balance, and I aim to connect people to their healing through nature. I took the notion "follow your dreams" quite literally, and I am glad I did. It has lead me on a fascinating and fulfilling path and I am always excited and curious to see what is next. I truly believe a life researching and connecting with plants is a life well spent.

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