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

Written by Rebecca Lazarou


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.

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