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

Written by 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.

I completed my degree in Biomedical Science-Human Biology, always with the intention to study herbal medicines after. I wanted to bridge the gap between plant medicines and science. I then went on to study a masters at UCL School of Pharmacy, in Medicinal Natural Products and Phytochemistry where I learnt deeply about phytomedicines, quality control, laboratory techniques and medicinal plant science.
Since then I have been an associate editor for the science publication Journal of Herbal Medicine. I research medicinal plants at Kew Gardens, and have been a G7 youth ambassador for healthcare. You can read more about my research here. I have launched my own botanical medicine company Laz The Plant Scientist offering herbal medicines, education and experiential events.

I am passionate about herbal medicines as I believe medicines should prioritise prevention as well as having a holistic focus. I love that herbal medicines work to rebalance us and optimise our quality of life, and I have witnessed them having a transformative effect time and time again. I also believe that living in symbiosis with and nurturing a relationship with nature is one of the most healing things we can do.

Rebecca Lazarou

I completed my degree in Biomedical Science-Human Biology, always with the intention to study herbal medicines after. I wanted to bridge the gap between plant medicines and science. I then went on to study a masters at UCL School of Pharmacy, in Medicinal Natural Products and Phytochemistry where I learnt deeply about phytomedicines, quality control, laboratory techniques and medicinal plant science.
Since then I have been an associate editor for the science publication Journal of Herbal Medicine. I research medicinal plants at Kew Gardens, and have been a G7 youth ambassador for healthcare. You can read more about my research here. I have launched my own botanical medicine company Laz The Plant Scientist offering herbal medicines, education and experiential events.

I am passionate about herbal medicines as I believe medicines should prioritise prevention as well as having a holistic focus. I love that herbal medicines work to rebalance us and optimise our quality of life, and I have witnessed them having a transformative effect time and time again. I also believe that living in symbiosis with and nurturing a relationship with nature is one of the most healing things we can do.

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