Could Hemp Oil Replace Opioids And OTC Pain Relievers?
Opioid use and abuse in our country have become so bad that there is even an “ominous nickname” for it: The Opioid Epidemic.
While giving an epidemic like this a catchy name might make it sound a little bit like some kind of boogeyman who’s out to get you, in this case, the fear is backed up by real, solid facts.
In fact, almost $80 billion is spent each year in North America combatting this major societal problem. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services recently estimated that overdosing from prescription medications results in over 33,000 deaths per year or 90 deaths per day in the United States.1
Besides the high risk of abuse and overdose that these highly-addictive drugs carry with them, taking them regularly can result in severe side effects like gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, and constipation.1
Over-The-Counter (OTC) pain relievers aren’t perfect either. These would include such pain relievers as Tylenol (acetaminophen) and NSAID’s like Advil (ibuprofen) and Naproxen Sodium.
They are effective for short-term use, but they work by inhibiting the formation of inflammation-inducing prostaglandin. Unfortunately, without prostaglandin in your digestive tract, it can lead to stomach bleeding.1
Additionally, Tylenol is known to be difficult for your liver to process under certain situations.
It’s no wonder that many people (like possibly yourself!) are looking for a safe and natural alternative to dangerous and addictive narcotic and OTC pain relievers like these.
There is a growing body of evidence that hemp oil containing CBD could become a replacement treatment for some people and safe and effective addition to pain treatment for others.
There are many encouraging signs that it could eliminate the risks and dangers of pain management while making it easier and more effective.
How Does CBD Work?
Cannabinoids have been medically proven to perform many of the same functions as opioids: reducing inflammation, triggering the release of endorphins, blocking the nociceptive pain sensation pathway in the central nervous system (CNS), alleviating neuropathic pain, and acting as a muscle relaxant.1
But it does all these things without the high. Here’s exactly how.
The cannabinoids in CBD have been shown to interact with and influence opioid, 5HT3, and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors. These are the same receptors that opioids act on.
In addition, many studies have linked cannabinoid and opioid effects further down the pain processing pathways through “second messenger effects”. 2
CBD can also relieve pain by triggering the release of beta-endorphin in response to cannabinoid receptors in the body. Beta-endorphin binds to mu-opioid receptors in both the central and peripheral nervous system to relieve pain.3
Heal Your Whole Body And Achieve Long-Term Health
But the main difference between opioids and CBD is that opioids only work in your brain – they cut off the pain signal from being processed by your nervous system.
They don’t do anything in your body to heal your injuries or reduce inflammation at the site of your pain. Therefore, they make a very poor long-term treatment option because they aren’t healing any pain in your body, only masking it.
And they are very addictive. You become used to the effects of opioids over time, and you need to consistently take more and more just to get the same pain relief. That’s how addiction starts.4
CBD on the other hand, works in your entire body, restoring homeostasis through the endocannabinoid system and reducing inflammation in your body by contributing to the overall healing process.1
The Full “Entourage Effect”
Plus, only CBD from hemp oil has the full “entourage effect” that contains hundreds of terpenes working together.
Researchers have found one particular terpene to be very effective at managing pain all by itself. This is β-caryophyllene and it is easily absorbed by your body even in small doses, where it produces strong anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.2
Further studies continue to show that β-caryophyllene is effective at reducing neuropathic pain and inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines. All of this meaning that hemp oil could be effective in difficult cases of pain that have not responded to anything else.2
The Best Part? No Side Effects
And of course, the best part of all of this is how SAFE the CBD in hemp oil really is. Side effects have proven to be virtually non-existent and it is generally considered extremely safe with low potential for interactions with other drugs.
It has actually been shown to reduce the side effects of other opioid medications when taken in conjunction with them.1
What Kinds Of Pain Might Hemp Oil Be Able To You With?
Throughout this article, we’ve dropped hints about the kinds of pain that have been researched with CBD. Here we want to give you a list of the types of pain that have shown promise in relation to CBD in hemp oil.
- Acute injury or trauma
- Chronic back or muscle pain
- Cancer side effects6
- Muscle Spacticity7
- Multiple Sclerosis7
Of course, your mileage may always vary because each person is individual and unique. What works for one person might not work for another and you should consult your doctor about any changes you make in your routine.
The CBD in hemp oil can even reduce the withdrawal symptoms from pain killers. There is ample evidence to suggest that it is both non-addictive and anti-addictive (meaning it relieves the symptoms of withdrawal and addiction).9
It can do this by modulating the pain, anxiety, and mood symptoms of withdrawal holistically.
Better Sleep Leads To More Comfort And Less Pain
Finally, when it comes to managing chronic pain – as you likely already know – getting great sleep regularly makes an entire world of difference -- with your physical pain as well as with your mood.
There is an often-overlooked but significant risk of sleep disorders and breathing issues associated with using central nervous system-blocking drugs (like opioids) to treat chronic pain. These risks increase when opioids are combined with benzodiazepines.
Cannabinoids have been widely shown to suppress sleep-apnea, reduce insomnia, and restore normal sleeping patterns.2 This is just another example of the overall, peripheral health benefits that CBD from hemp oil can give you.
Can hemp oil replace opioids or OTC pain relievers? It is possible that for some people it might.
As mentioned above, your personal mileage may vary. There are many personal stories of hope from people using CBD and eventually giving up on the prescriptions they were taking before. And others don’t experience that kind of effect, but it’s unlikely to be dangerous as long as you follow a few key suggestions.
First, don’t overdo it. Start slowly with CBD to see how your own body reacts to it. Find what feels like a good dosage to you, and work to keep tweaking it so that it feels right.
Second, whatever you do, don’t quit your pain meds 100% and go straight onto CBD! If you feel like you can taper off, then do it very slowly, AND –
Finally, please consult your doctor if you are considering making changes to your pain management strategy. This article is not designed to replace medical advice from a medical professional.
When you’re ready to see the health effects CBD can have for you, check out our excellent selection of Hemp Oil products here