Injury, infection, allergies, and auto-immune conditions can all lead to internal inflammation. While inflammation is an important and necessary immune response that signals the immune system to take action against the root cause of inflammation, when it continues for a long period of time, it can affect the quality of life. Inflammation causes symptoms such as swelling, pain, stiffness of joints, redness, and soreness.
CBD-integrated products have grown in popularity owing to their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
What is CBD?
Flowering plants of cannabis species have been cultivated across the world for medicinal, recreational, and spiritual purposes. Sprays, powders, and topical CBD-integrated products have been seen to have analgesic(pain relief), antispasmodic, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory effects.
CBD stands for Cannabidiol, which is a compound extracted from the Cannabis plant. The Cannabis species of plants have been known to humans for many centuries. Some of the earliest records of cannabis use can be traced back to the third millennium BC. Archaeological evidence suggests cannabis may have been used even before the Third Millennium BC.
While cannabis and its compounds were restricted for use across countries after the 14th century, the approaches towards its beneficial compounds have been changing since the advent of the 21st century. Cannabis was legalized in many countries, and the potential therapeutic properties of CBD have garnered the interest of researchers and clinicians worldwide.
The cannabis plants such as marijuana or hemp have 400 different compounds in them. The main intoxicating properties of cannabis is due to a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
CBD is a compound that is extracted in the form of a powder and has no such psychotropic effects. CBD-integrated topical preparations are prepared by adding oils, such as carrier oils- almond, avocado, coconut, or olive oils.
CBD topical products are fast-becoming the preferred way to treat pain, inflammation, acne, skin dryness, wrinkles, and other skin conditions. A host of CBD-infused products such as Pain Relief Spray, Pain Relief Roll-On, facial cream, body oil, eye cream, recovery lotion, and sleeping mask are available.
Out of the 400 odd compounds that are present in cannabis plants, about 61 are cannabinoids. CBD’s therapeutic properties are from the eighteen chemical groups, such as fatty acids, amino acids, hydrocarbons, nitrogenous compounds, and terpenes.
About 40% of cannabis plant extracts are accounted for by CBD oils. While CBD does not exert any psychoactive effect, unlike the THC (Δ9 tetrahydrocannabinol) compound in marijuana that gives the ‘high’ feeling, a growing body of medical studies, animal model-based trials, and preclinical trials have revealed the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD.
As per Harvard Medical School, cannabidiol has been an effective therapy for treating childhood epilepsy syndromes, including Lennox-Gaustaut and Dravet.
Anti-inflammatory effects of CBD
Heart health: Preclinical studies have shown that CBD has many heart health benefits. CBD has the capacity to relieve inflammation of the heart and has therapeutic potential in treating heart-related conditions, including myocarditis. These inflammatory conditions, when untreated, can lead to strokes and permanent brain damage. A 2017 random crossover study found that a single dose of CBD was effective in reducing blood pressure in volunteers.
CBD reduces pro-inflammatory changes brought about by high glucose levels in the epithelial cells of the coronary artery.
Allergic asthma: Allergic asthma is a condition that is recognized as a complex inflammatory disorder where there is hyper-responsiveness of airways, increased levels of inflammatory markers such as serum IgE, interleukins (IL-2, IL-5, IL-4, and IL-13). CBD was suggested as therapeutic agents to treat allergic asthma as they were effective in reducing pro-inflammatory markers.
CBD has gained popularity in treating many health conditions because of its natural and nontoxic origins. When compared to many other anti-inflammatory drugs in the market, CBD-integrated topical products are safer and have minimal-to-no side effects.
Anti-cancer: Inflammation has been strongly suggested as the key factor in certain cancers, and at least 15–20% of cancer-related deaths have been linked to inflammatory processes. Cancer-related inflammation markers are the presence of inflammatory cells in cancerous tumors and inflammatory mediator-associated tumor growth regulation, metastasis, and new blood vessel. These mediators include cytokines, chemokines, and prostaglandins.
Recent applications of CBD are as antitumor agents, based on their ability to prevent angiogenesis (prevent the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors) or in encouraging apoptosis (cell death) in tumors. Cannabinoids, according to researchers, was able to induce apoptosis in a laboratory setting in human leukemia cells.
Skin health: Palmieri B1, Laurino C1, and Vadalà M1 studied the therapeutic effects of CBD-integrated ointment on skin scars and inflammatory skin conditions. The 2019 retrospective study enrolled 20 patients who had two of the common inflammatory skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis(eczema) and psoriasis. Topical CBD was applied to lesioned skin areas for three months on a twice-daily basis. The results showed CBD-enriched ointment’s topical application improved all skin health parameters leading researchers to conclude that CBD is a non-invasive, effective alternative in treating inflammatory skin conditions.
Mechanism of anti-inflammatory action
In simple terms, inflammation is the immune system’s response to injury or infection. It is the way of signaling to the immune system to address the problem and begin the healing process and repairs of damaged body tissue.
Inflammation is also a defense mechanism for the body against invaders, including bacteria and viruses. While these processes help combat infections and injury, if inflammation continues for a long time without any reason, it can be a cause for concern.
Inflammation is caused by certain substances called cytokines. These are signaling proteins that are produced and released in the event of an injury or infection by the immune cells.
Cytokine modulation: Cytokines not only initiate inflammation but are also responsible for ending it. Researchers believe cannabinoids control inflammation by controlling cytokine production in immune cells.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers found that CBD modules immune system responses by influencing cytokine production in experimental inflammation models. Activation of CB2 or cannabinoid type-2 receptor reduced the production of a type of leukocyte called MCP-2 (monocyte chemotactic protein-2) that is implicated in allergic responses.
They found that CBD reduced the release of MCP-2 and other pro-inflammatory agents such as interleukin(IL)-6, IL-8, and TNF (tumor necrosis factor-α) without any cytotoxic effect.
A study that was featured in the British Journal of Pharmacology evaluated the efficacy of cannabidiol in treating inflammation of acute nature in rats. Researchers concluded that CBD could be a viable pharmacological alternative to relieve pain and acute inflammation.
University of Milano researchers conducted a study that revealed CBD could also treat chronic inflammation.
Non-CB receptor activation: CBD influences neurological and physiological processes linked to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS system is a complex network of cell signaling that was discovered in the 1990s. It has three components, including receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. The system regulates various body functions such as mood, relaxation, immune activity, metabolism, fertility, and sleep. The ECS system also modulates sensory experiences, including pleasure and pain.
Researchers have found two types of endocannabinoids, namely, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These help ensure body functions are carried on smoothly.
The endocannabinoids attach themselves (or bind) to two types of receptors known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. Receptors are proteins that are found on cell surfaces. Their main role is to receive chemical signals, transmit them to cells, and help them respond. CB1 receptors are found in abundance in the brain, while the CB2 receptors are present in peripheral tissues, immune, and gastrointestinal systems.
Scientists suggest that while THC binds to CB1 and CB2 directly to activate them, CBD, on the other hand, may have indirect action on the receptors. They propose non-receptor activation mechanisms in controlling pain and inflammation. CBD is believed to activate other types of receptors called serotonin 1A receptor, adenosine A2A receptor, and vanilloid receptor 1 to control pain and inflammation.
Lack of CB1 and CB2 receptors or endocannabinoid deficiency have also been proposed by researchers as the causative factors behind many disease conditions. A review article evaluated research conducted over ten years and concluded that this proposed theory could explain how some people develop certain conditions with chronic pain and inflammation such as fibromyalgia, migraine, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Fighting reactive oxygen species: Another anti-inflammatory mechanism by which CBD acts is linked to inhibition of the activity of reactive oxygen species.
Researchers, in a 2016 animal model study, administered topical CBD of 0.6 milligrams, 3.1 milligrams, 6.2 and 62.3 milligrams dosages on rats afflicted with joint pain. After four days, it was found that joint inflammation, as well as pain, was reduced.
CBD can suppress the effect of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are also known as free radicals and TNF-α. Reactive oxygen species are unstable electrons that are released during metabolic processes in the cells. These species, being highly unstable, tend to attach themselves to healthy cells, thereby disrupting their balance. This gives rise to more reactive oxygen species being generated, setting up a cycle of destruction. ROS is linked to inflammatory conditions of the heart, joints, and other disease conditions.
Researchers have shown that NF-κB, a protein that controls immune response, is also regulated by CBD. High levels of this protein are known to occur in inflammatory conditions, including arthritis.
Many studies indicate that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. It is also postulated that cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects are several hundred times more as compared to aspirin. In a study, researchers found that patients suffering from inflammation and pain substituted medicinal cannabis in place of other pain relievers. The ones replaced were NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), triptans, opiates/opioids muscle relaxers, and ergots.
Choosing the right CBD product to treat inflammatory conditions
Exciting research is happening on the multiple health benefits of CBD. Scientists are also evaluating novel delivery systems for ensuring maximum bio-availability and potency of CBD.
While there are plenty of CBD-integrated Pain Relief Sprays, Pain Relief Roll-On, body oils, facial serums, and creams, choosing the right CBD product for your condition can be confusing.
As with any health condition, it is important to talk to your doctor before using CBD, although numerous studies have proven that it is non-toxic, safe, hypoallergenic, and non-psychotropic. CBD can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with many conditions such as fibromyalgia, sports injuries, arthritis, acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, migraine headache, among others.
The first step is to determine what is the dosage of CBD you require for treating an inflammatory condition. While there is zero risk in taking excess CBD, you can talk to your doctor to know the dosage of CBD you should use. You can also visit the official website of the manufacturer to know the recommended dosage of Pain Relief Spray or Pain Relief Roll-On. As these are topical products, there is no danger of these accumulating in the organs in case of excess dosage.
It is important to study the product label to know the exact amount of CBD in each dose of the product. Some products list the overall CBD amount while some give the per-dose amount. Ensure you know exactly how much CBD you get with each product.
Generally, CBD strength in products can range from 250 mg to 1000 mg per ounce of the product. Finding the right CBD strength depends on your health condition, extent, and severity of symptoms. It might be a good idea to start with the suggested dose on the product label, and then slowly increase based on your requirement.
Next, decide on the type of CBD product. These are available in the form of sprays, roll-ons, creams, gels, body oils, recovery lotions, and transdermal patches.
When it comes to buying the right CBD-integrated product, look for high-quality products that give maximum therapeutic benefits. High-quality product manufacturers are invested in CBD’s ongoing research and have established quality policies to ensure every step follows best practices.