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CBD For Inflammation

People experience inflammatory responses for all kinds of reasons, ranging from injury to disease. At best, that inflammation is merely uncomfortable. But at worst, it can contribute to heightened levels of pain and even an increased risk of cancer 1 Hunter P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO reports, 13(11), 968–970. https://doi.org/10.1038/embor.2012.142 .

 

Unfortunately, identifying the cause of inflammation often proves difficult, and treatment can require a great deal of commitment on behalf of the patient. It’s no wonder so many find themselves looking to CBD for inflammation relief.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation occurs as a result of the body jumping into action to protect itself after injury or illness. When a threat is detected, white blood cells surround the area of the body that appears to be in danger, and inflammation (most often seen as redness and swelling) provides a buffer between that area and the outside world 2 Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/ . Inflammation usually serves the purpose of preventing further damage while the body is given time to heal.

There are two different types of inflammation to be aware of: acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation

Acute inflammation is what most of us experience at some point in our lives. This type of inflammation results from tissue damage, including broken bones and sprains and deep cuts and bruises. Infections such as the flu or strep throat also spur the immune system to action, contributing to an acute inflammatory response.

In these cases, inflammation occurs temporarily with the express goal of protecting the impacted area from further damage. This type of inflammation comes on quickly, may be severe for a short period of time, and eventually dissipates on its own 2 Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/ .

Chronic inflammation

On the other hand, chronic inflammation comes on slower and persists for a much longer period time—sometimes for years. This is typically an unnatural and unwelcome immune response.

There is a long list of possible causes for chronic inflammation to consider, including:

  • Infectious organisms such as protozoa, fungi, and other parasites that the immune system has trouble eliminating
  • Exposure to substances such as cigarette smoke or silica dust that cannot be easily eliminated
  • Certain autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
  • A cell defect
  • Repeated periods of acute inflammation
  • Exposure to inflammatory and biochemical inducers such as uric acid crystals that may be resulting in oxidative distress

Whatever the reason, chronic inflammation can be extremely dangerous, with the associated diseases ranking as some of the most significant causes of death throughout the world. Chronic inflammation is also considered a major contributor to various conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and more 2 Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/ .

Traditional inflammation treatments

Treating acute inflammation often involves NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), compression, elevation, rest, ice, and time 3 Acute Inflammation (2005). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. http://affc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/AcuteInflammation.pdf . Even without treatment, acute inflammation will typically resolve on its own.

With chronic inflammation, treatment tends to be much more involved. This is because weight loss is considered one of the most effective treatment options, requiring patients to fully embrace and maintain dietary and lifestyle changes. A low-glycemic diet (avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, and trans fats) is most often recommended alongside implementing a daily exercise routine 2 Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/ .

This type of treatment can be successful but it requires a lot of self-discipline on behalf of the patient. What’s worse, it doesn’t always work or doesn’t work as quickly as necessary. In these cases, there are conventional medications that may be used to treat chronic inflammation, including:

  • Metformin
  • Statins
  • NSAIDs
  • Corticosteroids

While these medications can reduce inflammation, they also each have undesirable side effects to consider. For instance, Metformin is associated with dizziness, fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, and vomiting 4 Nasri, H., & Rafieian-Kopaei, M. (2014). Metformin: Current knowledge. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(7), 658–664. . And NSAIDs have been found to increase the risk of gastrointestinal damage and renal syndromes 5 Henry D. A. (1988). Side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Bailliere’s clinical rheumatology, 2(2), 425–454. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0950-3579(88)80021-9 .

Doctor examining patient knee

CBD for inflammation—how does it work?

In addition to the traditional treatment options for inflammation, there are also a host of natural anti-inflammatories that have been found to reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Examples of these include omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), white willow bark, and turmeric 6 Maroon, J. C., Bost, J. W., & Maroon, A. (2010). Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surgical neurology international, 1, 80. https://doi.org/10.4103/2152-7806.73804 .

These natural anti-inflammatories are believed to work because of how they interact with anti-inflammatory pathways throughout the body, inhibiting the inflammatory response. It is the same type of interaction NSAIDs and other types of more traditional anti-inflammatories engage in, although different pathways are typically triggered depending on the anti-inflammatory at play 6 Maroon, J. C., Bost, J. W., & Maroon, A. (2010). Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surgical neurology international, 1, 80. https://doi.org/10.4103/2152-7806.73804 .

In the case of CBD, cannabinoids have been shown to engage multiple anti-inflammatory pathways by way of the endocannabinoid system . 7 Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93

What does the research say?

A growing body of research points to the benefits of cannabinoids as anti-inflammatory drugs, including CBD for inflammation. A 2010 review of existing research up to that time reported that CBD had been found to inhibit disease progression in mice with collagen-induced arthritis while also resulting in reduced inflammation of the lymph nodes. The same report further showed that CBD had been found to reduce inflammation in female mice with diabetes and that CBD interacted with several anti-inflammatory pathways 7 Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93 .

A 2015 review produced comparable findings, expanding on the anti-inflammatory pathways CBD interacts with and the potential benefits that could result due to those interactions 8 Burstein S. (2015). Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry, 23(7), 1377–1385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059 . In 2016, researchers found that CBD could reduce pancreatic inflammation in mice with type 1 diabetes. Those same mice also presented with a significant reduction in immune cell activity compared to the mice that weren’t treated with CBD 9 Lehmann, C., Fisher, N. B., Tugwell, B., Szczesniak, A., Kelly, M., & Zhou, J. (2016). Experimental cannabidiol treatment reduces early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes. Clinical hemorheology and microcirculation, 64(4), 655–662. https://doi.org/10.3233/CH-168021 And a 2017 study reported that male rats with osteoarthritis presented with reduced inflammation of the joints after just two weeks of a topical CBD application 10 Philpott, H. T., O’Brien, M., & McDougall, J. J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052 .

More recently, a 2020 review broke down all this research and further examined the molecular structure of CBD and how that structure contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties. .

What the research is lacking up to now is comprehensive human studies. There is still more work to be done, and as is the case with all CBD research, more questions to be answered about CBD for inflammation. But everything we know so far is promising and points to CBD having powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Ready to Use CBD for Inflammation?

If you’ve decided to give CBD for inflammation a try, you should know that you have a variety of options available to you. CBD oil for inflammation can be easy to dose and ingest, or you may want to try edibles like gummies or mints to help find the relief you are looking for. Garden of Life has both types of products with their inflammatory response blend included.

Perhaps you want to try something topical, a CBD cream for inflammation, for instance. Current research gives us reason to believe that applying CBD topically could be just as beneficial for reducing inflammation as ingesting it. All you have to do is find a CBD cream or lotion that works for you.

And if you want a product line specifically created for the type of inflammation athletes experience, pro soccer player Rachael Rapinoe’s CBD brand Mendi is tested to be THC-free so that athletes can find relief without having to worry about failing drug tests.

For those who aren’t as worried about avoiding THC, Mendi does offer a full spectrum line as well, which is a good reminder: full spectrum products can contain trace amounts of THC and should be avoided by those not allowed to partake in the use of THC.

Selecting the right CBD dosage for inflammation can take a bit of trial and error, as everything from gender to weight and what you ate on any given day can impact the effect you experience. We recommend starting low and slow with your dosing, building that dosage up until you achieve the desired effects. We do have a dosing page that can help you get started.

Remember: Always talk to your doctor about any medication or drug you add to your daily routine. This includes CBD. Medical practitioners aren’t going to judge you, but they do need to know what you are taking in case of potential interactions.

FAQs

How does CBD help inflammation?

CBD helps inflammation by interacting with a variety of inflammatory pathways throughout the body, reducing the inflammatory response in the process.

What CBD dosage should I use for inflammation?

CBD dosing, including CBD dosage for inflammation, can be very unique to the individual. Start with our CBD Dosage Chart and build your dosage up from there slowly until you achieve the desired effects.

The information provided is for informational purposes only. We do not claim to treat or cure any health ailment or condition. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider before trying any new product. We are not responsible for any adverse reaction(s) you may have to any of the products featured on this site. See our T & C for more information.

Sources
  1. Hunter P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO reports, 13(11), 968–970. https://doi.org/10.1038/embor.2012.142
  2. Pahwa R, Goyal A, Bansal P, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  3. Acute Inflammation (2005). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. http://affc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/AcuteInflammation.pdf
  4. Nasri, H., & Rafieian-Kopaei, M. (2014). Metformin: Current knowledge. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(7), 658–664.
  5. Henry D. A. (1988). Side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Bailliere's clinical rheumatology, 2(2), 425–454. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0950-3579(88)80021-9
  6. Maroon, J. C., Bost, J. W., & Maroon, A. (2010). Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surgical neurology international, 1, 80. https://doi.org/10.4103/2152-7806.73804
  7. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93
  8. Burstein S. (2015). Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry, 23(7), 1377–1385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059
  9. Lehmann, C., Fisher, N. B., Tugwell, B., Szczesniak, A., Kelly, M., & Zhou, J. (2016). Experimental cannabidiol treatment reduces early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes. Clinical hemorheology and microcirculation, 64(4), 655–662. https://doi.org/10.3233/CH-168021
  10. Philpott, H. T., O'Brien, M., & McDougall, J. J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
  11. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010021

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