Cancer patients going through chemotherapy or radiation often find themselves facing a great deal of pain during the treatment process. Many are finding relief through the use of cannabidiol, better known as CBD. Patients often have questions about CBD use and may also have misconceptions about this alternative therapy.
It’s important to understand what cannabidiol is and how it works to provide pain relief.
Cannabis plants produce more than 480 compounds, and many of these compounds are cannabinoids. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a type of cannabinoid and one of the main active ingredients in marijuana.
THC usually gets all of the attention when we talk about marijuana, but CBD is gaining more recognition for its therapeutic properties.
Unlike THC, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects (or the “high”) experienced when using marijuana, CBD calms the body and helps alleviate pain.
CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, are believed to affect the body by attaching to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, a complex system that maintains certain aspects of health. Research shows that endocannabinoids can play a role in regulating sleep, memory, mood and even metabolic processes.
CBD purportedly alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, promotes better sleep, fights oxidative stress and improves heart health. CBD is non-addictive. In fact, it is often used to help treat addiction. One recent study found that daily CBD for just seven days prevented subjects from relapsing for 5 months.
Most cancer patients are interested in the pain-relieving and sleep-promoting benefits of CBD.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has cited CBD as a potential option for alleviating symptoms caused by chemotherapy. One study led by the NCI tested the effects of CBD oil extracts sprayed into the mouth. The oil was used along with opioids. The study found that patients experienced better overall pain relief with the help of CBD oil.
But how does CBD actually provide pain relief?
The endocannabinoid system affects the brain directly, so it enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, including serotonin and anandamide. These enhanced effects reduce pain perception, reducing intensity levels dramatically.
CBD also contains powerful antioxidants, which alleviate inflammation and further reduce pain.
Along with pain, CBD has also been shown to reduce nausea – another side effect of chemotherapy. It can also calm nerves, making it easier to get through the day.
It’s easy to find CBD oil online, and you may even have some local shops that are selling CBD products. But it’s important to do your research and find a quality product. Otherwise, you have no idea what you’re putting into your body.
Look for CBD oils that are 100% natural and extracted from the entire hemp plant. Work with a supplier that provides CBD/THC batch testing certificates to confirm the levels of CBD in the product and to ensure that it only contains trace amounts of THC.
Check the level of CBD in the product to ensure that you are getting the best value for the money.