CBD for Chronic Pain

UPDATED ON JANUARY 8TH, 2018

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Once that problem is healed, the pain goes away. Chronic pain is different. Your body can hurt for weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Doctors often define chronic pain as any pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months or more. Pain lasting this long can, of course, have serious effects on your day-to-day life. Finding a solution is oftentimes detrimental to one’s overall well-being.

Common Causes of Chronic Pain

Some of the most common causes of chronic pain include:

  • past injuries or surgeries
  • back problems
  • migraines and other headaches
  • arthritis
  • nerve damage
  • infections
  • fibromyalgia

Treatment of Chronic Pain

If you are living with chronic pain, you may understand the feeling of despair and hopelessness. The thought of the pain never ending is real. Chronic pain wears on your nerves and oftentimes creates additional problems such as anxiety and depression. The most common method of dealing with pain involves taking a medication such as a narcotic. Often times benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are also prescribed to deal with anxiety and depression. Even though there are other methods of dealing with pain such as interventional procedures, surgery, and physical therapy, narcotics act the quickest. The problem with narcotics is that they do work, and often times too well which leads to patients becoming addicted to them. Unfortunately, physicians do not have a lot of good alternatives to recommend to their patients, until now.

CBD Used to Treat Chronic Pain

The Farm Bill that just passed has now opened the door for both physicians and the general public to have another option for pain management. The entire U.S. has access to hemp-derived CBD. The main reason why CBD is supported in the treatment of chronic pain is due to its ability to suppress inflammatory neuropathic pain by targeting certain receptors throughout the body.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers were able to identify a specific component in CBD, which shows CBD to be “an ideal glycinergic cannabinoid that can be used to treat chronic pain without causing aversive effects. These findings may be able to be applied to future studies in order to develop a new generation of glycinergic cannabinoids to treat chronic pain. The other important discovery from this research was how glycinergic cannabinoids are unlikely to cause a drug tachyphylaxis or tolerance, unlike narcotics. This means people suffering from chronic pain would no longer need to be concerned with becoming physically addicted to using CBD as part of their treatment plan.

Additionally, CBD can be used to help motivate patients suffering from chronic pain. In a study published in 2017 by Frontiers in Pharmacy, CBD was found to indirectly affect the reward system. Since pain involves different regions of the brain, it impacts emotional processing. CBD was found to have a positive impact on the psychological aspects of chronic pain “presumably because of pain relief or reduction of pain aversiveness.” CBD can help manage almost all symptoms associated with chronic pain.

Current Research

The University of Michigan is currently conducting two studies on medical cannabis. These studies are open for participants to take a survey and qualified applicants will be chosen to participate. The information provided is used to help inform physicians, researchers, policy-makers, and patients about the potential health benefits and risks of cannabis as a therapeutic or recreational agent.

The first studies focus is on understanding how medical cannabis use among patients with chronic pain affects pain management, quality of life, and the use of other medications. If you’d like to apply for this study, you will be asked to complete an online anonymous, confidential survey. If you are over the age of 18 with a legal medical cannabis license or legal recreational cannabis license, and you have used cannabis for chronic pain, may participate in this survey. Just click the link here and use the password UMsurvey.

The focus of the second study is also on understanding how medical cannabis use among patients with chronic pain affects pain management, quality of life, and the use of other medications. The difference with this study is the survey which you will be asked to complete at baseline, and then again 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after the initial survey. Each survey comes with a $10 compensation.

To qualify for this study, you must meet the following qualifications:

  1. You are 18 years of age or older.
  2. You have a medical cannabis certification in your state of residence.
  3. You either have been using cannabis for chronic pain main management for less than six months you plan to but have not started using cannabis for chronic pain management.

If you do not meet all of the above-listed criteria, please do not participate in this survey. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Kevin Boehnke Ph.D. at kboehnke@med.umich.edu.