Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. According to the CDC, 50 million U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain while 20 million experience high-impact pain. With numbers this high, many patients are interested in complementary therapies alongside traditional pain medication. This includes cannabis-derived products containing compounds like CBD, CBN, and CBG. However, the research landscape remains complicated for patients to navigate.
This article will break down key points about prominent cannabinoids for pain relief, current scientific understanding, and what to know before trying any cannabis-related products.
Cannabinoids refer to chemical compounds that interact with receptors in the human endocannabinoid system. Major subgroups include:
Phytocannabinoids: Found in the cannabis sativa plant. This includes well-known ones like THC and CBD, but also lesser-known compounds like CBG and CBN.
Endocannabinoids: Produced naturally within the human body to help regulate functions like appetite, pain response, mood, and more.
Synthetic cannabinoids: Chemically engineered in the lab to interact with cannabinoid receptors.
Over 100 different cannabinoids have been identified, but only a handful are well understood so far. Still, interest remains high especially for chronic pain treatment. Current leading therapies include CBD oil, CBD-infused topicals, and soft gel capsules as delivery methods. But does the research support the hype?
Should I use CBD for Pain Relief?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is non-intoxicating and has shown the most promise for therapeutic uses. Thus, most studies focus on isolated CBD rather than whole-plant marijuana which contains hundreds of components.
Multiple reviews report encouraging evidence for CBD in reducing pain associated with conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and spinal injury. Possible mechanisms include influencing neurotransmitter activity and reducing inflammation.
For example, a 2021 randomized trial in the European Journal of Pain showed CBD applied as a topical gel significantly reduced arthritis knee pain in comparison to placebo. And a meta-analysis in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research concluded that 15 of 18 high-quality studies demonstrated CBD improving various types of pain when compared to placebos.
However, experts note there is still much we don’t understand about appropriate doses, long-term efficacy, drug interactions, and how CBD compares to existing pain medications. Most studies are small and of relatively short duration.
What About Emerging Cannabinoids Like CBG?
As popular as CBD has become, scientists are also intrigued by lesser-known cannabinoids like CBG. Short for cannabigerol, early tests suggest CBG may act as a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain blocker. It shows potential for treating bladder dysfunction, irritable bowel disease, Huntington’s disease, and degenerative brain conditions according to an article in the journal Biomolecules.
But almost all research on CBG remains preclinical at this stage – mostly cell cultures and animal models rather than human trials. Experts emphasize the need to demonstrate CBG’s safety and efficacy in rigorous randomized controlled studies before drawing conclusions. Still, some patients are trying out CBG-based topicals, hoping they may work for pain similar to CBD.
Challenges with Cannabinoid Research
While interest in medical uses for cannabinoids continues growing rapidly, the research landscape faces stubborn challenges:
Lack of Regulation and Standardization – There is enormous variability in cannabinoid products. Concentrations swing wildly between different brands and batches. Contaminants may be present while contents don’t always match labels. This makes effective dosing difficult.
Interactions with Medications – CBD inhibits certain enzymes that process many common pharmaceuticals. This increases medication levels in the bloodstream, potentially causing negative effects. Patients must work closely with doctors and pharmacists to monitor any interactions.
Balancing Therapeutic Potential with Patient Safety – Expanding cannabinoid access before completing thorough studies raises public health concerns. However, restricting research and access also limits potential benefits for pain patients. Policy debates continue around finding the right balance.
Choosing the Best CBG Products for Pain
CBG products are not regulated by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and because of that there are some things you should do as a consumer to protect yourself. When you’re looking to buy CBG products, always do so from a reputable company. One way to ensure that you are buying from a company is reading the labeling on your product and also looking through the company provided certificate of analysis (COA).
Additional considerations when selecting cannabinoid products for pain management:
Quality and Purity: Look for products from reputable brands that provide third-party lab testing results to ensure quality and purity.
Potency and Dosage: Ensure the product has enough cannabinoids to effectively manage your pain. Start with a lower dose and gradually increase it if needed.
Formulation: Choose a product based on your preferred method of consumption and lifestyle needs – capsules, softgels, or gummies.
Softgels For Pain Relief: Enhanced Absorption & Effective
Softgels are similar to capsules but have a liquid center, which can lead to better absorption in the body. This means they can be more effective for pain management. Softgels are also easy to swallow and provide a fixed dose of CBD, CBG, or CBN, ensuring consistent relief. They are perfect for individuals seeking a fast-acting form of pain relief.
Gummies For Pain Relief: Tasty and Fun
Gummies infused with CBD, CBG, or CBN offer a fun and tasty alternative to traditional pain management products. They are particularly appealing to those who may not enjoy swallowing pills or the taste of hemp. Gummies come in various flavors, strengths, and formulations, making them a versatile option for pain relief. Plus, they offer the convenience of precise dosing in each piece.
Capsules For Pain Relief: A Convenient Option
Capsules are one of the best products that you can use for pain relief. This is because they offer precise dosing and convenience. Not to mention capsules are tasteless, discreet, easy to swallow, and the list goes on. Capsules provide a straightforward method to incorporate CBD, CBG, or CBN into your daily routine and they come in various strengths and purposes, making them suitable for different pain management needs.
In Summary – A Need for Rigor and Patience
Current evidence shows encouraging but inconclusive potential for cannabinoids – especially CBD – to assist with pain management. The dots do not neatly connect into definitive conclusions yet. And newer options like CBG require years more research.
While some find cannabinoids help reduce their pain, experts urge speaking to your physician first given quality control issues and many open questions around safety. They also caution patience as better clinical studies will emerge over time. Everybody wants quick solutions for chronic pain – an extremely complex medical problem – but viable long-term answers based on rigorous science rarely come quickly or easily.
For those who do incorporate cannabinoids for pain relief, experts advise starting low with dosage and monitoring effects closely under your doctor’s supervision. Report any concerns or side effects promptly rather than increasing dosage freely. Record keeping around personalized doses and product details can help you and your medical team make informed adjustments.
And above all, recognize that every patient needs individualized care. From physical therapy to acupuncture, massage, meditation, mindfulness and more, integrated pain management programs aim to help sufferers improve quality of life. Cannabinoids may play a helpful role as the science develops, but are unlikely to serve as lone “magic bullet” solutions. Open and honest conversations with your care team about all options tailored to your needs gives you the best chance at finding workable pain relief.
The Final Word
The world of pain management is evolving, with cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN offering promising natural alternatives. Whether you choose capsules, softgels, or gummies, these products can provide effective relief from pain, enhancing your quality of life. Remember to prioritize quality, consult with healthcare professionals, and start with a lower dose to find what works best for you. With the right approach, cannabinoids can be a valuable addition to your pain management toolkit.