The painkilling properties of cannabis are no secret. Science knows about it decades already, and any cbd lover can tell you outright how it numbs pain. However, researchers were unable to study cannabis until recently, legalization lifted restrictions on it, and had to wait decades to determine just how its analgesic effects work. Their findings could well resolve the opioid crisis sweeping America.
What is more, you can easily buy CBD, or cannabidiol, a primary cannabinoid in cannabis, which might well replace opioids altogether in the future. Currently, folks can use a variety of medications to treat chronic pain effectively, but opioids remain overprescribed. Doctors commonly recommend opioids for relief of constant pain, despite the very real dangers of its use, which include addiction, even death.
The main mechanism of action for opioids is that they attach themselves directly to specific nerve cell receptors throughout the body. By doing so, they block any pain signals traveling to the brain. However, although highly effective, for a short while anyway, opioids are highly addictive. The risk of addiction increases exponentially when one takes opioids for lengthy periods.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids kill more than 130 folks in the United States every day. That is just pharmaceutical painkillers, not even other opiates, such as illicit drugs like fentanyl and heroin. The issue is so serious that officials now label opioid use a national disaster, a crisis to public health, a leading cause of death nationwide. It kills thousands of people every year.
From the University of Guelph in Ontario’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology comes Professor Tariq Akhtar, who explains, “There is clearly a need to develop alternatives for relief of acute and chronic pain that go beyond opioids.” This is where cannabis enters the fray, and more specifically, CBD could prove paramount in the fight against opioid addiction, especially full-spectrum CBD products.
Back in the 1980s, long before you could buy CBD, researchers discovered two important compounds in cannabis plants: cannflavin A and cannflavin B. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, these molecules are non-psychoactive flavonoids. They target inflammation specifically, at its source, making them the perfect painkillers. They also, like opioids, numb pain by blocking pain signaling.
In fact, as Science Direct explains, scientists found these two flavonoids nearly 30 times more effective at relieving inflammation than common pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin. However, because of prohibition, they were unable to discover how cannabis plants make these flavonoids, which are present in abundance in full-spectrum CBD products. Until now. Scientists are discovering much.
According to Professor Akhtar, “Our objective was to better understand how these molecules are made, which is a relatively straightforward exercise these days. There are many sequenced genomes that are publicly available, including the genome of Cannabis sativa, which can be mined for information. If you know what you are looking for, one can bring genes to life, so to speak, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled.”
In the study, and using methods common in biochemistry, the team deciphered to plant genes responsible for the production of these cannflavins. They further identified exactly which steps resulted in the production of flavonoids, which they published in the journal Phytochemistry. What is more, these are not the only compounds in cannabis with analgesic properties. There are others.
CBD itself is a powerful painkiller, as is the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is available in minute traces in hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD products. Some terpenes also have painkilling effects. However, doctors are unwilling just yet to recommend CBD over opioids, although the stigma of cannabis is fading, especially now with the legalization of hemp and its derivatives at the federal level.
Companies are working feverishly to increase levels of these painkilling compounds in hemp plants, as well as in THC-rich marijuana plants too. Consequently, scientists are joining forces with some cannabusinesses to engineer bigger quantities of analgesic cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The aim is to develop safe and effective anti-inflammatory medications from cannabis phytochemicals.
The end goal is to produce alternatives to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that work to relieve all types of pain, mild to severe, acute to chronic. Currently, you can buy CBD extracts containing high quantities of these compounds, which many claim even more effective than opioids, easily tolerable, and with higher efficacy over the long term. CBD is non-addictive. It cannot kill anybody either.
You can find CBD oil online, but before you buy CBD, make sure it has a Certificate of Analysis from an independent laboratory. You want to know exactly how much CBD it contains, as well as other cannabis-derived compounds, such as cannflavins. The only true way to ditch opioids for CBD is if it contains painkilling molecules in sufficient numbers. Not all CBD has this in effective quantities.