Chronic pain can be exhausting and isolating. Much like mental health problems, chronic pain isn’t always visible so it’s difficult for other people to understand the pain you feel. Other than the obvious symptom of pain, chronic illness can be massively strenuous on your mind and your mental health. The two often go together and we are often being asked: Can CBD oil help chronic pain and mental health? Often when you treat one the other disappears, and CBD oil can take you far in a 100% natural way without any nasty side effects.
How chronic pain can affect your mental health!
Other than the obvious symptom of pain, chronic illness can be massively strenuous on your mind and your mental health. The feelings which you often struggled with are:
Isolation: When pain is not in plain sight, some people struggle to understand that it’s there and affecting your life. Nobody feel what you feel, and trying to explain this phantom pain is impossible sometimes.
Low mood: Being in pain 24/7 is exhausting and it can bring you down. Feeling trapped by illness will take its toll on your mood and you can easily stoop into depression. Anxiety can growing the more you are stuck inside.
Anger: Frustrated with many aspects of a condition, you would ask yourself, ‘Why me?’ Chronic pain can be long-lasting and cures (if they even exist) are not always straight forward. Misdiagnosis can wear you down and make you feel angry at the world.
The pain-anxiety-depression Connection
Studies show that 30 to 50 percent of people struggling with chronic pain also struggle with moods such as depression and anxiety.
“For example, we know that simply having a bad headache or back pain for a day can affect our mood. Imagine having that pain every day for six months. It’s actually quite reasonable to expect anxiety and depression with chronic pain,” says pain management specialist Hersimren Basi, MD.
Does pain cause depression and anxiety, or vice versa?
This is like asking, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” It can work both ways. Pain can cause depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety can cause pain. This can create a cycle where one condition continually worsens the other.
For example, if you have pain from an injury, and have to cut back on your favorite activity because you are afraid of being reinjured. If the lack of that particular activity keeps you from improving your physical condition, you may actually become depressed because of a lack of the daily dopamine this activity gives you.
Another scenario, “Chronic pain may cause sleep problems or feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, related to missed work or financial woes. This can all lead to depression.
How can CBD oil help chronic pain and mental health?
Because CBD is fairly new there is very little clinical evidence that cannabidiol can help treat anything. You can find animal trial and a few human trials but they are all very circumstantial with a lot of “ifs”. But we are going to try and explain how CBD oil can help chronic pain and mental health.
This type of pain arises when there’s damage to peripheral nerves, i.e. nerves outside of the spinal cord and brain. Peripheral nerve damage can result in persistent impairment of nerve function even after the nerve recovers from the original injury
Metabolic disorder (such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease)
Autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis).
Similar to chronic inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain can cause hypersensitization to pain signals.
However, while chronic inflammatory pain usually responds well to anti-inflammatory medications, neuropathic pain does not. Instead, opiate-type drugs (Oxycontin, morphine), anticonvulsants, anesthetics, and antidepressants are often used to manage neuropathic pain, often with a dependency on these drugs with long term use.
How it works!
The endocannabinoid system controls the transmission of nerve pain at many different places along the pain pathway.
A) Reducing Pain Transmission
Control occurs at the sensory nerves responsible for transmitting the first pain signals from the damaged tissue, as well as areas within the central nervous system that control the amount of pain that reaches the brain.
One of the ways CBD and other cannabinoids reduce pain transmission is by activating glycine receptors in the spinal cord — which has inhibitory effects on pain messages.
If fewer pain signals reach the brain, we experience less pain.
B) Protecting Nerve Tissue From Damage
CBD also offers protective effects on the nerves, which may prevent or reduce nerve damage. This has been shown in research looking at the protective effects of CBD on chemotherapy-induced nerve damage.
C) Lowering Inflammation
Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may prevent inflammatory conditions from causing nerve damage — again, leading to less neuropathic pain.
CBD inhibits the activity of cells in the brain and spinal cord called microglia.
These immune system-derived cells are tasked with the job of protecting and supporting nerve cells and are known to accumulate in neuropathic pain syndromes. By inhibiting microglia CBD may prevent the neuropathic pain response from escalating.
Unlike some conventional pain medications, CBD doesn’t cause drug tolerance, a process in which the same dose becomes less effective over time, prompting the user to take progressively higher doses.
If you would like to read more about CBD and pian we have a few more articles on this topic: