Cannabis and Inflammation
Inflammation of any kind is often very and, at times, hard to treat. We’ve all been there, hit our knee on something hard and see a swelling bump show up even before a bruise! Inflammation is your body reacting to injury to defend itself and protect you. But what happens when your body goes overboard? Can inflammation become an issue? More importantly, how has CBD helped patients struggling with inflammatory issues?
What is Inflammation
Inflammation is the process where your body’s white blood cells duplicate to protect you from further injury or infection. Inflammation is a healthy sign of a working immune system, but like all things in life, too much of a good thing can become an issue. When inflammation becomes a problem your white blood cells begin to go “haywire” and the immune systems inflammation response begins to cause harm, rather than prevent it. If the inflammatory process goes on for too long or it is not needed to heal, it can become problematic. Symptoms include redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness. That hangover in the morning? Many symptoms can be associated with inflammation due to the inflammatory effects of alcohol. Chronic inflammation (inflammation that does not go away) has also been linked to diseases like arthritis, heart disease, strokes, and cancer.
Pain from inflammation can affect anybody at any point in their lives. In severe chronic cases pain from inflammation can prevent people from even doing small, everyday activities. While over-the-counter and prescription drugs are readily available and often prescribed for all types of inflammatory issues, most can have negative side effects.
Cannabis and Inflammation
Cannabis contains over 113 different cannabinoids. Among these cannabinoids there are two actively being researched and prescribed, Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has been studied mainly for its intoxicating effects, and its ability to manage and reduce chronic pain. CBD is the most medically researched and funded cannabinoids for its non-intoxicating and diverse range of anti-inflammatory abilities. For this blog, we are focusing on CBD’s ability to assist in inflammatory issues in this blog.
CBD and CB2 Receptors
The body contains the endocannabinoid system , much like the nervous system, the endocannabinoid system is an important part of your body’s ability to regulate and maintain optimal health. Among other things like endocannabinoids this system contains two receptors, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). CB2 receptors are located in peripheral tissues and in large concentration in the spleen. This receptors location is of vital importance when you look at its ability to absorb and bind with CBD. This activation and relationship between the CB2 receptors and CBD is what allows CBD (and cannabis in general) to influence our immune system, and in turn our bodies inflammatory response.
Why is Inflammation Important To our Health?
When the body becomes inflamed for an extended period of time, the inflammation can begin to damage the healthy tissues in the body. This can lead to something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is our bodies inability to balance the free radicals and antioxidants which can cause damage to our cells and tissues. Without being able to clearly understand what is “friend or foe”, our immune system increases its response, in turn increasing the inflammation. This vicious cycle can be hard to stop and is often the beginning of more severe afflictions. Recognizing inflammation as an early sign or precursor to a wide variety of ailments (and treating it before it progresses) is the focus of many scientists studies into CBD and inflammations relationship
CBD, Inflammation, and Science.
CBD for inflammation comes from a literature review published in BioMed Research International. Researchers showed CBD as a possible key tool in controlling the spread and growth of unwanted cells, including cancerous cells.
A clinical trial underway at the University of Colorado aims to provide some of that crucial additional research. Since 2018 researchers have been testing how inflammation levels change before and after cannabis use in relation with THC and CBD blood levels.
Caryophyllene and Inflammation
Terpenes are a diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants including cannabis. The terpene beta-caryophyllene found in basil, oregano, black pepper, and cannabis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-relieving benefits.
A study by a university in China showed promising results in using this terpene to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease progression is dependent on mitigating brain inflammation. Beta-caryophyllene was injected in mice to dampen inflammation by activating CB2 receptors in the brain. Valencene, cymene, menthol, and terpineol are just a few of the terpenes that have exhibited potential anti-inflammatory effects.
Why does that matter?
Caryophyllene is one of the most prominent terpenes found in the cannabis plant. The prospect of being able to use a natural plant-based medicine that utilized not only one, but two strong anti-inflammatory compounds is very exciting and a step in a great direction for understanding all of the complex way’s cannabis, and its compounds like caryophyllene can benefit us. If you’re wanting to learn more about caryophyllene and the other incredible terpenes in cannabis check out our Beginners Guide to Terpenes.
The Bottom Line
Emergent research is positive regarding the role of cannabis in reducing inflammation, but many more studies are essential. What we do know sounds promising. Being aware of the unique interaction between cannabis and the human body helps understand how to make the right medical choice for you. If you have any questions about inflammation and cannabis please consult your local medical practitioner.