The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its myriad of therapeutic properties, and particularly the anti-seizure effects that help to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. Regulating the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is also beneficial for alleviating pain, enhancing mood, boosting appetite, keeping bones healthy, improving cognition and more. Furthermore, CBD is an antioxidant, and has antifungal and antibacterial effects, a combination which could hold great value for the skin.
However, less attention has been paid to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and cannabinoids in general. It has only recently been proven that cannabis can help to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system, but it’s a discovery that could help with the treatment of many conditions, and to better the quality of life of patients who are already taking anti-inflammatories.
Why we need new anti-inflammatories
Our current situation with anti-inflammatory drugs is an unpalatable one. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are sold over-the-counter (i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen), with stronger drugs available on prescription. While these can help to reduce inflammation, by blocking COX enzymes and decreasing the number of prostaglandins, a type of lipid compound found all over the body, NSAIDs also have some significant drawbacks.
Long-term use of NSAIDs could increase the risk of stomach bleeding and stomach ulcers, and some people experience high blood pressure and kidney damage from taking them. Asthma patients may suffer from worsening symptoms, and NSAIDs can also make allergic reactions more likely.
Despite these downsides, NSAIDs have remained the primary treatment for inflammation, simply due to a lack of viable alternatives.
The unique anti-inflammatory potential of cannabinoids
When the immune system detects a danger, it orders inflammation through the increased production of proteins such as cytokines to kill off viruses or heal skin wounds. This is an essential process, and without any degree of inflammation, any virus could potentially kill us.
However, when out of balance, immune system response can be aggressive, leading to healthy cells being attacked and destroyed. But cannabinoid research suggests that THC and CBD can have a regulatory effect on inflammation by interacting with the CB2 receptor, which can modulate immune cell functions.
Patients looking for NSAID alternatives can use CBD already, without needing a recommendation or medical cannabis card, by using hemp-derived products from brands like Koi CBD.
THC’s anti-inflammatory properties are 20 times stronger than those of aspirin, however the psychoactive effects may prevent the cannabinoid becoming a mainstream treatment. THC administers this effect as an agonist of the CB2 receptor.
As an antagonist of the CB2 receptor, CBD produces a somewhat more complex anti-inflammatory effect. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that binds with the CB2 receptor, hence why it has anti-inflammatory properties. CBD interferes with anandamide reuptake, blocking the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) from breaking down the compound by binding to fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs). Without CBD, anandamide binds to FABPs, where it is transported to FAAH and degraded.
Hence, CBD is facilitating an anandamide-initiated anti-inflammatory effect via the CB2 receptor.
Inflammation due to leaky gut
The belief of inflammation being exacerbated by leaky gut has long been held by alternative health practitioners, and indeed the concept dates back millennia, to the time of Hippocrates in Ancient Greece. In modern medicine, the idea of a leaky gut causing unwanted bacteria to get into the rest of the body, causing inflammation and autoimmune diseases, was rubbished until recently, but new research has come to light.
If leaky gut is responsible for inflammation, then CBD may help to treat this problem, according to a new study.
CBD products to use for inflammation relief
The CBD products that may be most effective for managing various kinds of inflammation are creams and edibles. The former is more beneficial for inflammatory conditions that affect the skin or the joints, such as acne and arthritis. By targeting cannabinoid receptors in a specific area, the CBD is likely to have a more therapeutic effect, and in the case of acne, may even restore joint cartilage.
For autoimmune diseases and more internal inflammatory conditions, a CBD product that’s ingested is required. To treat an ailment that causes intense pain, try a fast-acting HempBombs CBD tincture. For more gradual relief and to improve gut health, CBD edibles and capsules may have a better effect.