Is CBD better than over-the-counter medication for treating pain?
The pharmaceutical industry is in upheaval as the naturally-occurring compound found in cannabis plants, cannabidiol (CBD), proves to be an excellent alternative to popular remedies. Painkilling remedies, in particular, are increasingly being replaced by CBD. Evidence is starting to show that CBD may be better than over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.
What is CBD?
As mentioned before, CBD is a component of cannabis plants. These components are known as cannabinoids. But CBD does not produce the psychoactive “high” associated with its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another famous cannabinoid found in cannabis plants.
In 2018, the U.S. passed a new Farm Bill, which delisted CBD as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This legislation has opened up a new frontier of research into the medicinal properties of CBD.
An important distinction within the legal status of CBD is what kind of cannabis plant it is derived from — hemp or marijuana. Hemp is a category of the cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC content, whereas marijuana can have any THC amount. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, only hemp production is legal.
CBD interacts with the body’s built-in endocannabinoid system (ECS) to modulate enzymes from a physiological standpoint. Binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS, CBD helps regulate specific processes that are still being understood today.
What are NSAIDs?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the traditional type of pain medication that can also be sold OTC in most stores. They reduce fevers, inflammation, and any associated pain.
Popular NSAID medications include Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aspirin, and Naproxen. OTC painkillers are generally used for non-severe, moderately painful injuries.
NSAIDs block enzymes in the body that produce inflammation. NSAIDs block the enzymes cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) that make the chemical prostaglandin. Simultaneously, the reduction of prostaglandin prevents blood clotting, thus acting as a blood thinner and potential cause of ulcers.
4 Reasons why CBD is better than OTC painkillers
How does CBD compare to NSAIDs when it comes to pain relief? Below are four reasons why CBD is the better option.
CBD has fewer harmful side effects
According to research published in PubMed, NSAIDs are responsible for over 40,000 overdose hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths per year.
On the other hand, it is virtually impossible to overdose from CBD.
Other side effects of NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen, include nausea, dizziness, stomach ulcers, allergic reactions, and more. Especially at higher doses, NSAIDs can become extremely problematic.
Side effects of CBD are generally milder and include drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea.
CBD is a naturally-occurring compound
Not only does CBD readily bind with the body’s built-in ECS, but it is also considered an all-natural pain-reliever. CBD is entirely plant-based, harvested, and extracted from cannabis plants.
Depending on how CBD is extracted, the final product will sometimes contain other cannabinoids, but these are also harmless and completely natural.
Most NSAIDs include a combination of synthetic chemicals that can be harmful to the body at high doses. Acetaminophen is a popular chemical found in OTC painkillers, but it has an increased risk of causing lasting liver damage. According to WebMD, Acetaminophen is found in over 600 OTC medicines.
What’s more, the mechanism that NSAIDs use to reduce inflammation also reduces enzymes responsible for blood-clotting. As a result, NSAIDs have a chance to produce ulcers.
CBD is better for working out
While many athletes prefer taking NSAIDs before and after workouts, studies show that these drugs are inhibitory to proper muscle growth. Medications like Ibuprofen may help with inflammation, but they also block processes that repair torn muscles.
For instance, the University of Delaware reported in 2017 that NSAIDs were shown to reduce the production of collagen, which is needed for post-workout recovery.
Fortunately, obtaining post-workout pain-relief without the side effects is possible with CBD. Instead of blocking critical recovery processes, CBD is a natural compound that provides anti-inflammatory properties through interaction with the body’s ECS, without the damaging chemicals found in NSAIDs.
Health benefits of CBD extend beyond pain-relief
Aside from its use in pain-relief, taking CBD is also a holistic solution to overall well-being. Its anti-inflammatory and sedation properties make it useful for a wide range of ailments, such as anxiety, asthma, insomnia, and epilepsy.
Conversely, NSAIDs can exacerbate some of the same ailments that CBD helps treat. Asthmatic people, for example, should take extreme caution with NSAIDs due to potential allergic reactions.
Is CBD better than taking OTC painkillers?
Although much of the research is in the early stages, there is mounting evidence that CBD is a suitable, all-natural alternative to OTC painkillers. Not only does CBD possess the same anti-inflammatory properties, but the side effects are far fewer.
While there are several excellent reasons to consider CBD over OTC painkillers, researchers need more time to understand fully how this cannabis-derived compound interacts with the body.
There are also still risks associated with taking CBD. Understand that higher doses increase the likelihood of experiencing side effects. Consult with health professionals before using CBD to treat medical issues.