Medical research supporting CBD claims about reducing pain, inflammation & anxiety.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 60 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and the basis of many claims implicating its ability to help relieve things like pain, anxiety and inflammation. 

CBD is certainly not a cure-all for every condition but there are many valid studies supporting its ability to affect and support users in a positive regard. Research on authoritative channels such as PubMed reveals useful data regarding CBD and its role in many human conditions.

CBD’s ability to positively affect these symptoms is discussed frequently and often casually, leaving many consumers and professionals searching for more data supporting these claims. Here are some of the ways CBD works in the body to affect and support key conditions, explained with science and relatable examples:

PAIN

CBD has been shown to interact with TRPV1 receptors.   [1] [2]

TRPV1 receptors have many roles, but are involved with pain perception, inflammation and many other processes.  TRPV1 receptors are found throughout the body in the peripheral nervous system’s pain receptive neurons. 

The interaction of CBD with these TRPV1 receptors suggests that it has the ability to help mediate pain signaling. The TRPV1 signaling process is designed to protect you from danger but they operate in a non-intuitive way through a process of desensitization; they don’t remove the pain, but rather they reduce the pain signal.

For example, have you ever eaten a hot pepper and felt pain from “heat” in your mouth? The capsaicin in the peppers activated the TRPV1 receptor. The heat was uncomfortable in your mouth but then over time felt like you got used to it. However, it was actually the TRPV1 receptors that became desensitized, reducing the discomfort; it wasn’t the pain or heat dissipating.

Pain from hot water heat at around 109F can also activate the TRPV1 receptors. For example, when you step into a hot shower it may feel unbearably hot at first but becomes more tolerable moments later as the TRPV1 receptors are activated and begin to signal the pain you feel a little less. The result is that you feel less pain and your heat-induced threshold is elevated, even though the water is still hot.

INFLAMMATION

CBD has been shown to increase adenosine levels, which plays a role in helping with inflammation and has been well studied.  [3] [4] [5] 

Adenosine is known to mediate (reduce) recruitment of white blood cells to sites in the body experiencing inflammation. In some instances, white blood cell activity in an inflamed area can lead to discomfort.  

This is how it works: CBD interacts with and limits adenosine reuptake (a normal process for neurotransmitters) resulting inelevated levels of adenosine. Elevated adenosine levels create a reduction in white blood cell activity at the inflamed site. And when there’s a reduction of white blood cell activity at the inflamed site, a reduction in inflammation can occur - and therefore a reduction in pain.  It’s for this very reason many people take NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which affect inflammation through a similar white blood cell reduction.

Adenosine also plays a role as a vasodilator (increased blood flow) to various organs in the human body.  Given that CBD can elevate adenosine levels, there may also be (yet to be studied) associations to increased blood flow elsewhere in the body and possibly the genitals - which would be seen as very positive in the sexual wellness and pleasure space.

ANXIETY

CBD targets GABA-A receptors. [6] [7] [8]

GABA is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain and acts as a brake to the excitatory neurotransmitters.  When bound, it produces a calming effect by inhibiting certain signals.  

CBD is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA-A receptor.  It changes the shape in a way that increases its natural binding affinity with GABA, resulting in anxiety reduction. 

If you are familiar with Valium, then you are familiar with GABA-A receptors. Valium (Diazepam) targets GABA-A receptors and is commonly used for treatment of anxiety and insomnia.  CBD operates in a similar manner, resulting in the commonly reported anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) effect. 

Alcohol is one of, if not the most, commonly used anxiety and inhibition reducing drugs used prior to intimacy. It’s why 1 in 4 women like to drink before sex and 1 in 7 women say they can’t have sex with their significant other without drinking, according to a 3,000-person survey. [9] 

Reducing anxiety in the bedroom, and with a natural plant-based remedy like CBD has obvious benefits for your health, intimacy and sexual wellness.

SUMMARY

Reports of cannabidiol benefits are rampant on the Internet.  Many are well founded, others are questionable. It is refreshing to now see detailed and authoritative studies supporting many of the claims that are made, however some of the research is associative; if A effects B and B affects C, then A must affect C.  

But with widespread consumer interest in CBD, we can only expect that more studies detailing specific risks and benefits will be executed. Funding for cannabinoid research is increasing and federal positions are relaxing, which will lead to more research and a better understanding of cannabidiol and how other cannabinoids interact with our bodies’ endocannabinoid system to provide therapeutics effects.

As for decreasing pain, anxiety and inflammationachieving new levels of comfort in these key areas can only lead to better and more frequent sexual activity for both women and men.

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[1] Fonseca, B. M., Correia-Da-Silva, G., & Teixeira, N. A. (2018).Cannabinoid-induced cell death in endometrial cancer cells: involvement of TRPV1 receptors in apoptosis. Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, 74(2), 261–272. doi: 10.1007/s13105-018-0611-7

[2] Kossakowski, R., Schlicker, E., Toczek, M., Weresa, J., & Malinowska, B. (2019).Cannabidiol Affects the Bezold-Jarisch Reflex via TRPV1 and 5-HT3 Receptors and Has Peripheral Sympathomimetic Effects in Spontaneously Hypertensive and Normotensive Rats. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 10. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.00500

[3] Mecha, M., Feliú, A., Iñigo, P., Mestre, L., Carrillo-Salinas, F., & Guaza, C. (2013).Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: A role for A2A receptors.Neurobiology of Disease, 59, 141–150. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2013.06.016

[4] Burstein, S. (2015).Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, 23(7), 1377–1385. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059

[5] Council, E. (2019). Cannabidiol Reduces Inflammation: A Narrative Review. https://cbdhoustonllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Cannabidiol-Reduces-Inflammation.pdf

[6] Bakas, T., Nieuwenhuijzen, P. V., Devenish, S., Mcgregor, I., Arnold, J., & Chebib, M. (2017).The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABA A receptors.Pharmacological Research,119, 358–370. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2017.02.022

[7] Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015).Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.Neurotherapeutics,12(4), 825–836. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

[8] Shannon, S. (2019).Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.The Permanente Journal. doi: 10.7812/tpp/18-041

[9] September 29, 2009 by P. N. S. S. (n.d.). Three of Four Women Drink Before Sex, Survey Finds. Retrieved fromhttps://drugfree.org/learn/drug-and-alcohol-news/three-of-four-women-drink-before-sex-survey-finds/

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