If you’ve lived with chronic pain, you know how exhausting and frustrating it can be. Living with pain can affect your ability to perform certain tasks, steal away comfort when you just want to relax, and even mess with your mental health.
We know pain is different for everyone. From having to sacrifice hitting the gym due to a flareup or having your mobility severely limited by a chronic condition, there is no one way to define the experience. What we can do is look at ways to alleviate some of that pain, and that’s where CBD comes in.
For those familiar with CBD, you may know it has an impressive list of different uses. One particularly meaningful use is its potential for managing pain. In fact, a survey of over 2,000 CBD users found that nearly 62% of CBD users were using it to treat a medical condition. At the top of the list were pain, anxiety, and depression.
There is a lot of information out there about CBD’s ability to do just about anything. We’re going to cut through all of the fluff and talk about how CBD may provide relief for chronic pain with scientifically backed information.
When it comes to pain, though, we need to focus on other receptors in the endocannabinoid system. CB1 and CB2 may be the most common and well-understood, but they’re certainly not the only ones playing a part in balancing the body.
The vanilloid (capsaicin) receptor, or TRPV1, plays a big role in pain perception. It can be activated by high temperatures and capsaicin (the component in chili peppers that make them hot) among other triggers.
Vanilloid receptors work by desensitizing our bodies to pain. The most notable example is how we react to spicy foods. The capsaicin in chili peppers activates our TRPV1 receptors, which then prompts the burning feeling we expect from eating spicy foods. Your cells then become desensitized and stop signaling the burning sensation altogether.
By triggering TRPV1 receptors with pain stimulus, we can potentially desensitize our bodies and have a lowered pain response.
Studies have shown a promising link between CBD and activation of the vanilloid, or TRPV1 receptor.
As an example, one rodent study found that CBD worked as an oral antihyperalgesic compound. This means it combatted hyperalgesia, which refers to increased sensitivity to pain. Researchers concluded that the “TRPV1 receptor could be a molecular target of the CBD antihyperalgesic action.”
How does CBD work with vanilloid receptors? As an agonist, it helps to increase the activation of TRPV1 receptors. By activating receptors consistently, the perception of pain should reduce due to the desensitization of the receptors.
The potential for CBD to work with vanilloid receptors to manage pain is huge since TRPV1 receptors are found throughout the body. They’re primarily located in the nociceptive neurons found in the peripheral nervous system.
In plain English, this refers to sensory receptors responsible for detecting and preventing tissue damage outside of the brain and spinal cords. TRPV1 receptors have also been found in the central nervous system, in the brain and spinal cord.
So, vanilloid (TRVP1) receptors are located throughout our bodies, and CBD may play an important role in activating them.