In my healing journey with chronic pain and the autoimmune disorder Ankylosing Spondylitis (which I sometimes refer to as the gauntlet), I have tried a wide array of remedies. Painkillers, sleep-aids, herbs, and supplements for joint mobility, depression, anxiety, inflammation, muscle relaxation, more energy (because being in pain all the time is exhausting), adrenal fatigue, and mental clarity are all in the mix. One might call me a pharmaceutical and supplement connoisseur — or my own guinea pig. But “connoisseur” is a bit more poetic.
A recent stand-out from the mix is CBD. Cannabidiol, the non-psychotropic compound found in marijuana, offers huge physical and emotional benefit to those suffering from chronic pain. Infused into glycerine, alcohol tincture, oil, or honey, CBD delivers the beneficial effects of medical marijuana without creating a high. For those who still wish to function efficiently throughout the day, CBD is a great solution.
Benefits of CBD On Chronic Pain
1. Anti Inflammatory
Inflammation is the health buzz-word of the day. And for good reason — chronic inflammation (defined as swelling that extends beyond the initial healing process needed to address an acute illness or wound) causes pain and eventually damages tissue. Long-term use of pharmaceutical grade NSAIDs and over-the-counter pain killers have side effects on the liver, kidney, and stomach. For short-term usage, they are effective and helpful, but demand for long-term solutions that do not damage the body are in high demand. CBD fits the bill. It only has one major side effect — too much will make you sleepy. So play with your dose and find the right balance for you. A little less in the daytime, and a little more at night if sleep is also a problem.
2. The Muscles Relax
Have you ever been sitting on the couch thinking, “I should be doing yoga, but it just hurts too much!” It’s easy for others to casually suggest that yoga would heal your body, not realizing that the challenge is bigger than just motivation or time. High levels of pain make stretching, and sometimes even breathing, extremely difficult. CBD’s pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory effects make yoga easier! I don’t know about you, but if something doesn’t hurt, I’m a lot more likely to do it. For conditions like Ankylosing Spondylitis, movement is essential: it slows progression of arthritic fusion.
3. Sleep Heals
Chronic pain fries your nerves by triggering a “fight or flight” response in your nervous system. This reaction should be reserved for danger, but since pain is a constant, internal trigger, your body feels threatened all the time. This imbalance hits sleep hard. If your body always feels as though it’s in danger, how can you ever rest? The worst part is this: if you’ve lost the ability to rest, your body stays sick. CBD is neuroprotective and calming, helping you regain much needed sleep.
4. Anxiety Relief
A frizzled nervous system translates emotionally into anxiety. Tired and wired, and constantly on high alert, each small disturbance of peace feels like a freight train bulldozing through your living room. CBD soothes your nervous system, effectively taking the edge off of anxiety.
Post traumatic stress disorder is associated with the re-experience of a traumatic event caused by an external trigger. Triggers cause a fight or flight cascade, often resulting in shaking, hyper-vigilance, and a feeling of being disconnected, terrified, or potentially self-destructive. What many people don’t realize is that living with chronic pain is a recurring trauma. You wake up in the morning scared that you’ll hurt all day. You dread going to bed at night from fear of waking up in agony. Each day is unpredictable. You become unreliable, maybe even reclusive. CBD helps PTSD in a similar way that it helps anxiety. It nourishes an overwrought nervous system, and takes the edge off of daily fear.
6. Uplifts Depression
Chronic pain is a major cause for depression. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning and face another day of strain. Adding CBD into a regimen of fish oil or krill oil, B vitamins, and lemon balm can be a game-changer.
7. Reduced Fear Of Touch
For some chronic pain sufferers, a simple hug can turn into a horrible event. What is usually a comforting, therapeutic, loving gesture has layers of complexity. It hurts to be hugged, but you don’t want to say anything because it hurts the “hugger’s” feelings. Plus, you’re not sure if they’ll believe you — I mean, it sounds pretty dramatic to say you’re in so much pain you can’t tolerate a hug. Calming pain, anxiety, and the PTSD trigger response all help very much in these tough situations. Maybe with a nervous system nourished via the endocannabinoid system with CBD, you’ll be able to gently express that hugs aren’t for you.
CBD doesn’t make you high, so those of us with jobs, kids, and other responsibilities can show up sharp as a tack!
9. Facility of Use
Everyone hates taking pills. With CBD, you just put a few drops under your tongue. The easier the medicine is to take, the more likely you’ll take every dose on time, and the better it will work.
10. It Doesn’t Feel Like Medicine
Adding CBD honey to calming tea, or putting a few drops under the tongue doesn’t carry the emotional baggage of taking pills. Pills scream, “you’re sick!” Healing treatments that fall outside the “pill” association are all the more powerful. They help you separate yourself from the “sick” person. Furthermore, CBD oil benefits go beyond treating chronic pain.
I highly recommend giving CBD a try. It’s a wonderful addition to an established routine, and can be the catalyst that gets your body-mind moving in the direction of healing.
Heather Vaughan is an Ayurvedic practitioner and writer. She spent many years struggling with Ankylosing Spondylitis (an autoinflammatory disorder which attacks the spine). Her quest for health has become a deep, respectful study of traditional medicine which as taken her all over the world. A Northern California native, Heather now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she happily dances, climbs rocks and helps other transform illness into health.
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