Similar to our skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems, we have an endocannabinoid system. This is a pathway throughout our bodies that works with cannabinoid receptors to send messages and balance our systems. The receptors cannabinoids use to treat pain are known as cannabinoid1 (CB1) and cannabinoid2 (CBD2). These receptors have antinociceptive (pain inhibitors) effects in acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic pain. There is a large body of clinical evidence in support of cannabinoids as potential analgesic (pain reliever) agents is supported by clinical studies demonstrating their efficacy across a variety of pain disorders.
Chronic pain is also the most common reason for using cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system uses the degredation of two main enzymes to treat pain, anandamide and a2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The breakdown of these enzymes in the presynaptic and postsynaptic neuron allow for inhibition and reduction of neuropathic pain symptoms.
The three pathophysiologic types of chronic pain are nociceptive pain, neuropathic pain, and sensory hypersensitivity. Nociceptive pain refers to pain related to the damage of somatic or visceral tissue do to trauma or inflammation ie: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout. Neuropathic pain is pain related to the damage of the peripheral or central nerves ie: diabetic peripheral neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia. Sensory Hypersensitivity is pain without identifiable nerve or tissue damage most likely from persistent neuronal dysregulation ie: fibromyalgia.
A huge benefits of using cannabinoids to treat pain disorders is that there is no risk for addiction in contrast to the highly addictive pain killers used everyday. To learn more about CBD and the current opioid epidemic, please see the opioid tab under the learn section above.
An increasing number of laboratory studies have demonstrated an increased attenuation of pain resulting from the administration of cannabinoids. Recent developments have focused on the enocannabinoid system as an integral component of pain control.