Benefits of CBD vs. THC for Pain Management
CBD and THC are two naturally occurring and key compounds present in cannabis plants.
Of the two, CBD is the safer and preferable compound. Taking more than prescribed or even the regular dose of drugs such as opioids and NSAIDs causes a huge number of hospitalizations yearly, some of which result in death.
What you Should Know about CBD and THC
CBD and THC share the chemical makeup of C21H30O2 and an almost similar molecular mass.
There is one important difference between both compounds – CBD is non-psychoactive whereas THC induces the “high” or mind-altering stimulation. This is because of the different ways in which both interact with the CB1 receptor in the human body. Unlike THC which binds directly to this receptor, CBD doesn’t and hence can cancel the psychoactive effects of THC.
Action on Two Types of Pain
Here’s an in-depth look at the working of CBD and THC in 2 types of pain.
- Nociceptive Pain
Nociceptive or inflammatory pain is sharp, throbbing or aching pain that occurs because of tissue damage. Arthritic pain is an example. THC works at the level of the brain and spinal cord to control pain by direct activation of CB1 receptors. It achieves indirect pain management by increasing the activation of opioid receptors.
CBD’s solution is to increase anandamide levels. Anandamide is a cannabinoid produced in the body and its increased levels will serve to activate CB1 receptors. This, in turn, impacts pain processing.
A study performed on arthritic rats has shown that when administered a topical CBD containing gel for four days, there was a considerable decrease in the signs of pain, as well as inflammation.
- Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is the result of harm to the nervous system. It may be the outcome of pinching, stabbing or forceful injury that damages the nerves. Diseases such as multiple sclerosis, HIV, shingles, diabetes and Parkinson’s may also cause neuropathic pain. So can chemotherapy.
CBD-rich cannabis keeps the chemotherapy-induced pain away by activating serotonin receptors. The best part is that in doing so, it does not in any way affect the chemotherapy drug’s effectiveness on cancer. Hence, it is a promising prophylactic option.
In sciatica pain, THC activates CB1 receptors by way of its binding affinity to these receptors, just as it does in nociceptive pain, thereby reducing pain.
Why CBD is More Beneficial
Yes, THC delivers impressive pain relief benefits. What’s more, THC is preferable to CBD for cramp-associated pain and spasticity. However, the mind-altering side effect is not something that everyone would be happy with. In addition, while CBD has limited and minor side effects, THC use may cause temporary symptoms such as increased heart rate, memory loss, coordination problems, red eyes, dry mouth and slower reaction times.
When THC is used long-term, the body develops tolerance and so the user has to keep increasing the dose to get the desired effects. This could prove detrimental, possibly making the pain worse. It could even increase the risk for schizophrenia or other negative psychiatric effects. While microdosing is an option, a better alternative is to stick to CBD oil or other CBD products. Alternatively, use whole plant medicine or a mix of CBD and THC in the ratio of 1:1.
Do compare CBD capsules review (or the reviews of other CBD products) when going for full-spectrum (whole plant) options.