Let’s talk – what is an analgesic? Do you need them? Does CBD do the same thing?
The chances are, you regularly use analgesics in some form or another. Let’s face it – pain isn’t pleasant. Anything that takes us further away from pain is surely a good thing. Right?
In this article, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of analgesics, as both natural and artificial medications. Ultimately, you need to take the path that’s best for you and your health – but making an educated decision is the best first step.
Keep reading to find out all about analgesics, what they can do for you, and the choices you have when in need of pain relief.
Pain is a super important part of what it means to be human – but it can also really, really suck. Analgesic drugs have the ability to reduce the amount of pain that you’re feeling, without the side effect of putting you to sleep. Perhaps better known as ‘painkillers’, analgesics are common household items.
There are three common types of analgesics:
In a nutshell, analgesic is a fancy way of saying painkiller. They’re the same thing.
A topical analgesic is an effective option for muscle and joint pain. Its easy application targets a specific area of need, meaning relief can be much more acute and longer-lasting.
You can purchase many analgesics straight over the counter. A lot of topical analgesics incorporate hot and cold sensations to soothe areas of pain. Whilst a good option for mild pain, topical analgesic does not alleviate long term, ongoing pain. Nor does it repair the point of pain.
Apart from providing targeted relief, one of the major benefits of topical analgesics is the reduced risk of side effects that come with oral painkillers.
Our patch is a form of topical analgesic – in the very best way. Like all topical analgesics, they provide targeted relief. If you think IcyHot works well … trust us, you won’t know yourself with a CBD patch.
All painkillers have side effects – it’s a given. So when planning to take medication, it is important that you weigh up the pros and cons, and know what you’re putting into your body. Sure, you may experience a liberating sense of relief – but you need to be conscious that side effects are always possible.
Your type of pain will affect which painkiller is the best option. They don’t all do the same thing, and they definitely won’t all have the same effect on your body.
Whilst we are great advocates for the power of CBD, the same precautions apply. If you are looking to use CBD as a pain reliever, be mindful that you may experience some side effects, or CBD may not be the best solution for your pain.
NSAIDs are probably the most popular analgesic choice, both as over the counter and prescription medication. 10% of all prescribed medication is an NSAID. Well-known and used varieties include ibuprofen and aspirin. They work by blocking COX enzymes, which increase in response to pain signals from the body. Despite being highly effective, there are potential side effects of NSAIDs. They can lead to kidney issues, particularly in elderly users. They increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding (again, age is a big factor). NSAIDs can even create cardiovascular issues as severe as strokes and hypertension. Barely seems worth the risks, simply to lighten up a bit of headache pain, right? Luckily, most of us run a negligible risk of developing any of these side effects – but it’s a risk nonetheless.
Paracetamol is most regularly used to lower a fever. This makes it a popular ingredient in cold and flu medication, as well as painkillers. It’s super useful for treating osteoarthritis and addressing pain instances for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and asthmatics.
Whilst there are very few debilitating side effects from paracetamol – hence its safe use for children – there are increasing reports of related liver intoxication. When taken in moderation, paracetamol remains a safe option. Paracetamol only becomes problematic when used regularly and in large doses. When experiencing chronic pain, analgesics are not a very promising solution. Pain is a complex phenomenon, and whilst acute pain can be targeted with something like an opioid or paracetamol, chronic pain usually finds a way to bypass these blockers.
Cannabis has been used medicinally for over 5000 years, but it was only in the 1980s that science began taking cannabis seriously for its pain-relieving potential. As research continues, we are uncovering more ways to unlock the benefits of cannabis, without experiencing some of the unwanted side effects it may also lead to (like feeling high or lethargic).
Most people know about the negative side effects of opioids. Whilst we have to thank them for the development of modern painkillers, most forms are pretty nasty, high-risk medications.
Severe, acute pain is treated by weak forms of opioids like codeine, or strong forms like morphine. Whilst very effective in reducing the pain of a broken leg, opioids have highly adverse side effects. It is very easy to develop a dependency on opioids – not to mention the unpleasantries they cause including constipation, nausea, sleep apnea, and general disillusionment. We do have a lot to thank opioids for, though – the isolation of morphine from the opium poppy in the 19th century enabled scientists to begin an exploration into the world of analgesics.
The use of opioids for treating long term pain remains controversial, despite their long-time use. When used properly, opioids are extremely useful. However, their tendency to take a turn for the worst also makes them highly feared.
In a battle of pros and cons, opioids are important. It is cruel for people in chronic pain to suffer unnecessarily. But its tendency to be a drug of abuse, dependency, and addiction leave opioids needing a tight leash.
Research is still in its infancy on the true effects that CBD can have on the body. And just because CBD is great for one person’s pain, doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for you.
In saying that – a lot of people are benefitting from incorporating CBD into their daily routine to combat pain.
Pain comes in a lot of forms, and with varied strengths of sensation. The feeling of pain comes from a process that occurs in our brain. That’s why you can sometimes have an accident which causes some physical injury, but not feel pain right away – because the neurotransmitters signaling pain have not yet been released.
Most people are using CBD for nociceptive pain – that is, pain caused by tissue damage. Many people cite that upon using CBD, pain becomes muted from the source. If you have an old knee injury that starts to ache after a long day, maybe it stops aching. If you experience lower back pain when sitting on hard surfaces, perhaps the pain lessens.
This really depends on the type of pain that you’re experiencing – and whether or not you’re willing to submerge your whole body in a tub of CBD oil (joking, we’ve never done that. But could be intriguing??)
You will likely get different results from oral ingestion and topical application of CBD. We suggested experimenting to discover what works best for you. If you’re worried about overdoing things, there’s no need to stress. It's almost impossible to overdose on CBD.
We recommend using a pre-portioned dosage for new users. These come as a tablet or capsule. Further studies are needed, particularly on the effects of CBD on hormones, and long term implications of CBD use. But so far, the only side effects found are due to interactions with other medications and not from the CBD itself.
If you’re taking regular medication and are worried about what CBD might do, talk to a healthcare professional and take all necessary precautions. It’s also important to note that CBD is not an FDA approved medical solution, and you are not guaranteed to achieve perfect results.
CBD, THC (the cannabinoid from cannabis responsible for causing users to feel ‘high) and all cannabinoids coordinate with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). THC in particular bonds with nerves that detect pain. The result means that pain signals are blocked from getting through. CBD also bonds with them – enough to alleviate feelings of pain, but without the ‘high’ effects of THC.
Another great factor about using CBD for pain is that not only does it block the feeling of pain, but it appears that it may have the potential to reduce inflammation at the site of pain.
Painkillers are pretty great. Further away from pain, closer to pleasure – amazing. You’re in great pain? They’ll probably help.
But CBD might, too. And it might help in ways that you’d never even thought of.
One of the great reasons why CBD is becoming so popular is because a lot of people are seeing good results with neuropathic pain. Unlike nociceptive pain, neuropathic pain doesn't come from tissue damage – and is a lot harder to fix. With little to no alternatives, many neuropathic sufferers have turned to CBD. In one particular study, 59% of participants recorded a reduced reliance on prescription medication for neuropathic pain.
CBD is our preferred variety of natural pain relief – but it is by no means your only option. If you’re looking for a holistic approach to pain relief, we suggest pairing CBD with some of the following remedies, to fully optimize your experience:
Lavender Essential Oil
Not only a relaxing, calm scent, studies on lavender oil show it to be an effective form of pain relief. Many users cite it as a must-have in the medicine cabinet, using it for muscle pains and spasms, as well as when having trouble sleeping.
A regular star of the pantry and an excellent addition in many meals, who knew ginger had so many natural health benefits? Ginger has bioactive components that have treated arthritis, nausea, migraines, and colds for centuries.
Cloves are an excellent way to add a bit of spice into pies, meats, and warm desserts. They contain eugenol, an active ingredient used in some over the counter topical pain relievers. Some studies indicate that cloves may help to detoxify cells, and are also great at relieving toothaches.
Turmeric is a natural medicinal ingredient, thousands of years old. Thanks to the antioxidant curcumin, turmeric can help protect the body from cell-damaging molecules. This makes it great for preventing and combatting disease.
Eucalyptus oil is a strong form of natural pain relief and needs to be diluted prior to application. It can be dangerous for children and animals, and toxic when ingested. When used well, eucalyptus can combat nociceptive pain, and provide anti-inflammatory relief.
British National Formulary; 72nd Edition (Sep 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Burns, T. L.; Ineck, J. R. Cannabinoid analgesia as a potential new therapeutic option in the treatment of chronic pain. Ann. Pharmacother. 2006, 40 (2), 251–260.
Vardanyan Ruben, and Hruby Victor. “Analgesics.” In Synthesis of Best-Seller Drugs, 1-2. Elsevier, 2016.
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