CBD for Inflammation: A South African Guide

If you’ve ever struggled with a sprained ankle, sore sinuses from allergies, or arthritis, you’ve dealt with some form of inflammation. This natural response is vital to the healing process of the body.

Inflammation is the immune system’s way of protecting you from injury and disease. However, inflammation can be less than helpful if those inflammatory cells start attacking your body.

CBD continues to gain traction as a miracle compound. Its most popular form, CBD oil, is commonly used by South Africans. There are countless benefits of CBD oil. From aiding in anxiety to improvements in epileptic reactions, there is proof that CBD has positive benefits for medical conditions.

But can the same be said about CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties? Keep reading to find out more about CBD for inflammation.

What Is Inflammation?

Before taking CBD for inflammation, you should understand how inflammation works. Think of inflammation as your immune system’s defence against injury and disease. Inflammation is also there to help speed up the healing process and keep you healthy.

Sometimes, this life-saving bodily mechanism can go wrong and create more harm than good. People need their immune system’s inflammatory response to stay safe and healthy. That said, what do you do when inflammation becomes an issue?

Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation

There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation happens quickly and as a reaction to foreign irritants or diseases. Symptoms can last days to weeks but usually clear up quickly with treatment.

The most common examples are sprained joints, wounds, or bacterial infections like bronchitis. Recurring signs of acute inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function.

Conversely, chronic inflammation can last several months or years, and its causes are more complicated. Diagnosing and treating chronic inflammation can be difficult because figuring out what causes it is difficult.

Chronic inflammatory diseases come in many forms. Some of the most prevalent chronic inflammatory diseases include stroke, heart disorders, diabetes, and cancer. The risk factors associated with chronic inflammation include age, obesity, smoking, stress, and many more.

If you’re worried you have chronic inflammation, some symptoms include body pain, chronic fatigue, depression, weight gain or loss, and frequent infections.

What Is CBD?

The rise in CBD’s popularity since its decriminalisation in 2018 has led to a massive market for CBD products. They’re easily accessible to the majority of South Africans. However, it still raises many questions for new users, such as what is CBD, and why is it such a popular wellness supplement in South Africa?

Cannabidiol is one of the primary compounds in the cannabis sativa plant. The cannabis sativa has hundreds of active molecules called cannabinoids that do different things. The most studied cannabinoids are CBD and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that gets you high.

CBD doesn’t get you high like THC, but it does have many possible health benefits. This makes CBD a compound of great scientific interest. Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests CBD could be a natural solution to many health problems, including inflammation.

Does CBD Reduce Body Inflammation?

Scientific studies suggest positive outcomes of CBD as a potential treatment for inflammation. While more research is needed, inflammation is caused by a vast number of diseases, from arthritis to type 2 diabetes.

Most of the studies affirm the positive benefits of CBD as an anti-inflammatory. Some studies and research mention improvements in a wide array of illnesses, while others focus on a particular ailment. This next section covers scientific research on CBD for inflammation.

CBD as an Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory

This study on CBD’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties suggests that it can protect cells against oxidative stress and offer anti-inflammatory effects.

Oxidative stress relates to the body’s imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. This can cause several diseases over time, like diabetes, inflammatory conditions, hypertension, and heart disease.

The study also references CBD as one of the main pharmacologically active phytocannabinoids that help with several inflammatory health issues. Namely, cancer, metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Rat studies showed accelerated healing in rats with type 2 diabetes after the use of CBD.

The Endocannabinoid System and Inflammation

This study discusses medical cannabis’ activity against inflammation. It states that the use of CBD and other phytocannabinoids improves dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is an essential cell-signalling system that regulates many crucial bodily functions. Some of the functions that the endocannabinoid system controls are sleep, mood, pain control, and immune and inflammatory responses.

If the ECS becomes dysregulated, various diseases, including the adverse effects of inflammation, can manifest in the body. Re-regulation or therapeutic action taken on ECS activity has beneficial effects on various medical conditions.

CBD and other cannabinoids mimic the inherent cannabinoid receptors in the body (CB1 and CB2). Therefore, cannabinoids can regulate the ECS by mimicking the immune cells, CB1 and CB2.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of the Entourage Effect

The same study suggests that synergy between phytocannabinoids creates a potent anti-inflammatory effect. Thus, the interaction between two or more cannabis compounds produces a combined effect that works better than a single compound alone.

It’s also known as the ‘entourage effect’ and has been documented as one of the best ways to ingest cannabis to get the best results. The article suggests that combining phytocannabinoids and terpenes activates a full-spectrum effect. Phytocannabinoids include compounds like CBD and THC, while terpenes are compounds in cannabis that produce its smell.

A full-spectrum effect from a combination of cannabinoids would result in the molecules using different pathways to decrease inflammation. Not all cannabis compounds work through the body the same way.

CBD and THC act through distinct signalling pathways. Therefore, taking a CBD product that includes trace amounts of other cannabinoids, such as terpenes, improves inflammatory symptoms more than an isolated compound.

CBD for Inflammation and Pain

In recent years, scientific research has focused on testing CBD’s effectiveness as a painkiller. There have been positive results regarding the use of cannabidiol for improvements in both inflammation and chronic pain. Often, these two issues go hand in hand, and the ability to improve both sounds like a miracle.

Current findings note that CBD is yet to be approved as a general painkiller and anti-inflammatory. However, CBD is approved to treat certain conditions like multiple sclerosis and cancer pain.

These findings are promising as those ailments feature significant chronic pain and inflammation. Currently, CBD isn’t recommended as the only treatment for pain and inflammation. However, it looks promising as an additive medication.

CBD and Chronic Pain

Chronic pain often appears as a symptom of other illnesses. It also presents with inflammation and inflammatory conditions a lot of the time. Generally, pain becomes a chronic condition once it lasts longer than several months.

So far, CBD for pain management seems optimistic. Many people rely on medication to alleviate pain, but painkillers can become habit-forming. The biggest concern with pain management is addiction. Often chronic pain is severe, and patients quickly gain a tolerance for painkillers. There are also side effects, such as opioids causing dependency and corticosteroids causing weight gain. CBD has no addictive potential and is unlikely to cause serious weight gain.

CBD Improves Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis, or the chronic swelling of joints, is an excruciating inflammatory condition. Ongoing research suggests CBD oil in varying doses may improve medical conditions like arthritis. Currently, CBD is most beneficial for arthritis when ingested.

The top improvements seen in people with arthritis were pain symptoms and sleep improvements. People with arthritis tend to find consistent CBD ingestion helpful for pain management and increased mobility. There are also significant improvements in sleep when people ingest CBD for arthritis.

These improvements can be attributed to how ingested CBD works everywhere. In comparison, topical CBD creates a localised effect. Most importantly, CBD oil improves health overall. Not only does it reduce pain and inflammation, but it improves anxiety and insomnia as well. General health improvements are very beneficial for people living with chronic illnesses.

However, you should note that ingesting CBD alone might not be as successful in treating pain as a combination of THC and CBD. A mixture of THC and CBD has shown more significant improvements in arthritic pain than CBD alone.

How to Take CBD for Inflammation

Many people hear about this oil and its amazing benefits but don’t know how to take CBD oil. There are a few ways to take the product. How you take it depends on your preferences and needs.

If you want faster results, you should ingest the CBD. But if you’re okay with waiting a while, using lotions and other topicals might be for you. The most popular forms of CBD for inflammation are oils or tinctures, creams and topicals, and edibles

.Note: CBD products haven’t been regulated like medicine yet. Each CBD oil, edible or topical, has different concentrations of CBD in its formulas. Make sure you research to find the most reliable CBD product for you.

CBD Oils or Tinctures

The most widely used forms of CBD are tinctures or oil extracts. Tinctures are CBD extracts dispensed in an alcohol formulation, whereas oil extracts are just pure products.

CBD oils or tinctures have a distinct hemp flavour which some like and some don’t. You can easily mask the taste by putting your oil or tincture in food or drinks.

CBD oils and tinctures get ingested sublingually, which means under the tongue. This is the fastest and most effective way of absorbing CBD as it travels into your bloodstream from the capillaries under your tongue. Ingesting CBD can benefit people struggling with pain from inflammation and who need near-immediate relief.

This method of CBD use is also the best for controlling your dose, as you can use the dropper to dispense as much CBD oil as you need. The best way to use CBD oil is by using it up to three times a day.

Make sure to start any new supplement on the lowest possible dose. To find the right amount, slowly increase your dose over time.

CBD Lotions and Topicals

Lotions and other topicals like gels with heating or cooling agents are popular for people with joint inflammation. CBD can also improve other skin inflammatory conditions like eczema and acne.

Lotions and topicals target specific areas of inflammation like joints or irritated skin. Topical CBD doesn’t enter the bloodstream, which can reduce its efficacy. Whereas ingesting CBD has a systemic effect that spreads throughout the body as it enters your bloodstream.

CBD Gummies and Edibles

As mentioned above, if you don’t like hemp’s taste, you can mask the flavour by putting CBD into food or drinks. The most popular pre-made CBD-infused treats are gummies and edibles like cookies, fudge, and even soft drinks. Edibles are any food or beverages containing cannabis compounds. However, edibles aren’t for everyone.

You have to wait longer for the CBD to be absorbed through the digestive system. In addition, most edibles contain sugar. Sugar can be inflammatory, especially for people with type 2 diabetes. Opt for CBD capsules if you can’t handle the taste.

CBD and Inflammation: Side Effects

CBD is safe for adults. However, take note that pregnant and breastfeeding people should avoid using the product. The possible side effects of taking CBD for inflammation include:

  • Fatigue
  • Interactions with other medications — always check with your doctor before using CBD for inflammation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Allergic reactions — you can do a patch test to see if your body reacts to any CBD products

So, Is CBD Good for Inflammation?

It’s likely that CBD is good for inflammation. However, more research is needed to approve CBD for inflammation and pain management.

That said, the research is promising for people with chronic illnesses, and CBD’s potential as a long-term treatment for inflammation is exciting.

There is evidence that CBD might improve more than one issue in the body at a time. If it can decrease pain, inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia, that will be a game changer for people dependent on multiple medications. For now, CBD is seen as an additive medication to other treatments or lifestyle changes.

If you use CBD for inflammation or pain, consult your doctor to confirm there aren’t any drug interactions between the CBD and your medication.

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