CBD Fights Inflammation

CBD Is a Potent Anti-inflammatory


Acute inflammation occurs when the immune system sends chemical messengers called cytokines, fluids, and white blood cells to an injured site in the body to heal it.  Unfortunately, the inflammatory reaction is usually somewhat over the top, meaning that the inflammatory response that brings the body’s healing elements often brings too much.  This leads to swelling, redness, heat, and pain. 


Inflammation is most commonly treated with over the counter medications like NSAIDS or ibuprofen- Advil or allele.  Prescription strength medications like corticosteroids are used in more severe cases of inflammation.  COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex and Mobic are other prescriptive alternatives, frequently used in joint pain and inflammation.  All of these drugs are effective when treating mild to moderate pain and inflammation, but they carry their own risks, especially when used regularly over a long period of time.


Patients treating acute inflammation should therefore always limit their use of over the counter NSAIDS as much as possible.  For some conditions, like arthritis or multiple sclerosis, this becomes almost impossible. These conditions require the use of anti-inflammatory medications for the duration of the disease.  Long-term use of these drugs can lead to stomach ulcerations, cardiac damage, and kidney dysfunction.


The problems associated with NSAIDS do not apply to CBD, which is a strong anti-inflammatory molecule in its own right..  When treating acute episodes of inflammation, CBD can be used alone or combined with NSAIDS like advil for short term use, increased pain relief and faster healing.


Dosages of 25-75 mg CBD can be taken every 6-8 hours consistently during the inflammatory episode.  Adding CBD to traditional pharmaceutical therapies can help treat pain more effectively while allowing for reduced dosages of the anti-inflammatory medications over time - thus reducing some of the end-organ damage that long term use of NSAIDS can cause.


Chronic Inflammation


Chronic inflammation dose not follow the same physiologic pathway as acute inflammation..  It has been identified as among the most significant contributing factors to the development of chronic disease, such as multiple sclerosis and dementia.  Chronic inflammation is described as a systemic, low-grade inflammation that can be measured by several biomarkers (the can be tested in the blood).  For example, high levels of C-reactive protein have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.  High levels of Substance P, a chemical involved in the sensation of pain, are seen in the spinal fluid of patients with fibromyalgia. 


A 2009 study in Rejuvenation Research showed how systemic inflammation influences pathophysiologic processes and contributes to chronic disease, disability, frailty, and mortality.  Currently, we do not have a single prescription medication that decreases underlying systemic inflammations.  In fact, some of the most effective treatments for reducing chronic inflammation do not involve drugs at all. 


Diet and lifestyle changes are the two most significant ways to reduce symptoms of inflammatory disease.  Turmeric, a spice widely used in Indian food, has potent anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial for preventing and treating pain, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and cancer.


The first step when treating any chronic inflammatory issue is to remove processed foods and commit to a whole-food, plant-based diet.  These types of dietary changes to promote healing are endorsed by the AMA and the NIH..  Intermittent fasting has also been linked to improved biomarkers for inflammatory disease, reduced oxidative stress, and improved insulin sensitivity.


CBD (cannabidiol) is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecule that inhibits the expression of inflammatory cytokines and limits the harmful effects of an overactive inflammatory response leading to chronic inflammation.  It may be possible to use CBD to treat brain fog, nerve pain, and other issues related to systemic inflammation not treatable with current pharmaceuticals. More studies need to be done.  CBD has a better and safer side effect profile - that much is known.  When we decrease systemic inflammation using scheduled doses of CBD, almost like a supplement rather than using it as a drug, we may be able to slow the progression of chronic disease symptoms caused by inflammation.  It may seem like a stretch,  but based on all we know, CBD has that much medical potential.

Dr. Allison Kendrick

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