Cannabis and Health

1 April 2019

Is CBD a good replacement for ibuprofen?

It might have seemed unlikely a few years ago, but in 2020, the question doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched. Indeed, the potential for CBD to become a mainstream treatment of pain and chronic pain is becoming increasingly likely with the remarkably versatile compound of the cannabis or hemp plant emerging as THE go-to product in the health and wellness market. 

Indeed, CBD now seems to be everywhere; You can now find the popular compound being marketed and sold in a variety of different CBD products ranging from CBD oils, CBD isolates and CBD capsules to edibles like CBD gummies and even CBD gum! 

Such is the growing popularity of CBD, it even emerged as the top-selling dietary supplement of 2019, ousting turmeric as the No. 1 seller in natural sales channels. 

And while CBD and cannabis hemp oil continues to rise dramatically in prominence, the long-term usage and negative side-effects of Ibuprofen would suggest that finding a viable alternative to this popular form of pain management, is necessary.

CBD vs Ibuprofen 

But is it really true? Is there real potential for CBD as an alternative to Ibuprofen and Ibuprofen products, and could it become as common as the items that have been such a staple of our lives over the last 40 years? Or is this merely another example of the hyperbole that we have to be so wary of when considering alternatives to our existing medical treatments?

Well, a growing body of research is now emerging that suggests much of the enthusiasm surrounding CBD is indeed justified with scientific analysis providing increased credibility and evidence to suggest that there is remarkable and varied potential within the burgeoning cannabis compound to treat pain. 

Indeed, it is the potential versatility of CBD that seems to suggest that there is substance beyond the hype with its potential as an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and Ibuprofen drawing particular attention.

But is CBD safe? And is it something that has the potential to replace the Ibuprofen that sits in your bathroom cabinet?

While the answer to the former is now decisive and clear following the WHO’s declaration in 2017 that not only is CBD safe but that it “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential”), answering the latter question requires a little more digging. 

Fevers, Migraines, and Related Pains

A migraine isn’t just any ordinary headache. It’s a severe headache with extreme pain that usually affects both sides of the head and is often accompanied by several uncomfortable symptoms including, throbbing pain, blurred vision, tingling, light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, and lightheadedness.

Bacteria-induced fevers, on the other hand, cause an elevated body temperature, somewhere around 38°C (100.4° F) or higher and can cause excessive sweating, dehydration, muscle aches, appetite loss, general weakness, headaches, and chills and shivering. Furthermore, whether you are suffering from a bacterial or viral infection, CBD, in particular, is an anti-bacterial and can help fight the source of fever.

All in all, just what do they both have in common? The short answer is pain. However, headaches and migraines seem to be the most common plagues of pain.

When a pain stimulus is present in the human body, it will activate the cells to fire off pain-causing chemicals. These chemicals will journey from one cell to another until they reach the spinal cord and then the part of the brain responsible for pain perception. Once the brain receives this signal, it will cue the body how to react. Once the stimulus has passed, chemicals are then reabsorbed by the human body, causing pain to diminish. Several other triggers have been identified to contribute to chronic and persistent headache and migraine pain, including:

  • Physical Injury
  • Fatigue and changes in sleep patterns
  • Mood issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Pharmacologic agents (postmenopausal hormones, oral contraceptives, nitrates, etc.)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Changes in air pressure, altitude, or weather
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Diet changes or use of vasoactive substances
  • Environmental factors such as noise, glaring, or flickering lights

Furthermore, many of these conditions, too, are aggravated by inflammation, as chemokines

and cytokines (inflammation-causing proteins) that immune cells produce also stimulate pain receptors in the body.

As it stands, current symptom treatment options generally include conventional painkillers, with Ibuprofen as one of the most commonly used.

CBD and our immune system
How chemokines and cytokines interact with our immune system and stimulate pain receptors in the body. CBD can help to inhibit this process.

Discovered in 1961, Ibuprofen is available under several trade names. It works to inhibit the release of these chemical compounds called prostaglandins, which are produced by our body following an infection, trauma, or injury. Although commonly used, one must consider the ingredients and side effects of taking Ibuprofen.

Taking Ibuprofen can include several short-term adverse side effects, including shortness of breath, swelling, itching, mood changes, and nausea and vomiting.

However, stomach ulcers, kidney diseases, liver disease, an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding (by damaging the protective barrier of the stomach lining) and heart failure are just some of the more serious and life-threatening complications commonly caused by overdose or prolonged use of Ibuprofen.

CBD Might be a Viable Option to Relieve Headaches and Migraines

The primary effect of CBD (one of the most important chemical compounds found in cannabis) is that it can help reduce the process of pain and inflammation in the body. This is mainly due to how CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors contained in our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our endocannabinoid system is engaged primarily in our pain control centre, located in the central nervous system, but it’s also active in the peripheral systems against the frequency of acute migraine pain and its disruptive symptoms.

In a 2017 study, it was found that a combination of CBD and THC (through what is called the Entourage Effect) significantly reduced pain intensity in chronic migraine sufferers by 43.5 per cent, as opposed to, commonly used antidepressants such as amitriptyline. By lowering the production of cytokines and chemokines by the immune system and also inhibiting firing by pain receptors, these cannabinoids can help rid the body of both inflammation and pain.

The effect of CBD is both non-toxic and non-psycho-tropic, meaning it is safe, and will not induce any psychoactive effects. (i.e. it won´t get you high). Therefore, its use is not only safer on the kidneys, GI tract, and liver, but it won’t negatively affect your digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, nor your appetite or mental health.

Indeed, the main difference between CBD and Ibuprofen is that it does not pose the same dangers as painkillers. The chances of an overdose consuming the cannabinoid are far lower when compared to virtually all of the prescribed pain medications available today.

CBD as an Alternative for Ibuprofen

Given what we know about existing pain treatments and the negative side-effects of Ibuprofen, there is every reason to consider the potential of CBD and CBD products as an alternative to Ibuprofen when it comes to the treatment of pain and chronic pain. Clearly, the long-term side- effects of Ibuprofen are both severe and life-threatening and with an increased risk of so many cruel illnesses, more alternatives to Ibuprofen are absolutely necessary.

With the WHO releasing a comprehensive review of CBD in 2017, the world-renowned health body declaring CBD to be safe and free of any potential addiction or abuse potential, there is indeed a huge potential for CBD in replacing Ibuprofen and eliminating this method of pain management.

As CBD is both non-psychotropic and comes with very few side effects, there is a growing feeling that CBD could well become the preferred method of pain management in the near future.

While we are not quite at that stage yet, CBD’s massive growth in recent years and the ever-growing versatility it continues to display as more and more research is conducted, suggests that it will surely have a significant role to play in our societies long-term future as a valuable source of pain management, and as an alternative to Ibuprofen.

Post author
Mell Green
Mell Green is an enthusiast of all things cannabis and writes content that represents some of the best things that we as a people can strive for: good health and happiness.
See more from Mell Green

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