26 Dec 2018

Workouts, sports, and recreational activities are obviously great for our bodies. Exercising promotes all kinds of health benefits. It helps with weight loss and maintenance, and also generally improves our overall moods.  

But sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes we pull muscles. Sometimes that six-mile run does a number on our calves, knees, and feet. When these things happen, we usually reach into our medicine cabinets for that bottle of ibuprofen.

Cannabidiol for Pain Relief

But what about ditching the common pharmaceutical? And instead, opting for something all-natural with similar healing properties? That’s what some athletes are doing by relieving their pain with cannabidiol (CBD).  

Extracted from cannabis plants (both hemp and marijuana), CBD is one of over 60 chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Research documents that cannabidiol may relieve pain and lower inflammation due to analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. CBD affects the body by acting on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD targets the system’s endocannabinoids and receptors. These receptors are responsible for various biological processes, including our sensation for pain. And while many are misguided that CBD will make users feel “high,” the cannabinoid has no psychoactive effect like that of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a more familiar cannabinoid found in marijuana.

CBD: No Side Effects?

One of CBD’s unique benefits is that the all-natural substance has no known side effects. According to a 2017 World Health Organization report, CBD has no known health risks and a “good safety profile.” And while over-the-counter ibuprofen seems harmless, it has side effects just like many (if not all) other pharmaceuticals.

Common Side Effects of NSAIDs

The side effects for non-aspirin, nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are many and varied. The Mayo Clinic lists over 90, from abdominal pain to shortness of breath to hives or welts. According to a group of pharmacists who medically reviewed ibuprofen for Drugs.com, the more common side effects of ibuprofen may include upset stomach, mild heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, mild itching or rash, and ringing in the ears.

Severe Side Effects of NSAIDs

But for some, ibuprofen can cause much more severe health issues. Many medical entities recognize gastrointestinal (GI) issues as a top risk. In an FDA article updated in 2015, Sharon Hertz, the Deputy Director of the FDA’s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Rheumatology Products, informs that NSAIDs have the potential to cause gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. While the risk is low, it is higher in those taking NSAIDs daily or regularly. Risks also increase for people with histories of stomach ulcers, blood thinner and corticosteroid users and those 65+. Angela Giallourakis, a pharmacist at the Cleveland Clinic, considers GI-related events the “biggest complication.” She cities GI bleeding, ulceration and throwing up blood as potential side effects.  

Another severe risk is the potential of a cardiovascular (CV) event. Many organizations list this as a side effect. In 2015, the FDA strengthened its warning that NSAIDs could cause heart attacks or strokes.

So, if you’re looking for a natural remedy to aches and pains, consider using cannabidiol.