Today, I want to talk more about CBD for pain – specifically, CBD for chronic conditions like HIV/AIDS where wide spread pain is a major characteristic. This type of pain is not acute or localized (think: a circle), this pain is all encompassing (think: a blanket). And when your entire body is covered in a blanket of pain, daily life can become nearly impossible.
How Bad Are We Talkin’?
Well, have you ever had the flu and your whole body feels achy and sore? Laying down hurts, sitting up hurts, moving hurts, being still hurts. Hurt becomes a part of everything you do.
One such chronic condition that is often accompanied by widespread, chronic musculoskeletal pain is HIV. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2015 (the most recent year for which this information is available).
A cross sectional study of HIV patients published in the Journal of Pain in 2011 showed that of the 270 participants, 8.2% had mild pain, 38.1% had moderate pain, and 53.7% had severe pain and over half of the participants had taken some form of prescription opioid for relief.
In 2005, a survey that was also published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management showed that CBD is highly effective in the management of HIV/AIDS symptoms. The survey was conducted on 523 patients that were using CBD to manage a variety of symptoms including nausea, loss of appetite, and muscle pain. Since then, a number of studies have shown that CBD has the potential to relieve HIV/AIDS-related inflammation and neuropathic pain.
What Causes this Pain?
Both a symptom of HIV and a common side effect of many HIV medications is a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. This is called lactic acidosis . If you have ever hit the weights at the gym really hard and felt sore the next day, then you know what it feels like to have an excess of lactic acid in your muscles. (Check out our article on Post Workout CBD) Now imagine that this is how you feel everyday even though you haven’t been to the gym in months. One patient described it to me as “Waking up every morning feeling like you’d been hit by a Mac truck the day before.” Pain in certain areas such as the hips and the shoulders can be especially bad.
CBD helps to ease lactic acidosis by acting as a vasodilator, relaxing smooth muscle cells within the blood vessel walls. This helps to increase circulation, allowing the blood to usher out this acidic concentration. CBD’s effectiveness at vasodialation is at the heart of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Another common form of pain associated with HIV/AIDS is peripheral neuropathy. This is a condition where the peripheral nervous system become damaged and lead to pain, twitching, paresthesia, muscle loss and impaired coordination. It has been shown that CBD can help improve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in HIV/AIDS, as well as in other conditions in which it appears (such as diabetes).
Is CBD Safe for People Living with HIV/AIDS?
Up until now, the most common answer for patents dealing with this sort of life impinging pain was opioids. Highly addictive and increasingly less effective with time… opioids are NOT the answer to long term issues.
Research suggests that consuming cannabinoids are safe for patients with HIV/AIDS. One study found no significant association with use and the CD4 T-cell count of patients, suggesting cannabinoids have no adverse effects on the immune system – unlike opioids. Furthermore, CBD has not been found to adversely interact with common antiviral medications.
Of course, if you are being treated for a chronic illness, it is always a good idea to speak with your doctor before adding or subtracting anything from your regimen.