Inflammation of any kind causes inconvenience and at times, an associated pain. The truth is that it is actually the first line of defense with which our body counters any kind of infection or injury. However, at times this can also cause health issues.
More about inflammation
Normally, with an injury, the immune cells in the body flock to the site to help fight, control and heal it. Few immune cells release pro-inflammatory cytokines for this purpose. These cytokines send out a help signal to the other immune cells requesting them to relocate to the injury site. To counter this, few cells will also produce anti-inflammatory cytokines to control the inflammation. Together they help with the healing process.
At times, though, there are chances of the immune cells becoming more responsive and releasing more pro-inflammatory cytokines. This will take the inflammation out of control. Many factors contribute to this erratic behavior of the immune cells like genetic predisposition, strong irritants, and pathogens, autoimmune problems, your habits or even lifestyle issues.
Bodily effects of inflammation
The bodily effects of inflammation are that it can worsen certain disorders and diseases unless controlled.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune condition that results in systemic inflammation of multiple joints as well as organs. With the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the inflammation worsens, and in chronic conditions can even cause deformities or permanent damage.
- Chron’s disease: Here, the cytokines contribute to the formation of ulcers and also cause adhesions and intestinal walls to thicken, resulting in absorption issues and bowel obstructions.
- Multiple Sclerosis: This condition is worsened due to the immune response to the axon’s myelin sheath that is abnormal. Sensory and motor issues debilitate due to the impaired transmission signals caused due to the cytokine effect.
- Epilepsy: Seizures are common in epilepsy; when the cytokines excite the neurons, they trigger this. They also contribute to the death of the neurons by worsening excitotoxicity.
- Cancer: Cancer is affected when the cancer cells hijack a kind of immune cell. These immune cells protect the cancer cells and enable them to metastasize.
- Anxiety and depressive disorders: The excitatory neurotransmitters and excitotoxicity are affected by inflammation, worsening the condition.
- Autism: This condition is worsened.
So, while inflammation is helpful, they can also hurt us at times, despite medications to control the same. In fact, few of these medications can harm us due to their side effects.
The associated pain
Inflammation is almost always accompanied by pain. The pain receptors of the neurons are stimulated by the cytokines, more so in the pain caused due to injuries or pathologic pain. From simple muscle injury pains to neuropathic pain due to cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and sciatica can be aggravated.
CBD as an anti-inflammatory compound
THC is known to be a potent anti-inflammatory compound; however, CBD really scores on this count. CBD scores by helping control inflammation while not making you high. Also, it helps with excitotoxicity because it is an antioxidant as well.
Anti-inflammatory properties of CBD
The CBD helps stimulate an anti-inflammatory protein, caspase when it binds to the CB2 receptors of the immune cells that are overactive. The activated caspase send a signal that induces the death of the cells, or apoptosis of the immune cells. This leads to a control of the inflammatory process and cytokines production reduces as well. Apoptosis is also induced in the immune cells by CBD through increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), a byproduct of metabolism.
ROS can be damaging too and cause oxidative stress since it results in a high number of free radicals as the antioxidants neutralizing them are imbalanced. This situation worsens the disease and aids its progression.
CBD helps in this through increased ROS generation by stimulating the immune cells. This leads to faster oxidative stress; in turn, induces the apoptosis of the immune cells as well as reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines release. Fascinatingly though, the CBD won’t harm the healthy cells in any way.
How CBD helps neuroinflammation
It is the mitochondria that produce and release energy in a cell, because of which they are called the powerhouse. But this metabolism also results in ROS. When under stress, the mitochondria produce more ROS, resulting in a greater release of intracellular calcium, worsening the inflammation. The cells with abnormally functioning mitochondria are targeted by the CBD to help this condition.
While calcium is a significant aspect in many physiological responses, too much of that results in oxidative stress and excitotoxicity. The release and uptake of calcium from the cells is controlled by a gate within the mitochondria called NCX. It works appropriately to open or close the gates to either get the excess calcium absorbed or released. This reduces the oxidative stress and helps in many conditions that are worsened by neuroinflammation like Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. The CBD helps decrease the cell damage by inhibiting neuroinflammation through the PPAR receptors activation.
How CBD promotes homeostasis
The body’s endocannabinoids also bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, resulting in anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. CBD aids this by preventing their degradation, allowing their longer existence in the system to produce the anti-inflammatory effects. Thus it helps in homeostasis, which is an internal stability.
Other CBD anti-inflammatory factors
CBD also helps control inflammation by stimulating a few other receptors like the adenosine A2A receptors that helps in producing extensive anti-inflammatory effect. It also reduces the excitatory neurotransmitters release, thus reducing excitotoxicity. The other receptor influenced by CBD is the TRPV1 receptors (vanilloid receptors) resulting in analgesia too.
CBD and analgesia
The cytokines stimulate the pain receptors and hence, CBD can help act as an analgesic too. The CBD’s stimulation effect on the vanilloid receptors causes desensitization. CBD is such a powerful analgesic that it can even help with neuropathic or intractable pain. The analgesic effect is produced by the CBD on serotonin receptors. Thus, CBD helps in relieving almost all kinds of pain. It thus appears to be a safe, anti-inflammatory compound as well as an analgesic which is well tolerated and has very few side effects, apart from being an antioxidant.
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