Chronic pain can be debilitating, and sufferers naturally want to know what are the best ways to manage their symptoms. While there are mainstream painkillers available over the counter or on prescription, some people find that these either do not target their pain effectively, or cause unwanted side effects.

What are complementary and alternative therapies?

A therapy which is used alongside a conventional medicine is called a ‘complementary therapy.’ If the therapy is being used to the exclusion of any other mainstream treatment, it is described as a ‘alternative therapy.’ Some complementary therapies may interact negatively with other medicines, so seek medical advice if you plan to combine the two.

If you are currently receiving or have been advised to undertake a prescribed course of treatment, but want to take up an alternative therapy instead, it’s very important to discuss this with your doctor first in order to make an informed decision, and understand any risks you are taking.

What type of therapies are available?

There are a wide range of therapies available for those wishing to improve their pain management. These include homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy, nutritional supplements, and herbal remedies. These treatments are all considered to have pain relieving potential and their use is widespread throughout the world.

Do complementary therapies work?

In some cases, there is a strong body of evidence that the therapy works well for many people, but it hasn’t been endorsed by regulators simply because, in comparison to other medicines, they are deemed less effective. Other therapies are undergoing further scientific research because there is not yet any definitive proof of their efficacy.

Certain herbal remedies have been used since ancient times for pain relief, such as mint to treat stomach ache, nettles to ease joint pain, and lavender oil to cure headaches. Eastern societies have also used techniques such as yoga and massage to treat both physical pain and promote mental wellbeing.

Indeed, one of the principles behind complementary therapy is that it is used to distract the sufferer from the pain, or ease their negative thoughts associated with it, rather than completely cure it. This is especially useful for people who find that painkillers have intolerable or dangerous side effects, such as nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, and depression.

Why do people use CBD oil for pain management?

One of the most popular complementary or alternative therapies for pain is cannabidiol (CBD). It is an extract of the cannabis plant, but it does not contain the toxic element that is used to make psychoactive drugs, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

Research is still ongoing into why CBD oil is effective at relieving pain. One study suggests that the substance influences receptor systems within the body, and interacts with existing endocannabinoids. It is also thought to increase the levels of anandamide in the body, which is a compound linked to mood and pain perception.

CBD oil has also been found to be effective at reducing inflammation, which is often either the cause or the side effect of pain. It is often experienced by people who suffer from chronic arthritis and joint pain. Although the main studies were carried out on animals, many arthritis patients have reported that CBD use eases their symptoms.

Furthermore, patients who suffer from chronic pain may also begin to suffer from depression and anxiety as a result of their condition. Chronic pain is a defined as persistent pain that doesn’t go away after a couple of months. One of the most common causes is backache, but it can also be triggered by an illness or injury.

CBD oil, which can be taken in the form of chewable CBD tablets, capsules, drops, or sprays, is found by many people to improve their mental wellbeing and overall mood. It is thought this is because it stimulates receptors in the peripheral nervous system, which boosts the production of serotonin in the brain. 

Serotonin is the hormone responsible for regulating our emotions, and producing a happy and stable mood. People who have normal levels of serotonin in the brain tend to be able to concentrate well, deal with difficult situations more easily, and also sleep better. 

CBD products are often used by people who want to avoid becoming addicted to regular painkillers, by having regular breaks. They can also be effective when a person has become immune to the effects of a prescribed painkiller. 

Most people find that they can use CBD products without any side effects. Occasionally users may experience a dry mouth, drowsiness, or an upset stomach. If you plan to use them as a complementary or alternative method of pain management, it’s best to talk to a health professional about the best way to go about it.