By Jenny Menzel, H.C.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 40% of the U.S. population suffers from chronic pain, with at least 8% struggling with high-impact chronic pain — frequently limiting work activity and quality of life. Since the opioid epidemic catalyzed a complete overhaul of nationwide pain management procedures, many chronic pain patients have been forced to seek alternative solutions to ease their suffering. While natural pain relievers are generally less potent than prescription opiates, they may provide hope — not only for effective pain management but also the chance of eliminating harsh side effects that accompany pharmacotherapy.
Luckily, mounting evidence shows cannabidiol (CBD) to be a strong contender in providing pain relief associated with aging and illness. And with the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing hemp-derived CBD in all 50 states, access to this healing modality is high. But are there other available and affordable natural supplements that can enhance CBD’s pain-relieving quality? The answer is yes. Let’s look at a handful of natural supplements commonly paired with CBD that boost its pain-fighting properties.
Natural Pain Relievers That Pair Well With CBD
Known as “good fats” that lubricate joints and muscles, omega-3 fatty acids have been highly recommended for decades as an anti-inflammatory — especially in chronic pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The Nutrition Journal revealed an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are omega-3 deficient, even when consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 sources. This led to a higher demand for supplemental fish oil to assist in meeting the daily recommended intake.
Omega-3’s + CBD — This pairing is quite essential to effectively harness CBD’s anti-pain power. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science published the discovery of an enzymatic pathway that converts omega-3’s into cannabinoids — achieving the same anti-inflammatory effect as CBD when binding CB2 receptors. Other studies show an omega-3 deficiency alters this pathway, wreaking havoc on the endocannabinoid receptors and preventing necessary binding from occurring that would lead to a pain-relieving effect.
Curcuma domestica, otherwise known as curcumin, is the active ingredient in turmeric — a familiar household spice famed for its anti-inflammatory ability. Curcumin displayed its strength when it was found to be as effective as ibuprofen in the management of knee pain from osteoarthritis, as reported in one small study.
Curcumin + CBD — On their own, each of these natural remedies provide noticeable pain relief. However, due to the phenomenon known as the entourage effect, combining curcumin and CBD offers a much wider range of benefits. A review in the Current Gastroenterology Reports agreed: When investigating the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the combo is even more powerful together due to CBD’s ability to modulate gut motility and curcumin’s signature ability to ease inflammation.
Also known as Indian frankincense, boswellia has been used for centuries to reduce inflammatory pain symptoms in conditions such as headaches and arthritis. One way it does this is by inhibiting leukotriene production — molecules that can trigger inflammation.
Boswellia + CBD — Boswellic acid is a triterpene that can contribute to the synergistic entourage effect as it co-mingles with cannabidiol. On its own as a natural anti-inflammatory, boswellia is particularly effective in mitigating arthritic pain symptoms. However, as previously noted, combining this natural pain reliever with CBD boosts both compounds’ ability to soothe pain via the unique entourage partnership formed. In fact, the combination was deemed potent enough to fight inflammation that a patent has been filed, combining boswellic acids and cannabidiol in a topical application aimed at easing skin inflammation.
Arnica montana, a European flowering plant, consists of various compounds such as sesquiterpene lactones, diterpenes, flavonoids, tannins, carotenoids, phenolic acids, lignans, oligosaccharides, and more. Whether it’s delivered in an ingestible form of pills, sprays, or tinctures, or a topical gel, oil, or lotion — arnica is well known as a homeopathic solution to pain.
Arnica + CBD — When combined, this duo may provide even quicker pain relief. That’s because arnica contributes additional flavonoids and terpenes needed to produce the desired entourage effect. Full-spectrum CBD naturally has this synergistic effect due to its flavonoid and terpene profile. However, these are sometimes diminished due to the extraction process involved in harvesting industrial hemp-derived CBD.
Zingiber officinale, a root more widely known as ginger, shows promise as a potent pain reliever. One review found exercise-induced muscle pain was reduced after just five days — suggesting daily ingestion of 2 grams of ginger accelerated recovery time by quieting the inflammatory response. Additionally, ginger’s pungent component, gingerol, may provide arthritic relief. Patients in one study who were given ginger were more than twice as likely to stop treatment for osteoarthritis when compared to the placebo group.
Ginger + CBD — While their pathway to pain relief may differ, CBD and ginger combine well as an inflammation tamer. Ginger may also enhance CBD by assisting with assimilation, as ginger has been hailed as an intestinal soother and potent digestive aid. Similar to turmeric, ginger has been a popular pairing in do-it-yourself CBD beverage recipes.
The rosemary plant, Rosmarinus officinalis L., has many uses, including relieving headaches, muscle pain, bone pain, and inflammation. While you might not have considered pairing your CBD with rosemary, both contain beta-caryophyllene (BCP), a terpene that binds with cannabinoid receptors in the brain — specifically, the CB2 receptor, suggests one study. When BCP binds to CB2, a non-psychoactive, anti-inflammatory effect is felt.
Sometimes, less is more. However, when using CBD to curb inflammatory conditions, combining flavonoid and terpene-rich compounds may lead to an enhanced therapeutic, entourage effect needed for pain relief. Always be sure to consult your primary care physician before developing a plan to incorporate CBD and other natural pain reduction solutions.
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Jenny Menzel, H.C., is a Certified Health Coach and branding specialist for various alternative healthcare practices, and volunteers her design skills to the annual grassroots campaign, the Lyme Disease Challenge. Jenny was diagnosed with Lyme in 2010 after 8 years of undiagnosed chronic pain and fatigue, and continues to improve by employing multiple alternative therapies, including Āyurveda, Chinese Medicine and Bee Venom Therapy.