CBD & Chronic Inflammation: An Herbal Remedy for an Elusive Epidemic

You’ve probably heard a lot about inflammation lately, and how it’s been implicated in any number of serious chronic conditions. As a result, people have been looking for natural ways to decrease inflammation, including adjusting their diets and incorporating herbal remedies including CBD. To determine what, if anything, you should be doing to address inflammation in your own body, it helps to know what it is and how it works. 

Inflammation is the way your body signals your immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue, and to defend itself from viruses and bacteria. It’s a vital physiological response that heals wounds and protects us against infection. Without inflammation, humans could not survive. 

Unfortunately, the inflammatory process becomes extremely problematic when it’s triggered in places it isn’t needed, or if it lasts too long. Sometimes this defense system can damage the very tissues and organs it’s trying to protect. 

In addition to our bodies’ innate inflammatory response, some aspects of our environment, behavior and emotional state – like stress, pollution, and other factors – can cause serious chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is often difficult to sense and diagnose, meaning it could be damaging your health without you knowing it. 

What is Chronic Inflammation?

Since the immune system is tasked with securing our survival, it sometimes inflicts peripheral damage while attempting to protect the body by seizing and disarming a threat. 

When you injure areas of your body that you can see or feel (like a thumb that’s been hit by a hammer), you’ll experience inflammation as heat, pain, redness, swelling, and/or impaired function. Your body increases blood flow to the affected area, sending a surge of white blood cells into the tissue. Their job is to destroy the threat and grow new cells. This process is orchestrated by inflammatory molecules. 

When the immune system is healthy and operating perfectly, it can sense and prioritize varying degrees of threat. Inflammation would be activated to protect the host, and then quickly deactivated once the threat is neutralized. A high-functioning immune system produces natural anti-inflammatory compounds to stop the inflammation process once it’s no longer useful. 

Unfortunately, many of us receive nonstop signals telling our immune system to continue fighting even when it’s no longer appropriate. This is chronic inflammation. It can originate from a specific region of the body, like the digestive tract of someone suffering from Crohn’s Disease. It can also be spread throughout the body, like the persistent, low-grade systemic inflammation produced by fat cells in obese individuals

How Does Chronic Inflammation Hurt Us?

Appropriately-timed inflammation helps us fight infections and heal our bodies. However, chronic inflammation transforms the immune system from a guardian into a dangerous agent of disease and pain. When faced with a non-stop barrage of free radicals and other defensive molecules, our cells and overall health suffer. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a definitive disease, you might experience the symptoms of inflammation in the form of chronic fatigue, mood disorders or “brain fog.”

On an even more serious note, there’s mounting evidence that inflammation is implicated in many extremely serious or even deadly disorders, such as: 

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma 
  • Celiac disease

Although there’s still much we don’t know, the links between inflammation and many chronic health conditions have only recently been discovered by scientists, and are being actively investigated.

How Does CBD Reduce Inflammation?

Those who suspect they are suffering due to chronic inflammation should consider a multifaceted approach to finding relief. Scientists are now discovering that natural cannabidiol (CBD) is a highly effective anti-inflammatory. Studies point to multiple ways this safe, natural compound can alleviate acute or chronic inflammation. Here are some of the most compelling reasons leading scientists to believe CBD combats inflammation: 

These and many other reasons account for the growing popularity of CBD products, especially as a tool to diminish inflammation. If you are new to CBD products, you should learn which types of products are right for you, and what amount to take.  

Integrative Treatments for Chronic Inflammation

CBD is an excellent supplement to incorporate in your anti-inflammatory routine, but it’s most effective when it is combined with a more generalized approach. Other evidence-based methods to control inflammation include: 

  • A diet based on eating mostly vegetables and whole grains, like the Mediterranean diet
  • The regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids—especially EPA and DHA, which are found in fish and algae
  • A consistent, low-impact exercise routine: cycling, water sports, yoga, tai chi, etc. 

One of the best ways to fight chronic inflammation is to first identify the hidden sources of inflammation in your life. Simple changes to your daily routine could have a powerful impact on your inflammation level and overall feeling of wellness.

Speak with a trusted medical professional about your choice to include CBD in your anti-inflammatory routine, especially if you currently take prescription medications. Studies show that, like grapefruit, CBD can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize certain drugs. Discuss your chronic inflammation with a doctor. They might suggest an inexpensive C-reactive protein (CRP) test or another useful tool to measure and control your unique inflammation response.