- 1 WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
- 2 INFLAMMATION TREATMENT
- 3 SPORTS-INDUCED INFLAMMATION
- 4 WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?
- 5 WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
- 6 TAKING CBD FOR INFLAMMATION
- 7 TAKING CARE OF INFLAMMATION
Inflammation is a serious medical affliction. If left unchecked, it can significantly impact overall health, and today it’s more common than ever. The good news? The potential cures are just as common, and many are turning to CBD and other natural anti-inflammatories to combat inflammation. If you’re feeling lost or don’t know what inflammation or CBD even are, don’t worry, we’re here to break it down for you.
There are two types of inflammation. Acute inflammation is brought on quickly, and typically it also resolves quickly. Chronic inflammation can persist for months or even years. In response to injury, your immune system jumps into action to repair the injury. When functioning properly, this causes acute inflammation symptoms to dissipate. However, if the pain, redness, swelling and heat around the inflamed site do not recover quickly, chronic inflammation can result.
Athletes in particular need to attend to inflammation. When you train hard, your muscle fibres undergo microscopic damage. Your body then responds with inflammation to heal and repair your muscles. This is a good thing, and it helps you gain strength overall. Typically this inflammation should repair after about 48 hours. However, overtraining or sport injuries can cause inflammation which, if left untreated, can become chronic and cause long-term pain. Ongoing inflammation can reduce your athletic performance and lead to further injury.
This article will break down what inflammation is, and how CBD and other natural supplements can help you treat it and prevent damage.
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Inflammation gets a bad rap, but it’s part of our body’s natural protection and healing. When we are injured or infected, inflammation is a response that occurs as part of our body’s defense mechanism. When parts of our body are inflamed, white blood cells rush to protect the area from bacteria and viruses, and in the process, it releases chemicals that increase the blood flow to the affected area. If inflammation becomes chronic, it can sometimes cause other health concerns.
The process of inflammation results in redness and warmth. Sometimes these chemicals cause fluid to leak into the tissues, which causes joint swelling and pain. During this process the number of cells and inflammatory substances in and around the joint increases, causing irritation and swelling in the lining of the joint. This constant irritation eventually wears down the cartilage at the ends of the bones leading to long-term damage of the joints.
Arthritis is a common chronic inflammation condition triggered by an unnecessary inflammatory response, even without the presence of infection. This causes the immune system to actually damage its own tissues. Swollen joints, redness, pain, stiffness, and loss of function are often associated with arthritic inflammation. These symptoms are painful and debilitating to many who suffer from it. These symptoms may be sustained, temporary, mild, moderate, or severe. They can stay the same for years or worsen as time goes on.
The typical treatment for conditions like arthritis can include painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil and other forms of Ibuprofen, different varieties of ointments and creams, and corticosteroids that are either taken orally or injected directly into the affected joint. Some of these treatments have adverse side effects that can make them a bad option for some. Because of concern over side effects, many sufferers of inflammatory disease are opting for natural remedies instead of (or in combination with) prescription medications.
There are a number of natural anti-inflammatory remedies available that researchers have found to be effective. A study published in December 2010 investigated the use of natural remedies in place of or in conjunction with over-the-counter and prescription medications. The study was particularly interested in the benefits natural remedies could provide over the long term, especially in regards to side effects. We will discuss their findings below.
Intense exercise can cause lactic acid to accumulate in your muscle fibers, causing tight, sore muscles. This can make it pretty tough to feel good after your workouts and make continued progress! But all is not lost- for soreness and inflammation induced by strenuous athletic output, there are numerous things you can try that don’t require pharmaceutical intervention.
→ Foam rolling is a great way to flush out lactic acid and loosen your muscles. Make sure you are rolling slowly enough- many people roll too fast to get deep into the muscles. For instance, it should take you several minutes to roll from your knee to your upper quadricep. Breathe deep and fully relax so the foam roller can penetrate into your muscles.
→ Massage, like foam rolling, is fantastic to flush out lactic acid and relax tight muscles. If you can’t afford a professional massage, even self-massage is helpful!
→ Omega 3 fats have been proven to reduce post-workout inflammation and pain. More on this down below, but you can either eat foods high in omega 3s like ground flaxseed, avocados, and walnuts, or simply pop a supplement.
→ L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid and a great inflammation buster after a hard training session.
WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?
CBD comes from the cannabis plant, a plant that has been used medicinally for centuries. CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in marijuana and hemp products. Despite coming from the cannabis plant, CBD doesn’t make the user feel intoxicated because it is a different compound than THC.
Current research suggests that because CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate homeostasis within the human body, it could be used as an effective treatment for inflammatory diseases. It is thought to work at reducing joint inflammation while also protecting the nerves. For more information on how the endocannabinoid system (or ECS) works, check out our blog post on the topic.
CBD is extracted from the flower of a cannabis plant and then used for a variety of products, including tinctures, salves, lotions, or edibles. Potency levels and results vary by product, so often people will need to try a few before deciding what ultimately works best for them and their condition.
For athletes, salves and roll-ons are a great option because they can be applied directly to the area in need. The targeted relief absorbs into skin and the bloodstream quickly, offering effective relief exactly where you need it.
CBD excels at reducing inflammation because it works differently from NSAIDS and other typical inflammation and pain treatments. If you’re interested in trying CBD but aren’t sure where to start, MojaveRx is happy to offer you guidance.
CAT’S CLAW (UNCARIA TOMENTOSA)
Cat’s Claw is a Peruvian herb that comes from woody vines with small thorns shaped like claws. The bark of the cat’s claw plant is used as an anti-inflammatory treatment with active ingredients like flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, tannins, alkaloids, and sterols. Research has found that cat’s claw is especially effective at inhibiting production of TNF (tumor necrosis factor), an inflammatory chemical the body produces. It also may help to protect against gastrointestinal inflammation. Cat’s claw is normally ingested as tea or dried inside a capsule.
CHILI PEPPER (CAPSAICIN)
Chili peppers come from a spreading shrub that was originally popular in the tropical regions, but now grows worldwide. The plant produces the fruit we know as chili peppers. Inside those chili peppers is a chemical called capsaicin, which gives the pepper its stinging quality. Capsaicin was isolated by chemists over one hundred years ago, but chili peppers have been used for generations by natives of the Americas.
Capsaicin is a powerful local anesthesia that works by degenerating the capsaicin-sensitive nerve endings. This chemical does burn when it comes in contact with the skin or digestive tract, but when used for its medicinal values it is rarely consumed alone, usually being mixed with other natural ingredients used for anti-inflammation.
FISH OIL (OMEGA-3 EFAS)
Cod liver fish oil has been used for centuries in the treatment of muscular, skeletal, and discogenic diseases. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered some of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory compounds available. Fish oil works naturally to enhance the conversion of a powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent inside the human body. This agent, called prostaglandin E3 inhibits the growth of inflammatory substances and cytokines.
For the treatment of arthritis, studies have found fish oil to be more effective than traditional pharmaceutical treatments. In fact, a study recently found that 59% of patients taking NSAIDs for lumbar disc disease could replace those medications with fish oil as a natural choice and see the same results.
FRANKINCENSE (BOSWELLIA SERRATA RESIN)
Frankincense is a gum resin that comes from the Boswellia species of trees found in India, Ethiopia, and the Arabian Peninsula. The resin possesses powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. It’s usually used to treat degenerative and inflammatory joint issues like arthritis because it reduces the total white blood cell count in joint fluid. Frankincense is often used as a liquid extract and consumed a few times each day.
Green tea is a relatively new discovery for its treatment of inflammatory diseases. Long recognized for its treatment in preventing cancer or cardiovascular disease, researchers are now discovering that some of the compounds in green tea are helpful in preventing collagen degradation in cartilage. The recommended dosage of green tea is 3-4 cups per day, but can also be taken as an extract. Green tea does contain caffeine so users should be aware or search for decaffeinated green tea if preferred.
MARITIME PINE BARK (PYCNOGENOL)
Maritime pine bark has been used for more than 2000 years as a remedy for wounds, scurvy, ulcers, and inflammation. It contains catechin, taxifolin, procyanidins, and phenolic acids and is currently one of the most powerful antioxidants available. These active polyphenols help decrease inflammatory response in the human body.
One 2018 review noted that Maritime pine bark “provides the basis for relief from pain, improvement of stiffness, enhanced mobility, and well-being in three clinical studies with the pine bark extract as an adjunct supplement. Sparing the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, supplementation with the pine bark extract reduced gastric complications and hospital admissions of OA patients. Because of its favorable safety profile and sustained anti-inflammatory action, Pycnogenol represents an option as an add-on supplement for OA patients.”
Resveratrol is plant-based and comes from various sources, including the Japanese Knot weed and the skins of red wine grapes. Plants use resveratrol in their skin to defend against infection, excessive UV radiation, and general plant defense. Research has also shown that resveratrol has anti-inflammatory properties when consumed by humans and animals. It is particularly effective in the treatment of arthritic joint pain.
This 2018 review showed that “these studies suggest that resveratrol can prevent inflammation and oxidative stress, reduce the risk of carcinogenesis and developed as anti-inflammatory agent to improve the quality of life of patients.”
Derived from a flowering plant in the ginger family, turmeric is traditionally used as a coloring and flavoring spice in food. For years, Ayurvedic and Chinese people have used turmeric as a treatment for inflammation. Current research has also shown turmeric to be effective in treating cystic fibrosis because of its powerful anti-inflammatory effect. As a supplement, turmeric works to inhibit the production of certain enzymes and cytokines that cause inflammation.
While studies so far have been mostly on animals, the recent discovery of turmeric’s ability to naturally slow inflammation combined with its long history of use for certain cultures leads researchers to believe it’s a viable alternative for the treatment of inflammation.
This 2017 study on humans demonstrated turmeric’s anti-inflammatory powers. In fact, turmeric was found to “[aid] in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. It may also help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and performance in active people.” Even low doses were found to be effective in fighting inflammation.
If you are ingesting turmeric to treat inflammation, ensure you pair it with black pepper. Turmeric on its own has poor bioavailability (aka the ability your body has to absorb and use it), but black pepper activates turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it increases its bioavailability by 2000%!
WHITE WILLOW BARK
The bark of the white willow tree dates back centuries as one of the oldest herbal remedies. Ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Indian civilizations used it to treat pain and inflammation. White willow bark works similarly to aspirin, but because it doesn’t have the same side effects as aspirin, it’s become a popular alternative for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Working much the same way other natural anti-inflammatories do, white will bark combats inflammation by inhibiting certain enzymes within the body that cause inflammation.
White willow bark is costlier than aspirin and while studies have shown it to be just as beneficial, users should still be aware that there are restrictions on who can take white willow bark and should always talk to their doctor before use to avoid any complications.
Ginger is another viable inflammation treatment, with a recent review demonstrating its effectiveness as a treatment for exercise-induced inflammation. Another study noted, “the recent and abundant clinical trials reviewed here demonstrate compelling evidence for ginger’s antiinflammatory properties and potential use as a treatment for a variety of inflammatory diseases that plague industrialized nations.” Further studies are needed to better understand ginger’s effect on inflammation, but ultimately, it’s a tasty and healthy element to include in your diet.
WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
As people move away from pharmaceutical treatments due to health concerns or cost, more research goes into finding natural alternatives less harmful to our bodies and pocketbooks.
No matter which of these categories you might fall into, the most important part of choosing which treatment is right for you is talking to your doctor. If you are currently taking other medications or have underlying health conditions, your doctor will be able to tell you if one of these natural remedies is right for you.
You should be aware that some of the natural anti-inflammatories listed above could interfere with the potency of any other medications you might be taking, or even cause dangerous side effects when used in combination with other medicine. Please consult your doctor with any questions about adding natural supplements to your healthcare routine.
TAKING CBD FOR INFLAMMATION
If you want to try CBD to treat your chronic inflammation, there are numerous ingestion methods you can try.
TAKING CARE OF INFLAMMATION
It’s important to pay attention to the signals your body is sending you. Inflammation is a normal part of your body’s response to stress or injury, and some inflammation is healthy. However, if it lingers long term, it can cause other issues with your bodily systems, or may be an indicator of more serious injury. Listen to your body, and if you are concerned that your inflammation is chronic or problematic, consult with your doctor.
This is especially true for athletes, who need to take care that their normal post-workout inflammation doesn’t become chronic or excessive. Supplements like CBD can help with not only inflammation, but also sleep, appetite regulation, chronic pain, and so much more.Trymore. Try some of these natural treatments for yourself to find a routine that works well with your body. Incorporating anti-inflammation supplements and foods into your post-workout recovery routine can go a long way in keeping your body healthy for years into the future.