By: Martin Johnson, DHM, Owner and Natural Health Consultant
There has been much talk and information about CBD and its benefits for pain relief, but along with this information comes much confusion due to the hundreds of brands and stores popping up almost overnight, claiming that theirs is the best. I find that there is not only a lot of misinformation in regards to the quality of CBD products, but even more misguided teaching or claims as to what CBD will do for people with pain. The fact is, the type of pain, its root cause, and what CBD is combined with will greatly determine the relief one gets from their pain.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD (from cannabidiol) helps increase the level of anandamide, a compound associated with regulating pain. Cannabidiol can also limit inflammation in the brain and nervous system, which can benefit people experiencing pain, insomnia and certain immune responses. CBD from the marijuana plant is so effective for so many health issues because of its ability to support a natural occurring system in our bodies called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS itself is made up of three parts:
2.) Receptors in the nervous system and around the body that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with to stimulate a response.
3.) Enzymes that break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids so they can clear out from the receptor after it has made its impact.
The ECS is pivotal in helping the body systems regulate, creating balance to multiple functions. Your body activates the ECS with precision so that it impacts only what it needs to. For example, if your reproductive hormones are out of whack, it will work to regulate them without altering your digestion or immune system. Then, once the endocannabinoids have done their job and brought things into balance, certain enzymes come along to break them down and prevent them from going too far and upsetting the balance in the opposite direction. It’s a precise response.
Another Way the Body Regulates ECS
The body obviously doesn’t solely rely on cannabinoids from the marijuana plant to regulate the ECS. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s) found in fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are precursors and homeostatic regulators of this system. Molecules from these fats bind to cannabinoid receptors like CB2, which is the main receptor CBD binds to. So PUFA’s are a key step in maintaining the health of the ECS, and key to how effective a CBD oil product will be. Furthermore, PUFA’s are shown in research to be important regulators of hormones called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are made at sites of tissue damage or infection, where they cause inflammation, pain and fever as part of the healing process.
Increasing Benefits of CBD by Testing for PUFA’s & Using Fish Oil
In a study published in the May 14th, 2012 online early edition of the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it has been determined that PUFA’s found in high quality, whole-extracted fish oil is effective in inhibiting an enzyme called Cyclooxygenase (COX), which produces the prostaglandin hormones that spark inflammation. Knowing what your blood saturation level is of PUFA’s is a critical step in managing pain, inflammation, and your overall health all the way from the brain to the cell membranes. That is why I recommend my clients get a simple blood spot test that can be done at home and mailed in. This is a simple $60 test that can be a game changer as to determining how well you will respond to CBD products, and how well your body manages these prostaglandins that cause inflammation and pain.
Increasing Benefits of CBD with Turmeric
Okay, so far we have concluded that combining CBD with a good quality fish oil is a good combo for pain. Now let’s talk about giving pain and inflammation a 1-2 punch by adding an amazing herb called turmeric. Turmeric is the spice that give curry its yellow color. Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Most studies use turmeric extracts that are standardized to include large amounts of curcumin, exceeding 1 gram per day. A quality turmeric product should be standardized to contain 95% curcumin. The 1-2 punch comes in due to turmeric’s ability to increase the bioavailability of CBD, making it more effective and more easily absorbed by the body.
Increasing Benefits Even More with Piperine
When you add a compound called piperine, derived from black pepper, it adds an even more dynamic punch to the combination. This is due to its ability to greatly enhance both the absorption of curcumin into the body by up to 2,000%, and it keeps the CBD in the cell receptor longer by inhibiting the enzyme that naturally breaks CBD down to clear it from that receptor. Some products come with the piperine mixed in with the turmeric or CBD, but I prefer taking it separately to control the timing and potency. The trademark name for this pepper-derived substance is called Bioperin.
Benefits of Combining DL-phenylalanine with CBD
Last but not least, I would like to share with you some information on a substance rarely talked about for chronic pain called DL-phenylalanine. When combined with CBD it can really pack a punch to pain. When signals of pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, neuralgia, spinal disc damage and post-operative pain, from a particular sector of the body, reach the brain, endorphin hormones are released and directed to the given point of trauma relieving pain.
This natural substance pain-relief system does not function without some complications. It has been determined that certain enzymes in the body serve to destroy the endorphins before they reach the particular traumatized areas. It was discovered that combining the natural form “L” and synthetic form “D” of the amino acid phenylalanine brought about the desired effects upon these enzymes. In effect, the DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) acts like a downfield blocker in football. It places a body block on these enzymes which impedes their contact with the passing endorphins, thereby enabling the endorphins to reach their designated areas of trauma for pain relief.
Research is indicating that the bulk of chronic pain sufferers display significantly lower degrees of pain relieving endorphin activity. Administration of DLPA to these subjects resulted in a rapid normalization of these levels. This seems to be the reason for DLPA’s amazing pain relieving power on sources of chronic pain.
Here are some instructions for taking DLPA:
• Form Capsule or tablet
• Strengths 350 or 500 mg
• Initial Dosage Up to 2,000 mg/day
• Phase 1 First 2 weeks
• Phase 2 3,500 mg/day - Weeks 3-6
• Phase 3 (if necessary) 4,500 mg/day - Weeks 7-10
• Ideal level for maintenance: Reduce by 500 mg/day until the discomfort slightly disappears
• Consumption Rate 2-3 times throughout the day. Never in one large dose!
• Consumption Method 15 minutes before or 1 hour after meals and at bedtime on an empty stomach!
• Cautions Stop at 4,500 mg - more is not better
Note: Always take amino acids on an empty stomach to maximize absorption.
What Combination is Right for You?
Any one of these substances can be effective on their own in the right situation, but many times the power comes from the right combination. If you would like help determining what combination is right for your situation, give us a call to schedule a brief consult for one of our practitioners to help.
Finding Quality CBD Oil
View Total Health Nutrition Center’s criteria for CBD, which is also what we provide at both of our locations.