Can CBD Treat Degenerative Disc Disease?
Published : May 31, 2019
Categories : Medical cannabis
Degenerative disc disease is a large contributor to back pain, a cause of chronic pain for many. CBD has been shown to attenuate this degeneration within animal models, and could be a possible treatment in the future.
CBD continues to gain recognition as a natural medicine as ever more scientific research and anecdotal accounts come rolling in. Otherwise known as cannabidiol, CBD is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid synthesised within the flowers of the cannabis plant. As one of the most researched cannabinoids, CBD has so far displayed anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-tumour, and anticonvulsant properties.
CBD SHOWS PROMISE FOR MUSCULOSKELETAL CONDITIONS
CBD also shows potential in the treatment of various musculoskeletal pathologies. The compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory system within the human body comprised of various receptor types, including CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD also interacts with GPR55, a cannabinoid receptor associated with increased bone mass in animal studies.
CAN CBD PREVENT OR TREAT DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE?
When it comes to preserving the discs of the spine, here too CBD displays promise. Research is ongoing regarding CBD’s potential as a future treatment for degenerative disc disease. Although current research has been performed using animal models, further human research could mark a breakthrough in this arena. Intervertebral disc degeneration is reported to be the main contributor to low back pain, a condition that affects large portions of the world’s population.
Recent research suggests that CBD has a protective effect over intervertebral discs in vivo. However, before we dig into the data, let’s take a look at exactly what discs are and how they begin to degenerate.
ANATOMY 101: WHAT IS AN INTERVERTEBRAL DISC?
An intervertebral disc sits between two spinal vertebrae within the vertebral column and contributes to the formation of a fibrocartilaginous joint. These discs have multiple functions, including shock absorption for the spine, movement, and stability of the spine.
Each disc features an outer ring, or annulus fibrosus, composed of several layers of fibrocartilage made up of different types of collagen. Within this ring exists a gel-like centre containing loose fibres called the nucleus pulposus. It’s this gel-like substance that allows discs to absorb physical shock during movement and activity.
Many people will have heard of the so-called phenomenon of a “slipped disc”. What this actually means is that the gel-like fluid of the nucleus pulposus been forced against the annulus fibrosus to the point of protrusion or prolapse. This can be caused by physical trauma during activity or by chronic deterioration in the form of poor posture. The nucleus pulposus can herniate in lateral and posterior directions and cause symptoms such as numbness, pain, and loss of sensation due to pressing on nerves.
WHAT EXACTLY IS INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE?
Intervertebral disc disease is characterised by the gradual breakdown of one or more discs within the spine. Disc degeneration is a natural part of ageing, with around 25% of individuals displaying evidence of degeneration before the age of 40. During this process, the nucleus pulposus begins to lose some of its water content and the annulus fibrosus becomes more prone to tearing, resulting in possible herniation.
Degeneration and subsequent herniation can lead to spinal nerve compression, which can result in pain, weakness, and numbness in the extremities. As degeneration continues, bone spurs can form at the edge of individual vertebra, causing further compression of nerves, and possibly causing issues with walking and bladder/bowel control.
RESEARCH SHOWS CBD MAY PROVE TO BE A FUTURE TREATMENT
CBD has already shown early efficacy as a potential musculoskeletal medicine, and more evidence is mounting. A 2014 study published within the journal PLoS One investigated the protective effect of CBD on lesion-induced intervertebral disc degeneration within rats.
Researchers first induced damage to intervertebral discs via needle puncture to create a lesion. The rats were then divided into three sub-groups, with 6–7 animals in each group. Each group was then administered a different dose of CBD via injection: 30, 60, and 120 nmol.
After administration, the researches used MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and microscope analysis to examine the induced injuries. The results of the analysis revealed no improvements within the 30 and 60 nmol groups. However, improvement in lesion damage was seen in the 120 nmol group in both MRI and microscope imaging up to 15 days afterwards.
These results led the authors to state that the study revealed the anti-degenerative effects of CBD injection at 120 nmol. Although more research is required in this domain, such results indicate the future use of CBD for disc degeneration treatment.
CBD MAY ALSO ASSIST WITH SIDE EFFECTS OF DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE
Inflammation plays a large role within the process of degenerative disc disease. Although specific studies need to be performed to find a correlation, CBD has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects by interfacing with cannabinoid and adenosine receptors.
Pain also plays a large role in degenerative disc disease, particularly neuropathic pain that stems from compression of nerves due to herniation. CBD may help to relieve this side effect as there is some evidence to suggest cannabinoids are effective in reducing neuropathic pain.
Finally, CBD may help to tackle some of the psychological symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease. The compound displays anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects that can help boost the quality of life of sufferers.
Degenerative disc disease is characterised by the breakdown of spinal discs, leading to herniation pain. CBD has been shown to possibly mitigate this breakdown.
CBD And Degenerative Disc Disease: An All-Natural Aid To Treatment?
CBD is more than just the second most abundant cannabinoid in Cannabis sativa. In fact, research shows that cannabidiol is a powerful ingredient with a potential to one day aid in treating symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease.
It seems like every week that new research is revealed proving CBD’s potential for aiding the treatment of certain conditions. Despite the slow-moving progress of gaining universal backing from the medical community, CBD is finally being recognised as a cannabinoid with a lot of therapeutic power. One condition where CBD displays significant promise is degenerative disc disease.
DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE: AN OVERVIEW
German exercise legend Joseph H. Pilates once said  : “You are only as young as your spine.” What Pilates meant is that the spine plays an irreplaceable role in maintaining physical stability and mobility. Degenerative disc disease is a broad term used to describe a condition where intervertebral discs become compromised and damaged, causing them to degenerate.
While some disc degeneration is a natural part of the ageing process, physical trauma from injuries, labour, obesity and more can cause severe degeneration. This can lead to back and neck pain, numbness and even nerve damage. Degeneration can also contribute to other long-term conditions like osteoarthritis.
HOW DOES CBD HELP?
To understand how CBD is applied to degenerative disc disease, you must first become acquainted with the potential of cannabidiol. As the second most abundant cannabinoid in the Cannabis sativa plant, CBD displays potential as a form of treatment for such conditions as Dravet Syndrome and Chronic Pain, among many others.
CBD is widely accepted as an anti-inflammatory and is gaining traction as in ingredient in mental health care. CBD is non-psychoactive and contains no known adverse side effects. However, it is worth noting that research into CBD is still ongoing, and it is not recognised as a medicine throughout most fo Europe – although the potential as one is being acknowledged. Much more large scale testing need to be done before it moves forward in the eyes of medicine.
CBD AND DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE: THE RESEARCH IS IN
Unlike other tissue in the body, intervertebral discs are made up of fibrous cartilage and do not receive adequate blood flow. Therefore, discs cannot heal themselves once the damage has been done. It then becomes much more difficult to regain mobility, and nearly impossible to repair fully. A main instigator of disc degeneration is inflammation and swelling resulting from different triggers.
A 2014 study  conducted by PLoS One concluded the “protective effects of cannabidiol” on lesion-induced degenerative disc disorder. Studying 19 rat subjects, researchers used needles to create injuries in their tail bones to mimic degenerative disc disease in humans. The rats were separated into three groups and given different concentrations of CBD. The first group was given 30 nmol, the second: 60 nmol and the third: 120 nmol of CBD. Subsequently, each group was individually examined via MRI and under a microscope, to get as accurate a picture as possible of CBD’s effects.
The study concluded that although the rat subjects given 30 and 60 nmol of CBD did not show marked improvement, the subjects given 120 nmol did display reduced damage from the lesions. Throughout all fifteen days of examination, the CBD’s effects remained after showing up originally within the first 48 hours or so.
The researchers went on to explain that despite the small sample size and non-human subjects used, CBD’s lack of adverse side effects makes it a viable candidate as medical treatment for degenerative disc disorder symptoms. At present, scientists are working to understand the exact reasoning behind how CBD is so beneficial and therefore how to apply it to a course of treatment.
PAIN MANAGEMENT AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS OF DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE
CBD shows great potential when used as a pain management ingredient for “DDD.” It also has the ability to mediate some of the negative side effects of prescription medications. Opioids, which are used for acute and chronic pain management are extremely addictive and pose many greater health risks than both THC and CBD.
Individuals who suffer from severe degenerative disc disease or chronic pain often experience psychological symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Fortunately, CBD is useful to help calm anxiety. When consumed, the cannabinoid administers a pleasant physiological sedation and mental relaxation.
Some of CBD’s most oft-cited medical implications are anti-inflammatory properties. Indeed, CBD encourages natural suppression of inflammation and is a promising alternative and supplement to prescription drugs.
CBD may have potential for treating conditions like degenerative disc disease. We take a look at what is going on.