There are over 310 million surgeries that are performed worldwide in the course of a single year; the US alone is responsible for 40-50 million of those while Europe performs 20 million. Surgeons can perform anywhere from 2-8 surgeries in a day, meaning that on any given day, there are millions of people battling post-surgery pains. While prescription drugs and pharmaceutical products are prescribed for certain discomfort thresholds, some patients may be wary of taking them for a variety of reasons: possible addictions, high discomfort tolerances, ineffectiveness, allergies to certain ingredients, and many others.
If you’re feeling skeptical or intimidated by prescription opioids and other pain-reducing medicine, you may be seeking an alternative that can help. That alternative comes in the form of cannabidiol, or CBD for short. This hemp-derived cannabinoid has proven to be effective in battling many physical and mental ailments, but is especially useful in dealing with pain. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the ways that CBD can help with surgery recovery. But before we get to that, it’s important to understand what CBD is and how it works naturally within your body.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of the many cannabinoids found naturally within the hemp plant. The cannabinoid is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high and you won’t feel any mind-altering effects. In 2018, the Agricultural Act allowed for the sale and consumption of hemp products, provided that they contain a THC content of 0.3% or less. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for getting the user “high.” Since CBD has such low quantities, you can harness the plethora of benefits from the hemp plant without feeling the intoxicating effects.
There are three main types of CBD: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. Full spectrum CBD utilizes the whole part of the hemp plant, meaning all the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes are utilized in the crafting of that CBD product. Broad spectrum is similar, but has had nearly all THC removed, though some traces may still remain. Isolate is the purest form of CBD, as it is only cannabidiol and absolutely no THC remains. There are no shortage of brands and products available that use all three types of CBD, ranging from topicals, edibles (gummies and softgels), sublinguals (tinctures and oils) and inhalables (CBD vape juice, pre-rolls, and flower).
Regardless of the product type you decide to use, you should always make sure premium ingredients were used and that the product has been tested by third-party independent labs for purity and potency. Now that you have a better understanding of what CBD is, let’s see how it works in regards to surgery recovery.
Is There Research To Prove CBD Works?
Absolutely! According to research done by the Transplantation Proceedings, CBD was proven to help with discomfort after a major kidney transplant operation. Another study conducted in 2019 showed that CBD was as effective as antibiotics in regards to healing after a major operation. However, medical professionals warn that CBD should not be taken with other prescription medicine or OTC (over the counter) medicine, as there may be negative interactions between the plant-based cannabinoid and prescribed medication. More research is needed to fully understand all the pros and cons of using CBD for surgery recovery, but the research that is currently available shows encouraging results when dealing with overall discomfort, particularly post surgery.
But Is CBD Effective for Surgery Recovery?
When it comes to dealing with the severe discomfort and trauma following both major and minor surgeries, doctors typically prescribe a laundry list of painkillers. This can include opioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs for short), OTC medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and a variety of analgesics. These prescribed drugs are intended for short-term relief, but can have detrimental side effects that may be cause for concern.
NSAIDs have a long history of potentially causing stomach discomfort (including ulcers and gas), diarrhea, constipation, bloatedness, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. Opioids, as you may know, can lead to addiction or increased dosages as your body builds up a tolerance. Other lesser known side effects can include drowsiness, impaired cognitive functions, urinary issues, constipation, nause, vomiting, and even respiratory impairment. While both these pharmaceutical types can be viewed as a necessary evil, there may be another alternative.
CBD has an excellent track record of helping users deal with moderate discomfort throughout your body and is not considered to be addictive. The plant-derived cannabinoid has enjoyed great success in reducing inflammation. Short-term inflammation can be brought on through injuries, which if not treated properly can result in hyperalgesia (heightened sensitivity to pain) and nerve damage. There have been several studies that prove that CBD is effective in reducing several side effects brought on by surgery and may be an effective solution during your recovery time. Let’s take a look at some of these side effects and why CBD may help reduce or eliminate these occurrences.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are two major side effects that occur during surgery recovery, which is something that CBD has proven effective in dealing with. The British Journal of Pharmacology published a study outlining their research on this particular topic, while another study concluded that these two side effects, when brought on after rounds of chemotherapy radiation, were substantially reduced in the consumption of CBD.
CBD is not intended to be used as a painkiller, but it has been proven to help users manage both acute and chronic discomfort. This is due to the hemp-derived compound containing anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Since post-surgery recovery patients feel severe discomfort as their body heals, it can be troubling to depend solely on strong narcotics and opioids during that recovery period. CBD works naturally with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system and the central nervous system to lessen the strength and frequency of intense discomfort signals, thus allowing for a smoother recovery.
One of the most difficult things to achieve after surgery is a good night’s rest. This can be due to an overactive mind, racing thoughts, inability to relax, uneasiness or stress, and many others. A 2019 study found that CBD was quite successful in helping users decrease their uneasiness and relax enough to finally fall asleep. Not only did it help the user fall asleep, but the overall quality of REM sleep and restful hours gained was increased in subjects who used CBD. Another study in 2017 proposed that CBD was effective in dealing with insomnia, nightmares, and restless movements during various sleep stages.
How Much CBD Should You Take?
CBD differs drastically from prescription and OTC medication in that there is no standard dosage. Many CBD brands and manufacturers will list a suggested dosage, but this is merely to help new users know where to start. The efficacy of CBD depends solely on the individual, but works best when consumed over long periods of time. Your age, weight, metabolism, previous exposure to THC, and other factors will dictate whether the recommended dosage is effective and can help you understand whether to increase or lower the amount consumed. First time users are recommended to start off with 10-15mg, while more experienced users can start off between 15-30mg. The recommended dosage should be consistently consumed over the course of at least two weeks before any changes are made to the regiment. It’s also important to note any changes, improvements, or lack thereof.
While no cases of overdosing on CBD have been documented and the potential for addiction is nearly non-existent (in both animals and humans), there are some negative side effects if too much CBD is consumed. You may notice drowsiness, dry mouth, increased appetite, and diarrhea. Always consult your primary care physician before embarking on a CBD regiment, as it may negatively react with any medication you may be prescribed before, during, or after your surgery. CBD is not intended to replace any prescription, nor should it be viewed as a magic cure-all.
Certain products contain higher absorption rates (known as bioavailability) than others. Sublinguals like oils and tinctures retain about 35% of their CBD amount with the effects lasting up to 6 hours, whereas vapes can reach 46% but the effects may fade after 3 hours. Gummies and softgels (categorized as edibles) must be processed by your digestive system, meaning that much of the CBD will be destroyed as they are digested.
CBD has been praised for its benefits for centuries but its specific uses continue to be discovered and researched for accuracy. While not intended to replace prescription medicine, CBD may aid in surgery recovery in terms of nausea, vomiting, discomfort, and sleep issues. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties can help reduce the severity and recurrence of these side effects and is not considered to be addictive. There is no standard dosage across the board, but users should be patient and observant as the hemp-derived cannabinoid is consumed.
Last but not least, you should always conduct your research prior to purchasing any CBD product. The market is overflowing with enticing products with prices that might sound too good to be true. It is crucial that you check for the use of premium ingredients and the presence of third-party lab test results before completing your purchase. Always consult your doctor before starting a CBD product for the first time and consider asking your doctor if there is a specific product recommended for your unique situation.