Why Bath Bombs Provide Effective Pain Relief
I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.
~ Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
In recent years the view of cannabis as a recreational drug has shifted significantly as its medical benefits have become much more apparent. Both medical research and the claims of users strongly support claims of their effectiveness in treating a whole array of medical complaints.
As cannabis is legalised in an ever-increasing number of territories cannabis-based products are becoming normalised and consumers are growing more aware of what is available on the marketplace. Of course, cannabis is no longer only found in cigarette form. For those who may, for any number of reasons, prefer not to smoke, there is now a huge range of cannabis-based products available, including chewing gum, tea, coffee, tinctures, vaping and topical balms.
For those thinking of using a cannabis-based product there are three points to consider: the specific ailment to be treated, which active ingredients from the cannabis plant the product uses, and the most suitable form of the product.
This article examines which products are most effective at calming stressed minds and bodies, particularly in soothing aching muscles and joints and relieving pain. It concludes that CBD products are the recommended choice for those looking for effective pain relief and demonstrates how CBD may become even more powerful when combined with warm water..
Choosing a CBD-Infused Product
There are two compounds, naturally occurring in cannabis plants that are extracted to manufacture medicinal products, namely cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The proportion of each of these compounds found in plants varies across different cannabis strains. Strains which contain less than 0.3 percent THC are known as hemp, while strains with a higher proportion of THC (sometimes up to 20%) are referred to as marijuana plants.
For cannabis users the relative levels of THC and CBD is crucial. Both chemicals interact with the endocannabinoid system which regulates many of the body’s major functions, such as memory, sleep, pain and appetite. However, this interaction occurs in very different ways.
Biologically speaking, the reason for this difference is that while both CBD and THC are able to attach to CB2 receptors, only THC can attach effectively to CB1 receptors. This is important as CB1 receptors are found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are located outside the central nervous system.
The most obvious consequence of this is that THC produces psychoactive effects on the user, in other words, it causes them to get ‘high’. A basic distinction between THC and CBD is, therefore, that although both can have medicinal applications, as only THC produces feelings of euphoria, it tends to be used more recreationally.
These are still early days in the use of cannabis and medical research takes time. Clearly, further research is necessary in order to properly determine the medical advantages of using CBD and THC. As both compounds attach to CB2 receptors they may be used to treat many of the same conditions, and both are significant compounds in fighting pain, nausea and anxiety. In addition, THC may be better suited to treating eating disorders (it is THC that give users ‘the munchies’), glaucoma and muscle spasticity. In comparison, CBD can help combat inflammation (including inflammatory bowel disorders), depression, migraines and seizures. Research has found CBD to be especially effective in treating pain. Although further research is required, a review of studies conducted in 2018 concluded that “the evidence from current research supports the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain in adults.” This concurs with claims from producers and users who claim CBD-infused products are well-suited to helping with pain management, especially for people suffering with chronic pain, such as back pain.
A further important distinction is that THC has been found to have a number of side-effects, which include an increased heart rate and coordination problems, memory loss and slower reactions. CBD, by contrast, has no reported side-effects.
An Attractive Alternative to Painkillers
Whilst considering side-effects, it is important to recognise that one of the biggest advantages to CBD-infused products is that they offer an attractive alternative to commonly used painkillers. For many afflicted by chronic pain the only choice has been to rely on medications, such as opioids, that not only cause serious side-effects but can be habit-forming.
While there are currently no clinical studies comparing the efficacy of CBD and opioids, there is a large and growing body of anecdotal evidence reported by those who have switched from opioids. Of course, this carries no scientific weight but it is clear there is an increasing trend towards using CBD to manage pain.
The Best Way to Apply CBD
As has been mentioned CBD products come in many different forms. While smoking remains a valid method of ingesting CBD into the system, it is only one of many possible methods and may not be the most convenient or appealing.
For those using CBD to fight chronic muscle or joint pain it is perhaps intuitive to want to apply directly to the problem area. In fact, the topical application of CBD in the form of creams or lotions is supported by recent research. A 2016 study concludes “that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.” This echoes the findings of a 2014 study that also found that when applied topically, CBD has “lipostatic, antiproliferative, and antiinflammatory effects”
However, there may be another form of CBD to compliment the use of topical balms.
Why Hot Bath Work and Bath Salts Might Do
The oldest form of treatment for painful muscles and joints is a hot bath. Hot baths combine both heat and hydrotherapy to produce beneficial biological effects. The buoyancy of water relaxes the muscles and joints. Submerging yourself in a hot tub raises the temperature inside damaged muscles. What this actually does is simulate the conditions of a mild, temporary fever. Scientists do not fully understand the effects of creating this artificial fever (funding for research into hot baths is limited) but it is speculated that this state allows pain to be managed.
For hundreds of years aches and pains have been eased by a soak in the tub with warm water and Epsom salt. Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfate and many believe they have a therapeutic effect on the body and can soothe areas of the body affected by pain. It is also assumed that these chemicals were somehow absorbed through the skin and into the muscles.
Unfortunately, skin is actually waterproof (the reason we are not constantly losing all our fluids) and so medical science shrugged and ignored the practice of using bath salts. However, in 2006, Rosemary Waring, a biochemist at the University of Birmingham, tested whether subjects had higher levels of magnesium in their blood after bathing with Epsom salt. And they did. How this happens and whether absorption is aided by the hot water is unclear.
From this we might reasonably start to wonder whether we could use the beneficial hot bath treatment but replace the magnesium and sulfate of Epsom salts with CBD. We are not the first to pursue this idea, the Internet abounds with evidence of doing just this with obvious success. Users of CBD bath bombs report that soaking in a warm bath enables them to get a good night’s sleep which any number of prescription drugs had failed to achieve. Soaking in CBD bath salts several times has helped people become pain-free for the first time in years. And that this treatment succeeded where numerous opiate based pain relievers and various narcotic muscle spasm medications had previously failed.
Using a CBD bath bomb is a great way to relax tired muscles and joints and can be made an effective part of your overall pain management. Look for a bath bomb that is kind to your skin with natural ingredients and essential oils. Toke N’ Soak Bath Bombs allow you to choose a bath bomb with 50 mg CBD, 25 mg THC or one with 25 mg CBD and THC.