According to research and anecdotal evidence, it appears that CBD can help alleviate pain. But as always, we’d want to see more research done on how CBD can help with pain.
Still, that hasn’t stopped people from turning to CBD for pain relief.
People have actually used the cannabis plant to treat pain for years. But in the last couple of years, CBD products have been especially popular for pain.
The FDA hasn’t yet approved any CBD products for pain. And there haven’t yet been enough human studies to verify its pain-relieving effects. But that doesn’t speak to its efficacy or safety; just the fact that CBD was a Schedule 1 substance up until 2018.
The evidence that is available – both anecdotal and clinical – is quite promising!
How CBD helps with pain
Before we get into how CBD helps with pain, it’s important to understand what exactly CBD is. If you’re a cannabis connoisseur, bear with us while we break it down. There are a lot of common misconceptions that CBD and marijuana is the same thing.
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a type of cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds found in marijuana and hemp plants. Unlike THC – the cannabinoid responsible for the high associated with weed – CBD doesn’t produce psychoactive effects.
Researchers are still trying to understand all the ways which CBD helps with pain.
Originally, cannabinoids were assumed to relieve pain by activating certain receptors in the body. Most notably the CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and CB2 found mostly in the cells related to immune function.
Further research has found that cannabinoids actually act on multiple pain targets and may also provide pain-relief through anti-inflammatory action.
Product Review: CBDMEDIC Arthritis Aches and Pain Relief Cream
Does CBD Help with Pain? Here’s What the Research Says
A 2018 review of studies conducted between 1975 and 2018 found that CBD to be effective for pain management. It seemed to help various types of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia, cancer pain, and neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic pain is caused by disease or injury to the nervous system. It is one of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat, along with inflammatory pain. Some research has found that CBD and a CBD/THC combo are effective in treating both types.
In 2005, Sativex®, was approved in Canada for the treatment of central neuropathic pain in people with multiple sclerosis. It was also approved for treating intractable cancer pain in 2007.
A 2015 animal study also found CBD applied topically was effective in treating pain caused by arthritis.
CBD may also help with other issues that often go hand-in-hand with chronic pain, like trouble sleeping and anxiety.
Product Review: Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts
How to use CBD for pain
Since CBD products are still relatively new and unregulated, there are no hard and fast rules or guidelines for dosing.
Everyone is different and several factors play into how CBD affects you, including:
- your body composition
- your BMI
- the concentration of CBD in the product
- how you take it
- the type of pain you’re having
- your overall state of health
A good rule of thumb when it comes to dosing is to start low and go slow. This means starting with the lowest dose and using it for at least a week before increasing it.
Things to keep in mind when using CBD for pain
Here are some things to keep in mind when using CBD to treat pain.
Product Review: Joy Organics CBD Sports Cream
Some routes of administration work faster than others
How quickly your CBD kicks in depends on how you take it.
Edibles, pills, and capsules provide a slower extended release. They need to go through your digestive system before entering the bloodstream, so they take effect more slowly. A tincture or spray used sublingually (under your tongue) provides a faster onset because it’s absorbed into the bloodstream faster.
Vaping also produces effects faster, but isn’t as safe as other methods of delivery. Vaping in general has been linked to serious lung damage and infections. You’ll definitely want to keep that in mind, especially if you have a preexisting lung condition, like asthma.
Also Read: Does CBD have to taste like “weed” to work?
You need to give it time to work before taking more
Other things can impact absorption of CBD. Factors to consider are body composition and size, other medications and supplements you may be taking, and how much food is in your belly.
Give your CBD ample time to work before taking more. Not that taking more is likely to have any serious effects. But it can result in some unpleasant side effects for some people, like an upset stomach and diarrhea.
Also Read: Can I bring CBD Oil on a plane?
Some products will tell you that you should can feel relief in a matter of minutes or hours. But that’s not usually the case. CBD tends to takes days and even weeks to work. This is why clinical trials and studies are done over a matter of three+ weeks instead of just one day.
According to our Dr. Neil Shah: “The reason we need to give CBD time to work is due to some slower changes that aren’t quite known (possibly due to changes in receptor densities of cell membranes). As a result, even if someone doesn’t get pain relief the first or second time they use the product, they should keep using it. I tell my patients to use a product everyday for 20 days minimum before they judge it but there’s no standard amount of time.”
A standard dose differs between products
You’ll definitely want to read the label and find out what constitutes a standard dose. Remember, not all products are the same and some will require smaller or larger doses.
For example, a gummy typically contains around 5 mg per gummy. But a drop of CBD oil usually contains less than 1 mg.
CBD is generally safe, but may not be for everyone
CBD is generally considered safe, but there have been some reports of side effects. That said, it’s not recommended for some people.
Since the risks aren’t understood yet, CBD is not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Plus, some CBD products may contain THC. THC can cause birth defects, low birth weight, and premature birth and stillbirth, according to the FDA.
CBD is also known to interact with certain medications, including blood thinners like Coumadin. Speak to your doctor before using CBD if you’re currently taking other medications.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance health and lifestyle writer that has written for Healthline, Medical News Today and Verily Magazine just to name a few.