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CBD Oil for Pain: Does it Help?

Pain can be one of the most debilitating things a person experiences, destroying their ability to focus, function, and even sometimes move. But with many prescription painkillers often inducing similar effects and worse (whether narcotics or opioids), a growing number of pain sufferers have been turning to CBD for pain relief.

Types of Pain

Researchers have identified several different types of pain:

Regardless of the pain type, pain is ultimately felt because of a series of interactions between receptors throughout the body that send pain signals to the brain.

Some people report feeling no pain at all immediately following a serious injury. This is because the body often goes into a state of shock in those instances, delaying the pain signals from being sent to the brain 5 Pain: Hope Through Research Pain: Hope Through Research | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2020). Retrieved 31 December 2020, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Pain-Hope-Through-Research .

Woman experiencing lower back pain caused by Sciatica

Does CBD for Pain Work?

A growing body of research suggests using CBD for pain relief could be a viable option for many pain sufferers. In fact, a 2018 review of several studies conducted over 40 years concluded that CBD shows promise as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory while also helping to regulate the perception of pain 6 Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. (2018). Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1259. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.01259 Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. .

So, the real question then becomes, how does CBD fair against specific types of pain?

CBD for Neuropathic Pain

The use of CBD for neuropathic pain has been studied perhaps more than any other type of pain—and the results have been very positive 6 Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. (2018). Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1259. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.01259 Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. . Several animal studies have found CB1 and CB2 receptors to be involved in regulating and diminishing neuropathic pain 7 Interferon-gamma is a critical modulator of CB(2) cannabinoid receptor signaling during neuropathic pain. Racz, I., Nadal, X., Alferink, J., Baños, J. E., Rehnelt, J., Martín, M., Pintado, B., Gutierrez-Adan, A., Sanguino, E., Bellora, N., Manzanares, J., Zimmer, A., & Maldonado, R. (2008). Interferon-gamma is a critical modulator of CB(2) cannabinoid receptor signaling during neuropathic pain. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 28(46), 12136–12145. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3402-08.2008 Racz, I., Nadal, X., Alferink, J., Baños, J. E., Rehnelt, J., Martín, M., Pintado, B., Gutierrez-Adan, A., Sanguino, E., Bellora, N., Manzanares, J., Zimmer, A., & Maldonado, R . CBD has further been shown to be especially useful in treating chronic neuropathic pain 8 Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121–1134. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20120242 Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. . And even the topical application of CBD products has been found to result in a significant reduction of neuropathic pain 9 The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390–402. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389201020666191202111534 Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y .

CBD for Chronic Pain Relief

As with neuropathic pain, a collection of studies suggest CBD could be a beneficial treatment option. In fact, many of the studies link neuropathic pain and chronic pain together, as the two often go hand in hand 8 Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121–1134. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20120242 Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. .

What is worth noting is that while current research points to a great deal of potential for CBD in treating these types of hard-to-treat pain, most of the studies we have are still lacking. Many are animal studies, without equivalent human studies replicating the same results. And the human studies we do have often involve small sample sizes, rely on study participant reports, and aren’t conducted in a double-blind matter.

This is, unfortunately, true of all CBD for pain research. That information doesn’t mean the results don’t matter, or that CBD can’t help relieve pain for those experiencing it, but it suggests further research is needed before coming to any definitive conclusions.

For this reason, most studies on CBD for pain note that additional research in this area is needed.

CBD for Arthritis Pain Relief

There have been several studies into the use of CBD for arthritis over the years. A 2014 review of the existing animal research studies found CBD to have potential in treating osteoarthritis 10 Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain La Porta C, Bura SA, Negrete R, Maldonado R. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. Eur J Neurosci. 2014 Feb;39(3):485-500. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12468. PMID: 24494687. La Porta C, Bura SA, Negrete R, Maldonado R. . In 2016, researchers concluded that CBD products applied topically could help reduce arthritis-induced pain and inflammation 11 Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818 Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. . And a 2017 study produced similar results in rats with osteoarthritis 12 Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis Philpott, H. T., OʼBrien, M., & McDougall, J. J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052 Philpott, H. T., OʼBrien, M., & McDougall, J. J. .

Unfortunately, these studies all contain the same limitations as other CBD for pain research. This is why the Arthritis Foundation provides a very neutral statement on the issue, noting that further research needs to be done before doctors can recommend CBD products for arthritis pain, but that “anecdotally, some people with arthritis who have tried CBD, but not all, report noticeable pain relief, sleep improvement and/or anxiety reduction.”

CBD for Cancer Treatment Relief

Chemotherapy and radiation can both be life-saving treatments, but they also come with an array of unpleasant side effects, from nausea to intense pain. While there are currently two THC drugs that have been approved by the FDA for helping to ease those symptoms, CBD hasn’t yet received similar approval. This is likely because there is more research into THC’s benefits for cancer treatment relief than CBD 13 Cannabinoids in cancer treatment: Therapeutic potential and legislation. Dariš, B., Tancer Verboten, M., Knez, Ž., & Ferk, P. (2019). Cannabinoids in cancer treatment: Therapeutic potential and legislation. Bosnian journal of basic medical sciences, 19(1), 14–23. https://doi.org/10.17305/bjbms.2018.3532 Dariš, B., Tancer Verboten, M., Knez, Ž., & Ferk, P. .

That said, the research we have on CBD for neuropathic pain and the regulation of nausea and vomiting suggests it could potentially prove beneficial for those suffering from cancer treatment-related side effects 6 Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. (2018). Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1259. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.01259 Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. 14 Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411–1422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. .

CBD for Migraine Pain Relief

There is currently no research into CBD used on its own to treat migraine pain, but there is research into a combination of CBD and THC therapy for migraine relief. One such study included 48 chronic migraine patients who were each given two tinctures—one with 19 percent THC and the other with 9 percent CBD. Those patients who received doses lower than 100mg reported no difference in pain symptoms, but those receiving 200mg reported a 55 percent reduction in acute pain.

A second phase of the study compared the THC/CBD combination to other, more traditional treatment options. In this case, migraine sufferers on the THC/CBD combination reported a similar number of migraine attacks as those receiving other medications, but a 43.5 percent reduction in the intensity of those attacks 15 Congress Review EMJ Neurol. 2017;5[1]:12-29. Congress Review. EMJ Neurol .

While this study’s results are promising, scientific data on the potential for CBD alone to treat migraines is still lacking.

How CBD Works to Help Ease Pain

Most researchers attribute CBD’s potential pain-relieving qualities to its anti-inflammatory properties as well as how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how that system interacts with pain receptors 16 Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93 Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. 17 Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Manzanares, J., Julian, M., & Carrascosa, A. (2006). Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Current neuropharmacology, 4(3), 239–257. https://doi.org/10.2174/157015906778019527 Manzanares, J., Julian, M., & Carrascosa, A. . Of course, as with all things CBD research, there is still a great deal we don’t know or fully understand. The discovery of the ECS happened less than 30 years ago, and research into how that system works and what it controls remains lacking 18 Getting high on the endocannabinoid system. Alger B. E. (2013). Getting high on the endocannabinoid system. Cerebrum : the Dana forum on brain science, 2013, 14. Alger B. E. .

For now, the one thing we do know is that CBD has a relatively high safety profile, especially compared to other, more traditionally prescribed pain-management treatments 19 Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090 Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. . Meaning most chronic pain sufferers have very little to lose in giving it a try.

How to Use CBD For Pain

If you want to try treating your pain with CBD, you might be wondering what the best CBD for pain may be. From vaping to edibles, there are various products available that will allow you to consume CBD in the way that feels most comfortable for you.

CBD gummies for pain can be a great initial option as they are very precisely dose-controlled, are typically quite tasty, and can be taken discreetly in almost any setting.

CBD oil is another great way to start, as you can easily control your dosage and take pure CBD oil for pain a few different ways—either swallowing your dose, putting it in food or water, or taking it sublingually under the tongue. There is no one best CBD oil for pain, but rather plenty of options to choose from.

If you’re curious about dosage or how to use CBD oil for pain, we have a chart that can help get you started—though our best advice is to begin low and slow. You can always increase your CBD dosage until you begin to feel relief.

There are also topical products you can try if the idea of consuming CBD makes you nervous, or if your pain and inflammation is localized to an area like with tendonitis. There are a lot of product lines that may brag about having the best CBD cream for pain, with CBD Medic being one that is formulated specifically for the treatment of pain, offering topicals that can be applied directly to the areas where you are experiencing pain symptoms. Myaderm CBD is another. Both of these companies focus specifically on the use of topical products, mostly for the treatment of pain.

Cautions About Taking CBD For Pain

CBD is generally safe to take, though you should always have a discussion with your doctor before adding anything new to your medication routine 19 Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090 Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. . In some cases, CBD may have negative interactions with medications you’re already on that your doctor will need to know about.

It’s also important to remember that the research on CBD for pain is still limited. If you try it and it helps, great! But don’t feel too defeated if it doesn’t. Everyone is different, and we are still learning so much about how different cannabinoids interact with the body. Keep talking to your doctors and keep looking for new research and options that may provide relief.

You deserve to live a pain-free life.

CBD for Pain FAQs

Is CBD or hemp oil better for pain?

Both hemp and CBD are derived from the cannabis plant, and both have shown promising health benefits. But when it comes to the research we have so far, we know more about the potential for CBD to treat pain than we do Hemp oil.

How long does it take CBD oil to work for pain relief?

The length of time it takes to experience CBD benefits on pain relief can vary based on the type of product you are using and the kind of pain you are trying to treat. Some people report feeling relief within an hour of ingesting CBD oil drops, while others will tell you it took them a few weeks of continuous use before they began to feel relief. Because the research is so limited in this area, you may have to experiment for yourself to see how long it takes for CBD to provide you relief.

Does CBD cream work for pain?

Several studies suggest the topical application of CBD cream for pain can provide relief 9 The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390–402. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389201020666191202111534 Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y 11 Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818 Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. .

What is the best CBD ratio for pain?

Because research into the use of CBD for the treatment of pain is so limited, and because of the variety of factors that can impact individual dosages, you may have to determine for yourself what the best CBD ratio for pain may be. Similarly, the duration CBD relief lasts may vary from person to person. Our dosage chart can help you get started as you experiment with finding the right dosage and timing for you.

What is the best CBD dosage for pain?

In the same vein, there is no one correct dosage of CBD for the treatment of pain. Individuals should experiment with dosing, starting low and slow, to find the dosage that provides the greatest level of relief for them.

Sources
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  7. Racz, I., Nadal, X., Alferink, J., Baños, J. E., Rehnelt, J., Martín, M., Pintado, B., Gutierrez-Adan, A., Sanguino, E., Bellora, N., Manzanares, J., Zimmer, A., & Maldonado, R. (2008). Interferon-gamma is a critical modulator of CB(2) cannabinoid receptor signaling during neuropathic pain. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 28(46), 12136–12145. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3402-08.2008
  8. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121–1134. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20120242
  9. Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390–402. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389201020666191202111534
  10. La Porta C, Bura SA, Negrete R, Maldonado R. Involvement of the endocannabinoid system in osteoarthritis pain. Eur J Neurosci. 2014 Feb;39(3):485-500. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12468. PMID: 24494687.
  11. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818
  12. Philpott, H. T., OʼBrien, M., & McDougall, J. J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
  13. Dariš, B., Tancer Verboten, M., Knez, Ž., & Ferk, P. (2019). Cannabinoids in cancer treatment: Therapeutic potential and legislation. Bosnian journal of basic medical sciences, 19(1), 14–23. https://doi.org/10.17305/bjbms.2018.3532
  14. Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411–1422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x
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  19. Larsen, C., & Shahinas, J. (2020). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(3), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4090

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