CBD oil and pain
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- How might CBD oil help with pain management?
- The studies
- Patient perspectives
- What the experts say
- Bottom line
Pain affects more Americans than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined, according to one scholarly survey published in the “Journal of Pain”, about one-third of people who report pain experience their pain as disabling, severely impacting their daily lives.
For those living with chronic or acute pain, finding a safe, effective method of managing it is a key concern. Commonly used painkillers include acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids. However, many of these medications carry side effects or lead to dependency stemming from long-term use.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is currently gaining traction as an alternative form of pain relief. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is currently gaining traction as an alternative form of pain relief. It is thought that CBD may work to alleviate pain by reducing inflammation in the body.
How might CBD oil help with pain management?
CBD is believed to help reduce pain in several ways. It stimulates the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is partly responsible for mood, memory, and how pain is experienced. A 2004 study published in the “British Journal of Pharmacology” reported that CBD relieved pain in rat subjects apparently through the TRPV1 receptors, which control functions such as inflammation, body temperature, and awareness of pain.
CBD has also been shown to inhibit glutamate levels in the brain and spinal cord of mice, which can be associated with increased sensations and transmission of pain. In human clinical trials, CBD has been shown to enhance anandamide signaling in the brain. Anandamide is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” and healthy levels of it are linked to feelings of well-being and happiness.
CBD oil is also rumored to help promote sounder sleep, which is helpful for those whose sleep patterns are disrupted by chronic pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Through modulation of the endocannabinoid system, the body is brought back into a state of homeostasis or balance. CBD oil is also rumored to help promote sounder sleep, which is helpful for those whose sleep patterns are disrupted by chronic pain. However, the studies on CBD as a sleep aid have produced mixed results. .
Research into the therapeutic potential of CBD for pain relief is increasing. However, many of the studies into CBD thus far have been conducted in non-human animals.
Studies have documented CBD oil as a potentially effective treatment for chronic pain conditions that are challenging to treat, such as neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis (MS), and intractable cancer pain. Although CBD appears effective in alleviating neuropathic pain caused by conditions such as cancer or stroke, there are many different types of neuropathy, and more research is needed.
A 2013 research paper published in the “British Journal of Pharmacology” found that CBD extract seemed to alleviate severe neuropathic pain induced by chemotherapy in cancer patients. CBD may also help suppress inflammatory pain, which causes muscle cramps and headaches.
Topical application of CBD may be more effective than oral ingestion in cases where inflammation or pain is specific to one area, such as arthritis or muscular pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
In a study performed on rats and published in 2016 in the “European Journal of Pain,” researchers found that CBD had limited oral bioavailability. Topical application of CBD may be more effective than oral ingestion in cases where inflammation or pain is specific to one area, such as arthritis or muscular pain.
Samantha Tucker was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle crash in 2010 that resulted in the amputation of her left arm from the elbow down. Her path to recovery was long, and in some ways, rendered more challenging after she took up archery following the accident.
She trained hard to win a place in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, but the wear and tear of training and overuse of her shoulders and right arm and hand lead to aches, pains, and inflammation.
“When you’re in pain, you’re never able to perform at your peak ability and you’re always living ‘less than’, said Tucker. “I only have one life and it’s not going to be a ‘less than’ life.”
Hesitant to take pharmaceutical prescriptions as she feared they may impinge on cognitive function, she sought an alternative. “I use Kannaway’s Gold Oral Applicator every morning and Kannaway’s Premium Full Spectrum Oral Applicator every evening,” she shared with Weedmaps News.
“In addition to a reduction in daily aches I experience as I’m training for my first triathlon, I notice a lot less inflammation than I would normally have while exercising and training and an easier time bouncing back after a hard workout.”
Tucker also observed that her sleep quality has improved since taking CBD oil. “CBD is a natural way for me to achieve high performance and attain the recovery time I need.”
Rachael Carlevale, founder or Ganjasana Yoga, a cannabis-centered yoga practice, had been suffering from painful uterine and fibroid tumors that caused extreme pain and bleeding. In a bid to find a natural method of relieving the pain, she began using full-spectrum USDA-certified organic CBD oil.
“In utilizing the CBD oil, I was able to relieve my pain and shrink the tumors. I had surgery, and rather than take the prescribed fentanyl, I used CBD (and THC oil) to heal. I continue to take the oil daily for prevention,” she explained to Weedmaps News.
“I also want to note that not all CBD oil helped, and that it was only organically grown cannabis, made via solventless methods that truly brought relief to my suffering.” Carlevale pointed out that there is an abundance of products on the market that contain carcinogenic ingredients such as propylene glycol, and she avoided using these products.
What the experts say
Stasia Woodcock is a pharmacist with Curaleaf New York who specifically endorses CBD oil as a form of pain relief for conditions that cause inflammation or nerve pain.
“The current research shows that CBD is a very potent anti-inflammatory agent, which can help decrease pain where inflammation is a key factor, such as arthritis or colitis,” Woodcock explained. “CBD has also been studied in the prevention and treatment of neuropathy, or nerve pain.”
The current research shows that CBD is a very potent anti-inflammatory agent, which can help decrease pain where inflammation is a key factor. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Woodcock also emphasized that CBD is unique because it assists with an array of symptoms associated with pain. “CBD is a huge multitasker. Whereas most medications typically work on only one symptom, CBD can help with multiple facets of pain, including inflammation and the anxiety constant pain can cause, in addition to the pain itself.”
She points out, however, that severe pain, such as the pain associated with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, or musculoskeletal pain such as severe back pain, benefits from the entourage effect of CBD in conjunction with THC. “The research also indicates that higher doses of CBD (between 100-200 mg per day) are often needed when CBD is used without THC to bolster its effects.”
Woodcock underlines that, thus far, there is no clinical evidence that CBD causes any serious side effects. “It doesn’t cause stomach issues, itching, or constipation the way anti-inflammatories and opioids can. When a medical cannabis product is dosed properly, it can provide powerful pain relief without any [intoxication], which is not typically the case with opioids.”
Lastly, Woodcock cautions that verifying the source and potency of CBD oil is critical. “Medical cannabis products are highly regulated and tested, whereas hemp CBD products are not required to be regulated,” she said. Buyers should be aware that many hemp products might not contain what they promise, and may even include harmful substances in their formulation. Buying third-party tested products can help ensure you receive the CBD you are paying for.
Those who suffer from inflammatory or neuropathic pain may find CBD oil helpful in alleviating pain and treating associated symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
CBD oil and pain Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents How might CBD oil help with pain management? The studies Patient perspectives What
Using CBD Oil for Pain Management: Does It Work?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid, a chemical found naturally in cannabis (marijuana and hemp) plants. CBD doesn’t cause the “high” feeling often associated with cannabis. That feeling is caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a different type of cannabinoid.
Some people with chronic pain use topical CBD products, in particular CBD oil, to manage their symptoms. CBD oil may reduce:
- overall discomfort related to a variety of health conditions
The research on CBD products and pain management has been promising.
CBD can offer an alternative for people who have chronic pain and rely on medications, such as opioids, that can be habit-forming and cause more side effects. However, more research is needed to verify the pain-relieving benefits of CBD oil and other products.
Epidiolex, a drug prescribed for epilepsy, is the only CBD product on the market that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved.
There aren’t any FDA-approved, nonprescription CBD products. They aren’t regulated for purity and dosage like other medications.
Keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits of CBD use for pain. You can also talk with your doctor to see if it’s an option for your condition.
Everyone has a cell-signaling system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Some researchers think that CBD interacts with a core component of the ECS — endocannabinoid receptors in your brain and immune system.
Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells. They receive signals, mostly chemical ones, from different stimuli and help your cells respond.
This response creates anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects that help with pain management. This means that CBD oil and other products may benefit people with chronic pain, such as chronic back pain.
One 2018 review assessed how well CBD works to relieve chronic pain. The review looked at studies conducted between 1975 and March 2018. These studies examined various types of pain, including:
Based on these studies, researchers concluded that CBD was effective in overall pain management and didn’t cause negative side effects.
A 2016 study looked at CBD use in rats with arthritis.
Researchers applied CBD gel to rats for four days in a row. The rats received either 0.6, 3.1, 6.2, or 62.3 milligrams (mg) per day. The researchers noted reduced inflammation and overall pain in the rats’ affected joints. There were no obvious side effects.
Rats who received low doses of 0.6 or 3.1 mg didn’t improve their pain scores. The researchers found that 6.2 mg/day was a high enough dose to reduce the rats’ pain and swelling.
In addition, rats who received 62.3 mg/day had similar outcomes to the rats that received 6.2 mg/day. Receiving a substantially larger dosage didn’t result in them having less pain.
The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of CBD gel could potentially help people with arthritis. However, more human studies are needed.
Some people with cancer also use CBD. Research on mice has shown that CBD can lead to the shrinking of cancerous tumors. However, most studies in humans have investigated the role of CBD in managing pain related to cancer and cancer treatment.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has pointed to CBD as a possible option for reducing chemotherapy side effects, such as:
- lack of appetite
In a 2010 study on cancer-related pain, study subjects received oral sprays of a combination THC-CBD extract. The THC-CBD extract was used in conjunction with opioids. This study revealed that using the extract provided more effective pain relief than using the opioids alone.
A 2013 study on THC and THC-CBD oral sprays had a similar finding. Many researchers from the 2010 study worked on this study as well. More evidence is still needed.
Studies on CBD and migraine are limited. The studies that currently exist also look at CBD when it’s paired with THC, not when it’s used alone.
However, results from a 2017 study indicate that CBD and THC can lead to less acute pain and less intense pain for people with migraine.
In this two-phase study, some participants took a combination of two compounds. One compound contained 9 percent CBD and almost no THC. The other compound contained 19 percent THC. Doses were taken orally.
In phase I, there was no effect on pain when the doses were under 100 mg. When the doses were increased to 200 mg, acute pain fell by 55 percent.
In phase II, participants who received the combination of CBD and THC compounds saw the frequency of their migraine attacks fall by 40.4 percent. The daily dose was 200 mg.
The combination of compounds was slightly more effective than 25 mg of amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant. Amitriptyline reduced migraine attacks by 40.1 percent in study participants.
Participants with cluster headaches also found pain relief with the combination of CBD and THC compounds, but only if they’d had a childhood history of migraine.
CBD doesn’t pose significant risks for users, and most topical CBD products don’t enter the bloodstream.
However, certain side effects are possible, such as:
- changes in appetite
- changes in weight
- certain over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
- prescription medications
- dietary supplements
Proceed with caution if any of your medications or supplements contain a “grapefruit warning.” Grapefruit and CBD both interfere with enzymes that are crucial to drug metabolism.
Like other drugs and supplements, CBD may also increase your risk of liver toxicity.
One study on mice concluded that CBD-rich cannabis extract increased their risk of liver toxicity. However, some of the mice had been force-fed very large amounts of the CBD-rich cannabis extract.
While there isn’t conclusive data to support CBD or CBD oil as the preferred method of pain management, researchers agree that these types of products have a lot of potential.
CBD products might be able to offer relief for many people who have chronic pain, all without causing drug intoxication and dependence.
If you’re interested in trying CBD for chronic pain, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine a starting dosage that’s right for you.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, made from cannabis, is sometimes used for chronic pain. We’ll review the research on whether CBD oil is effective.