7 Benefits of CBD for Pain Management
Move over, coconut oil: It’s time to share the spotlight with CBD. Now that CBD products are legal in states across the nation, you may have noticed how quickly acceptance of this once-controversial substance has spread. Many stores proudly display signs stating they sell CBD oil or capsules, and social media is filled with testimonials detailing how CBD helps people manage everything from anxiety to chronic pain. Tools for cbd products like a pocket size wooden hemp grinder, are also displayed from a cannabis dispensary. Some medical providers even sell CBD products to patients seeking a nonsurgical approach to pain relief.
But is CBD really worth the hype?
In many situations, yes, especially if you’re looking for a natural pain management solution. We’ve compiled seven benefits of using CBD for pain management below so you can check here and decide if cannabidiol extract is right for you.
1. CBD Comes in Many Forms
Hate swallowing pills or capsules? Many people take CBD orally, but that’s not your only option. You can also try tinctures or oils, vape CBD, gobble down edibles (like gummies from Westword.com), or massage CBD-infused lotion into your skin. Let’s do a brief rundown of each method below:
CBD Pills and Capsules
Pills and capsules are typically filled with a liquid version of CBD combined with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Depending on your digestive system, you can take CBD capsules with or without food. However, there may be a delay in symptom relief, as you have to wait until your body breaks down the capsule and distributes its contents.
You can get CBD pills without a prescription, but the FDA has approved a cannabidiol prescription drug called Epidiolex for epilepsy patients.
Oils and Tinctures
People who dislike pills often appreciate the convenience of tinctures that you ingest. Simply place a drop of the tincture under your tongue and wait for pain relief.
Oils are sometimes edible, but they’re generally designed for topical use. When using CBD for pain management, apply the oil where you have aches, burning, tingling, or stiffness.
Lotions and Creams
CBD lotions and creams are made for topical use. You can massage these products directly into your skin for fast-acting pain relief as well as skin-moisturizing benefits.
Gummies and Other Edibles
CBD edibles often come in candy form. You can find gummy bears, fruit chews, caramels, and chocolate with CBD on the ingredient list. Some people make their own edibles by adding food-grade CBD oil to brownies or cookie dough.
CBD for Vaping
Vaporized CBD oil goes straight from your lungs to your bloodstream, providing fast relief from painful symptoms. Be careful, though — vaping anything, even natural CBD oil, may still damage your health.
With so many options available, from pills to vaping, it’s easy to find a way to incorporate CBD into your pain management routine. If you aren’t sure which form of CBD is right for you, experiment with a few different types to figure out which offers the most benefits.
2. Different Types of CBD Extracts Are Available
Shopping for CBD products can feel overwhelming, and many people wonder: Are all these products the same, just with different labels? The answer is no, they’re not — and we’ll explain why.
Check out the label or ingredient list on the CBD product you want to try. You may notice terms such as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. These words describe the type of CBD inside.
Let’s quickly break down each term to help you choose CBD for pain management or other purposes:
Hemp Seed Oil
Despite common misconceptions, hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil, nor does it contain any phytocannabinoids. Hemp seed oil is derived from hemp seeds during a cold-press process. Hemp can be a part of a heart-healthy diet but look for another product if you actually want CBD.
As its name suggests, CBD isolate contains CBD. However, you won’t find any other phytocannabinoids in this simple compound.
Broad-spectrum CBD products are a step up from isolates. They contain all of a plant’s phytocannabinoids, but they don’t have any THC (the drug found in marijuana associated with causing a “high”).
Full-spectrum CBD products offer numerous nutritional benefits for your body. If you buy a full-spectrum product, you’re getting something derived from the entire cannabis plant, including the parts with THC, CBC, and CBG. These are phytocannabinoids that help reduce pain signals in the brain.
Nano CBD is made from shrunken molecules that are water soluble. It’s ideal for people who need an easy-to-digest CBD product that delivers nearly immediate symptom relief.
The form of CBD you choose depends on what you plan to treat. If you want to enhance your overall well-being, choose a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product. Topical isolates may work well for patients who just want to manage pain in a specific location.
3. CBD Helps Reduce Joint Inflammation
If you’ve read some of our other blog posts, you may remember that inflammation is the culprit behind numerous symptoms and conditions we treat at Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine.
Wondering what that has to do with CBD?
Well, research indicates that CBD helps reduce inflammation in the joints, particularly when osteoarthritis is involved. The 2017 study found that not only does CBD help reduce pain, it also helps prevent nerve damage when administered via injections. Thwarting the development of nerve damage in arthritic patients may help stop the condition from worsening.
4. CBD Has Antifungal and Antibacterial Properties
If you’ve got slow-healing wounds from diabetes or other conditions, CBD may help enhance your recovery. CBD has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can speed up your recovery time and also fend off infections.
When using CBD for wounds or blisters, you may want to apply it directly to the affected area rather than ingesting it. This helps create a protective barrier around the injured skin and ensure that nutrients are distributed where they’re needed most.
5. CBD Mimics the Effects of Prescription Pain Relief Medications
Like prescription medicines, cannabis works by activating receptors in your brain. When this happens, your receptors are basically saying, “Hey body, your pain is gone!” even if an injury or ailment still exists.
CBD isn’t just a brain-receptor manipulator, though. It has anti-inflammatory properties, so it addresses symptoms directly at their source rather than just masking your pain. Yes, you may experience relief before you’re fully healed, but CBD also helps your body repair itself.
6. CBD Treats Numerous Health Conditions and Concerns
Trouble sleeping? Stressed at work? Battling back pain?
CBD can help with all of these issues. You can also use CBD for relief from arthritis pain, foot pain, scratches and scrapes, headaches, and some digestive problems. CBD may even enhance your existing pain management treatments for sciatica and other hard-to-treat conditions.
Conflicting information is available about the benefits of CBD tinctures and capsules for cancer treatment. Speak to a medical provider before you replace your current treatments with CBD products.
7. CBD Is Easily Attainable
Now that many forms of CBD are legal options for pain management, it’s easy to find the types and formulas you need. You can order CBD online, get it from a health food store, find it at medical offices, or even get it at some pharmacies — without a prescription, of course.
CBD is often affordable when compared with other options for pain management, such as prescription pain pills and surgery, and no appointment is required before you purchase CBD.
Things to Consider Before Taking CBD for Pain Management
As we’ve described above, there are numerous benefits associated with using CBD for pain management, from its anti-inflammatory properties to its widespread availability. However, CBD is not for everyone, and there is a chance that you may experience side effects when using cannabidiol extracts.
Minor side effects include:
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
Let your doctor know if you plan to combine CBD with prescription drugs, as there is a possibility for a negative interaction. CBD may interfere with your bloodstream if you take a blood thinner such as Coumadin, and it can also enhance the strength of some psychiatric medications — which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
At Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine, we understand the popularity of CBD for pain management, but we also realize cannabidiol extracts may not be an ideal choice for you. Give us a call to learn more about our other pain management services, whether you have a misaligned spine, aching knees, or activity-impacting joint pain.
Understanding CBD (Cannabidiol) for Back Pain
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a new and relatively understudied treatment for pain, including back pain. Studies suggest it may help relieve inflammation, which is often a factor in chronic back pain. 1
CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain. 2
CBD requires more research in order to prove and explain its effectiveness as well as to better understand potential side effects (especially long-term) and potential drug interactions.
What Is CBD?
CBD oil is derived from a plant called cannabis sativa. The plant has over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that have a range of effects, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) qualities.
The cannabis sativa plant has two main varieties that are grown for specific purposes:
- THC content. THC is the compound associated with the “high” feeling of marijuana use.
- Industrial (non-drug) uses. This form of the plant contains trace amounts of THC (less than .03%) and can be used to make paper, clothing, and some building material. This variation of the cannabis plant is called hemp.
While CBD is present in both varieties, many of the CBD products available to consumers are from the hemp plant. CBD does not come with the high or psychogenic effects of marijuana.
Ways CBD Treats Back Pain
Research indicates that CBD may reduce back pain by:
- Reducing inflammation 3
- Combating anxiety, often associated with long-lasting or chronic back pain 4
- Helping with sleep and improving overall state of relaxation 5
Some studies suggest that CBD can have an effect on how an individual perceives pain, but more robust research is needed. CBD is generally considered a full-body treatment, which means that it does not target back pain specifically—except in the case of topical products—but contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and pain relief.
Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions in addition to back pain, such as anxiety-related disorders. 5
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
Cannabidiol, even in high amounts, is generally safe. Side effects from CBD may include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
More severe side effects, while rare, include:
- Mental confusion
As with other natural products, there is potential for adverse reactions when taken with other medications, especially those that come with grapefruit warnings, such as certain blood thinners. These warnings indicate that certain medications should not be taken with products containing grapefruit.
CBD use prior to surgery
Before having surgery, all cannabis use, including CBD and marijuana, should be disclosed to the surgeon or anesthesiologist. A recent study suggests that cannabis use may have an effect on medications used to sedate patients. 6
What Is CBD Oil?
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles. She helped co-author the first integrative geriatrics textbook, “Integrative Geriatric Medicine.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from hemp plants called Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa . You might be more familiar with cannabis plants because they are grown for marijuana. However, CBD is not the same thing as marijuana.
CBD oil contains CBD that’s mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. These are called tinctures. You can get tinctures in different concentrations. The oil can also be put into capsules, gummies, and sprays.
People who support using CBD oil say that it can treat pain and anxiety; can help stimulate appetite and may help manage some types of seizures.
This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.
CBD vs. Marijuana
CBD is one component (called a cannabinoid ) that’s found in a hemp plant. Marijuana is a separate plant but it’s from the same species that hemp belongs to. Marijuana has CBD and hundreds of other compounds in it.
The main difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants is how much of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in them. Hemp is grown to have less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has more.
THC is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis—in other words, it’s what makes you feel “high.”
CBD oil generally does not have THC in it; however, a very small (trace) amount might be in products sold in certain states.
What Is CBD Oil Used For?
We’re not sure exactly how CBD works. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a strong connection with the molecules in the brain that THC binds to create psychoactive effects. These are called cannabinoid receptors.
Instead, CBD works on other receptors, like the opioid receptors that help control pain. It also affects glycine receptors that control a brain chemical called serotonin which helps control your mood.
People that support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil can treat a variety of health problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Drug use and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Poor appetite
As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not been a lot of clinical research to look for evidence in support of these health claims.
CBD is not a safe option for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to try it for managing a health condition.
A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.
The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.
In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.
The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling.
However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.
There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.
The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
The men who took 300 mg of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.
CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.
The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals, and five studies looked at the effects on humans.
The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.
However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.
On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.
Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.
High Blood Pressure
A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.
For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.
The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume).
The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.
The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.
However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.
In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.
Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.
However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. That said, more research is needed to understand the link.
Possible Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects a person has and how bad they are varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.
Some common side effects people report from using CBD include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dry mouth
CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation.
People with liver disease should talk to their healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. They may need to have their liver enzymes checked regularly if they are using CBD.
Can You Use CBD If You’re Pregnant?
You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.
Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.
CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.
Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.
The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment.
However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. That said, never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.
Dosage and Preparation
There are no guidelines for using CBD oil. Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form.
For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.
Here are a few ways that you can take CBD oil:
- Placing one or more drops under your tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. You can also use a spray that is spritz in your mouth/under your tongue.
- Taking a capsule or chewing a gummy
There’s no “correct” dose of CBD oil. How much you take and the form you choose will depend on your needs and what you hope to get for effects. The average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.
Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.
That said, it’s hard to figure out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more.
How to Calculate CBD Dose
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.
If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it. The math to figure that out looks like this: 1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg
What to Look For
CBD oil comes in different forms: isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.
- Isolates contain only CBD
- Broad-spectrum oils nearly all of the components of the plan (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but does not have THC oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)
Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.
Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.
A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.
If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
- Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label: Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Hemp plants can be grown for different purposes. Some species are made for marijuana but others are used to make CBD products.
Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not “get you high.” Instead, it may help relieve stress, anxiety, drug withdrawals, and nerve pain.
While there are many claims about the health benefits of using CBD oil, the evidence is lacking. A lot of studies were done with animals, not humans.
If you want to try CBD oil, you should learn about the different dosages and preparations first.
You should also know that the products are not regulated, which means you can’t know for sure that a product will work and be safe.
Before you use CBD oil, talk to your provider. If you take certain medications or have a health condition, you may not be able to use these products.
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.
It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced (e.g., is it from hemp or marijuana), and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.
Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products.
CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC.
Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.