how to use cbd oil for pain management and relief
pain sucks, and it’s way too common in our world. but can cbd help? we already know cbd oil is safe, non-habit forming, and won’t get you high; and its potential for helping in the realm of pain only had me listening even more. but pain is also a general term that needs diving into more, so in this article, we’re going to just that and look at how to use cbd oil for pain.
you can use cbd for pain in a number of ways, including ingesting it or using it topically. cbd can also target different types of pain including chronic pain and degenerative diseases, bringing with it the potential to address both the affected area(s) as well as the entire central nervous system.
despite not (yet) being fda-regulated, cbd has shown promise both anecdotally in humans and in laboratory studies (mostly on rodents to date) to be beneficial in reducing pain from swelling and inflammation, headaches and migraines, arthritis, neuropathic pain, and other chronic pain conditions, even including managing the symptoms of both cancer and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
using cbd for pain relief
if you’re looking into using cbd for pain relief, you should first start by understanding the difference between all of the products that are available on the market. you can consume cbd both in different methods and in different types of finished products, and it’s important to know the basics in order to navigate the cbd space in a manner that ensures you’ll get the most out of it.
firstly, cbd is short for its full name, cannabidiol. it is one of two primary compounds found within the cannabis plant, and it is the main compound found inside hemp. for cannabis to be classified as hemp, it must have less than 0.3% thc. unlike thc, cbd is not psychoactive, which explains why hemp-derived cbd products will not get you high. the different forms of cbd are as follows:
broad spectrum – hemp has more than 100 cannabinoids present (of which cbd the most prominent) as well as many other compounds that also contribute to the overall effects on the senses (smell, taste, feelings from consumption).
a broad spectrum extract contains all components of the plant. it engages a process known as the entourage effect, which has a multiplying effect that can enhance cbd’s analgesic properties. trace amounts of thc may be among those cannabinoids present in hemp, but it is not necessary to engage the entourage effect. when thc is present, it is called a full spectrum extract. unlike full spectrum products, broad spectrum extracts contain zero thc.
isolate – cbd can also be isolated from everything else within its natural state so that it exists only in its purest molecular form. this is appropriately known as cbd isolate, and while it can also be effective, isolate products do not bring about the entourage effect and thus will not be as beneficial as their whole plant counterparts.
cbd isolates may be advertised as the purest form of cbd, but that is only because they do not contain other parts of the hemp plant that make the finished product more effective. beware of the difference in verbiage: broad spectrum extracts are superior products to isolates for pain relief.
in order to produce any of the above-mentioned extracts, cbd (and any accompanying accessory cannabinoids, etc.) as a molecule must first be separated from the hemp plant. cbd is fat-soluble, so it must bind to some type of fat-based agent often referred to as a carrier oil. the most commonly-used carrier oils are mct oil, olive oil, and hemp seed oil. from there, it can be consumed in a variety of different forms and ways. they are as follows:
topicals – oil-based cbd topicals are a great way to use cbd for localized pain or other skin issues. with that being said, cbd used topically does not reach the bloodstream, so it does not interact with or engage your body’s endocanabinoid system (ecs). cbd works wonders topically nonetheless, but it is still best to use in conjunction with cbd drops for maximum benefits. ☺
drops (aka tinctures) – one of the most common forms of cbd, drops/tinctures are easily consumed and can be taken anywhere with ease. they are also the most effective way to take cbd as they can be consumed via sublingual administration, allowing cbd to enter your bloodstream in a potential matter of minutes. for more information on this subject, we wrote an entire blog post you should totally check out.
edibles – this includes chocolates, gummies, capsules, and anything else you consume orally. when you take cbd orally, it passes through your digestive tract before reaching your bloodstream, which can take up to two hours to fully happen and also can result in less cbd being absorbed (this is called bioavailability). drops can also be consumed orally if they are swallowed rather than taken sublingually.
- vape oils – vaping cbd allows you to consume it through inhalation, where your lungs have highly-absorbent mucous membranes very similar to those underneath your tongue and in your cheeks. this means cbd can be absorbed rapidly through this method too, though vaping poses potential health risks that do not come with high-quality drops.
regarding pain, taking cbd sublingually via drops or inhalation/vaping will be the quickest route to your bloodstream. topicals can also be used on affected areas, though they have their limitations since they won’t enter your bloodstream. of all of these methods, oral consumption is the least effective, but even that is still better than not taking cbd at all.
an argument may be made for the oral consumption of capsules if taken at regular times and dosages. however, you can do that just the same with drops with a higher and faster absorption rate. ultimately, the only reason for consuming oral cbd is personal preference, and if that’s your choice, we’re all about that too. if cbd is working on you, that makes us happy. truly.
buying cbd oil for pain relief
when buying cbd oil for pain relief, you want to first make sure it comes from organic, american grown hemp, and all other ingredients should be organic too. regarding the cbd, broad spectrum extracts are superior and the best way to take them is via sublingual administration through drops.
you may have already been on the lookout for all of these characteristics just by making it this far in this article. similarly, the main component when purchasing cbd is the proof of purity and potency that can only come with a third party lab test. always make sure any cbd product you purchase has an accompanying lab test to prove that it is as-advertised. anything less and you are probably dealing with fake cbd, and if you’re concerned about this, we have an entire checklist and accompanying article that will set you up for success when buying top tier cbd.
how to use cbd for pain relief
cbd is thought to work on pain in two different ways: it can affect the localized area of pain as well as your central nervous system (cns) as a whole. when cbd enters your bloodstream, it activates the endocannabinoid receptors that exist all throughout your body, and those that need attention will send signals to your brain which will in turn secrete your own endocannabinoids to come where they are needed.
it is believed that your ecs exists primarily in order to maintain homeostasis in your body. of course, pain is a sign that a certain area of your body is off equilibrium, and cbd can enable your body’s endocannabinoid (ec) receptors to communicate that with your brain in order to address the situation with the end goal of re-attaining homeostasis.
you have ec receptors all throughout your body, encompassing both your central and peripheral nervous systems (pns). regarding localized pain, we usually think of the peripheral nervous system since it connects our limbs and organs to our central nervous system (cns), which involves the brain and spinal cord. pain is usually felt as a nerve response within our pns, but it stems from the cns, which is responsible for pain sensation.
there are two types of ec receptors, known as cb1 and cb2. cb1 receptors are largely within the cns, and of course play a part in pain sensation, whereas cb2 receptors are involved in immune function and can stimulate a response that helps fight inflammation. as you can imagine, all of this creates an interconnected web of ways that cbd can help relieve or manage pain.
the best way to use cbd for pain relief is to consume high-potency drops on a regular/daily basis (link to article) so that your ecs can engage in all of its regulatory properties. as you continue to work on regularly activating your ecs, you should also begin to pay attention to any effects you are feeling, even going as far as keeping a diary to record how often you are taking cbd, and how much of it you’re consuming.
finding the right dose for pain relief will happen over time as you begin to see how your individual body chemistry interacts with cbd. if you feel no effects from a starting dosage, increase the amount you consume by 5-10mg for a few more days with regularity and see if it makes a difference. if cbd is still not working, it is possible the pain is strong enough that you will require a much higher dosage than you initially suspected.
if that is the case, you can experiment knowing that cbd is safe, non-toxic, and handled well even in extremely high doses. however, it’s also entirely possible that if you experience no benefit after a month-plus of experimentation that cbd just might not be for you. (of course, none of this is meant to be a medical claim, and you should always discuss any supplemental substances you consume with your doctor for your own health’s sake.)
one last note: while this article is largely focused on cbd and pain, thc has also been proven to have pain-relieving properties, especially in conjunction with cbd. over half the states in america have legal access to medical and/or recreational thc-rich cannabis (aka “marijuana”), and if you live in such a state and have no other conflicts regarding drug testing or other thc-related concerns, you may want to also look into incorporating thc with cbd as another potential means of pain relief.
cbd for pain management
cbd is promising for pain management because it can provide many of the same benefits that medical marijuana has without any of the psychoactive effects. in other words, cbd will not get you high as it exhibits its analgesic properties.
unlike both prescription drugs and over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (advil) or acetaminophen (tylenol), cbd is also nontoxic and completely safe to use without risk of overdosing or other serious complications. it also won’t get you addicted and your tolerance doesn’t increase with prolonged usage.
despite all of this, cbd is unregulated. even the medical and recreational thc markets are regulated, and of course almost all prescription and over-the-counter medications are too. this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you need to take matters into your own hands with regards to vetting the legitimacy of cbd companies and the products they sell. that subject was discussed further in the above section titled “buying cbd oil for pain relief” where we also paid mention to an entire full-length article we wrote on the topic. (link again)
many studies have been conducted regarding cbd that back its efficacy in pain management. these studies also have focused on various ways in which the ecs with other parts of your body to manage pain. one such study on mice showed that cbd inhibited glutamate levels in the brain and spinal cord; glutamate is a leading role in pain transmission to and from your brain and it is also involved in central sensitization, which is the body’s natural way to deal with chronic pain.
other studies involving the use of cbd and thc together also have shown to reduce pain in many difficult-to-treat scenarios of chronic pain such as migraines, multiple sclerosis (ms), and cancer. this is all possible due to the fact that your ecs has receptors all throughout your body. because the ecs is responsible for homeostasis, it can interact with all other systems all throughout your body in order to maintain that balance.
there is one more potential link to cbd and pain management: cbd is a plant-based phytocannabinoid that does not directly bind to your ec receptors. instead, it activates them, which signals the brain to produce your body’s own endocannabinoids known as anandamide and 2-ag. both of these endocannabinoids bind readily to your cb1 receptors, which are responsible for pain sensation.
of these two endocannabinoids, anandamide is known as the bliss molecule and it plays a role in appetite, motivation, and sleep. all of these can be inhibited when the body experiences pain. amazingly, anandamide is also thought to have a powerful ability to initiate the signaling of cb1 receptors and control the “access of pain-related inputs to the cns”.
can cbd help chronic pain?
studies on cbd and chronic pain continue to develop, though even as far back as 2003 science has suggested cbd could be an effective and safe analgesic for all types of chronic pain. with the legal status of cbd also evolving since then, more is expected to be published in the coming years.
cbd is commonly used for chronic pain management, which itself is far too common. in fact, the cdc cites that an estimated 20% of adults in the united states experienced chronic pain in the year 2016. something tells us that number hasn’t gone down over the last handful of years, either.
chronic pain is incredibly difficult to manage. any and all types of pain can fall into the category of being considered chronic as long as it is ongoing (and severe enough) for a prolonged period of time. cbd works with your endocannabinoid system to keep it regulated, and over the course of time it may be able to calm pain signals within your body as a result of that. however, chronic pain is also a common symptom of disease, and cbd should never be considered as a cure for chronic pain or any underlying diseases you may have.
to repeat: cbd is not an outright cure and any claims have not been evaluated by any worthwhile governing body. cbd is also not a substitute for disease-modifying treatment (dmt) regarding chronic pain. always speak to a medical professional about any symptoms of pain you are experiencing! and don’t be afraid to speak to them about cbd while you’re there.
pain (and health entirely) should be looked at on a spectrum. it is rarely the result of one source, which means there are many areas of your health that could be contributing to chronic pain, and it is worth discussing the big picture with your doctor. furthermore, individual body chemistry also plays a role. it not only ties into one’s perception of pain, but also affects how your body reacts to cbd, how your ecs works entirely, and how all of that relates back to pain itself.
studies on cbd and chronic pain in rodents also suggest that cbd can reduce chronic pain and inflammation. the journal of experimental medicine published findings in 2012 reporting that cbd suppressed inflammatory and neuropathic pain without an increased tolerance to the substance (cbd). as such, they suggested that “these cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain.”
anecdotal evidence is also growing regarding cbd helping chronic pain; and while this is not the space to further go into that side of cbd’s claims, it is still worth noting that one of cbd’s most promising aspects towards its potential to relieve chronic pain is that it has no intoxicating and negative side effects. if you do feel negative effects from cbd, you probably have fake cbd oil. do not use any more of it and talk to your doctor right away. (link to fake cbd article)
neuropathic pain is another area in which cbd has been studied. it is derived from injury to the nervous system, and is one of the most debilitating side effects among conditions such as multiple sclerosis (ms) and sciatica, and studies on rodents with injured sciatic nerves “indicate(d) a potential for therapeutic use of cannabdiol in chronic painful states.”
migraines, chronic headaches, and cbd oil
almost all research regarding cbd’s potential to help chronic headaches and migraines has been done in conjunction with thc rather than on its own. with that being said, the combination of thc and cbd have been shown to display therapeutic effects that decreased frequency of headaches.
the university of colorado conducted a study with 121 people that had migraines, focusing on whether medical marijuana could lower the frequency of migraine headache. in total, 40% of the total patients in the study reported either decreased migraines or none altogether. beyond that, inhaled forms of cannabis were used effectively to abate and/or abort acute migraine symptoms, where edible forms were not as effective.
it makes sense that cannabis is more effective at relieving headache symptoms when inhaled than ingested orally. after all, we learned that the mucous membranes inside places like the lungs and underneath your tongue allow for the fastest absorption, which is why sublingual and inhaled administration methods get cannabinoids into your system much faster than the oral route, where the substance must pass through your digestive tract before entering your bloodstream.
another study on cbd and thc combined also stated that evidence is mounting for cannabinoids to be effective in the treatment of pain, and that it may also apply to the treatment of migraines and other headaches. it also paid mention to the fact that future research is expected to be done on the roles of different cannabinoids, terpenes and other phytochemicals, and stated even suggested that the different ratios of cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. in different strains could be looked at in order to determine more specific effects for disease-targeted therapies.
cbd and arthritis
cbd can go to work on arthritis and joint pain in a variety of ways. because pain, swelling, heat, and redness are common, cbd topical products can be applied for relief at the surface, while sublingual drops can be taken regularly to regulate your ecs so it can engage in homeostatic processes.
ultimately, we’ve already learned that the ecs plays a role in pain regulation due to the cb1 and cb2 receptors that exist throughout our bodies, and that topical cbd products will not make it into your bloodstream despite providing local relief to the area where applied. all of this make using topicals better when taken along with sublingual drops.
it would also be an injustice not to address the inflammation aspect of arthritis and joint pain from a holistic standpoint. there are plenty of easily-accessed natural remedies that you can also take advantage of to reduce inflammation, such as clove, turmeric, and mint. avoiding processed foods that promote inflammation is also suggested, as are making sure to drink enough water and other general healthy lifestyle choices.
despite no proven link between cbd and human inflammation, animal models do show that cannabinoids can be a potent means of treating inflammatory disorders through the downregulation of cytokines and upregulation of t-regulatory cells working together in a mechanism to suppress inflammatory responses.
beyond this, it is incredibly important when taking cbd for arthritis or joint pain (link to article) to find a high potency product. this will allow you to find your optimal dosage without having to use an entire bottle (or more) to do so. should you find your required dosage for pain management is higher than you imagined, a high potency tincture will give you the most bang for your buck. you also don’t need to worry about overdosing – cbd is incredibly well tolerated even at extreme doses.
however, you also may find that your results plateau when you do find your optimal dose threshold: four different dosage sizes of cbd were applied to pain-ridden rats. the two smallest doses did not show significant drops, but rats who took 6.2mg of cbd per day did show reduced pain and swelling. the fourth and final dose of 62.3mg per day, roughly 10x the amount, also reduced pain and swelling but with negligible differences to those than had just 10% the amount.
of course, more research is needed in the area of human-conducted studies in order for any true conclusions to be made on this subject, and that can be confirmed by the fact that there is no fda approval for general cbd products on the market.
what does cbd do for multiple sclerosis (ms)?
cbd products have helped MS patients with spasms, pain, and other mobility-related issues. cbd is believed to have primarily therapeutic benefit, though thc has also been shown to have positive effects, and cbd may reduce thc’s negative effects while enhancing its beneficial effects on MS symptoms.
cannabis has been a potential alternative therapy treatment for ms related symptoms due to its lack of adverse side effects. additionally, its anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, neuroprotective, and antipsychoatic properties may all help with ms related symptoms with the belief that cbd may reduce fatigue, pain, and spasticity to ultimately bring about increased mobility and quality of life in ms patients.
much like arthritis, using cbd for ms related symptoms should require a product of the highest potency and quality and to take it regularly. even after short-term use, studies have shown that cbd has reduced ms-related spasticity.
cbd and cancer - what the science says
cbd oil may be able to reduce pain and other chemotherapy-related side effects such as vomiting and lack of appetite. most studies in this area have been done on pain management, and cancer.gov states that, “cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.”
(the site also says cannabis is also known as “marijuana” though, and that’s just false.)
in rats, cbd’s effect on chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain proved to reduce pain through serotonin receptors, doing so without other side effects while not hindering the efficacy of the chemotherapy treatment either. as such, the study concluded that cbd may be an effective in preventing or managing cancer- and chemotherapy-related pain.
an experiment regarding cbd and mice with malignant melanoma also brought about “a significant decrease in tumor size” in the mice who were treated with cbd versus those who were in the control group, though those treated with chemotherapy had even better results still on both tumor reduction and longest survival time.
with that being said, the study also observed that mice who were given cbd were observed to have a higher quality of movement and overall life than the other two groups. given the information from the studies mentioned here, it is clear that cbd is not an alternative cure to cancer, but may still bring tremendous benefit to cancer patients in several ways when consumed in conjunction with a chemotherapy regimen.
beyond the physical effects of cancer and its treatment, cbd’s regulating effects on the body’s ecs may also be able to help with social and emotional pain. treatment that focuses on this realm is known as supportive cancer care, or palliative care, and it is often done alongside treatments meant to slow, stop, or cure cancer, though it can be done before treatment begins and continue potentially for the rest of a survivor’s life.
is it safe to take cbd for pain?
clean, high quality cbd is 100% safe to take for pain. it is nontoxic and non-habit forming, but it is not an outright cure. cbd oil can also interact adversely with medications that have grapefruit warnings. lastly, make sure your cbd has zero thc to ensure that it is legal and won’t get you high.
cannabidiol from us-grown hemp is legal in all 50 states since the passing of the 2018 us farm bill. however, thc is still illegal in many states. buying organic broad spectrum cbd oil can help you stay complicit with the law while being able to take full advantage of everything cbd has to offer.
otherwise, cbd brings with it no major side effects. some people may experience a reduced appetite, dry mouth, diarrhea, or fatigue, though these symptoms are likely mild and do not last for long unless they are the result of a bad cbd product. one last major health concern regarding cbd is if you are vaping it: always make sure you have a clean product that is free of vitamin e acetate, propylene glycol, and any other substance harmful to your health. thank you for taking the time to read this. hopefully it added some value. ☺