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Using CBD Oil for Pain Management: Does It Work?

CBD Pain Management

Everyone feels pain at some point in their lives. But what happens when that pain takes over your life? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pain affects more people than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer--combined. Recurring pain directly affects your quality of life, causing you to miss work, lose family time, and become unable to enjoy everyday life. 

People suffering from pain are looking for a solution. Recent research suggests that CBD hemp oil may be the natural pain relief option millions of people are looking for. Here's what you need to know about CBD, and how it can help treat and manage your pain.  

How Does CBD Help Manage Pain in the Body?

To understand how CBD works for pain management, you need to learn a little bit about what CBD is and what it does. CBD stands for cannabidiol. It's just one of several compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD usually comes from hemp, a plant related to marijuana. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is another well-known compound found in cannabis plants. THC and CBD have very different effects when consumed. THC is what gives marijuana users a euphoric and psychoactive effect. CBD hemp oil is not psychoactive. Therefore, people who take CBD for pain or other conditions do not experience the high associated with marijuana. Although medical marijuana containing THC is sometimes used to treat pain, CBD products alone can also have beneficial effects. 

How Does CBD Relieve Pain?

Recent research has shed light on the way CBD works within your body to stop pain. Your body has several types of neurotransmitters that respond to certain stimuli. THC reacts with your cannabinoid receptors, causing you to feel euphoric. CBD doesn't bind with your cannabinoid receptors, but causes your body to make more of its own endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are responsible for regulating pain in your body, among other essential functions. 

CBD does bind with several other of your body's receptors. One of these is serotonin--a neurotransmitter closely associated with mood, including anxiety and depression. Another set of receptors CBD oil bonds with is vanilloids, which have been closely associated with pain. When CBD binds with serotonin and vanilloids, depression, anxiety, and pain are reduced without the high associated with THC. 

CBD: Potent Anti-Inflammatory

Another reason CBD products work for pain management is because of CBD's potent anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is your body's immune reaction to injury, causing swelling and pain. Inflammation becomes a problem when it causes chronic or persistent pain. Natural anti-inflammatories like CBD hemp oil reduce this inflammation and reduce pain. 

Many studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil. 2011 research from the University of Mississippi Medical Center found that CBD has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers conducting these clinical trials concluded that CBD oil has the potential to treat disorders related to the immune system and oxidative stress, such as rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathic pain, depression, Alzheimer's disease, hypertension, and diabetes. 

Additional Benefits of CBD Oil

In addition to pain relief, clinical trials have also shown CBD as potentially beneficial for some medical conditions--many of which often co-exist with pain. These conditions include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Acne
  • For Heart Health
Which Types of Pain is CBD Best For?

Even though the effects of pain may be similar, pain has many types and causes. If you're in pain, you're probably wondering if CBD can work for you and your specific pain type. Here's a run-down on the current scientific research on CBD oil and how it affects different types of pain. 

Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is one of the most common types of pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the number one cause of disability for adults in the U.S. 54 million adults currently suffer from the condition. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, leading to joint stiffness and pain. The two most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, and osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint condition. Since there is no cure for arthritis, treatment focuses on reducing its painful symptoms.

Several scientific studies have shown the effects of CBD oil on arthritis pain.

  • 2000 study conducted on mice found that taking CBD oil orally blocked the progression of arthritis and improved its symptoms.
  • 2015 study found that topical application of CBD oil effectively relieved arthritis pain in rats.
  • Veterinary research from Cornell shows that giving 2 mg of CBD oil daily to dogs can help manage osteoarthritis pain. 
  • In 2006, researchers studied the effects of a mouth spray called Sativex that contains both CBD hemp oil and THC. A clinical trial on human volunteers with rheumatoid arthritis showed that Sativex significantly reduced pain and improved sleep. 
Cancer-Related Pain

According to the National Cancer Institute, 38.4 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. The most common types of cancer include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon and rectum cancer. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrolled in the body.

Cancer can cause pain when a tumor grows and presses against muscles or nerves. Cancer patients can also experience pain after or during treatment. Many cancer patients take CBD oil not only for pain but because it may have anti-cancer properties. A recent study published in the research journal Oncogene studied the effects of CBD oil on pancreatic cancer in mice. The study found that mice who were given CBD oil and chemotherapy survived three times longer than those who had only chemotherapy. Though these results are promising, they have yet to be replicated in human test subjects. 

Several studies have researched the effects of CBD oil on cancer pain relief specifically. A 2011 study found that taking CBD oil can help reduce pain caused by chemotherapy treatment. A study from Beth Israel Medical Center found that a THC and CBD combination, "may be a useful add-on analgesic for patients with opioid-refractory cancer pain."

Multiple Sclerosis Pain

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, an estimated 2.3 million people in the world are suffering from this condition. Symptoms of MS include fatigue, numbness, depression, weakness, difficulty walking, and chronic pain. MS patients can experience several types of pain, including muscle pain, nerve pain, and frequent headaches. 

At this time, there is no cure for MS, and the pain associated with it can be difficult to treat. Many people suffering from this condition are turning to CBD oil as an alternative pain management treatment. A survey done by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society found that 66 percent of people with MS are currently using some type of cannabis product to treat their symptoms. 

Research backs up the claims these individuals make about how cannabis helps with MS. A 2018 scientific review concluded that CBD oil can help decrease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, including fatigue, decreased mobility, and pain. An article published in Multiple Sclerosis News Today stated, "cannabis-derived compounds hold potential to treat MS and to help specific disease states," while cautioning that more research into CBD oil for multiple sclerosis symptoms is required. A 2005 study found that Sativex, a mouth spray containing CBD and THC in equal amounts, helped reduce neuropathic pain and several other MS symptoms, including sleep disturbances and muscle spasms. 

Chronic Pain

While occasional pain can take away from your day, chronic pain takes away from your life. Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting for longer than 12 weeks. According to the National Health Interview Survey, around 11 percent of Americans are currently experiencing chronic pain.

There are many causes of chronic pain, including previous injuries, joint pain, back pain, and headaches and migraines. Chronic nerve pain is called neuropathic pain. Sometimes chronic pain has no obvious cause. With chronic pain, there is also not usually a clear cure, so doctors try to minimize the pain in order to help patients live their lives. Traditional treatment for chronic pain often includes opioid drugs, which have a high potential for abuse and dependence. 

As a result, many people with chronic pain are turning to CBD oil as an alternative to opioids, with good results. A review of the current research called "Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids" stated the conclusion that, "There is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults." A 2017 review found that CBD oil effectively reduced pain scores for patients with chronic neuropathic pain. 

How to Take CBD for Pain

It's a good idea to speak with your doctor if you're thinking of taking CBD hemp oil for pain. Doctors can make recommendations based on your individual medical history and the type of pain you're experiencing. 

Most people who have never used CBD products have many questions about taking CBD for pain. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about this natural pain relief option. 

How Should You Use CBD Based on the Type of Pain You Have?

The amount and method of CBD you take will depend on the type and severity of your pain. Types of CBD products available include oral tinctures, mouth sprays, vapes, and topical products. Most types of pain will likely benefit from oral methods of taking CBD isolate. The pain of rheumatoid arthritis may be reduced using CBD topically, according to a study on rats

There is no defining answer on how much CBD oil you should take for pain. As a guideline, most experts recommend starting with a low dose and increasing gradually. Most CBD manufacturers include instructions with their products listing a good starting dose. For an oral tincture taken sublingually (under the tongue), some manufacturers recommend an average-sized adult start with 12 to 22 mg of CBD twice daily.  WebMD notes that CBD has been successfully researched for MS in doses of 2.5 mg as a mouth spray. 

How Much Does CBD Cost?

Prices for CBD vary widely depending on several factors. One such factor is where the CBD is grown and where it is manufactured. Another is CBD quality--in an unregulated industry, it's difficult to know what you're buying. Reputable manufacturers will have their products tested by a third party and have those results published. Both quality and where the CBD is grown and processed can influence price. An article published in the cannabis publication Leafly recently found that CBD oil prices range anywhere from 5 to 60 cents per milligram. 

Can You Take Too Much CBD?

When taking CBD hemp for the first time, many people worry they'll overdose--especially since there's no real standard for dosing. Fortunately, a 2017 clinical review gave CBD a favorable safety profile. Negative side effects of taking CBD hemp are few but can include fatigue, diarrhea, and appetite changes. 

How Long Does it Take to Feel the Effects of CBD?

Since CBD can be taken in different forms, how quickly you'll feel its effects depends on the form you choose. Generally, the time it takes to feel effects varies from minutes to an hour or two. Vaping is the quickest method. Many people feel CBD's anti-inflammatory effects immediately after vaping. Taking a sublingual tincture can also be felt soon after you take it. Tablets and other forms of oral CBD get rid of pain more slowly since they can take one or two hours to take effect.

How Long Do CBD's Effects Last? 

Most CBD manufacturers estimate you'll feel their product's effects for two to four hours. For this reason, most people take CBD hemp oil twice daily for pain management. 

Pain has become a worldwide epidemic. CBD hemp oil shows great promise in providing a natural, non-opioid pain relief option for people who really need it. Many people who are suffering from different types of pain have found a natural pain relief solution in CBD oil.


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