What You'll Learn in This Article
- A growing body of research demonstrates how CBD is an effective treatment method for a variety of pain-related conditions.
- The most common methods of introducing CBD to the body include sublingual, ingestion, inhalation, and transdermal application.
- Marijuana-derived CBD products come from plants that generally contain higher levels of THC and are only available in states that have legalized adult-use or medical marijuana.
- It's very important to buy products that come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab.
- If you're planning to use CBD for muscle spasms, arthritis, or other localized areas of discomfort, it might be more beneficial to use a CBD-infused topical.
Pain, whether acute or chronic, is something most people will experience at some point in their lives. Findings from the GSK Global Pain Index 2017 suggest that, across the global population, 95% of people have experienced body pain and 86% have experienced head pain at some point in their lives.
Considering the vast amount of people who are inflicted with some form of pain, it's no surprise that many have started to show a strong interest in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that offers a buffet of potential therapeutic benefits, one of the most prominent being pain relief.
Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which included industrial hemp production legalization across the United States, CBD products have never been more accessible. CBD oil and other CBD-infused products can be ordered online or found in the health and wellness section of your local pharmacy store.
Outside of the United States, other countries have also started allowing CBD to be sold and used within their own borders. Following the passage of The Cannabis Act, which legalized adult-use cannabis in Canada, both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD have become readily available in all provinces. The European Union (EU) has also established regulatory guidelines for hemp-derived CBD oil, allowing the cultivation of hemp provided that the THC content does not exceed 0.2%.
A number of South American countries have also loosened restrictions against CBD oil and medical marijuana in general. Both Mexico and Brazil currently allow CBD products to be imported for certain medical conditions, while others, such as Chile, have already established a full-scale medical marijuana program.
Whether you want to use CBD oil for muscle pain after a stringent workout or to handle that lingering back pain, this non-intoxicating cannabinoid could provide much-needed therapeutic relief in times of great discomfort.
There is still a need for more robust medical guidance and clinical human studies focused on the effects of CBD. This could leave some people in the dark about trying CBD for pain relief. However, by taking what we know about how this cannabinoid interacts with the body, along with existing evidence on the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, we can better understand how to use CBD oil for pain relief.
How CBD Oil Interacts With the Body to Provide Pain Relief
The relationship between CBD and the human body is complex and requires further research to fully comprehend, but we already know a fair amount about this multi-faceted interaction.
CBD interacts with a wide range of proteins in the body and central nervous system, including components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), including the CB1 receptors located in the brain and central nervous system and CB2 cannabinoid receptors located in the spleen and immune system. Unlike THC, which strongly binds to these two receptors, CBD is actually an inverse agonist that has the opposite effect.
Instead, CBD inhibits the absorption of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid molecule that regulates pain and correlates with feelings of well-being and happiness. When CBD enhances anandamide signaling it increases levels in the bloodstream, helping to reduce pain throughout the body. Past research has also found that CBD targets alpha-3 glycine receptors to suppress chronic pain and reduce inflammation associated with dysfunctional glycine receptors, which are an important target for pain processing in the spine.
CBD also activates other receptor proteins, such as the vanilloid receptor TRPV1, which is responsible for control functions such as inflammation and the awareness of pain. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis and other instances of disease-associated chronic pain, the sensitivity and expression of TRPV1 receptors increases. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that the purported analgesic properties of CBD are mediated by this receptor, leading the research team to conclude that CBD could be a “useful pharmacological alternative in the treatment of the disease-associated chronic pain.”
Another study, published in the September 2015 edition of the journal Neurotoxicology, found that CBD also inhibits glutamate levels in the brain and spinal cord, which is associated with increased sensations of pain and transmission.
Growing research demonstrates how CBD is an effective treatment method for a wide spectrum of pain-related conditions. In a 2016 animal study published in the European Journal of Pain, various dosages of transdermal CBD gel (0.6, 3.1, 6.2 or 62.3 milligrams per day) were administered to lab rats inducted with arthritis. Researchers found that the 6.2-milligram and 62.3-milligram dosages were effective in reducing inflammation and arthritis pain.
There are other studies that have reached a similar conclusion. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Pain found that CBD treatment prevented the development of joint pain and nerve damage in rats induced with osteoarthritis. Evidence also suggests that CBD can relieve pain that stems from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. For instance, in a 2013 peer-reviewed research paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found that CBD alleviated severe neuropathic pain induced by chemotherapy in cancer patients.
How to Use CBD Oil for Pain
There are different ways to introduce CBD into the body; the most common methods are sublingual, ingestion, inhalation, and transdermal application. The optimal CBD dosage will hinge on several individual-specific factors, including body weight, metabolism, frequency of use, as well as the CBD product's quality. To find the most effective treatment, start with the lowest viable dose and gradually increase the amount of CBD until pain relief is achieved. Once you find that happy medium, continue down that treatment path and tweak the dosage when necessary.
If you're planning to use CBD oil for muscle spasms, arthritis pain, or other localized areas of discomfort, it might be more beneficial to use a CBD-infused transdermal patch or apply the CBD oil directly to the skin. In the same 2016 animal study on arthritis, researchers also concluded that transdermal application of CBD could be more effective than oral ingestion. While they discovered that CBD has limited oral bioavailability, transdermal administration of CBD has longer lasting therapeutic effects, making it better-suited for treatment of arthritis or muscular pain.
Research shows that when CBD is applied topically to the skin, the permeability of CBD is tenfold higher than THC, and peaks after 90 minutes. Can you use oral CBD oil topically? The answer is yes, CBD oil can be applied directly to the skin as if it were a topical gel or cream. But if you're looking for guidelines on how to apply CBD oil for pain and receive the maximum therapeutic benefits, you'll be hard-pressed to find specific dosage instructions that work for everyone.
In order to receive the best possible results when treating pain or another health issue with this cannabinoid, it's also important to know how to distinguish high-quality CBD products from the flooded market.
How to Find the Best CBD Products for Pain
Before we can start to sort through the plethora of CBD products, we should first establish the difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD products.
CBD products derived from hemp plants can be legally purchased throughout the United States. According to federal regulations enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hemp plants are not allowed to have more than 0.3% THC. Therefore, most hemp-derived CBD products either contain small amounts or no trace of THC.
Marijuana-derived CBD products, which come from plants that generally contain higher levels of THC, are only available in states that have legalized adult-use or medical marijuana. While access to CBD products with higher levels of THC are restricted to weed-friendly states, some research suggests that the two cannabinoids work more effectively in tandem. In a randomized controlled study published in 2010 in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, researchers found that a whole-plant extract containing both THC and CBD was significantly better for intractable pain treatment than a THC-predominant extract.
No matter which kind of CBD derivative or method of application you choose, there's no understating the importance of finding products that come with a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab. Use this information to cross-check and ensure that the lab analysis matches what is listed on the product label. Keep in mind that products containing hempseed oil or hemp oil are not the same as CBD oil, and do not include any cannabinoids at all.
You can find verified CBD products from reputable brands on Weedmaps.