CBD is one of several cannabinoids that are naturally present in the cannabis plant. There are a vast range of CBD products, including oils, tinctures, balms, and candy, all of which may help people who are experiencing physical pain. In this article, we discuss how CBD products may help relieve chronic pain.
Is CBD effective in pain management?
CBD and other cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. These receptors, combined with naturally occurring cannabinoids, make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS consists of complex cell signaling pathways in the central nervous system and immune system.
There are endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids. Endogenous cannabinoids are naturally occurring lipids that the body produces. Two of the most well-known endogenous cannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol.
The body does not produce exogenous cannabinoids. These compounds are part of the cannabis plant. Examples of exogenous cannabinoids include:
- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- cannabichromene (CBC)
- cannabigerol (CBG)
Cannabinoids, both endogenous and exogenous, bind to endocannabinoid receptors attached to cells. These include cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors. This binding action stimulates different cell responses that influence pain signaling pathways.
CBD does not bind very well to endocannabinoid receptors. However, it may interact with neurological receptors in the spinal cord that suppress chronic inflammatory pain, as one study on mice found. CBD may also strengthen the effects of AEA, an endogenous cannabinoid that reduces pain.
According to a small 2018 study, researchers evaluated CBD’s pain-relieving effects in seven people who experienced chronic pain after having kidney transplants.
Six of the seven participants reported improvements in pain. One of the participants experienced more pain at higher CBD doses but achieved the best pain control at lower CBD doses.
While these preliminary studies suggest that CBD lotion for back pain may help manage pain, scientists need to investigate these findings in large scale, high quality clinical trials.
How to use
CBD comes in several different forms, including:
- oils and tinctures
- oral capsules or pills
- creams, balms, and salves
- topical patches
CBD gummies and capsules are for oral ingestion. Topical CBD products, on the other hand, are for external use only. People can apply these products to specific areas of the body, such as sore muscles or aching joints.
CBD oils and tinctures are more versatile than other forms. They usually come in tinted glass bottles with a dropper. People can either add a few drops of CBD oil to food or beverages or place a few drops under their tongue, where they can hold the oil for up to 1 minute before swallowing.
People should follow the directions and dosage information provided for the CBD product.
How to choose the right CBD product
This means that the FDA do not regulate commercially available CBD products. When shopping for CBD, people should look for high quality products from reputable manufactures and retailers.
High quality products undergo third-party testing by laboratories not affiliated with the manufacturer. These laboratories test CBD products for:
- heavy metals
- harmful chemicals
Products that undergo third-party testing will have a certificate of analysis, which is a document that contains information about the product’s CBD potency, the presence of THC and other cannabinoids, and safety test results.
While preliminary clinical studies and animal studies suggest that CBD may help relieve pain, more research is needed to evaluate these findings.
CBD is generally safe, but it can lead to side effects, such as tiredness and appetite changes.
People who are currently receiving treatment for pain conditions may want to discuss with their doctor the potential benefits and risks of adding CBD to their treatment plan.