CBD Oil for Pain?

CBD Oil & Pain Management

Are you one of the 45 million plus Americans that suffer from chronic pain?

Do you have back issues, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or another ailment that causes you to experience persistent pain?

Maybe you feel frustrated and stressed because of your pain, and it affects your energy levels. Or perhaps it impacts the way you take care of your family, your willingness to participate in social events, and your productivity.

You might have been prescribed pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, or over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen, to help you cope with pain.

If you’re looking to add a natural dietary supplement to your current treatment plan, you might want to consider cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant.

Recently, it has been gaining in prominence after Congress lifted several restrictions on the cultivation and sale of hemp products in 2018. Although CBD isn’t meant to cure any ailments, people all around the country have reported various positive effects after taking CBD.

In this article we’ll discuss how CBD works, and how it might be relevant for someone suffering from chronic pain.

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Table of Contents

What is CBD? And how does it work?

Understanding CBD & The Body

To understand how CBD works, we should briefly discuss the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is responsible for maintaining balance within the human body by regulating various functions like sleep, mood, appetite, immune response, among others. 

The endocannabinoid system is made up of 3 components.

  • Endocannabinoids –  Chemical compounds produced by the human body that are similar to ones found in cannabis plants.
  • Cannabinoid receptors – The CB1 and CB2 receptors that get activated by endocannabinoids. 
  • Enzymes – Enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids when their job is done.

When something is out of balance, the ECS goes to work. Endocannabinoids activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors to regulate functions that need attention. For example, if your body needs fuel, the ECS reminds you to eat by making you feel hungry.

Once everything is back to an optimal level, the enzymes break down the endocannabinoids since they are no longer needed, thus providing an accurate response.

CBD does not directly interact with the cannabinoid receptors. Although it isn’t clear how CBD interacts with the ECS, there is some evidence to suggest that CBD enhances the activity of the human body’s own cannabinoids.

Along with influencing the ECS, CBD also interacts with several non-cannabinoid receptors in the brain to affect a wide array of functions like sleep, mood, pain, and more.


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Can CBD Work for Pain Management?

Here are some of the mechanisms through which CBD might play a role in how someone perceives pain.

Inflammation – Inflammation is a natural process which helps the immune system to begin the healing process. However, when inflammation is chronic, it has been linked to painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia [1]. Cannabinoid receptors play a critical role in regulating inflammation [2].

By potentially augmenting the effects of the human endocannabinoid system, CBD might play an indirect role in how someone perceives pain [3]. Although some people have reported feeling better after taking CBD, it is not meant to be used as a treatment for pain.

Glycine receptors – Glycine receptors, which are located throughout the nervous system, have been shown to play a vital part in pain perception. There’s some evidence to suggest that cannabinoids suppress inflammation by targeting glycine receptors [4]. However, the research was conducted on animals, and we need further studies to learn about the effects on humans, if any.

TRPV1 receptors – TRPV1 receptors, which are found throughout the nervous system, are involved in regulating pain perception and inflammation, among other functions. There’s some evidence to suggest that CBD might interact with TRPV1 receptors [5]. Again, however, the research was conducted on animals, and we cannot conclude that it would have the same effect on humans.

Is there any research around CBD and pain?

The European Journal of Pain published a study that showed that CBD applied on the skin of rats had an effect on inflammation caused by arthritis [6]. A 2017 study found that cannabidiol influenced inflammation, pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis [7].

While the trend is encouraging, more human studies are needed to establish a strong case for CBD as an effective treatment.

How to take CBD for Pain Management

Full spectrum oils – Full spectrum CBD oils include all the natural compounds from the plant like the cannabinoids, terpenes (natural compounds responsible for the color and aroma of plants), and the essential oils. Full spectrum oils come in bottles, and you can place a desired amount beneath your tongue.

Gummies – CBD gummies are the most convenient way to add CBD to your routine. They are taken orally with water one to three times a day, depending on your needs. Just carry them around in your briefcase, gym bag, or leave a bottle in your car.

Topical solutions – CBD lotions, salves, and gels can be applied directly to the areas affected such as back, knees, neck, etc.

How much CBD should I take?

If you’re considering taking CBD, you can start with a smaller dosage and increase the amount according to your own unique needs. For adults, a safe beginning dosage can be anywhere from 10mg to 25mg per day.

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Final thoughts on CBD for pain

Chronic pain is responsible for numerous mental and physical health conditions, rising healthcare costs, and loss of productivity around the world. Unfortunately, many of the common remedies like NSAIDs and opioids can come with potentially harmful side effects, and they can be addictive.

As the research on CBD continues, we can be hopeful that we will soon learn more about its effects on pain in human beings. In the meantime, it is only meant to be used as a dietary supplement for an enhanced sense of wellbeing and calmness. If you’d like to try CBD, be sure to consult with your doctor before you begin.


  1. https://www.rheumatologyadvisor.com/home/topics/fibromyalgia/the-role-of-neurogenic-inflammation-in-fibromyalgia-pathophysiology/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075023/
  3. https://jlb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1189/jlb.3RU0115-021R
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585736
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15313881
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28885454