Over the last two decades, scientists have tested CBD’s efficacy as an analgesic, or painkiller, specifically—and with promising results. While research is ongoing, here’s what we know so far about how we can use CBD oil for pain relief.
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The first controlled trial conducted in 2006 focused on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints and other affected areas  Blake DR, Robson P, Ho M, Jubb RW, McCabe CS. Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006;45(1):50-52. . Researchers found that, compared to a placebo, Sativex significantly improved participants’ pain during movement, pain at rest and quality of sleep. Any adverse reactions to the treatment were mild or moderate, and there were no complications with withdrawal.
CBD for Arthritis and Joint Pain
In 2018 researchers tested the efficacy of topical CBD gel on participants with osteoarthritis-related knee pain over the course of 12 weeks  Hunter D, Oldfield G, Tich N, Messenheimer J, Sebree T. Synthetic transdermal cannabidiol for the treatment of knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2018;26:S26. . Participants used either 250 milligrams or 500 milligrams, split into two applications, daily. Overall, participants’ weekly pain levels didn’t improve much with CBD compared to placebo. However, when researchers evaluated the average weekly worst pain scores and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) physical function scores, participants who applied 250 milligrams of CBD daily experienced significant improvement over placebo participants.
CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain. 2
What Is CBD?
Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions in addition to back pain, such as anxiety-related disorders. 5
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
Cannabidiol, even in high amounts, is generally safe. Side effects from CBD may include:
Remember that CBD use for pain and related symptoms is not an exact science, so you may need to try more than one brand and method before feeling relief. The good news is that, to date, CBD is not considered to be physically addictive, and there’s no history of anyone overdosing on it, so a little trial and error likely won’t hurt as long as you are sourcing safely.
Clear? You likely still have questions. Read on for specific products and which symptoms they aid.
You can also vape a CBD isolate or broad spectrum oil, which should not induce a high.
HAVING THOSE HARD CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CBD USE
Oral ingestions come in many forms such as:
Overall, the risks of taking CBD are very low, and the rewards can be quite promising. Still, it’s important to remember that more research is needed to understand the full effects of CBD. Your treatment is a personal choice and for many, a personal journey.
What’s more, CBD has minimal side effects and a low-risk, zero-addiction profile. But before you pop a gummy or ingest an oil, you’ll want to read on.
Be Aware of the Entourage Effect
Although CBD is generally well tolerated, THC may decrease potential side effects of CBD. THC may also play an important role in CBD’s pain-relieving effects, by aiding its influence on the endocannabinoid system.
Because CBD dissolves in fats, it’s a good idea to choose products that have healthy oils, to increase absorption rates.