CBD Oil For Pain: Everything You Need To Know
It seems that this and anxiety is just about the two biggest reasons that someone wishes to try CBD.
So I thought it would make sense to have a blog article to discuss the use of CBD for treating pain.
I’ll try to cover what CBD oil is, how it works, the kind of pain it may help, and what the best methods are for taking CBD oil. In addition, I’ll discuss how long CBD takes to work and the best kind of products to use.
From the outset, it is important to remember that there is a fine line to be walked when discussing CBD oil because we are not allowed to make any medical claims for our products.
That being said, as a registered osteopath, I can certainly give you an informed discussion of what I have seen with my patients and customers, and you can rest assured you have a natural health expert explaining everything.
Disclaimer: This article may contain occasional references of CBD “for” a specific topic, for example, “CBD Oil for Pain”.
It is important for us to clarify that CBD is a food supplement that, while very useful for many people, is not sold “for” any specific purpose other than general health and wellbeing.
Any references of CBD for a specific subject are simply so we can clarify this to anyone searching for these terms.
An Overview Of CBD Oil And Its Properties
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a plant-derived compound known as a phytocannabinoid. It is one of over 100 such compounds in the cannabis plant (or hemp – cannabis and hemp are the same plants).
These phytocannabinoids have interesting properties, and the one that gets the headlines is THC with its psychoactive qualities.
Depending on how much THC you take and the strain of cannabis involved, you can get a euphoric high or feel stoned, where you are so relaxed you do not want to move.
However, whilst THC is the one most people may have encountered or heard about, often in disapproving tones in the press, it is the gentler cousin to THC, CBD, that is slowly but surely beginning to become very popular.
Whilst the cannabis plant remains illegal, and THC is a controlled substance, CBD can be sold legally, providing it contains an agreed low level of THC.
This level is so low that it is often marked as ‘trace’ or ‘non-detectable’ in lab reports. This means a CBD product will not get you high or stoned in practical terms. It is non-psychoactive and, therefore, is safe to be used.
This also means you may drive or operate heavy machinery when using CBD, and the chance of it showing up in a doping test is virtually zero. I have yet to hear of anyone failing a doping test having taken CBD.
That being said, if you are a professional sportsperson caution is advised because the tests used for professional athletes are far more sensitive than for the general public.
I would advise any professional athlete to speak to the company that makes the CBD before trying it. If they do not respond or give you advice then stay well away from them!
Whilst CBD is very important as a phytocannabinoid, there are other elements involved in a cannabis extract that also have a role to play in making it effective.
Firstly there are other cannabinoids such as CBDa, CBN and CBG. These may only be present in small amounts but it is thought that they add to the effect of the CBD oil.
Generally, you will only find these in a full spectrum CBD oil which, in my opinion, is just about the only way one should take CBD.
You can also take broad-spectrum CBD or use an isolate which just means there is nothing else in the product but pure CBD but, except for certain circumstances, I would always advise people to get a full spectrum CBD product.
A high-quality full-spectrum CBD oil will also contain terpenes.
Terpenes are volatile essential oils that, in nature, attract pollinators and repel predators. They are so powerful in cannabis that they can be grown very easily without the need for nasty chemicals.
There are up to 200 different terpenes in cannabis and they give it its very distinctive smell. However, each terpene is thought to have an interesting effect on our bodies.
Some terpenes are calming, others are mood-lifting or promote sleep whilst others still can improve our appetite!
It is no coincidence that there are as many cakes and doughnut shops as there are coffee shops in Amsterdam. This is because many people get ‘the munchies’ having smoked cannabis and need to eat something. This is evidence of the terpenes at work.
In addition to cannabinoids and terpenes, there are also flavonoids. These compounds are present in all plants and are important for giving them their colour but they also have useful antioxidant properties.
Therefore, you can see that when you use a good quality, full-spectrum CBD oil you are getting far more than just CBD.
When CBD is contained in a full spectrum plant extract with all the other compounds in cannabis it can become a very useful supplement. The synergy of all the compounds in cannabis is known as the entourage effect and enables the full plant to be far more potent than isolating one active ingredient for use.
Think of this synergy much as you would a sports team where all the individuals are working together to create success.
They all have a role to play, and whilst there may be one or two-star players, without the rest of the team supporting them, they will not be able to achieve the same kind of success.
This is why all the products at CBD One use a whole plant full-spectrum extract. Indeed, it would be more accurate to call our products cannabis oil instead of CBD oil.The gentle nature of using whole plants means they are often remarkably safe to use, and a report by the World Health Organisation found this to be true for CBD oil.
Can CBD Oil Help With Pain?
Many studies have been done on CBD, and it has been shown to have pain-relieving effects.
CBD oil can be used to treat various types of pain, such as:
In my experience, I have found that CBD is particularly good for treating chronic pain.
In fact, I have lost count of the number of patients who have come to me after trying everything else and say they only wish they had tried CBD sooner!
We can say with absolute certainty and assurance that CBD is safe.
Now that might seem rather disappointing, but if you look at the statistics for many of the drugs your doctor may be prescribing you for pain relief, not only do they come with dangerous side effects, but they can also be highly addictive, and there is no guarantee they will help.
In fact, they can be so toxic that your body ends up diverting so much of its energy to dealing with these drugs that the healing process is much less responsive and takes longer to get going.
If we look at the group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), they come with the risk of heart disease and gut damage.
In fact, the NHS spends more money on the side effects of these drugs than they do on the drugs themselves. For every one thousand users of NSAIDs, approximately three will have heart attacks, one of which will be fatal.
Couple this with the fact that acute inflammation in your body in response to an injury is actually a normal, healthy healing response and one wonders where the logic is in taking a drug that suppresses this healing reaction.
There is a law of physics along the lines of ‘for every action, there is a reaction and this applies to the human body too. So if we repeatedly suppress an acute healing reaction with a drug, I can assure you that the certain end result will be a chronic problem.
We can then turn to opiate-based drugs. While cocaine, heroin, and cannabis use has dropped around the world, the drop has been entirely made up for by the misuse and abuse of prescribed opiate drugs. Opiates are highly addictive and very dangerous.
Common ones I encounter in my osteopathic work that people frequently use are codeine, fentanyl, and duramorph.
The common side effects are drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation and even slowed breathing which can lead to coma, brain damage and even death.
In 2018, data showed that 128 people a day in the USA alone were dying after overdosing on opioids! If osteopaths were killing 128 people every day, we would be called murderers.
These drugs are a curse on humanity, and whilst in a minimal way can bring immense relief to a small number of people, in my opinion, this is far outweighed by the suffering and misery they cause.
Therefore, having established that modern prescribed painkilling medication may kill you or give you all manner of side effects, we can take a look at gentle CBD.
It is an insane state of affairs that the system that allows so many to die at the hands of the pharmaceutical companies is the very same system that does not allow anyone to make a medical claim for CBD products.
However, knowing the risks of legal, prescribed drugs, we can with great certainty say that CBD will do you no harm whatsoever.
- A drug that may kill you or lead to opiate addiction with all the resultant destruction to your life, relationships and community. It might help your pain but it might not.
- CBD which does no harm at all with no risk and may bring you all manner of benefits.
I think that is what they call a ‘no brainer’ don’t you?
How Does CBD Help With Pain Management?
The largest medical request for using cannabis is to help with the pain. There is enormous anecdotal evidence that smoking cannabis seems to help people’s joint pain.
There are pain pathways in your body that are influenced by CB1 receptors. These receptors are part of your endocannabinoid system (ECS) and help maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is your body’s ability to maintain your health regardless of what you are doing or changes in your environment.
A simple example of homeostasis in action is if you stand up from a seated position. Your body will automatically change your blood pressure to take into account the fact you are now standing up and it requires a slight increase in pressure to ensure blood gets to your brain.
This is where you can actually experience a lag between you standing up and the body adjusting when you get lightheaded if you do it too fast.
CB1 receptors also influence pain and it appears from research that cannabinoids like CBD and others can inhibit (reduce the action of) these pain receptors.
In addition, cannabinoids also influence CB2 receptors which have a role to play in inflammation.
I think this is particularly useful when we have chronic inflammation which is the out of control destructive response of our body, mainly because of our diet and its concentration of too many processed grains and cereals and not enough healthy fats like olive oil, fish oil, butter and coconut oil.
Chronic inflammation is present in 3 in every 5 adults in the world and is considered the greatest threat to human health by the World Health Organisation.
Sadly, the idea that we can influence and remove this threat by making small changes to our diet goes unheard because such lifestyle changes do not fill the coffers of powerful organisations such as the processed food manufacturers and the drugs companies, who promise to take away our pain with their dangerous and addictive pills.
Intriguingly, when we have a joint that is damaged from osteoarthritis, research has shown the damaged areas have receptors in them for cannabinoids. This means it may well be useful to take some form of the cannabinoid to get relief from pain.
We know that the body makes its own form of cannabis, one such being the endogenous (it is produced internally) cannabinoid called anandamide, but we also think that with illness or high stress and our lifestyles it may not produce enough.
This is where taking an exogenous (its origin is external to our body) cannabinoid such as CBD may have a role in helping our body.
The Type Of Pain CBD Might Help
Because CB1 receptors influence our body’s pain pathways, it may be that cannabinoids have a role to play in helping all manner of pain such as neurological pain, damaged joints, injured muscles, ligaments and other musculoskeletal injuries such as intervertebral disc injuries.
Do make sure you have established why you have pain and how it can be fixed before taking any type of pain relief. Pain is a warning sign and is always worth listening to. It is much like the oil warning light on your car, and you wouldn’t ignore that, cover it up and keep driving, would you? That way can lead to disaster.
How To Use CBD Oil to Treat Pain
Here at CBD One, we currently have two types of products. Those you take orally, like our CBD oils or Absorb range, or our topical Complete body and face lotion.
The most effective way to use CBD is to take it orally, either under the tongue and held there for a couple of minutes or with our Absorb products, which can be added to a drink.
Whilst our Complete+ cream is superb for your skin; I would never suggest using this to help an injured joint because very little of the cannabinoids in it will get through your skin, though it may have a role when used together with an oil or an Absorb product.
We are have our CBD patches, which will give a steady release of CBD throughout the day. These have proven very popular as they remove the need for you to have to remember to take your oil.
CBD Dosage for Pain
It is always worth trying the lowest possible dose first to see how you react and then increase it if necessary. Some people find they only need a very low dose; some need more. It is trial and error to start with.
With our CBD oils, you take 2 drops under your tongue, hold it there for a minute or two and then swallow. You can do this 3-4 times a day as needed.
If you want to increase the dose after a week, you can double it to 4 drops, again holding it under your tongue for a minute or two before swallowing. You can continue in this way until you find the dose that works best for you.
CBD Safety and Side Effects
CBD is considered to be very safe, and there are no known side effects from taking it, even in large doses.
That said, everybody is different, and some people do report side effects. These are usually mild and temporary but can include:
If you happen to experience any of these side effects, then lower the dose for a few days until your body gets used to it and then increase it again.
CBD can also interact with some medications, so if you are on any medication, make sure you check with your doctor before taking CBD.
CBD Drug Interactions
CBD can interact with some over-the-counter, dietary supplements, and prescription medications. This can lead to increased levels of certain drugs in your system and possibly cause side effects.
If you are on any medication or supplement with a ‘grapefruit warning’, then avoid taking CBD. This is because grapefruit inhibits the same liver enzymes that CBD does and can cause an increase in the level of medication in your body.
CBD Oil Benefits for Pain
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet approved CBD oil as a pain reliever, many experts think it holds promise.
According to various studies, medical cannabis can help relieve pain in several different ways. For example, in this 2020 review, CBD reduces various cancer-related pains, including inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
In my experience, medical cannabis can be an incredibly effective way to relieve chronic pain. I’ve seen it work for a number of my patients, and I believe it has the potential to help many more people find relief.
CBD Oil for Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 58.5 million American adults have some form of arthritis.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that medical cannabis can be effective in treating arthritis. For example, in this study, it was found that transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain in rats with arthritis.
In another study, CBD was found to be effective in treating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including pain and inflammation.
CBD Oil for Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the nervous system, causing a range of symptoms, including muscle spasms, pain, and fatigue.
Anecdotal reports and small studies have suggested that CBD oil may help relieve symptoms of MS. However, the area is still under-researched and larger, more robust studies are needed.
In treating the pain associated with MS, CBD works in two ways:
- It increases the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body while reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- It inhibits the activation of T-cells by altering myelin-derived suppressor cells.
Studies have shown that cannabinoids suppress inflammation hence halting the progression of the disease. This helps patients to benefit from other medications for MS.
CBD Oil for Cancer Pain
Cancer pain is one of the most difficult types of pain to treat. This is because, in many cases, traditional painkillers are ineffective. Additionally, cancer patients often have to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, which can make managing pain even more difficult.
Currently, the main treatments for cancer pain are opioids and other drugs that can have serious side effects. This has led many cancer patients to look for alternative pain management options, such as medical cannabis.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has acknowledged the pain-relieving effects of CBD, stating that it may help cancer patients cope with the side effects of cancer treatment.
In this CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain study, it was found that the combination THC CBD extract was effective in reducing cancer-related pain in patients who had not responded to strong opioids.
CBD Oil for Chronic Pain Management
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks. It’s a common problem, with an estimated 15.5 million people in England living with chronic pain.
Treating chronic pain can be difficult, as it often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. This may include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
CBD oil is a promising treatment for chronic pain. As I mentioned earlier, many of my patients have found relief from chronic pain with the help of medical cannabis.
CBD oil may be and effective way to treat pain by:
- Reducing inflammation
- Interacting with neurotransmitters
- Suppressing nerve pain
- Inhibiting pain receptors
- Reducing anxiety and depression (both of which can amplify pain)
I have seen firsthand how CBD oil can help my patients find relief from chronic pain. If you’re struggling to manage your chronic pain, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about whether CBD oil may be right for you.
CBD Oil For Pain: The Bottom Line
CBD oil is a promising treatment for a variety of different pain-related behaviours. Health professionals are only beginning to understand the mechanisms behind how this works.
However, it is clear that CBD oil has the potential to provide relief from chronic pain and other types of pain.
FAQs About CBD Oil And Pain
How Long Does It Take For CBD Oil To Work For Pain?
There is no precise answer to this question. I have seen people report almost instant changes whilst others see nothing for eight weeks then suddenly, as if a key is turning in a lock, they get a whole host of benefits.
The important factor is to be patient. While many people feel a difference in the first few days, I would say give it eight to twelve weeks before you decide what CBD is doing for you.
An interesting phenomenon we see is that some people don’t feel as if anything has changed. Then they stop taking CBD, and problems come back that they had forgotten had gone away in the first place!
We all have our own sensitivity to CBD oil so allow your body time to adapt to it. Of course, some people see no changes at all. This is unfortunate, but I have yet to stumble across anything on planet earth that works for every person all the time. If I had, I’d be a rich man by now.
At least with CBD oil, you will do no harm and have everything to gain from trying it.
What Is The Best CBD Oil For Chronic Pain Relief?
I always suggest people start with a middle strength product. The reasoning behind this is simple. If you start too low and nothing changes, there is a temptation to think that CBD did not work for you when it may be that you just needed a stronger dose, to begin with.
In our range, I would suggest trying Signature Blend No2 or Absorb Pure if you can because these have plenty of cannabinoids in them to get you started, and if it is going to work for you, you should see some changes with these.
What Illness Qualifies for Medical Marijuana?
The UK has strict laws governing the use of medical marijuana. In order to qualify, patients must have a “qualifying condition” that is on a list approved by the government.
As of 2019, the only health conditions that qualify are:
If you have one of these health conditions and are interested in trying marijuana-derived CBD products, I encourage you to talk to your doctor. They will be able to help you navigate the process of getting a prescription.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Yes, CBD oil is legal in the UK, and in most western countries.
However, the laws are constantly changing so I would suggest checking the legality of CBD oil in your country before purchasing it.