Using CBD Oil for Pain Management: Does It Work?

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on October 9, 2017Written by Kristeen Cherney

Overview

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is used by some people with chronic pain. CBD oil may reduce pain, inflammation, and overall discomfort related to a variety of health conditions. CBD oil is a product made from cannabis. It’s a type of cannabinoid, a chemical found naturally in marijuana and hemp plants. It doesn’t cause the “high” feeling often associated with cannabis, which is caused by a different type of cannabinoid called THC.

Studies on CBD oil and pain management have shown a great deal of promise. CBD can offer an alternative for people who have chronic pain and rely on more dangerous, habit-forming medications like opioids. But there needs to be more research in order to verify the pain-relieving benefits of CBD oil.

CBD products aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical condition. They aren’t regulated for purity and dosage like other medications.

Keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits of CBD oil for pain. You can also talk with your doctor to see if it is an option for your condition.

CBD for chronic pain relief

Researchers think that CBD interacts with receptors in your brain and immune system. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical signals from different stimuli and help your cells respond. This creates anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects that help with pain management. This means that CBD oil may benefit people with chronic pain, such as chronic back pain.

One assessed how good CBD works to relieve chronic pain. The review looked at studies conducted between the late 1980s and 2007. Based on these reviews, researchers concluded CBD was effective in overall pain management without adverse side effects. They also noted that CBD was beneficial in treating insomnia related to chronic pain.

The authors of the study also noted that CBD was most helpful in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

CBD for arthritis pain relief

A 2016 looked at the use of CBD in rats with arthritis. Researchers applied CBD gel to rats for four days in a row. They applied 0.6, 3.1, 6.2, and 62.3 milligrams per day. The researchers noted reduced inflammation and overall pain in the rats’ affected joints without side effects.

The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of the CBD gel could hold promise for people with arthritis. However, more human studies are needed.

CBD for cancer treatment relief

CBD oil is also used by some people who have cancer. A few studies in mice have shown a reduction of cancerous tumors. But most human studies have involved research into the role of CBD oil in managing pain related to cancer and cancer treatment. The has pointed to CBD as a possible option for relieving symptoms caused by chemotherapy.

One study by the NCI tested CBD oil extracts sprayed into the mouth. The CBD oil was used in conjunction with opioids. This study revealed better pain management with the help of CBD oil. But more research is still needed.

CBD oil side effects

CBD oil doesn’t pose significant risks for users. However, side effects are possible. These include:

  • nausea
  • sleeping issues
  • irritability

Withdrawal symptoms are rare after you stop using it, and much rarer compared with addictive substances like opioids. Most withdrawal symptoms are related a return of the original symptoms of anxiety or pain.

The also warns against the use of CBD in children due to possible adverse effects on brain development.

Further research

Overall, researchers agree that while there isn’t conclusive data to support CBD oil as the preferred method of pain management, these types of products have a lot of potential. CBD products might be able to offer relief for many people who have chronic pain, all without causing intoxication and dependence. Oil versions of CBD may not be as effective as other forms, and more human studies are needed.

CBD oil is widely available through online outlets. It is also available in some clinics in places where its usage is legal.

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