You might’ve heard that CBD can help ease pain and inflammation. In this article, we’ll be looking at what the science says about using CBD to treat different types of pain.
CBD has been tentatively shown to help ease pain and inflammation, including symptoms associated with PMS, chronic pain disorders like arthritis and fibromyalgia, neuropathy, cancer treatment, and general discomfort resulting from a variety of health conditions.
Since the dawn of medicine, cannabis (the plant from which the cannabinoid, CBD, is derived) has been used to treat a host of medical conditions—many of which we now understand are affected by compounds in the cannabis plant. Pain, in particular, was treated with cannabis by Arabic physicians before the 18th century, and in ancient India, it was given to women to help ease the pain of childbirth.
So, how exactly does CBD impact pain, and is it an effective treatment? What does our current body of research say about CBD’s ability to ease pain?
Read on for more information.
A Note From CBD Green
You’re probably reading this as someone who’s at the end of their rope. We completely understand. I’ve been there myself, in fact, when PMS symptoms had me bedridden. CBD helped me, but it’s not guaranteed to help everyone, as each person’s body metabolises and responds to CBD differently.
As with all things in the realm of CBD, we want to emphasise that CBD is not well-researched just yet, and while all of the claims made in this article are backed by existing evidence, the science around CBD is bound to evolve in the coming years as research becomes more comprehensive and widespread.
If anyone makes claims to you that CBD is a miracle drug that can cure anything that ails you, look elsewhere. We’re not here to sell you a miracle. We just want to help you feel your best.
As such, nothing advertised here is intended to diagnose or treat any illness, and your first point of contact should always be a medical professional. You should not forgo medical treatment in favour of taking CBD. If you do decide to supplement CBD into your health or treatment regimen, we recommend always checking with your GP or pharmacist first to ensure that CBD is right for you. They can also help you find your ideal starting dosage.
CBD for PMS Symptoms
Cannabis has been used to ease the pain and discomfort associated with PMS symptoms for centuries, though CBD alone—one of the hundreds of known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant—has only been available for the past few decades. As such, there are very few studies about CBD’s effects on premenstrual symptoms, though anecdotal evidence is mounting in favour of its use.
While scientific evidence and double-blind studies are scarce, we do know a few key facts about CBD which relate to PMS symptoms: namely, that CBD can lower anxiety, reduce inflammation, relax your muscles, soothe nausea, ease headaches and migraines, and even lower the risk of hormonal acne.
CBD’s muscle-relaxing properties can help to lessen the extent of pelvic cramps, which is the #1 complaint among those experiencing PMS symptoms—and for those who experience nausea around their cycle, CBD can help ease queasiness. In addition, CBD’s effects on anxiety levels can help with irritability and mood instability associated with PMS symptoms.
Most of this, as we say, is anecdotal evidence. As such, there is no predefined dosage that works for everyone, nor is there a particular product type that works best. In truth, when it comes to treating PMS symptoms, most forms of CBD will contribute some positive effect if used or taken correctly.
If you’re experiencing cramping in a localised area (below your belly button, for example), a topical CBD product may be of use to you. I like to use a balm or salve with an added warming effect to help ease cramps, as these products often contain added herbs and essential oils with proven analgesic properties (including lavender, ginger, peppermint, and others). Plus, the warming element provides a gentle soothing sensation without the risk of a hot water bottle burn.
Still, topical CBD products don’t enter the bloodstream, so if you’re hoping to ease deeper cramps, nausea, headaches, mood instability, or any other internal symptoms, you should look for an oral product—such as a CBD edible, CBD supplement, or CBD Oral Drops.
Generally speaking, you should opt for a Broad or Full-Spectrum CBD product, rather than CBD Isolate, to help ease your PMS struggles. This is because of the “Entourage Effect,” meaning that CBD works best when used alongside other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Essentially, you want the whole rainbow, not just the colour green, if you’re hoping for a strong effect.
CBD for Chronic Pain Disorders
There have been a select few studies relating to the effect CBD has on chronic pain disorders—namely, arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain from Multiple Sclerosis, and generalised chronic pain.
A 2015 study, for example, tested topical CBD gel on arthritic rats and found, after 4 days, a decrease in inflammation and signs of pain. While more research is needed on humans, this is promising for those suffering from arthritis—especially given CBD’s excellent safety profile.
A 2018 trial found that in patients with fibromyalgia, CBD decreased pain by more than 30% in significantly more patients than the placebo did. And while we still need more evidence about CBD’s effects on fibromyalgia, the current body of research is promising.
Plus, a 2017 report concluded that short-term use of CBD could help ease muscle spasms in those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
While studies are still few and far between with regard to using CBD to treat chronic pain disorders, there is promising evidence mounting in favour of its use. In the coming years, we expect to see much more research on the topic.
Because CBD has such a good safety profile, it’s generally safe for most people to use, though you’ll want to consult your doctor before starting to take CBD if you’re being treated for any of the above medical conditions. CBD is known to interact with a select few medications, so you should always check with a professional first before starting your CBD journey.
If your pain is localised—as in, you feel it in one spot, like your joints or back—you could try using a topical CBD product like a lotion, balm, or salve. These products usually contain secondary herbs and ingredients which are proven to lower inflammation, and they also often have added warming or cooling agents to ease discomfort. Because the CBD in these products doesn’t enter the bloodstream, they’re safe to use even if you’re currently being treated with other medications.
As for oral products, including tinctures, oils, capsules, and other supplements, you should first check with your medical practitioner before starting to take CBD. If your GP or pharmacist gives you the green light, you can try experimenting with a Broad or Full-Spectrum CBD product (rather than a CBD Isolate product), as these provide all of the benefits of hemp-derived products, minus the intoxicating effects of THC.
CBD taken orally takes the longest time to work, but it also lasts the longest of all CBD delivery methods—up to several hours—and has a cumulative effect in the body. So, if your chronic pain is an all-day-every-day affair, you might want to try taking a low-dose CBD supplement at the same time each morning for a few weeks to allow the CBD time to build up in your system.
With this method, you could start at a low dose of roughly 20mg per day, then raise your dosage by 10mg per week until you start to feel beneficial effects. As with all chemicals you put into your body, you should strive to find the lowest possible dose which achieves the greatest possible effect.
If you’re looking for quick, short-term pain relief, a CBD vape is a great choice. Inhaling CBD allows it to enter the bloodstream much quicker than via the oral route, kicking in in as little as 5 to 15 minutes and lasting up to 3 hours. So, if you often find that pain strikes you intermittently throughout the day, a CBD E-Liquid or CBD Disposable Vape would be an excellent choice for you.
Does CBD help with pain?
As previously noted, research on using CBD to treat pain is limited, but it isn’t nonexistent. One 2020 review discusses the many possible uses of CBD for treatment of intractable chronic pain, establishing that more research needs to be conducted to determine whether it’s suitable to employ in a clinical setting.
The same review notes that the analgesic (or, pain-relieving) effects of CBD appear to be context-specific, meaning that CBD doesn’t work equally well for all pain; rather, it has stronger effects in the treatment of certain conditions and severities compared to others.
As such, trying CBD for pain relief may or may not work for your specific condition. If your medical practitioner gives you the go-ahead, it’s a good idea to try CBD to see if it can help ease your symptoms.
Thankfully, CBD has very few side effects and is well-tolerated by most people, even at higher doses, and is not known to impair cognitive ability. So, as long as your GP or pharmacist thinks CBD is safe for you to take, you can try it without the risk of severe adverse effects.
So, should you try CBD to help ease your pain?
Again, if your GP or pharmacist says it’s okay, I’d say yes. There are those who try CBD and find little relief at all, while there are others suffering from debilitating conditions who have CBD to thank for vast improvements in their way of life. Again, this is of course anecdotal, and more evidence is needed before the CBD community can begin to make any real claims.
Still, the legions of CBD users worldwide can’t be wholly wrong—there’s something about this natural compound that the world’s first physicians understood a long time ago, albeit without the proof to back themselves up.
I personally have found relief from PMS symptoms using CBD, though I know others who say it didn’t even touch their pain. Much of the efficacy of CBD will come down to your individual symptoms, as well as your delivery method, strength, and chosen CBD preparation.
Again, this article is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a medical professional before starting to use CBD if you’re currently being treated for a medical condition.
Curious about the different preparations of CBD? Check out our other article: Full-Spectrum CBD vs Isolate CBD for more info!