For many people experiencing chronic pain, cannabidiol (CBD) oil is steadily gaining popularity as a natural approach to pain relief. A compound found in the marijuana plant, cannabidiol is sometimes touted as an alternative to pain medication in the treatment of common conditions like arthritis and back pain.
If you’re thinking of trying CBD oil for pain relief (and it is legal where you live), talk to your doctor to discuss whether it’s appropriate for you and the safest way to incorporate it into your pain management plan. Keep in mind that due to the lack of regulation, the purity and content of CBD oil products can vary.
Why People Use CBD Oil
The use of cannabis for pain relief dates back to ancient China. It’s thought that CBD oil might help ease chronic pain in part by reducing inflammation. In addition, CBD oil is said to promote sounder sleep and, in turn, treat sleep disruption commonly experienced by people with chronic pain.
It’s important to note that many CBD oil products do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for producing the “high” associated with marijuana use. Unlike THC, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and does not have psychoactive effects.
Some proponents suggest that CBD oil could provide a solution to opioid addiction as concerns over opioid overdoses continue to escalate.
5. Yamaoka G, et al. Different analgesic effects of adenosine between postoperative and neuropathic pain. J Orthop Sci. 2013;18(1):130-136.
7. De Gregorio D, McLaughlin R, Posa L, et al.Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain. 2019;160(1):136-150.
Full Spectrum CBD products maintain the full profile of the marijuana plant and in addition to CBD, contain a variety of other cannabinoids including: THC, CBDa, CBG, and CBN, as well as terpenes and other compounds such as flavonoids, proteins, phenols, sterols, and esters. Technically, full spectrum products can contain 0.3% or less THC, if they are derived from the hemp species, however, full spectrum CBD products derived from non-hemp marijuana tend to have a wider cannabinoid and terpene profile.
How does CBD help pain?
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.
Our body’s endocannabinoid system is composed of three main components:
The dosage of CBD that works for your pain will depend on the amount/percentage of CBD in the product, how you take it (whether by mouth, inhalation, or topical application) and your body weight and chemistry (several websites offer CBD calculators to determine a starting dose). The best thing is to speak with your doctor or a budtender (essentially a dispensary pharmacist) before choosing a CBD dosage. If your doctor does not recommend a dose, it is best to start small and gradually increase the dose from there until you achieve the desired effect.
Selecting a CBD product depends on:
CBD side effects are usually mild or moderate. They can include:
The federal ban on marijuana and CBD means studies on humans have been few. So researchers don’t know for sure that cannabis eases RA symptoms. But the results from several very small studies suggest that in people with rheumatic diseases, including RA and osteoarthritis, it may help:
Some lab testing suggests that cannabinoids may help tamp down the body’s immune response. But the studies have been limited to animals, not humans.
Is Cannabis Right for You?
Here’s what’s known so far about how medical marijuana and a marijuana extract called CBD (cannabidiol) might affect RA.
Researchers still don’t know a lot about how marijuana affects your body. But there is substantial evidence that it can help relieve long-term pain. And pain is a major symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Nature Reviews Rheumatology: “Cannabinoids for the treatment of rheumatic diseases — where do we stand?”
Cannabis can affect you mentally and physically. THC can impair driving, so you shouldn’t get behind the wheel for at least 8 hours after you take it. Smoking or vaping (inhaling) marijuana will hit you more quickly than if you eat it. It’s also not good for your lungs or respiratory system.