But it is important to be cautious if you are taking other medications or substances, like alcohol. Specifically:
CBD has been shown to be:
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.
HAVING THOSE HARD CONVERSATIONS ABOUT CBD USE
What can CBD (aka: cannabidiol) do for your chronic pain? This natural compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant will not get you high, since it does not produce the same psychotropic effects as its cannabinoid sibling, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but many people are finding that it can complement their pain care plan. In fact, research shows that of the 62% of people who use CBD for a medical condition, the majority are treating chronic pain, arthritis, and joint pain, as well as anxiety. 1
How do you know you are getting the CBD the package claims? You don’t, but there are a few ways to put the odds in your favor.
Scientists are still discovering the different ways in which CBD may help to fight disease and reduce pain and its related symptoms. They are also still working to understand the functionality of CBD as an isolated compound versus a whole plant. For example, you may come across product descriptions such as CBD isolate, Full Spectrum CBD, and Broad Spectrum CBD.
Proponents of full spectrum cannabis products refer to something called the entourage effect, which basically means that the compounds in marijuana work synergistically or cooperatively. 11 Think of marijuana like a plant (which it is). Just like vitamin supplements don’t offer the same benefits as consuming whole foods, CBD isolates may not offer the same benefits as whole-plant extracts. 12
When taken orally, CBD has poor bioavailability. Topical CBD application to localized areas of pain appears to provide more consistent levels of CBD with less systemic involvement.
Another study, published in the European Journal of Pain in 2016, found that topical CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling and measures of pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis.
However, it should be noted that the studies used a variety of cannabis-based medicines (e.g., inhaled cannabis, sprays, and oral tablets containing THC and/or CBD from plant sources or made synthetically), some of which are more likely to result in these side effects than products without THC.
Side effects included sleepiness, dizziness, and mental confusion. The authors concluded that the potential harm of such medicines may outweigh their possible benefit.
In a report published in Pediatric Dermatology in 2018, scientists reported three cases of topical CBD (applied as an oil, cream, and spray) use in children with a rare, blistering skin condition known as epidermolysis bullosa.
10) Roger Harris / Science Source
This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.
Scientists are working to see if it might help with arthritis, and some people with HIV say it helps relieve nerve pain (also called neuropathy). There’s some evidence that it may help muscle spasms linked to multiple sclerosis, too. More research is needed to know for sure.
Does It Help Blood Pressure?
5) Phil Roeder / Getty Images
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.”
Much more study is needed, but early studies show that CBD may help people who want to break their addiction to cigarettes as well as drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. This may be in part because it seems to help with anxiety and muscle tension.
12) 159600404 / Getty Images