The (i)llegality surrounding CBD and medicinal marijuana (which are a whole other category, described in our medical marijuana for pain guide) can make choosing and using the right product confusing. Here is what you may find when you start searching the marketplace.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet but note that efficacy of each is still up for debate.
HOW TO USE CBD FOR PAIN: WHICH PRODUCTS TO TRY
1. Corroon J, Phillips JA. A cross-sectional study of cannabidiol users. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018;3(1):152-161.
When we talk about CBD, we are typically talking about CBD products, such as topical creams and ingestible oils that are created by extracting the CBD compound from the marijuana plant. Although, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC – which we will get to.
But it’s not that simple. CBD has been shown to decrease the psychotropic effects of THC, meaning that if a full spectrum extract has a greater ratio of THC to CBD, you won’t necessarily feel so high. Of course, everyone responds differently to marijuana and this will involve a lot of trial and error.
Many plants contain cannabinoids, and people often confuse CBD with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is another type of cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a “high” or euphoric effect because it does not affect the same receptors as THC.
By law, industrial hemp from which CBD is extracted must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC to be considered hemp, otherwise, growers are at risk of prosecution under federal law.
CBD is thought to work by reducing inflammation in the brain and nervous system via an effect on cannabinoid and other receptors, ion channels, anandamide (a substance that regulates our response to pain) and enzymes.
Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 17, 2019.
CBD has been credited with relieving anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and pain, although currently, the most scientific proof rests with its effects in people with epilepsy. Epidiolex is a prescription CBD oil that was FDA approved in June 2018 for two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome.
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.
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.
In this report, researchers reviewed 16 previously published studies testing the use of various cannabis-based medicines in the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain and found some evidence that cannabis-based medicines may help with pain relief and reduce pain intensity, sleep difficulties, and psychological distress.
The research on the side effects of CBD oil is extremely limited. CBD is the major non-psychoactive component of cannabis. Due to the lack of regulation, there is inconsistency in content and purity. The amount of CBD may not be consistent, and products can contain varying amounts of the psychoactive component THC.
According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. Along with drastically reducing quality of life, chronic pain can increase healthcare costs and have a negative impact on productivity at work.
What’s more, CBD oil may interact with certain medicines, such as medications changed by the liver (including chlorzoxazone, theophylline, clozapine, and progesterone) and sedative medications (including benzodiazepines, phenobarbital, fentanyl, and morphine).
As more and more states across the U.S. legalize the use of marijuana, CBD oil has become more widely available. CBD oil is now sold in a range of forms, including capsules, creams, tinctures, and under-the-tongue sprays.