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Updated on February 4, 2024

CBD for Inflammation

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Key takeaways

  • Inflammation is a crucial part of our body’s defense mechanism.
  • Chronic inflammation is linked to several disease conditions including autoimmune, cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory and neurological diseases.
  • Researchers believe CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that may assist people with inflammation.
  • CBD produces anti-inflammatory effect by reducing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibiting T-cell growth, inducing T-cell death and reducing the migration and adhesion of immune cells.

It is quite impossible to discuss the possible therapeutic roles of CBD without referring to its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD works as an anti-inflammatory agent by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and modulating several cognitive functions. This article will study the possible role of CBD as an anti-inflammatory agent and how it may assist people with different levels of inflammation.

What is inflammation

Inflammation is your body's natural defense system, like having repair workers on standby. When you get injured or have an infection, these repair workers rush to the scene to fix things. It's a protective response that helps you heal. However, sometimes these workers can get a bit too enthusiastic and stay longer than needed, causing issues. This prolonged response is what we call chronic inflammation, and it can lead to problems. So, think of inflammation as your body's maintenance crew - usually helpful, but sometimes it needs a nudge to know when the job is done.

What is the relationship between inflammation and diseases?

Inflammation is a crucial part of the body's defense mechanism, helping to fight off infections and repair damaged tissues. However, when inflammation becomes chronic or excessive, it can contribute to the development and progression of various diseases. The link between inflammation and diseases lies in the body's immune response. Chronic inflammation is associated with a range of health conditions, including:

  1. Autoimmune Diseases: These are conditions where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
  2. Cardiovascular Diseases: chronic inflammation can contribute to the formation of plaques in blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  3. Metabolic Disorders: Inflammation is implicated in insulin resistance, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, contributing to conditions like type 2 diabetes.
  4. Neurological Disorders: Chronic inflammation may play a role in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
  5. Gastrointestinal Disorders: Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
  6. Cancer: Prolonged inflammation is associated with an increased risk of cancer development, as it can promote the growth and survival of abnormal cells.
  7. Respiratory Diseases: Conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involve inflammation of the airways.
  8. Skin Conditions: Inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis and eczema, are characterized by chronic inflammation.

While inflammation is a natural and necessary response, persistent activation of the immune system can lead to tissue damage and dysfunction, contributing to the onset and progression of various diseases. Lifestyle factors, including diet, stress, lack of exercise, and environmental exposures, can influence the inflammatory response.

How does CBD produce anti-inflammatory roles?

The therapeutic roles of CBD as an anti-inflammatory agent have been extensively reported by several researchers. For instance a review paper published in 2019 shows that CBD can modulate immune responses and control how our body controls inflammations. Another clinical research in 2015 shows that CBD reduces levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibit T-cell growth, induce T-cell death and reduces the migration and adhesion of immune cells. Some of the other ways CBD may work for inflammation include but are not limited to the following;

  1. Interaction with Endocannabinoid System (ECS):

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes, including immune response and inflammation. By modulating the activity of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), CBD may help regulate the inflammatory response.

  1. Reduction of Cytokines:

Cytokines play a crucial role in inflammation by acting as messengers in the immune system. When the body detects an injury or infection, immune cells release cytokines to signal other cells and plan the inflammatory response. These signaling proteins can promote inflammation to help the body defend against harmful invaders. However, in cases of chronic inflammation, an excessive or dysregulated release of cytokines can lead to prolonged immune activity, causing tissue damage and contributing to various diseases. The balance and regulation of cytokines are essential for a well-coordinated and controlled inflammatory response, emphasizing their central role in the complex network of immune signaling during inflammation.

CBD has been shown to affect the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are signaling proteins that play a crucial role in inflammation. By modulating cytokine production, CBD may exert anti-inflammatory effects.

  1. Inhibition of Inflammatory Enzymes:

CBD may inhibit enzymes involved in the inflammatory process, such as cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). These enzymes play a role in the synthesis of pro-inflammatory compounds, and by inhibiting them, CBD may help reduce inflammation.

  1. Modulation of Immune Response:

CBD's interaction with the ECS can influence the immune system, potentially balancing immune responses and preventing excessive inflammation. This immunomodulatory effect may be beneficial in managing inflammatory conditions.

  1. Antioxidant Properties:

CBD possesses antioxidant properties, helping to neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals can contribute to inflammation and tissue damage. By reducing oxidative stress, CBD may contribute to an anti-inflammatory environment.

How Can I use CBD for inflammation

All forms of CBD especially capsules, topicals, edibles, oils and tinctures are excellent for inflammations. Applying CBD topically can target specific areas of inflammation, while ingesting CBD may have a more overall effect. A study by the Arthritis Foundation found that 29% of participants used CBD for arthritis symptoms, with 55% applying topical CBD to their inflamed joints.

Applying CBD topically may offer relief for localized pain and inflammation, directly absorbed into the affected area. However, its effectiveness depends on inflammation severity and product concentration. In a four-week trial, a topical CBD oil with 250mg of CBD significantly reduced intense pain. Topical CBD products often include extra ingredients like peppermint oil for added pain and inflammation relief.

Frequently asked Questions

Is CBD good for inflammation?

Yes, there is evidence to suggest that CBD may have beneficial effects on inflammation. Clinical studies have indicated that CBD can reduce the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibit T cell proliferation, induce T cell apoptosis, and decrease the migration and adhesion of immune cells. These actions contribute to an overall anti-inflammatory effect.

Is CBD better than ibuprofen?

While we can’t answer this questions at the moment, there are several advantages to using CBD oils. One notable advantage of CBD oil is that it is not a narcotic like some traditional painkillers, and it doesn't carry the risk of addiction. Unlike ingesting ibuprofen or similar medications, CBD oil is applied externally, making it a non-psychoactive and non-addictive option for pain management. Another bonus is that using CBD oil topically doesn't leave you smelling like marijuana. This method provides a more natural and health-conscious approach to addressing pain from the outside rather than relying on internal consumption.

Does CBD help inflamed muscles?

CBD has shown promise in alleviating inflamed muscles due to its potential anti-inflammatory properties. By interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system, CBD may help regulate inflammation. Applying CBD topically in the form of creams or balms offers targeted relief for muscle inflammation, and studies suggest that CBD's anti-inflammatory effects contribute to pain reduction.

Want to Learn More?

  1. Living, Beyond Organic CBDa Oil Vs. Dead CBD
  2. Is CBD Safe? What You Should Know About It
  3. CBD Regulations: Where Do We Stand on Organic Hemp Oil?
  4. The CBD Benefits for Kids — Why Moms are turning to hemp 
  5. What is CBDa? What To Know Now


Atalay S, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Dec 25;9(1):21. doi: 10.3390/antiox9010021. PMID: 31881765; PMCID: PMC7023045.

Jean-Gilles L, Braitch M, Latif ML, Aram J, Fahey AJ, Edwards LJ, Robins RA, Tanasescu R, Tighe PJ, Gran B, Showe LC, Alexander SP, Chapman V, Kendall DA, Constantinescu CS. Effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines on cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors in immune cells. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2015 May;214(1):63-74. doi: 10.1111/apha.12474. Epub 2015 Mar 10. PMID: 25704169; PMCID: PMC4669958.

Xu DH, Cullen BD, Tang M, Fang Y. The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(5):390-402. doi: 10.2174/1389201020666191202111534. PMID: 31793418.

Lowin T, Tingting R, Zurmahr J, Classen T, Schneider M, Pongratz G. Cannabidiol (CBD): a killer for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Cell Death Dis. 2020 Sep 1;11(8):714. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-02892-1. PMID: 32873774; PMCID: PMC7463000.

Peyravian N, Deo S, Daunert S, Jimenez JJ. The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Acne. J Inflamm Res. 2022;15:2795-2801

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