Updated on January 25, 2024

Cbd for pain

Fact Checked

Key takeaways

  • Pain occurs as a warning signal that something may be wrong with our bodies.
  • Chronic pain is the type of pain we should be worried about.
  • Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 Americans.
  • The role of CBD in pain has been widely researched by several scientists.
  • CBD promotes pain relief via three mechanisms; reducing the sensation of pain, Modulating the excitability of postsynaptic neurons, Activating descending inhibitory pain pathways and Reducing neural inflammation
  • CBD has fewer side effects when compared to traditional painkillers.

Pain is not as bad as we may think. It is a complex and crucial aspect of our survival. It serves as a protective mechanism that helps prevent harm and promote survival. It is a warning signal that something may be wrong or that there is a potential threat to the body.

If you are experiencing pain then it is because of one or more of the following reasons;

  1. Protective Function: Pain serves as a protective mechanism to alert the body to potential danger. For example, if you touch a hot surface, pain signals travel to your brain, prompting you to withdraw your hand quickly to avoid injury.
  2. Injury Warning: Pain helps to identify and localize the source of injury or damage in the body. This information is crucial for the body to initiate the appropriate responses for healing and recovery.
  3. Preventing Further Damage: Pain often discourages certain behaviors that could exacerbate an existing injury. For instance, if you have a sprained ankle, pain signals may discourage you from putting too much weight on it, reducing the risk of further damage.
  4. Learning and Adaptation: Pain experiences help individuals learn from harmful situations. The memory of pain encourages avoidance of similar situations in the future, contributing to learning and adaptation.
  5. Diagnostic Value: Pain can be an important diagnostic tool for healthcare professionals. The location, intensity, and nature of pain can provide valuable information about the underlying condition or disease.
  6. Inflammatory Response: Pain is often associated with inflammation. Injured or damaged tissues release chemicals that can activate nerve endings and contribute to the sensation of pain. This inflammatory response is part of the body's healing process.
  7. Signal for Rest and Recovery: Pain signals can prompt individuals to rest and allow the body to recover from an injury or illness. This rest is essential for the healing process.

While pain is generally a protective mechanism, chronic pain conditions can arise where the pain signaling system becomes dysfunctional and persists even after the initial injury or threat has been resolved. Chronic pain affects more than 1 in 5 Americans and impacts their physical, emotional and overall well-being.

How does CBD work for pain?

CBD has been explored for its potential therapeutic effects, including its use in managing pain. Information from research shows that CBD promotes pain relief via three mechanisms; reducing the sensation of pain, Modulating the excitability of postsynaptic neurons, Activating descending inhibitory pain pathways and Reducing neural inflammation. These mechanisms are possible via the following processes.

  1. Interaction with Endocannabinoid System (ECS): The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which consists of receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors), endocannabinoids produced by the body, and enzymes that help break down these endocannabinoids. CBD is thought to interact with the ECS, though its precise mechanisms are not fully understood. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors are often associated with the immune system. These receptors and endocannabinoids play a significant role in modulation cellular responses including pain relief.
  2. Modulation of Neurotransmitters: CBD may influence the activity of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in mood regulation and pain perception. By interacting with receptors in the brain, CBD may modulate the release and uptake of these neurotransmitters.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Inflammation is a common component of many pain conditions. CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties by influencing various pathways involved in the inflammatory response. By reducing inflammation, CBD may contribute to pain relief.
  4. TRPV1 Receptor Modulation: CBD may interact with transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptors, which are involved in the perception of pain and inflammation. By modulating these receptors, CBD may impact pain signaling.
  5. Opioid Receptor Modulation: Some studies suggest that CBD may interact with opioid receptors, which are known to play a role in pain modulation. This interaction could contribute to the analgesic (pain-relieving) effects of CBD.

CBD vs. painkillers; which is better?

The choice between CBD and traditional painkillers depends on various factors, including the type of pain, individual preferences, and the underlying health conditions of the person. Both CBD and painkillers have their advantages and considerations, and what may be suitable for one person might not be the best option for another. To help you decide, here are some pros and cons of both forms of medication to help you understand how they work.


Advantages of using CBD for pain

  1. CBD is derived from the cannabis plant and is considered a natural remedy. Some people prefer natural alternatives to synthetic drugs.
  2. In general, CBD is well-tolerated by many people and is associated with fewer side effects compared to some traditional pain medications.
  3. CBD has been explored for its potential in managing different types of pain, including neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain.

Disadvantages of using CBD for pain

  1. The CBD market is not as strictly regulated as pharmaceuticals, leading to variations in product quality and potency. It's essential to choose high-quality, third-party tested CBD products.
  2. Individual responses to CBD can vary, and its effectiveness may depend on factors such as dosage, the form of CBD (e.g., oil, topical, capsules), and the specific type of pain.
  3. CBD can interact with certain medications, so it's crucial to consult with an expert, especially if someone is taking other medications.

Traditional Painkillers (e.g., NSAIDs, opioids):

Advantages of Traditional painkillers

  1. Traditional painkillers, especially opioids and NSAIDs, have a well-established history of effectively managing pain in various conditions.
  2. Some painkillers provide rapid relief, making them suitable for acute and severe pain.
  3. Pharmaceutical painkillers are subject to strict regulations, ensuring standardized quality and dosages.

Disadvantages of Traditional painkillers

  1. Traditional painkillers, especially opioids, can be associated with a range of side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, and, in the case of opioids, the risk of dependence and addiction.
  2. Prolonged use of certain painkillers, particularly opioids, can lead to tolerance, dependence, and other serious health issues.
  3. Some individuals may not tolerate certain pain medications well due to allergies, underlying health conditions, or other factors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best forms of CBD for pain?

The best form of CBD for pain varies among individuals. CBD oil and topicals are commonly used, but effectiveness depends on factors like the type of pain and personal preferences. It's essential to experiment and find what works best for you.

Does CBD have side effects?

While CBD is generally well-tolerated, some may experience side effects like fatigue or changes in appetite. These effects are typically mild, and serious side effects are rare. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

CBD vs. Ibuprofen; which is better?

CBD and ibuprofen have different mechanisms. While ibuprofen is a traditional anti-inflammatory drug, CBD's potential benefits for pain are being studied. Individual responses vary, and consulting with an expert can help determine the most suitable option for specific conditions.

Does CBD help with Joint Pain?

CBD is commonly used for joint pain due to its potential anti-inflammatory properties. Some individuals report relief, but responses vary.

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Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, Yang F, Chen SR, Willenbring D, Guan Y, Pan HL, Ren K, Xu Y, Zhang L. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012 Jun 4;209(6):1121-34. doi: 10.1084/jem.20120242. Epub 2012 May 14. PMID: 22585736; PMCID: PMC3371734.

Henson JD, Vitetta L, Hall S. Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol medicines for chronic pain and mental health conditions. Inflammopharmacology. 2022 Aug;30(4):1167-1178. doi: 10.1007/s10787-022-01020-z. Epub 2022 Jul 7. PMID: 35796920; PMCID: PMC9294022.

Villanueva MRB, Joshaghani N, Villa N, Badla O, Goit R, Saddik SE, Dawood SN, Rabih AM, Niaj A, Raman A, Uprety M, Calero M, Khan S. Efficacy, Safety, and Regulation of Cannabidiol on Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2022 Jul 16;14(7):e26913. doi: 10.7759/cureus.26913. PMID: 35860716; PMCID: PMC9288157.

Argueta DA, Ventura CM, Kiven S, Sagi V, Gupta K. A Balanced Approach for Cannabidiol Use in Chronic Pain. Front Pharmacol. 2020 Apr 30;11:561. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00561. PMID: 32425793; PMCID: PMC7204604.

Frane, N., Stapleton, E., Iturriaga, C. et al. Cannabidiol as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain: an exploratory cross-sectional study. J Cannabis Res 4, 47 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-022-00154-9

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