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Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity as a promising complementary remedy for various health issues, including anxiety, epilepsy, and pain management.
CBD is one of several cannabinoids that are naturally present in the cannabis plant. There are a vast range of CBD products, including oils, tinctures, balms, and candy, all of which may help people who are experiencing physical pain.
In this article, we discuss how CBD products may help relieve chronic pain. We also provide a list of potentially effective CBD products that have undergone extensive third-party testing for safety.
Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.
CBD and other cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. These receptors, combined with naturally occurring cannabinoids, make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS consists of complex cell signaling pathways in the central nervous system and immune system.
There are endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids. Endogenous cannabinoids are naturally occurring lipids that the body produces. Two of the most well-known endogenous cannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol.
The body does not produce exogenous cannabinoids. These compounds are part of the cannabis plant. Examples of exogenous cannabinoids include:
- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- cannabichromene (CBC)
- cannabigerol (CBG)
Cannabinoids, both endogenous and exogenous, bind to endocannabinoid receptors attached to cells. These include cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors. This binding action stimulates different cell responses that influence pain signaling pathways.
CBD does not bind very well to endocannabinoid receptors. However, it may interact with neurological receptors in the spinal cord that suppress chronic inflammatory pain, as one study on mice found. CBD may also strengthen the effects of AEA, an endogenous cannabinoid that reduces pain.
According to a small 2018 study, researchers evaluated CBD’s pain-relieving effects in seven people who experienced chronic pain after having kidney transplants.
Six of the seven participants reported improvements in pain. One of the participants experienced more pain at higher CBD doses but achieved the best pain control at lower CBD doses.
In a 2015 animal study, researchers found that topical CBD reduced arthritis-related joint swelling and pain in mice. According to the authors, effective doses ranged from 6.2 to 62 milligrams (mg) per day.
While these preliminary studies suggest that CBD may help manage pain, scientists need to investigate these findings in large scale, high quality clinical trials.
CBD comes in several different forms, including:
- oils and tinctures
- oral capsules or pills
- creams, balms, and salves
- topical patches
CBD gummies and capsules are for oral ingestion. Topical CBD products, on the other hand, are for external use only. People can apply these products to specific areas of the body, such as sore muscles or aching joints.
CBD oils and tinctures are more versatile than other forms. They usually come in tinted glass bottles with a dropper. People can either add a few drops of CBD oil to food or beverages or place a few drops under their tongue, where they can hold the oil for up to 1 minute before swallowing.
People should follow the directions and dosage information provided for the CBD product.
Learn more about CBD dosage here.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only regulate one CBD-containing drug called Epidiolex for treating rare forms of epilepsy in children 2 years of age and older.
This means that the FDA do not regulate commercially available CBD products. When shopping for CBD, people should look for high quality products from reputable manufactures and retailers.
High quality products undergo third-party testing by laboratories not affiliated with the manufacturer. These laboratories test CBD products for:
- heavy metals
- harmful chemicals
Products that undergo third-party testing will have a certificate of analysis, which is a document that contains information about the product’s CBD potency, the presence of THC and other cannabinoids, and safety test results.
Read our complete buyer’s guide to CBD here.
Side effects of CBD include:
- changes in appetite
- weight changes
More severe side effects include:
- liver damage
- fertility problems in males
- potentially severe interactions with alcohol and certain medications
For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.
The following CBD products may be effective in aiding pain management.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All product information is purely research-based.
CBDfx Gummies with Turmeric and Spirulina
CBDfx offer full-spectrum CBD gummies that contain 25 mg of CBD each.
These gummies also contain turmeric and spirulina. According to a 2017 review article, turmeric may help manage inflammatory and pain conditions. However, the body rapidly metabolizes and eliminates turmeric, which significantly reduces its bioavailability and effectiveness.
Spirulina is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In a 2015 animal study, researchers found that spirulina reduced inflammation in rats with arthritis.
CBDfx Gummies with Turmeric and Spirulina are available for purchase here.
Charlotte’s Web Recovery CBD Gummies
These CBD-infused gummies contain hemp-extracted CBD, ginger, and turmeric.
According to the product website, these gummies support healthy joints and exercise-induced inflammation. In one container, there are 60 gummies with around 5 mg of CBD each.
Charlotte’s Web Recovery CBD Gummies are available for purchase here.
Charlotte’s Web Hemp-Infused Cooling Gel with CBD
Charlotte’s Web also manufacture topical CBD products.
This cooling gel contains full-spectrum CBD, menthol, and arnica. According to the manufacturers, this gel is free of eight major allergens, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.
Each 1.7-ounce bottle contains about 510 mg of CBD.
Charlotte’s Web Hemp-Infused Cooling Gel with CBD is available for purchase here.
CBDMedic Massage Therapy Pain Relief Oil
This THC-free massage oil contains menthol, camphor, and natural oils that may help relieve minor aches and pains. The manufacturers claim that it is hypoallergenic and has undergone third-party testing.
A single 103-milliliter bottle contains about 200 mg of hemp-extracted CBD.
CBDMedic Massage Therapy Pain Relief Oil is available for purchase here.
Vertly Relief Lotion
This relief lotion contains full-spectrum CBD extract, arnica flowers, shea butter, magnesium, and essential oils. According to the product website, it helps relieve muscle pain, inflammation, and tightness while repairing and moisturizing the skin.
One bottle of relief lotion contains about 155.67 mg of CBD.
Vertly Relief Lotion is available for purchase here.
PureKana CBD Transdermal Patches
PureKana offer waterproof transdermal patches that contain 60 mg of CBD. People can wear these patches for up to 4 days.
PureKana recommend that people place the patch on a flat, dry area, such as the stomach or lower back.
PureKana CBD Transdermal Patches are available for purchase here.
CBD products may help relieve muscle, joint, and nerve pain. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims.
Some alternative treatments for pain include:
- warm or cold compress for stiff, aching muscles
- light physical activity for joint pain
- corticosteroid injections for nerve pain and inflammation
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen
- topical pain relievers that contain NSAIDs, capsaicin, or menthol
- therapeutic massage
People who experience persistent or worsening pain despite trying OTC and at-home treatments may wish to discuss alternative treatment options with a doctor.
While preliminary clinical studies and animal studies suggest that CBD may help relieve pain, more research is needed to evaluate these findings.
CBD is generally safe, but it can lead to side effects, such as tiredness and appetite changes.
People who are currently receiving treatment for pain conditions may want to discuss with their doctor the potential benefits and risks of adding CBD to their treatment plan.