CBD for Pain: 2020 Study of 1,453 U.S. CBD Consumers
By Dwight K. Blake / American Marijuana / Last updated on June 25, 2020
Should you consider CBD for pain relief? Studies upon studies on CBD’s effectiveness against pain relief has been put on the tables. Even though most of them came up with positive results, there still are a few studies that concluded otherwise, claiming that studies still ARE NOT enough.
Does CBD work well for easing chronic, arthritis, and other kinds of pain?
In this study, AmericanMarijuana look at 1,453 Americans that use CBD for pain relief to see how well it performed compared to opioid. Specifically, we’ll look at its effectiveness, advantages, potential downsides, and practitioner’s perception towards the application of CBD for pain relief.
How is CBD Used in Pain Management?
- 60% of CBD consumers use it to treat Chronic pain, followed by Migraine pain (34%), Arthritis pain (28%), and Cancer treatment pain (3%).
- Smoking/Vaping is the most common CBD administration method with 41%, followed by Topical (32%), Tincture/Oil (31%), Edibles (27%), Capsules (26%), Sublingual (9%).
- 55% of participants don’t use THC for pain relief.
CBD Efficiency in Pain Relief
- 53% CBD consumers use it as their ONLY pain relief medication.
- 32% don’t feel any tolerance to CBD despite long-time consumption.
- 44% NEVER experience any side effects.
CBD vs Opioids
Among 259 participants who regularly used opioids before CBD:
Opioids Usage Changes after Using CBD
97% use fewer opioids after using CBD. Among them:
- 15% entirely quit opioids to use ONLY CBD for pain relief.
- 70% has tried other medications to replace opioids but ending up rely mostly on CBD to treat pain.
Opioids Withdrawal Symptoms after Using CBD?
- 73% said that their opioid withdrawal symptoms eased after they used CBD. Half of them believe it thanks to CBD effects.
- Only 3% didn’t see opioids withdrawal symptoms relieved after using CBD.
Can CBD Replace Opioids?
84% believe CBD can replace opioids. According to those supporting CBD as an alternative to opioids, the two biggest advantages of CBD compared to opioids are:
- CBD has fewer/less dangerous side effects (36%).
- CBD is not addictive (35%).
Perception of Practitioners on CBD for Pain Relief
44% of CBD consumers’ practitioner support using CBD for pain relief while only 9% are against it.
Surprisingly, 31% of CBD consumers don’t tell their practitioners about their CBD use for pain.
One potentially concerning finding from the study was that ” 31% of CBD consumers don’t tell their practitioners about their CBD use for pain.” I would stress to anyone who is interested in using CBD that they need to disclose it to their physicians. Many people do not realize that there is a high potential for drug-drug interactions with CBD and many common prescription and OTC medications.
Tory R. Spindle, Ph.D
I would say that overall, these findings are consistent with other recent surveys that have also shown people are commonly using CBD to treat pain and that they report it is effective. This study suggests that what we now need is controlled research to understand CBD’s pain-relieving effects (there is surprisingly very little research published in this area on humans). Without controlled studies, it is difficult to know whether some people experience benefits from CBD due to expectancy effects. For example, they may have heard from a friend that CBD helps with pain and they then have an expectation it will help them (this is often referred to as the placebo effect). Controlled research will also help to determine if there are certain CBD doses that are more effective than others, routes of administration, etc.
Tory R. Spindle, Ph.D – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Our lab has been doing research on cannabinoids for over 20 years. Our studies on CBD have shown that it is highly effective against autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. In fact, based on our studies, FDA has approved the use of CBD to treat autoimmune hepatitis as an orphan drug. Because inflammation also causes pain, it is likely that CBD-mediated suppression of pain may result from its anti-inflammatory properties
Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D – Vice President for Research, University of South Carolina
It is important for readers to understand the limitations of observational, cross-sectional, survey-based research such as this — particularly when the survey is only distributed to people who fit a certain pre-set criteria (here, people who already use CBD for pain relief). An individual’s belief that a drug treats certain symptoms is different from clinical, placebo-controlled evidence that the drug is actually effective. While these results may tell readers what a certain group of survey-takers thin about CBD, readers should not accept these results as evidence that CBD is effective as pain relief or will help them replace opioids — at least until more robust evidence is available.
Theodore L. Caputi, BS – Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, Cork, Republic of Ireland
The relationship between cannabis use and opioid use/mortality is still somewhat debated in the scientific literature, with most research focused on comparing states where marijuana is legal, with those where it’s not. Most of those comparisons seem to show a positive effect; that states with more relaxed marijuana laws have lower rates of opioid abuse. There’s also some debate around exactly which components of cannabis are most useful for pain relief, with different reports suggesting that both THC and CBD may help relieve pain. That your survey respondents clearly find CBD helpful for managing their pain helps to fill in another piece of this puzzle, and as a whole it’s a very encouraging set of results.
Matthew Wall, Ph.D – Senior Imaging Scientist, Imperial College London
This study demonstrates some of the benefit that consumers are finding with with CBD for pain. In our work, we found benefit for anxiety that was prompt and without significant side effects. We need more studies to clarify all of these findings, but the basic science and early clinical findings support a strong signal that echoes the relief indicated in this survey.
Scott Shannon, MD – American Holistic Medical Association
Information is vital. Heightened by the breadth of the opioid crisis, it strictly benefits us to learn about the efficacy and drawbacks of alternative forms of pain management. With additional information and evidence, we can make better choices in treatment.
Rhet Smith – Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
We launched the survey on MTurk. To make sure the participants are U.S weed smokers, we do two things:
Set qualifications to ensure that participants are located only in the U.S.
Set a qualifying question at the beginning of the survey. In this case, the qualifying question is “Do you use CBD for pain relief?”, those who answered “No” will be disqualified and can not complete the survey.
We also have an attention-check question in the middle of the survey to ensure participants do not randomly answer the survey.
Because the survey relies on self-reporting, issues such as telescoping and exaggeration can influence responses. Please also be advised that this survey’s results do not reflect our opinions.
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