The only thing that comes close is a Phase 2 clinical trial using a proprietary CBD transdermal gel (meaning it’s meant to go through the skin into the bloodstream) in 320 patients with knee osteoarthritis over 12 weeks, which has not been peer-reviewed to date. Unfortunately, in almost all of the study’s measures of pain, those who received CBD didn’t have statistically different scores from those who got placebo. But “they found some reductions in pain and improvements in physical function,” Boehnke says.
“There’s really no substitute for doing proper human studies, which are difficult, expensive, and ethically complicated,” Dr. Tishler says. And we simply don’t have them for CBD and pain.
You don’t need me to tell you that CBD (cannabidiol) is everywhere. You can eat it, you can drink it, you can vape it, you can even bathe in it. And although there’s still plenty to learn about this fascinating little compound, fans of it claim that it has some pretty impressive benefits—particularly when it comes to managing pain.
Here’s what the research says about using CBD for pain.
It’s also important to remember that, although generally benign, side effects have been reported with some forms of CBD. For instance, oral CBD taken in the large amounts that have shown some limited promise in helping with anxiety issues may come with side effects, such as diarrhea, reduced appetite, fatigue, and interactions with other drugs you might be taking, specifically blood thinners, Cooper says.
Both THC and CBD act on a system of receptors in your body called cannabinoid receptors. You have cannabinoid receptors throughout your body and, so far, researchers have identified two major types: CB1 (found primarily in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain and spinal cord) and CB2 (found mainly in immune system tissues). Interestingly, both have been found in skin. Researchers have also found that while THC can bind to and activate both types of receptors, CBD seems to modulate and somewhat block the effects of CB1 and CB2 receptors. So, any effect that CBD has on CB receptors may actually be more related to regulating and even counteracting some of the actions of THC and other cannabinoids in the brain.
One major issue is that it’s actually somewhat difficult to create a topical cannabinoid product (containing CBD or THC) that penetrates the skin enough to produce an effect, but not so deep that it gets into the bloodstream, Boehnke explains. If the product does get into the bloodstream—if it’s transdermal rather than truly topical—it could potentially reach the brain, possibly producing psychoactive effects if it contains THC.
But if you’re reading this, you are probably not a rat, which means these results aren’t directly applicable to your life. Although we know that rats do share much of our physiology—including CB1 and CB2 receptors—these studies don’t really tell us if humans would have the same results with CBD.
Many people use topical CBD products like salves, balms, creams, and roll-ons to treat pain from musculoskeletal issues. Patients say CBD oil helps for many different aches and pains. Plus, it can help with psoriasis and eczema too.
There are many ways to extract cannabinoids from hemp. The most efficient and safest way to extract cannabinoids is through CO2 extraction, so look for brands that uses this method.
Topical CBD for Medicinal Purposes
Or they might not derive their cannabinoids from unsafe hemp, using processes that take harmful pesticides with them in the extraction journey.
Acne is something that scientists and doctors have been fighting for years. For some people, the only solution to combat those pimples and skin inflammation is to ingest or apply harsh chemicals that aren’t necessarily healthy for the body.
Plus, the more cannabinoids, the better. You won’t get high from the trace amounts of THC in a “full-spectrum” product. But you will reap the benefits of that THC and other abundant compounds, terpenes, and essential oils, which are all present through the CO2 extraction process.