Some proponents suggest that CBD oil could provide a solution to opioid addiction as concerns over opioid overdoses continue to escalate.
So far, much of the evidence for CBD oil’s effects on pain management comes from animal-based research. This research includes a study published in the journal Pain in 2017, in which scientists observed that treatment with topical CBD helped thwart the development of joint pain in rats with osteoarthritis.
Chronic pain is the most common reason for medicinal cannabis use, according to a recent survey. If you have a chronic pain condition and have not been able to manage it with standard treatment (or wish to avoid the adverse effects of other medications), you may be considering CBD oil for pain relief.
A type of pain triggered by damage to the somatosensory system (i.e., the system responsible for processing sensory stimuli), neuropathic pain often occurs in people with conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
However, it should be noted that the studies used a variety of cannabis-based medicines (e.g., inhaled cannabis, sprays, and oral tablets containing THC and/or CBD from plant sources or made synthetically), some of which are more likely to result in these side effects than products without THC.
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Most importantly, CBD can interact with other important medications like blood thinners, heart medications, and immunosuppressants (medications given after organ transplantation), potentially changing the levels of these important medications in the blood and leading to catastrophic results, including death. Also, more information needs to be gathered about its safety in special populations such as the elderly, children, those who are immunocompromised, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
In fact, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies and individuals that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain CBD. The FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD the manufacturers had claimed they contain.
Given the ongoing challenges of chronic pain management coupled with the consequences of the opioid epidemic, pain management practitioners and their patients are searching for effective and safer alternatives to opioids to alleviate pain. With the legalization of marijuana in many states and resulting cultural acceptance of this drug for recreational and medical use, there has been an increased interest in using cannabis for a myriad of medical problems, including pain.
Given its promising results in animal models, along with its relative safety, non-psychoactive properties, and low potential for abuse, CBD is an attractive candidate to relieve pain. Unfortunately, there is a lack of human studies about the effectiveness of CBD. However, there is an abundance of commercial advertisements about the magical effects of CBD, and it is frequently presented as a cure-it-all potion that will treat everything including diabetes, depression, cancer, chronic pain, and even your dog’s anxiety!
Given the rapid change in the legality of cannabis coupled with the increased appetite for something new, and driven by unprecedented profit margins, the advertising for cannabinoids in general and CBD in particular has gone wild. The FDA is very clear that it is illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement. And it warns the public about its potential side effects, as it’s often advertised in a way that may lead people to mistakenly believe using CBD “can’t hurt.” CBD can cause liver injury, and can affect the male reproductive system (as demonstrated in laboratory animal studies).
If you ask health care providers about the most challenging condition to treat, chronic pain is mentioned frequently. By its nature, chronic pain is a complex and multidimensional experience. Pain perception is affected by our unique biology, our mood, our social environment, and past experiences. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, you already know the heavy burden.
2. Rudroff T, Sosnoff J. Cannabidiol to improve mobility in people with multiple sclerosis. Front Neurol. 2018;9:183.
Specific conditions that may be helped by CBD include:
Yes, cannabidiol (CBD) does come from marijuana. But let’s say it again and louder for the people in the back: No, it does not get you high! In the United States, legal CBD products are predominantly derived from the hemp plant, which is a species of the sativa marijuana plant. A key difference is that hemp contains 0.3% or less of THC cannabinoids.
How does CBD help pain?
When we talk about CBD, we are typically talking about CBD products, such as topical creams and ingestible oils that are created by extracting the CBD compound from the marijuana plant. Although, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC – which we will get to.
12. Supplements: Nutrition in a pill. Mayo Clinic. 2017. Available at: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/supplements/art-20044894. Accessed July 2020.
Selecting a CBD product depends on:
9. Nicholson AN, Turner C, et al. Effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults. J Clin Pshychopharmacol. 2004;23(3):305-313.