Preliminary studies have shown a favorable effect for CBD for reducing pain; however, more research is needed in the form of larger well-designed trials of longer duration to determine its long-term efficacy and safety.
CBD has been credited with relieving anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and pain, although currently, the most scientific proof rests with its effects in people with epilepsy. Epidiolex is a prescription CBD oil that was FDA approved in June 2018 for two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome.
By law, industrial hemp from which CBD is extracted must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC to be considered hemp, otherwise, growers are at risk of prosecution under federal law.
Many plants contain cannabinoids, and people often confuse CBD with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is another type of cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a “high” or euphoric effect because it does not affect the same receptors as THC.
An extensive 2018 review on the use of cannabis and cannabidiol products for pain relief stated:
Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 17, 2019.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound that is usually extracted from industrial hemp.
Yet marijuana has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years, he notes. In fact, one of the first recorded uses of cannabis was for rheumatism, also known as arthritis. Cannabis products were widely used as medicines in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and were listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia before the onset of Federal restriction in 1937 under the Marijuana Tax Act.
Route of administration matters. CBD is best taken in pill or capsule form for slow extended release or as an oral tincture (infused oil that contains CBD) for faster effect onset.
Want to learn more on this topic? Listen to this podcast from the Rogel Cancer Center on Medical Marijuana for Cancer Patients.
While there aren’t any published clinical trials on CBD in pain, Boehnke notes that ongoing preclinical studies in animals have demonstrated that CBD reduces pain and inflammation, and studies of CBD in humans show that it is well-tolerated and has few negative side effects. “There are also observational studies that ask why people use CBD and if it’s effective, and results tend to be quite positive. People report using CBD for anxiety, pain, sleep — all things that go hand-in-hand with chronic pain,” he says. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived CBD (<0.3% THC) from the Controlled Substances Act, and many people are since testing it out. Boehnke says, “Even though there isn’t clinical trial literature for most common uses of CBD, people don’t necessarily follow what clinical trials say.”
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is undergoing a surge in popularity as the hot new supplement, with a promise to treat a variety of conditions including pain, anxiety, and insomnia, just to name a few. It’s also available in all manner of forms, from lotions and oils to CBD-infused food and drink. But does it work?
They also provided guidance for the Arthritis Foundation, who recently surveyed 2,600 people with arthritis and found that 29% currently use CBD to treat arthritis symptoms.