Cannabidiol, typically referred to as CBD, is a cannabinoid that has recently seen a striking rise in use for the treatment of a variety of ailments and conditions. CBD is the non-psychoactive cousin to THC and can be found in both the marijuana plant and the commercially grown hemp plant.
Only one drug with CBD as the active ingredient, marketed under the trade name Epidiolex, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of epilepsy. Yet many people claim that CBD also may offer relief from chronic pain, including back pain and arthritis. Given the wide availability of CBD products on the market and the ease with which these products can be accessed, the adoption of CBD products to treat pain is an appealing option for many people that suffer from chronic pain.
If you are considering using CBD products to treat your pain, you are probably curious about how they work. In this article, we’ll explore the use of CBD oil for pain relief. We’ll look at what CBD hemp oil is, how it works, how it’s manufactured, the potential benefits of CBD, and why it can be a viable option for pain relief. An increasing number of people are turning to CBD oil for uses that may help alleviate chronic pain and the underlying conditions that cause that pain, such as inflammation. Despite the lack of human studies on the efficacy of CBD for pain relief, there exists a large body of anecdotal evidence reinforced by studies on animal models that support the argument for using CBD to possibly help relieve pain.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 of the chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in cannabis plants. There is a lot of confusion out there about CBD, including the types of plants it is found in. There are two main types of cannabis plants: marijuana and hemp.
- Marijuana – This cannabis plant is bred specifically for higher THC content. Under federal law in the United States, the cultivation and sale of the marijuana plant are currently illegal. Many countries around the world, and some U.S. states, have legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.
- Hemp – Hemp is the second main type of cannabis plant. Hemp has a long history of use and has historically been cultivated for the tough fibers of the plant which can be used to produce a strong cloth. Hemp is much higher in CBD concentrations and only has very trace amounts of THC compared to marijuana. As such, most CBD is produced from hemp plants. Hemp CBD is now legal nationwide.
So, while CBD can be found in both the marijuana and hemp plants, the production of CBD on a large scale typically involves hemp plants. Hemp is legal to grow in many places throughout the world, and the hemp plant remains an important source of sustainable, environmentally friendly natural fibers.
CBD vs. THC
The biggest area of confusion surrounding CBD is the fact that it is often conflated with THC. To be clear, these are not the same compound. Even though they can both be derived from the marijuana plant, the vast majority of CBD that is produced and sold is manufactured using hemp as the source product.
A key differentiation between CBD and THC is the presence or absence of psychoactive effects. Psychotropic drugs are drugs that affect the user’s mental state. THC is a psychotropic drug, meaning that it alters the mental state of the user and produces feelings of euphoria. Often this is referred to as a “high”.
In contrast to THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. In other words, when you take CBD, you won’t experience a high or feeling of euphoria. This is the main area of concern for many people that are considering using CBD oil for pain relief. While many of these individuals may welcome pain relief, they don’t want to experience the high that accompanies the use of THC. While CBD use at very high doses may result in some side-effects, such as drowsiness, it still doesn’t alter the mental state of the user taking it.
How Does CBD Work for Pain Relief?
If you are considering using CBD oil for back pain or relief of other chronic pain, you’ll want to get a better understanding of how it works. It should be noted from the outset that the exact mechanisms through which CBD helps reduce pain in humans aren’t well known. This lack of knowledge is at least partially due to the small number of studies of CBD on humans as a pain reliever. Much of the information out there about CBD use for chronic pain stems from studies on animal models. As such, one should always keep in mind that results from animal models may or may not translate to human models in the same way.
With that said, what we do know is that CBD functions by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the body. If you’ve never heard of the endocannabinoid system before, you aren’t alone. Although we were taught in school about the central nervous system and immune system, the endocannabinoid system is another system in the body that was only discovered relatively recently. Let’s take a closer look.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a neurotransmission system comprised of lipids, enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors that exist throughout our body, brain, and in all of our organs. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors found in the endocannabinoid system; cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). These receptors are found in all organs of the body, including our skin.
Although much remains unknown about the endocannabinoid system, studies have begun to uncover the diverse ways that this system regulates and modulates a large number of processes in our body. The endocannabinoid system has been linked to the following processes or functions:
- Neural development
- Pain management
- Hunger and satiety
- Stress response
- Addiction and reward centers
- The growth of nervous tissue
- Energy balance
- Immune Function
This list is far from exhaustive, and as further study of the endocannabinoid system progresses, more knowledge about the ways that this system regulates a variety of processes in the body will continue to be revealed. As it stands, the endocannabinoid system is now being studied for links to metabolic disorders such as anorexia, and neurologic diseases such as Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
The endocannabinoid system isn’t simply a series of receptors scattered throughout the body. Our bodies also produce certain cannabinoids, which are referred to as endogenous cannabinoids. The most common of these are anandamide and 2-arichidonylglycerol (2-AG). These naturally-occurring cannabinoids are notable because they interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are both linked to pain management. Interestingly, there are similarities between the action of endocannabinoids produced by our body and the pain reliever acetaminophen, which further points to the ability of cannabinoids to moderate or regulate pain within the body.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
As we discussed in the preceding section, endogenous cannabinoids have been linked to pain management functions through their interaction with the two cannabinoid receptors in the body. Phytocannabinoids such as CBD are also able to interact with these receptors.
CBD is believed to offer pain relief not through its direct interaction with the CB1 receptor, but rather through its ability to indirectly act on this receptor. Specifically, CBD suppresses the breakdown of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide, which has been directly linked to managing pain levels. By slowing the body’s ability to break down anandamide, CBD helps indirectly manage pain levels through the CB1 receptors.
CBD can also directly interact with the CB2 receptors. This direct interaction is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD hemp oil. The interaction of CBD on the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system has also been linked to its ability to reduce neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is typically described as the shooting or burning pain associated with nerve damage.
The effects of CBD on joint pain are also believed to stem from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. CB1 and CB2 receptors found in cartilage may be the vehicle through which CBD reduces pain for individuals that suffer from arthritis or other degenerative diseases affecting the joints.
Due to the fact that CBD is believed to interact both directly and indirectly with the endocannabinoid system, you might be wondering what the best way to take CBD is for pain relief. The fact is, there are hundreds of different CBD pain relief products on the market, each of which touts its ability to reduce or minimize chronic pain or treat a host of other ailments. From using CBD oil for anxiety, to exploring CBD’s potential effects on epilepsy or rheumatoid arthritis, or even utilizing CBD for sleep…there are a variety of ways that CBD can be administered for different causes.
Administration of CBD through oil or capsules is believed to be one of the most effective methods for pain relief. Remember that CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and in all of our major organs, including our skin. Administration of topical CBD oil and salves has been described as potentially helpful for the treatment of ailments that produce chronic inflammation. The most common example of this would be using CBD oil for arthritis pain. For treating things like back pain or nerve pain, oral administration of CBD oil has also been widely recommended for its possible health benefits.
Keep in mind through all of this that there is no definitive recommendation for the administration of CBD. Due to the fact that CBD remains unregulated, companies that sell CBD products cannot make medicinal recommendations or medical claims about cannabidiol products. Furthermore, while studies have illuminated links between the endocannabinoid system and pain relief, there is no accepted medical use in the United States for CBD to treat pain.
Although much of the evidence for the use of CBD oil for pain relief remains anecdotal, there are strong indications that this evidence will be backed up by future research in human models. Both THC and CBD are considered phytocannabinoids, and each interacts with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. In contrast to THC, which remains illegal under Federal law in the United States, CBD does not have psychoactive properties. This means that while CBD may indeed be effective as a pain reliever, it does not result in the feelings of euphoria that are associated with the high that results from the consumption of THC.
Most CBD found on the market today is produced from the hemp plant. Hemp is a type of cannabis that has historically been produced for the fibers of the hemp plant, which are used in a variety of industries including the clothing industry. Today, hemp production is increasingly being undertaken with an eye towards CBD. As CBD has been growing in popularity, regulatory bodies have started to reverse the long-standing bans on the production of hemp.
The body of literature supporting the use of CBD oil for pain relief is growing every day. A third of all testimonials BioCBD+ receives speak about the positive benefits of pain reduction. While it cannot be explicitly claimed that CBD offers pain-relieving properties, what is known is that CBD interacts with the body in two important ways. First, hemp CBD slows the breakdown of the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is believed to help regulate pain through the CB1 receptor. Second, through CBD’s interaction with the CB2 receptor, it has been linked to anti-inflammatory properties, as well as an ability to combat neuropathic pain.
If you are considering taking CBD oil for pain relief, keep in mind that currently, CBD remains unregulated. You’ll want to seek out a highly pure, water-soluble source of bioavailable CBD, such as BioCBD+. Due to the fact that the industry remains unregulated, you won’t be sure of the purity of the CBD you are receiving unless the product is accompanied by a Certificate of Analysis validating the ingredients it contains. Many CBD products on the market have been found to contain lower amounts of CBD than advertised or to contain sufficient levels of THC to result in intoxication. To avoid this, only utilize CBD products that are produced and manufactured by a trusted source. BioCBD+ posts purity testing for product batches on the Certificate of Analysis section of the website.
To find out more about how BioCBD+ can help you, please visit our website and try 30 days of our Total Body Care, or an I AM PEACE vaporizer. We’d love to hear about your experience.
BioCBD+ respects and appreciates the hard work the FDA does, and the disclosure below is required by The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.
- “Endocannabinoid System.” Science Direct, Academic Press, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/endocannabinoid-system.
- Meletis, Chris D., and Kimberly Wilkes. “Endocannabinoids, Phytocannabinoids, Palmitoylethanolamide and Their Fascinating Role in Pain Management.” Townsend Letter, 2018.
- Gill, Lisa L. “New Hope for Pain Relief?” Consumer Reports 83, no. 10 (October 2018): 44.
- Menehan, Karen. “Safety in Application.” Massage Magazine, no. 273 (February 2019): 70–72.