Do CBD Products Decrease Pain?

CBD products are becoming more socially acceptable and more widely available. Because of this people often ask whether CBD products can help their pain. Here is what we know about CBD so far.

How CBD Creates its Effects

  • All compounds that are taken into the body must bind to a cell receptor to have an effect on some body process. Receptors are like the locks on a door, and chemical compounds are like the keys that fit into the locks. When the two bind together they “unlock” the cell and change how that cell functions.
  • CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body.
  • These CBD receptors are found in nerve and joint tissues. When CBD binds here it will create some change in the function of nerve or joint tissue cells. This forms the basis for why we believe CBD has pain-relieving effects.

Research Studies of CBD

  • A study of rodents showed that CBD decreased joint inflammation that results in pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Human subjects with rheumatoid arthritis showed a small but significant change in their pain and quality of sleep following 5 weeks of CBD use.
  • A systematic review of four studies did show that CBD improved pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis; however, these patients reported side effects including dizziness and cognitive problems.

Summary Recommendations

  • At this time, there is a lack of good quality studies, so it is difficult to make recommendations. Much of the support for CBD is based on anecdotes which are not strong evidence.
  • Different studies use different strains of the drug in different amounts and with different delivery systems. This is why it is so hard to compare the results and come up with evidence-based recommendations.
  • If this is a treatment you are interested in, then you should speak with your primary care physician. CBD can have interactions with other medications, especially medications that have psychoactive properties. So talk with your doctor first before trying anything new in your pain management regimen.