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CBD Oil for Pain Relief: Benefits, Uses & More

8 min read

CBD Oil for Pain Relief: Benefits, Uses & More

8 min read

CBD oil for pain relief: it’s a topic we’re all interested in – and for a good reason. 

None of us like being in pain, and many of us live with chronic pain: research suggests that chronic pain affects between one-third and one-half of the population of the UK – totalling just under 28 million adults

And this figure is set to increase as the population ages. 

While CBD may help to relieve pain – due to its interactions with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), it’s unwise to consider CBD oil as a treatment for a particular ailment. 

Instead, CBD should be used first and foremost to restore balance and encourage overall wellness. This, in turn, may help you cope with pain. 

So, without further ado, let’s look at the following: 

  • Can CBD oil help with pain?
  • How do you use CBD oil for pain
  • Tips to buy the best CBD for pain relief

In this guide:

Will CBD help with pain?

Before we begin, we’re going to reiterate that CBD isn’t clinically recognised as a treatment for pain. 

Medical cannabis can be prescribed privately for chronic pain in the UK. But cannabis contains THC – which has been clinically shown to have pain-easing properties. 

While CBD can’t be classified in a clinical sense in the same way that THC can, some research supports the idea that CBD may help with pain management.

Read more: CBD vs THC

One 2008 review compiled all the human studies conducted on CBD oil from the late 1980s until 2007. It concluded that cannabidiol was effective in pain management  – and didn’t produce adverse side effects.

The review also found that CBD could effectively ease chronic pain-related insomnia.

Other, more recent research also supports the use of CBD in suppressing chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rodents.

Significantly, this study showed that CBD would ease pain in rodents while not causing analgesic tolerance. So unlike opioids, rats didn’t build a tolerance to the CBD; thus, they didn’t require increasingly larger dosages to achieve the same results. 

How CBD helps with pain

CBD intercepts both of the key receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2. 

These are both responsible for transmitting signals to the brain

When a person uses CBD, and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors are intercepted, it can rebalance and restore the body’s natural homeostasis. 

Homeostasis involves the body’s biological processes, such as physical and chemical balances, which can help create a stable equilibrium

Crucially, homeostasis also plays a role in the pain response.

If you notice a reduction in their pain after using CBD, it’s because CBD regulates your ECS, changing how receptors transmit messages around the body.

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CBD oil benefits for pain

Several studies indicate that CBD oil may impact pain caused by a number of different conditions – including arthritis, cancer pain, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and – as mentioned previously – chronic pain management. 

Let’s take a look.

CBD oil for cancer-related pain

We repeat – CBD cannot cure any illness, and it certainly cannot cure cancer.

But, that said, according to this 2020 review,  it might go some way toward reducing cancer-related pains, including inflammatory and neuropathic pain. 

This is significant as current clinically approved treatments for cancer pain are limited to opioids and similar drugs, which can cause serious side effects and long-term addiction. 

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) also states that CBD may help cancer patients cope with the side effects of cancer treatment. 

However, it should be noted again that the majority of studies considering cancer and CBD also look at the role of THC in conjunction with CBD

There’s far less research looking into the ability of CBD alone to help ease cancer pain – and medical cannabis and CBD oil are two very different products. 

CBD oil for arthritis pain

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints

In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or suffer from similar conditions that affect the joints. While arthritis is usually associated with older people, the condition affects people of all ages, including children.

“So, can you use CBD oil for joint pain?”

Some evidence does suggest that CBD may be effective in soothing arthritic-related pain, although again, most studies focus on CBD in conjunction with other cannabinoids – usually THC. 

However, this study did find that transdermal cannabidiol (CBD patches) reduced inflammation and pain in rats with arthritis.

CBD oil for arthritis UK
CBD is not a medicine or cure for arthritis, but it may help relieve arthritis pain.

CBD oil for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and sometimes degenerative condition which affects the nervous system. MS is associated with a range of symptoms, including muscle spasms, pain, and fatigue.

Again, most of the research around MS and CBD examines the effects of THC and CBD together. In fact,  Sativex, an oromucosal spray containing both CBD and THC, is licensed in the UK to help treat MS. 

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may be particularly useful for helping alleviate some of the wide-ranging symptoms of MS – CBD is thought to increase the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body while reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. 

Again, significantly more research is needed before any clinical conclusions can be drawn about how CBD can help MS.

Read more: CBD oil for MS

CBD oil for chronic pain management

Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than 12 weeks

Treating chronic pain can be tricky – avenues may include medication, physiotherapy, and lifestyle and dietary changes. 

CBD could be a helpful tool to this multidisciplinary arsenal, in part due to its anti-inflammatory properties. 

Research also indicates that anxiety and depression are known to amplify pain.

As always, more studies are needed – but if CBD can help in the fight against anxiety and depression, it may improve our wellness – and by proxy, be a valuable tool in chronic pain management.

How to use CBD oil for pain

If you’re looking to try CBD for pain, it can be hard to know where to start. 

Before choosing how to use CBD for pain, speak to a medical professional. CBD can interact with other medications, so it’s important to ensure that CBD is safe for you.

Here’s a quick overview of ingestion methods and their respective benefits.

Sublingual CBD oil for pain management

Using CBD oil sublingually, which involves dropping the oil under your tongue

When the CBD oil is under the tongue, you should hold it there for up to 90 seconds before swallowing it. 

As it bypasses the liver and the stomach, it enters the bloodstream immediately through the sublingual gland under the tongue.

The sublingual method offers the greatest bioavailability – meaning you will receive the highest proportion of CBD for the dose you are taking, and it takes effect rapidly – making it a great choice for pain management.

How to use CBD oil for pain - sublingually
Sublingual CBD oil is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivers fast relief.

Vaping CBD for fast results

Another popular method that can offer quick results is vaping CBD

Again, it enters the bloodstream quickly as nothing needs to be digested. Vaping is also a relaxing pastime for many and is a popular alternative to smoking. 

Alongside CBD oil, both the action of vaping and the product itself can promote general well-being and calm and may help relax you if you are dealing with mental or physical pain. 

A relaxed mind and body will benefit the body and any conditions that may be causing any pain.

With vaping, it’s very easy to buy low-quality CBD cartridges and potentially do yourself more harm than good. Make sure you purchase cartridges from reputable suppliers and check active ingredients. 

CBD capsules for pain relief 

CBD capsules can be very effective but offer less rapid pain relief.  

Due to the ingestion method (swallowing), CBD capsules have to enter the digestive system before taking effect – unlike sublingual oil or vaping, which allows CBD to enter the bloodstream.

Thus, the overall bioavailability will be reduced if you choose capsules. However, what capsules lack in bioavailability, they may make up for in practicality – depending on your priorities. 

Capsules are incredibly easy to integrate into any wellness routine and are easy to take alongside other medications (as long as this is cleared with a medical professional first).

CBD pain relief cream

Last but not least is topical CBD balms and creams, which can be excellent for targeting pain relief

CBD-infused lotions or topicals are popular for people looking to reduce localised pain, such as athletes using CBD for a pulled muscle, applying CBD for joint pain or targeting PMS pain.

Read more: CBD for PMS

When CBD oil is applied to the skin through a balm or cream, it travels into the bloodstream and interacts with our CB2 receptors.

While results may not be instantaneous with topical products, many people like the feeling of focusing the CBD oil on one part of the body.

The bioavailability is reduced through the topical ointment application option – but with added soothing ingredients in topical CBD such as menthol, you may notice effects sooner.

athlete using cbd pain relief cream uk
Topical CBD can provide localised pain relief.

How to choose the best CBD oil for pain

The best CBD oil for you will depend on your symptoms and preference. 

When selecting the best CBD oil for pain, the first thing to look at is the type of CBD.

Using a broad-spectrum CBD oil means you know you are getting the full benefit of the hemp plant (including the much sought-after entourage effect) with no added THC. In our book, broad-spectrum is the best of both worlds!

Full-spectrum CBD oil (FSO) is another option to benefit from the entourage effect. FSO contains a large amount of naturally occurring compounds from the plant itself, including a small, legal level of THC. The only drawback with FSO is that there’s a slight possibility you may fail a drug test due to the presence of THC traces in the product.

Read more: CBD drug tests

CBD isolates are another option – and will likely be the type of CBD available if you’re choosing to vape.  Made with CO2 extraction, isolate contains CBD purely. While this may sound appealing, isolates won’t let you benefit from the entourage effect.

Secondly, we recommend choosing ethical, sustainable, and organic CBD oil. Organics are particularly important as an organic certification will ensure there are no chemicals or contaminants in your product. 

Lastly, but most importantly,  always buy CBD that has been third-party lab tested and comes with a certificate of analysis!

How much CBD oil should I take for pain?

Finding your optimal CBD dosage for pain relief requires a combination of understanding your body, starting low and carefully observing the effects of CBD.

If you are taking CBD oil for pain management, start with a low dosage, such as 10-15mg of CBD daily. Then, slowly increase the dose bit by bit until you feel the pain easing up.

But remember, stay within the maximum daily amount of 70mg of CBD, as recommended by the FSA.

If you are using a CBD balm for pain relief, apply it about twice daily. With a balm, there is minimal risk of taking too much CBD, so this frequency can be increased if required. 

Read more: CBD dosage guide

How long does CBD oil take to work for pain?

When taking CBD oil sublingually, the effects should be felt within 45 minutes to an hour. Those using CBD balm may experience faster results due to other ingredients that work with the CBD to provide relief.

However, it may take a couple of weeks of consistent use to experience the maximum pain-relieving properties of CBD. 

The time it takes to feel the effects of CBD will also be different for everyone and can be influenced by the type of pain, the dosage and how your body responds to the CBD.

Final thoughts on CBD for pain relief

CBD oil can be used to restore a stable equilibrium within the body and promote general wellness. 

CBD should not be used as a medicine; instead, it should be used to aid good health and maintain a normal level of homeostasis. 

However, research shows that CBD may help ease pain in some people and can be a valuable tool for those living with chronic pain or painful long-term conditions.

As the body of research on CBD grows, so will our understanding of its use as a potential therapeutic tool in pain management. 

For now, it’s imperative to consult a medical professional before you try CBD for pain. Failing to speak to a medical professional could negatively impact other medications and treatments. 

Don’t worry – CBD is legal in the UK, and you won’t be judged!