CBD and cannabis plants have been used for thousands of years for the relief of pain. In multiple countries, spanning over multiple eras, one of the most common uses of cannabis has been for pain relief.
In 1700, B.C. cannabis was used in Egypt to treat painful migraine headaches.
In the year 350, cannabis was thought to have been used to treat women for pain during childbirth.
In 1842, cannabis became popular in Europe for treating nerve pain as well as depression and muscle spasms.
In 2006, a survey of patients seeking cannabis in California declared that 82.6% of patients were seeking cannabis for pain relief.
CBD and THC have demonstrated themselves as effective pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents. People who use cannabis for pain report a better quality of life.
CBD is an excellent alternative to prescription pain medication because it is non-addictive, non-psychoactive, non-toxic, and all natural.
What kinds of pain can I use CBD for?
People report that CBD and THC as well are useful for pain relief from:
- Neuropathy (opioid pain killers have shown to not be effective for relieving nerve pain)
- Post-traumatic pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Back pain
- Cancer pain
- Menstrual pain
- Muscle pain
What are the benefits of using CBD for pain?
- Improved sleep
- Better mood
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased mobility
- Less risk of serious side effects associated with the use of NSAIDs and prescription pain medications
- No risk of fatal overdose
- Potent anti-inflammatory
- May allow users of Rx pain killers to reduce their dose due to a synergistic effect when combining pain killers with CBD. This needs to be done carefully as drug interactions are possible with CBD.
What are the side effects of using CBD for pain?
Most will find that CBD has few side effects. Side effects like sedation, drowsiness, and dry mouth are possible. Side effects are more likely to happen in high doses. Since people in pain may be using high doses of CBD to relieve their pain, dosage may need to be decreased and spread out over time to decrease negative side effects from happening.
How should I use CBD for pain?
CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and should always be considered as a significant part of pain relief from cannabis. This is both true for people new to cannabis and for those who have already been getting relief for years from THC dominant products.
Whole plant cannabis extracts have been demonstrated to be more effective with less negative side effects than synthetic or single-molecule compounds. Aim for whole plant extracts to take advantage of the entourage effect from the terpenes and flavonoids present in cannabis.
If you are new to cannabis, you may be more comfortable starting out with CBD and then working your way towards adding in THC as well.
Start out with low doses and increase the dose in even increments slowly until you reach your desired effect. You can try a dose for a couple days and then increase as needed.
A low starting dose for CBD is 5 – 10 mg
A low starting dose for THC is 2.5 mg
All of the common methods of delivery – inhalation, sublingual tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topicals – work for pain relief. The fastest onset of effects will be from inhalation and subligual tinctures. Many patients like to combine different methods to get the benefits of more than one. Topical CBD salves and creams are useful for specific parts of the body which are in pain. Just be careful with edibles which contain THC. THC is converted into a compound with a stronger effect when processed through the stomach. Less is more when using edible THC.
Should I use both CBD and THC for pain?
A study which used a sublingual spray containing either THC alone, CBD alone, a combination of THC and CBD, or a placebo was done on patients with chronic pain from various causes. The patients who used the THC alone and the THC and CBD combination reported the best results: a significant improvement on pain compared to the placebo. All three variations of cannabis medicine improved quality of sleep over the placebo.
THC and CBD work synergistically to reduce pain.
Some patients get the best results for treating pain from an equal ratio of CBD to THC (1:1 ratio of CBD:THC).
Other patients want pain relief but are not comfortable with the psychoactivity of THC. For these patients, a better choice is a CBD dominant product with just a small amount of THC (not enough to be psychoactive). Ratios like 30:1, 25:1, and 18:1 (CBD:THC) are good options for these patients.
To take advantage of both the pain relieving effects of THC and CBD, some patients opt for a strategy of using CBD dominant products during the day and then adding in CBD/THC combinations at nighttime. This allows them to stay clearheaded during the day and then use the THC + CBD at night for better sleep and relaxation.
You may not be able to get THC containing products where you live. In that case, you can stick to CBD. Either way, we encourage you to try different product variations to find what works best for you.
What terpenes work synergistically with CBD for pain?
If using CBD for pain relief, look for higher concentrations of these terpenes:
- B-Caryophyllene – anti-inflammatory and analgesic
- Pinene (or a-pinene) – anti-inflammatory
- Humulene – anti-inflammatory
- Linalool – Analgesic
- Myrcene (or b-myrcene) – Analgesic, muscle relaxant, and anti-inflammatory
- Cineole – Anti-inflammatory
- Borneol – Analgesic
- Terpinolene – Analgesic
What are some of the studies on CBD for pain?
- In 2015, a report was released from Israel on the results of patients with cancer using cannabis for pain. 70% of patients reported pain relief from cannabis use.
- Sativex, a sublingual spray of equal parts CBD and THC, was tested on against a placebo for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Sativex produced significant pain relief with both movement and rest as well as improved quality of sleep.
Blake, D., et al. Preliminary Assessment of the Efficacy, Tolerability and Safety of a Cannabis-based Medicine (Sativex) in the Treatment of Pain Caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatology (2006) 45: 50-52