CBD Oil for Pain: Information, Treatment, Effectiveness & Studies

Man gripping stomach pain

What is Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant, uncontrollable sensation that is used to alert the body of issues. These sensations may have both physical and mental components. Pain can be described in a variety of ways including steady, throbbing, aching, pinching, or sharp. The severity and intensity can range from a minor nuisance to a major, debilitating issue.

Pain can cause emotional side effects including anger, depression or other mood-impacting outcomes. It can also induce physical symptoms including nausea, dizziness or weakness. All of these effects can impact a person's lifestyle, relationships, work, and independence.

Currently, the best-known way to treat the pain is to manage the symptoms while addressing the root cause, if known.

Main Types of Pain

Pain comes in two primary types: acute or chronic.

Acute Pain

This type of pain is caused by a sudden, specific influence. The pain is often sharp and can be treated by addressing the root cause. This type of pain triggers the body's fight-or-flight mechanism to alert the person experiencing the pain of danger. Examples of acute pain causes include:

  • Surgery
  • Burns or cuts
  • Blunt trauma
  • Broken bones

Acute pain comes in several varieties including:

  • Somatic pain that is localized to the skin or just below the skin.
  • Visceral pain that occurs within the internal organs and cavity linings of the body.
  • Referred pain is pain that is felt at a location away from the origin. An example is shoulder pain that is experienced during a heart attack.

Chronic Pain

This variation is ongoing, usually lasting for 6 months or longer. These long-term pains may last past healing of the source issue or may be caused by a disease or disorder. These issues may be intermittent or continuous. Common conditions resulting in chronic pain include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Cancer
  • Nerve pain
  • Back pain

Chronic pain can result in physical effects that put stress on the body. The "fight-or-flight" reactions triggered by chronic pain subsides over time as the sympathetic nervous system that triggers these reactions eventually adapts to the stimulus. Long periods of exposure can result in tense muscles, lack of energy, limited mobility, and more. These side effects can have major life-impacting consequences.


Separate from the two main classifications, there are several other descriptors used to classify pain.

Nociceptive Pain (Tissue Damage)

Pain caused by tissue damage is the most common source of pain. These sensations stem from an injury to the tissues within the body including bone, muscle, and organs. The source of these injuries can vary from a physical injury like a cut to a disease like cancer. This pain can be acute or chronic.

Neuropathic Pain (Nerve Damage)

Nerves in the body serve to transmit signals to and from the brain. When these nerves are damaged, they can interfere with the way those signals are transmitted. Damage can result in abnormal pain signals.

Nerve damage can be sourced back to diseases like diabetes or to physical traumas. This damage can also be caused by things like chemotherapy, HIV, stroke, or infection. This classification of pain is often described as burning, prickling, or shocking sensations. This type of pain is usually chronic.

Treating Pain with CBD

Many studies have been performed on cannabis' effect on a wide variety of pain classifications, types, and sources. There is research-backed evidence showing that CBD acts as an effective anti-inflammatory medicine helping to suppress pain.

The most promising research relating CBD to pain control has been shown in cases where a whole plant / multi-cannabinoid trial has been performed. Medicines containing THC, CBD, and other cannabis sativa components have been observed to be effective in treating pain. Specifically, CBD has been cited to enhance THC's antinociceptive (pain blocking) properties and prolonging the duration of relief. This whole-plant synergy is known as the entourage effect.

In addition to CBD, many other cannabinoids have been specifically researched and observed to reduce pain. These compounds include cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) as well as terpenes and flavonoids For this reason if you're experiencing pain we highly recommend seeking a full or broad-spectrum product, avoiding the limited cannabinoid profile that CBD isolates offer.

Notable Research on Pain & CBD Oil

  • A 2007 study on cannabis concluded that "Cannabinoids including the cannabidiol/THC buccal spray are effective in treating neuropathic pain in MS."
  • A 2007 study on rats concluded that "The results indicate a potential for therapeutic use of cannabidiol in chronic painful states."
  • A 2008 study stated: "However, in the light of the well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of terpenes and flavonoids which could significantly contribute to the therapeutic effects, it cannot be excluded that the synergism observed might be achieved also in the absence of the cytochrome P450 inhibition."
  • A 2010 study on patients with advanced cancer used a THC/CBD extract and concluded: "This study shows that THC:CBD extract is efficacious for relief of pain in patients with advanced cancer pain not fully relieved by strong opioids."
  • A 2011 study concluded that both CBD and CBC might be useful therapeutic agents against pain with multiple mechanisms of action.
  • A 2012 study concluded that CBD: "significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing apparent analgesic tolerance in rodents" by targeting α3 glycine receptors. It further states "These cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain and other diseases involving GlyR dysfunction."
  • A 2014 study concluded that cannabidiol inhibits neuropathic pain through the 5-HT(1A) receptors without diminishing nervous system function or chemotherapy efficacy.
  • A 2018 study on dogs showed that: "Clinically, canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity (p < 0.01) with CBD oil."

Originally Published: January 7, 2019 | Last Updated: January 7, 2019

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