Discover supporting research and information on how cannabidiol (CBD) relates to the treatment of 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 way to treat the pain is to manage the symptoms while addressing the root cause, if known.
Pain comes in two primary types: acute or chronic.
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:
- 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.
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:
- Headaches or Migraines
- 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.
Research does not provide context on dosages. Common anecdotal dosage recommendations often cite 10-25mg of oral CBD administered daily. Topicals use as directed or needed.
For more information, see our dosage guidelines for CBD.
Recommended CBD Product Types for Pain
- Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. (September 2004) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15313881
- Sativex: clinical efficacy and tolerability in the treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain. (April 2006) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16553576
- Meta-analysis of cannabis based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain. (January 2007) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17257464
- The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. (February 2007) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17157290
- Oromucosal delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol for neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis: an uncontrolled, open-label, 2-year extension trial. (September 2007) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18035205
- Antihyperalgesic effect of a Cannabis sativa extract in a rat model of neuropathic pain: mechanisms involved. (August 2008) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18618522
- Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC:CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. (February 2010) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19896326
- Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action. (February 2011) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20942863
- Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. (June 2012) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585736
- Cannabidiol inhibits paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain through 5-HT(1A) receptors without diminishing nervous system function or chemotherapy efficacy. (February 2014) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24117398
- Cannabinoids for neuropathic pain. (October 2014) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25160710
- Cannabidiol Is a Potential Therapeutic for the Affective-Motivational Dimension of Incision Pain in Rats. (June 2017) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28680401
- Cannabidiol-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol interactions on acute pain and locomotor activity. (Jume 2017) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28445853
- Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. (July 2018) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30083539
- Plant-Based Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Chronic Neuropathic Pain. (July 2018) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29966400
The contents of this page are not medical advice. Please seek professional medical assistance for any condition and before starting, stoping, or changing medication or supplements.