Many people with arthritis, lower back pain, and cancer use CBD cream for pain. CBD (cannabidiol) is a nonpsychoactive constituent in hemp plants. Like the psychoactive chemical in marijuana called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD has been studied for more than four decades. It shows great promise as a natural medicine for managing chronic pain in animals and is now advancing to the human phase of scientific study.
Recent research suggests that CBD creams and lotions might help to improve pain management in those with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and various other health conditions that are marked by chronic pain.
This article explores the scientific evidence that suggests cannabidiol benefits for pain, what people are using it for, and the rare but possible side effects of using topical CBD creams and lotions.
Before reviewing how cannabidiol cream works against pain, it is essential to understand some of the differences between CBD and THC. The main differences and similarities can be summarized as follows:
Most of the research that has implicated CBD as a possible analgesic (pain relieving) agent was studying the effects of medicinal marijuana. That means that the researchers were looking at the combined impact on THC and CBD; not CBD alone.
That’s very important because it makes it impossible for scientists to say that CBD has any pharmacological effects when THC is not present. Today, much research is studying the effects of CBD as a solitary agent. Many studies are ongoing that are looking at how CBD isolates work inside the body.
Currently, cannabidiol is associated with the following properties in animal studies:
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that cannabidiol can be useful for managing chronic pain from various sources.
Currently, there are no CBD products that are approved for the treatment or prevention of any medical condition. Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled human research is needed to understand any specific health benefits of cannabidiol.
According to Healthline, “Cannabinoids, such as CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors in a person's brain and immune system. CBD may help manage chronic pain by affecting the brain's response to pain signals.”
More specifically, the CB2 receptor (cannabinoid receptor type 2) plays essential roles in the body’s ability to manage inflammation and pain. Scientists believe that CBD attaches to CB2 receptors when it enters the body, and then, stimulates immune system activities that affect the receptors’ capacities to receive specific chemical signals.
Cannabidiol might also stimulate the production of other natural cannabinoid compounds that can activate CB2 receptors in the brain and immune system. Research continues to explore the precise pain-relieving mechanisms of CBD.
Millions of people suffer from chronic pain from osteoarthritis and RA (rheumatoid arthritis). Recent research suggests that using a high-quality CBD cream may help to manage the pain and inflammation that are common with these conditions.
In 2016, researchers from the University of Kentucky examined the effects of cannabidiol in rats with arthritis. A topical CBD lotion was applied daily in 0.6-, 3.1-, 6.2-, and 62.3-milligram doses for four consecutive days. The researchers concluded that rats treated with cannabidiol experienced reduced inflammation and overall pain.
According to the researchers, “These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.”
The analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol may help to reduce pain and swelling in those with arthritis. However, more human research is needed to be sure.
CBD cream might help to alleviate pain, redness, swelling, and other symptoms caused by chemotherapy treatments used for combating cancer.
In a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, a CBD extract sprayed into the mouth enhanced the performance of opiates used to treat pain.
A few studies with mice have shown that cannabidiol oil can slow the growth of tumors. However, there have not been any studies that have examined the effects of CBD creams or lotions.
It’s possible that lotion and creams are more bioavailable than oils or other topical CBD salve products. Researchers from the University of Kentucky assert, “Topical drug application avoids gastrointestinal administration, first pass metabolism, providing more constant plasma levels.”
In any case, more people with cancer continue to turn to cannabidiol for pain relief and possible antitumor benefits. However, more research is needed to know if this is a useful treatment option or not.
In most users, using CBD lotions or creams for chronic pain causes no severe side effects In rare cases, users experience mild and temporary nausea, irritability, or trouble sleeping.
Overall, cannabidiol offers a natural, non-habit forming option for those who suffer from chronic pain. Many people report improvements to pain, swelling, mood, and overall life quality after beginning to use a quality CBD product.