Pain is a wonderful thing! While that may not sound like a rational statement, our body’s pain response is what saves us from potential life threatening circumstances. Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and to stop doing what is causing the pain. There are various types of pain such as acute pain, chronic pain, inflammation and even psychological pain caused from physical pain, referred to as “psychogenic” pain, so the answer of which CBD format is best isn’t quite as simple.
What is CBD?
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of 100+ chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant called cannabinoids. While THC is the most famous cannabinoid for its intoxicating effects, CBD is gaining popularity for its health benefits and therapeutic properties.
CBD can be taken in any number of different formats such as oils, capsules, topicals, vapes and edibles. There is a growing list of medicinal benefits from taking CBD on a regular basis and some of the most popular reasons why people take CBD include anxiety, insomnia and pain relief.
In the article, we will focus on pain relief and discuss whether CBD oil or CBD cream is best for relief from pain and inflammation.
How Does CBD Help with Pain?
Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that promote homeostasis, which is the body’s ability to maintain balance and function properly. Our ECS acts sort of as a “control panel” for many different functions such as appetite, sleep patterns, immune function, cognitive and motor abilities, as well as pain sensitivity and inflammation response.
Unlike THC, which binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our ECS, CBD is actually an antagonist and has the opposite effect. CBD inhibits anandamide, a natural cannabinoid in our body that helps regulate pain and promotes a feeling of well-being.
Looking at the science, there is still some debate on how exactly CBD elicits analgesia (analgesia = absence of pain). Other than interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system, there is also evidence that CBD may also affect areas outside of our ECS such as opioid, serotonin and other receptors involved in inflammatory pathways. CBD has also been shown to activate other receptor proteins, such as TRPV1, which is responsible for functions such as inflammation and pain awareness.
CBD, along with the other cannabinoids and terpenes in the hemp plant, is a growing trend among pain sufferers from a variety of conditions such as chronic pain, migraines, arthritis and other neurological or autoimmune disorders. Studies have shown that plant cannabinoids (CBD and THC) are far more potent anti-inflammatory operators than NSAIDs.
CBD may not completely get rid of all pain like taking morphine would, but it may reduce it to a point where it’s tolerable, and thus eliminate the need to take prescription drugs.
A Word on Opioids:
Opioids are extremely addictive, which has led many pain sufferers down a path of abuse. Prescriptions for opioids have soared in the US in the last two decades and incidents of opioid overdoses has tripled during that time. Statistics show that opioid addiction, overdose and deaths are at an all-time high in the United States.
CBD Oil vs CBD Pain Cream
Using CBD Oil for Pain
CBD can be ingested into the bloodstream by using a tincture bottle containing CBD that is diluted in a carrier oil. The recommended method to use CBD from tinctures is to place the oil under your tongue and hold it there for some time to let it absorb through the sublingual capillaries. The sublingual method is preferred as the CBD enters your bloodstream without having to go through the digestive system.
CBD ingested internally will take a bit longer to absorb, but will have a longer lasting effect on the overall pain and inflammation functions in our ECS.
As far as how much CBD oil to take, CBD dosing will depend on several factors including body weight, metabolism, frequency of use, as well as the CBD quality. We always suggest starting with a low dose and gradually increase until pain relief is achieved.
Visit our free CBD dosage calculator for a good starting point.
Using Topical CBD Cream for Pain
There are various topical CBD products that can be very effective for targeted pain relief. Topical CBD can be found in an oil-based salve or ointment, which tend to be thicker consistency, and will stay on the skin’s surface for a longer period of time. A CBD cream or lotion, on the other hand, is water-based and will absorb better into the skin.
Rather than being ingested orally like CBD oil, topicals are applied directly and massaged to the specific area of pain, offering a concentrated amount of CBD in a relatively small area. Topical CBD also avoids the first-pass metabolism effect from ingesting CBD oil and thus improves the CBD bioavailability.
Topical CBD products also minimizing any potential adverse effects some may experience with ingesting a higher dose of CBD oil due to potential side effects, or sensitivity to some carrier oils.
Since topical CBD administration helps with localized pain, as opposed to chronic pain from conditions such as neurological disorders of autoimmune deficiencies, topical CBD is ideal for arthritis, joint pain, muscular pain or dermatological conditions.
As for dosage, anecdotal evidence suggests that a low concentration of CBD is quite effective when applied topically vs ingested orally, so a little goes a long way. Also, pain is extremely subjective, so it will also depend on the severity of pain and inflammation one is experiencing, and what exactly is causing the pain. For example, if you just broke a bone, CBD may not be of much help in alleviating the immediate pain until the fracture is set and you’re in the later stages of healing.
So Which is Best For Pain, CBD Oil or CBD Cream?
Both CBD oil and topical CBD can be very effective for pain relief. Ingesting CBD oil can work on the internal cells to provide relief while CBD creams can provide direct targeted relief to painful areas. CBD oil ingested orally may also help with other symptoms that someone in pain may be experience due to their condition such as anxiety, insomnia, etc.
There are proponents for both types of CBD formats for alleviating pain, but when combined, a CBD oil and a topical CBD cream or salve can be a powerhouse for attacking pain and inflammation from the inside and out!
The Future of CBD Use for Pain
It has only been slightly more than a year since CBD was de-classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 substance (unlike marijuana which is still federally illegal). This means that there have been very limited studies on CBD and its effectiveness for pain.
With the shift in legislature in the USA and other countries towards cannabis, new research, as well as anecdotal evidence, has been growing giving us a better understanding of how cannabis may provide therapeutic benefit.
The relationship between cannabis and the human body is extremely complex and further research is required to fully comprehend its therapeutic benefits and safety profile. We at Tessera Naturals keep our thumb on the pulse for any breaking news and information that surfaces on the benefits and usage of hemp and its derivatives.
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- Pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong that is causing pain.
- CBD from hemp is a growing treatment for pain sufferers without the intoxicating effects of THC.
- CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system to provide relief from pain and inflammation.
- CBD may also interact with other receptors outside of our ECS such as opioid and serotonin receptors.
- CBD oil can be ingested sublingually to provide pain relief from the inside while topical CBD can be applied to a targeted area to attack pain from the outside.
- Both CBD oil and topical CBD can be very effective for pain relief, and when combined, can be a powerful synergistic treatment.