Does CBD Work for Pain Relief?

Chronic pain represents an emerging public health issue.  It is a way of life for those suffering with debilitating medical conditions that bring about widespread body aches, joint pain, and muscle tension.  Like some people, I suffer from significant shoulder discomfort.  On the pain scale, I’d rank it somewhere between almost screaming and needing to be sedated.  I’m being facetious but the reality is, my pain is a 7 out of 10, with major discomfort sleeping and lifting heavy items.  Could CBD help?  

CBD, short for cannabidiol, claims to treat a variety of conditions including pain, anxiety, and insomnia, just to name a few.  It’s also available in all manner of forms from lotions, creams, and oils to CBD-infused food and drink.  But does it work for pain relief?  Is it better than addictive opioids?  

The scientific evidence around CBD use is thin due to the fact that cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug, which limits the research needed to figure out how best to use it.  Under the U.S. Federal Controlled Substances Act, Schedule 1 drugs are defined as having no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.  The clinical trial literature tracking CBD’s effectiveness is quite limited. 

However, there is anecdotal evidence and observational studies surrounding CBD’s useful impact on pain.  In fact, CBD is often touted as a panacea for just about anything that ails you. 

Given the ongoing challenges of chronic pain management in the U.S. coupled with the deadly, far-reaching consequences of the opioid epidemic, pain management practitioners and their patients search for effective and safer alternatives to opioids to alleviate pain. 

Flip through a magazine or catch a glimpse of a billboard on the highway and you might see there is an abundance of commercial advertisements about the magical effects of CBD, and it is frequently presented as a cure-it-all potion that will treat everything.  We know this, too, because CBD is creating sky-high profits.  By some estimates, the CBD market could be worth $20 billion dollars by 2024.

For me, CBD hasn’t been a superior tool to manage my chronic shoulder pain.  If you are going to utilize CBD in your pain relief regimen, purchase it from reputable sources and look for products that have been tested by an independent third-party laboratory.   Also, I advise taking pills and capsules over creams and lotions, the latter of which may be less efficacious. 

Start slow and low with the dosage.  Take small amounts slowly and only increase your dosage if needed to get symptom relief.  Be sure to track your symptoms to get a sense of whether or not CBD is working to relieve your chronic pain. 

CBD is an excellent mechanism for a variety of ailments, but it isn’t a unicorn or a wonder drug.  CBD should be taken with care and not before consulting a doctor to see if your pain could in fact be managed by cannabidiol.