Topical CBD for Wound Care: Healing with Hemp

CBD has been shown to possess potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties that have been successfully applied to treatment protocols for many diverse conditions, from arthritis to dementia to diabetes to high blood pressure. Research also indicates that CBD may be effective at promoting wound healing, making it a natural choice for wound care applications as well. Topical CBD products can be used to care for wounds like burns, cuts, scrapes, bites, and broken skin, but [not all CBD topicals are created equal].

While CBD itself can be highly beneficial when applied to wounds, those benefits can be reduced (or potentially even negated) by the wrong supporting ingredients. Quality carrier oils and botanicals absolutely have a place in CBD wound care products, but since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA the way that pharmaceutical medicines are, a few extra precautions are necessary.

There are many balms, salves, ointments, creams, and gels formulated with CBD available, designed to help treat everything from sunburns to cuts to abrasions to fresh tattoos. While many can be used effectively, some may contain questionable ingredients or potential allergens. Your skin works pretty hard to keep you healthy, and a break in the barrier can be a major stressor for the integumentary system. Using inflammatory ingredients can inadvertently add to that stress and prolong healing time.

Here, we’ll dissect the science behind effective wound care and the role CBD topicals can play in staving off infection and promoting healing. Next, we’ll discuss the role of supporting ingredients (beginning with carrier compounds, followed by botanicals and a cursory examination of common additives) individually, noting the potential benefits and risks of each. We’ll close with a couple of notes concerning sanitary practices for wound care and sustainability in wound healing, providing a bit of guidance to help you choose products that reflect your values and ethics.

How Does Wound Healing Work?

topical cbd for wound care

Wound healing is a highly intricate and complex process involving collaboration between many different types of cells and different body systems. While it’s impossible to convey every detail of the process here, there are a few key principles to know. Wound healing tends to happen in stages: inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. Each of these phases marks a focus on different cellular activities. 

The inflammation phase is the most well-known, as it’s a phase that’s often quite painful. Inflammation is the body’s immediate response to a wound: raising the alarm, heightening sensitivity, sending lots of immune cells to the site of the wound, and setting off frequent (and sometimes intense) pain signals. 

After a few days of inflammation, the proliferation phase begins. This is the time when the body begins to close the wound and is usually marked by wound contraction. During this important period, the body is building a matrix of new cells, collagen, and other tissues to replace the damaged or destroyed cells. Blood vessels and nerve connections re-establish themselves at the wound site during this time, making it more likely that [neuropathic pain] will arise during this period (though it may not be permanent).  

Finally, when it has closed fully and the supporting tissues have regenerated beneath the new skin, a wound is considered mature. At this point, there may be considerable scarring, but the wound will continue to mature for many weeks after closure. Over time, the scar tissue will soften and become less visible, itching and tingling tend to diminish, and discoloration starts to fade. 

The main goal of most wound healing technology is centered around accelerating the healing process, which can be accomplished in a number of ways. Reducing inflammation at the site helps the skin to move from the inflammatory to the proliferation stage more quickly, yielding faster wound closures and improved appearance of scarring. Promoting cellular movement and activity is also key to successful wound healing, as the healing process depends on high levels of oxygen

Wound care also requires ingredients to keep the area clean and free of harmful bacteria and other microbes. Finally, most topical wound care products also typically include some ingredients intended for pain management, reducing the alarm signals sent by damaged nerves at the site of an injury.

The Role of CBD In Wound Care & Healing

topical cbd for wound care healing

CBD, the common name for cannabidiol, has been shown to have many medical applications across a wide variety of conditions. The compound possesses potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial properties (among many others) that make it especially beneficial for wound healing. It acts as a vasodilator, helping to improve oxygen supply to the wound and accelerating healing time. Together, these properties make CBD a promising therapeutic ingredient in wound care and healing products.

As with most CBD science, more research is necessary to determine the exact mechanisms that make CBD a good promoter of healing activity. However, emerging research is sufficiently compelling that many people are opting for CBD over old standbys from the pharmacy. While minor wounds likely do not present a safety concern for most people, more severe injuries may demand special consideration in product choice to avoid inadvertently causing additional inflammation and delaying healing.

If you prefer to use CBD alone (a completely respectable position that may be necessary for people with serious allergies or sensitivities), we recommend using a CBD tincture with no flavorings or additives. You could also dissolve some pure CBD isolate into the carrier oil of your choice (just be sure everything is clean!) to accomplish the same goal: CBD and oil, the end. However, if you are interested in using botanical ingredients and other bioactive compounds to accelerate wound healing, we invite you to consider the ingredients listed below.

Topical CBD Carrier Oils for Wound Care

topical cbd for wound care healing

Carrier oils determine the consistency of the product and help to amplify its skin-protecting properties. We highly recommend opting for ointments, balms, or salves for wound care over roll-on or lotion products. This is for two primary reasons. Firstly, roll-ons and lotions are often formulated with alcohols that can damage the bonds between skin cells — pretty counterproductive when you’re trying to support your skin’s healing processes. Secondly, roll-on products in particular are not possible to use in a sanitary way on broken skin. If you really need something formulated with an alcohol, try to reach for sprays over roll-ons. 

One benefit that salve and ointment formulas offer over their high-alcohol counterparts is their ability to create a physical barrier over skin. This helps to keep bacteria and other microscopic irritants out of your bloodstream while also protecting your skin from damage and moisture loss as it works to heal itself. We prefer to use products made with ingredients that specifically confer skin barrier benefits. 

These might include beeswax (which possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties), shea or cocoa butter (both yield anti-inflammatory benefits to healing skin), coconut oil (another anti-inflammatory oil popular in CBD formulas), and lanolin (a compound beloved for its skin-protecting properties that may also help promote healing). Olive, safflower, pumpkin seed, and grapeseed oils may also help to promote healing, though they do not offer the same skin barrier benefits as heavier oils and plant butters. 

Ointments are sometimes formulated with compounds like petroleum jelly (also called petrolatum), which is derived from fossil fuels. Because petroleum is a nonrenewable resource and its processing has some pretty detrimental effects on the environment, we prefer to steer clear of petroleum-based formulas. That doesn’t mean you have to, of course, but it might be something worth considering.

Supporting Topical CBD Ingredients for Wound Care

topical cbd for wound care healing

Because the skin is broken or damaged in the case of a wound or burn, wound care products have a special potential to contribute to the inflammation they’re meant to fight, especially in people with sensitive skin. If you have any skin sensitivities or allergies, please take special care to avoid ingredients that could cause an adverse reaction. If you aren’t aware of any allergies but find a product causes itching or redness, listen to your body and seek out a gentler alternative. 

A few common culprits of inflammation include ingredients like capsaicin, cinnamon oil, and menthol, which can cause pain and discomfort when applied to wounds. Though these compounds all act as anti-inflammatories on the skin’s surface, they behave a bit differently when applied to broken skin. Even seemingly innocuous ingredients like goldenrod or chamomile may trigger a reaction in some people when applied to wounds, so we advise being very picky about your wound care topicals, CBD and otherwise. 

  • Aloe Vera – Aloe vera (sometimes called aloe barbadensis on product labels) is a desert-dwelling succulent with well-known healing properties. The gel contained within its elongated leaves has been used by many cultures throughout human history to soothe burns and speed skin repair. The plant has been demonstrated to yield antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties that help it to heal skin damage, soothe pain, and reduce inflammation in injured skin. Clinical studies have shown aloe vera to be well-tolerated and hypoallergenic, making it an excellent healing option for many people. It is especially helpful for minor thermal burns and sunburns, reducing pain with a gentle cooling sensation and rehydrating damaged skin.
  • Chamomile Chamomile is a staple of soothing teas and aromatherapy products, but studies have demonstrated that it can confer significant benefits for wound healing as well. Chamomile flower extract acts as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial when applied to broken or damaged skin. This allows it to help to reduce pain and inflammation while protecting skin and underlying tissues from harmful bacteria and microbes that can hamper the healing process and cause infection. A potential caveat: chamomile is a member of the family Asteraeceae, which includes ragweed and other common allergens, and can cross-react in those with ragweed allergies. However, the benefits likely outweigh the risks for most people without significant ragweed sensitivity.
  • Goldenrod – Goldenrod is a bit tricky to discuss, as it’s quite a common allergen and wreaks seasonal havoc on sinuses from coast to coast. This is because it belongs to the same family as ragweed and therefore frequently cross-reacts in people with ragweed allergies. However, in people without ragweed allergies, goldenrod has been shown to promote healing by acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory, reducing pain, swelling, and redness in the wake of an injury. This effect may make goldenrod particularly useful in the first few days of wound healing, when inflammation is at its peak. Goldenrod may also help to reduce pain and soreness as skin heals, including the nerve pain and discomfort that often arises as the healing nerves form new connections.
  • Lavender – Lavender carries many different therapeutic applications, inducing relaxation and reducing inflammation throughout the body. These properties also extend to wound care — when applied to broken or damaged skin, lavender reduces inflammation, dulls pain, and improves circulation to the affected area. It also possesses powerful antimicrobial properties that can be especially beneficial for people or wounds prone to infections. While it’s no replacement for a rabies or tetanus vaccine, lavender contains compounds that neutralize many types of bacteria and fungi that can hamper wound healing or cause infection. Lavender may also be applied to wounds in the proliferation stage to help address the pain and tingling that results from mending nerve cells.
  • Marigold – Also labeled as calendula, marigold flowers are an autumnal favorite with an abundance of beneficial bioactive compounds. Extracts of the plant and its blooms can contribute to wound healing, acting as an anti-inflammatory agent to soothe damaged skin and reduce pain. The plant also possesses antimicrobial properties that can protect skin from harmful bacteria and other microbes, preventing infection and further damage to the affected tissues. It is generally well-tolerated, but may trigger a reaction in people with an allergy to marigold or calendula.
  • Neem – Neem oil is derived from the neem tree (also known colloquially as Indian lilac) and is a popular health and wellness ingredient in much of Southeast Asia. The oil is rich in bioactive compounds, conferring powerful antimicrobial and antifungal benefits. This allows neem to help protect wounds from infection by fending off harmful bacteria and microbes. Neem can also help to alleviate pain at the site of injury. That said, it is a very intense oil and should only ever be applied diluted. Even in its dilute form, neem may cause an adverse reaction in some people, so exercise caution and be mindful when using neem for wound care.
  • YarrowYarrow has been used as a supplement and wellness ingredient by many cultures throughout human history. It is shown to act as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, reducing pain and inflammation when used on broken skin. It may also help to reduce bleeding in wounds, making it especially helpful for cuts and gashes (though it is not a substitute for medical attention in the case of severe injuries). 

Sanitary Use of CBD Salves & Balms for Wound Care

topical cbd for wound care healing

While there are a handful of ointments, creams, and other wound care products packaged in tubes, most of our favorite go-tos come in pots or tubs. This presents a bit of a dilemma, as it’s much more difficult to keep these products sanitary during regular use. Many products are sufficiently effective that we don’t mind taking a few extra precautions to use them for wound healing, but we hope to see more variety in packaging to make sanitary application of CBD topicals easier. 

To ensure that a salve, balm, or other CBD topical packaged in a jar or pot remains free from contaminants during its usable life, we suggest using a cotton swab or other applicator tool to dispense the product, as opposed to a fingertip. Hands are wonderful for many things, but using a single-use applicator (or a recyclable equivalent if you’re about that low-waste life) instead of your hands for wound care helps reduce the chance of something undesirable ending up in your ointment — or in the wound, for that matter.

If your preferred product comes in a jar or pot, we suggest using a sanitary tool like a cotton swab or scoopula (which can be sanitized after use) to remove your desired amount of product from the container. Once you’ve taken what you need, you can apply the product to the wound using your chosen applicator tool and dispose of or sanitize the applicator accordingly after use. You could also apply the product to a sterile bandage or dressing, or — in the case of a sunburn, new tattoo, or thermal burn — distribute the product over the skin using clean fingertips. 

Taking care to avoid contaminating your chosen wound care product(s) is important to supporting efficient and healthy wound healing. Salve and balm formulas can be just as effective as tube-packaged ointments, they just need a bit of extra finesse to function at their best from start to finish. 

A Note On Sustainability & Supporting Ingredients

topical cbd for wound care healing

While there is a growing consciousness surrounding where the products we use come from, we collectively pay fairly little attention to the sustainability of our purchases. Part of our mission of consumer education includes helping people learn to discern sustainable ingredients that allow them to take control of their health while making buying choices that are better for the planet. 

We also acknowledge that “better” doesn’t equate to “perfect,” and we aim to provide information in a way that educates without condescending — or worse, condemning — our readers for their decisions and lifestyles. Making conscious purchases can be difficult for many reasons, and we recognize the highly personal nature of those choices. No one is capable of single-handedly halting climate change or ecological damage by choosing one bottle over another, just as no one is the sole reason for habitat destruction or environmental pollution. Nonetheless, we believe that there is value in selecting sustainably sourced and manufactured products where possible.

We strongly prefer to reach for plant-based ingredients over animal products (and the same is doubly true for formulas made with petroleum products). This has to do with sustainability as well as concern for animal welfare, as sustainably-farmed plant products tend to have less of an environmental impact next to large-scale industrial animal husbandry. Plant-based ingredients are also generally well-tolerated and (with a couple of freaky exceptions like figs) vegan by default.

While we tend to prefer plant-based products, there are some animal-derived ingredients that can be hugely beneficial for therapeutic purposes (things like collagen, honey, beeswax, and lanolin). These ingredients are not vegan, but that does not mean that there aren’t ethical (or at least more ethical) ways to use them. Some people consider these ingredients an important component of their symptom management regimen, and that’s valid. Again, this stuff is very personal, so listen to your gut and do what is right for you.

We’ll close with a brief comment on the word “vegan.” A vegan product is one that is not derived from animal products in any way and includes non-food items like clothing, shoes, and cosmetics. Vegan products are becoming increasingly popular, with many brands choosing to make their entire product lines strictly vegan.

You may notice, however, that the above definition doesn’t include a requirement that the product’s components must be plant-based. This means that decidedly environmentally unfriendly products like plastics, petroleum products, and synthetic fabrics are considered vegan despite a demonstrably negative environmental impact. We don’t mean to imply that looking for vegan formulas is useless, just that it isn’t an automatic guarantee that the product in question is sustainable.

Takeaway

CBD is a promising ingredient for wound healing that can promote regeneration while reducing pain and inflammation in the skin and underlying tissues. However, because wound care products are applied to broken and damaged skin, it’s important to be choosy about the ingredients you incorporate into your medicine cabinet. Be conscious of any allergies or skin sensitivities you may have, use sanitary handling and dressing practices, and feel empowered to reach out to companies with questions before making a purchase. You can also consult with a medical professional about the safety of a particular product if you are unsure — it’s much better to play it safe with wound healing.

 

Topical CBD for Nerve Pain: Managing Neuropathy with CBD Topicals

Anyone who has experience with neuropathy knows that it’s a uniquely unsettling experience. The electric tingling, burning, stinging, and pinprick sensations tend to happen in the extremities, but can occur anywhere in the body. Nerve pain is unique in that it is caused by damage to the nerves themselves (be it from a slipped disc, a compressed nerve, chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, or damage sustained in an injury) and not the surrounding tissue. Therefore, neuropathic pain is the result of a misfiring of your body’s pain perception system.. 

Because the damage is done to the nerve cells, the cells your body uses to relay signals to and from the brain, neuropathic pain can produce strange and unnerving sensations that make sleeping, eating, and other day-to-day activities difficult — or even impossible. Nerve damage is notoriously difficult to heal (though much research is devoted to the topic), and many conventional painkillers are of little help.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been shown to impart neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, and antispasmodic effects that may be successfully applied to a neuropathic pain management regimen. Derived from hemp and known for its effectiveness without risk of addiction or dependence, CBD can be consumed orally, inhaled, or applied topically for relief from neuropathic pain.

Because of their ability to manipulate sensations in the skin and body, many people find CBD topical products to be particularly helpful at soothing and alleviating neuropathic pain. Topicals offer faster relief than oral dosing methods, as well as a greater degree of customizability. Supporting ingredients like  cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, and capsaicin can change the way nerve cells fire, reducing or eliminating nerve pain when applied to the skin. 

While these supporting ingredients open many doors for more effective pain relief, they also raise the risk of adverse reactions, especially in people with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. CBD topicals have a place in neuropathic pain management, but the wrong supporting ingredients for your skin type can reduce (or even entirely negate) their benefits. 

Here, we’ll illustrate the physiology of neuropathy before discussing the role of topical CBD in alleviating it. Then, we’ll talk about the best carrier and supporting ingredients to soothe neuropathic pain, including how they work, what they’re best for, and any risks associated with them. Finally, we’ll close with a short note on sustainable ingredients.  

What Causes Neuropathic Pain?

topical cbd for nerve pain neuropathy

Your nervous system is made up of a couple of different key players: neurons, myelin, and glial cells. Neurons are like your body’s electrical wiring, carrying signals to and from your brain. They’re long, branching cells that use charged molecules to move signals down the length of the cell before relaying it to the next one.

Some neurons are covered with a substance called myelin, a protective coating that helps accelerate the movement of chemical messages. Cells called glia help to support the nerves and keep them functioning normally. In a healthy nervous system, these different types of cells work together and ionic messengers flow smoothly across synapses (the gaps between neurons that facilitate chemical communication between them).

Neuropathy occurs when any of these nerve cells are damaged. This damage can result from many different causes. While injuries like herniated discs or nerve compression can cause physical strain and injury to neurons, they aren’t the only possible cause. Chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes (even pre-diabetes), and cardiovascular disease can lead to nerve cell damage by changing the body’s chemical environment or causing immune cells to mistakenly attack neural tissue.  

So, why is nerve damage such a big deal, and why does it cause such strange and severe pain? Think of your nerves and their myelin like an electrical wire coated with rubber. If that rubber coating is damaged, electricity will no longer flow neatly down the wire, but can cause short circuits, sparks, or even stop altogether. Your neurons work very similarly, and a damaged neuron is more likely to send errant pain signals in the absence of a problem; the more severe the damage to your nerves, the more intense neuropathy is likely to become.

How Can CBD Help to Manage Neuropathic Pain?

topical cbd for nerve pain neuropathy

This may sound a bit bleak so far, but stay with us. It’s true that the science of repairing nerve damage is still a ways out, but that doesn’t mean that relief is out of reach. While the research is still preliminary, current studies suggest that CBD possesses neuroprotective and antispasmodic properties that may help to calm frazzled neurons and ease neuropathic pain. 

The exact mechanisms of this action are still being studied, but what we do know is that CBD has a positive regulatory effect on many of the body’s systems, including the nervous system. This means that CBD can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of neuropathic pain signals by quieting overexcited neurons and reducing inflammation and pain often associated with them. It may also reduce the tingling, burning, stabbing, and prickling sensations common in neuropathy, as well as spasms and involuntary contractions often associated with the condition. 

Ongoing research suggests that topical CBD may more effectively manage neuropathy than traditional therapies, including opioid pain relievers. Because of the higher number of supporting ingredients relative to oral CBD, however, topicals carry a relatively higher risk of adverse or allergic reaction. Their effects can also vary substantially from product to product depending on the carrier and supporting ingredients it contains.

Topical CBD Carrier Oils for Nerve Pain

topical cbd for nerve pain neuropathy

Carrier oils and other base ingredients have a significant impact on the overall effect of the finished product, and especially its sensory effects. Because sensation is so important to effectively addressing and calming neuropathic pain, we feel that a bit of education around carrier ingredients can help our readers more easily navigate the baffling variety of topical CBD products available and find the best formula for their needs.

Because CBD is a nonpolar molecule, it doesn’t dissolve in water, a polar molecule. This makes it hard for our bodies to absorb and metabolize — we are over 70% water, after all, and it’s the solute for many of our biological processes. While it isn’t readily soluble in water, CBD does bond well to lipids like oils, fats, and plant butters. When it’s attached to these compounds, CBD is much more readily absorbed by the body, improving its effectiveness drastically. This applies to both topical and oral CBD products. Because of their oily composition and emollient properties, these ingredients tend to support soothing and warming sensations best.

Lipids aren’t the only type of molecule that can help make your CBD dose more bioavailable, though; other molecules with a relatively weak polar charge can also be effective. These compounds might include things like aloe vera gel, different types of alcohol, or glycerol. In contrast to the heavy, oily feel of lipid products, these “polar lite” molecules tend to evaporate more readily, making them ideal for supporting cooling, tingling, or numbing effects.

If your nerve pain tends to feel like burning, stinging, or pinpricks, a cooling product might help to regulate the firing of the damaged nerves, reducing pain. We suggest choosing products made with aloe vera, glycerol, or cetyl alcohol where possible. This is because other alcohols, such as isopropyl, stearyl, or ethyl, can cause damage to the bonds between skin cells over time, increasing dryness and triggering discomfort. Cetyl alcohol, by contrast, is a fatty alcohol derived from coconut that may be less damaging (though it should be avoided by those allergic to coconut).

If you desire something with more warming, relaxing properties to help ease spasms, we recommend opting for products formulated with oils, waxes, or plant butters. Oils from plants like olive, avocado, safflower, argan, jojoba, grapeseed, almond, and coconut can be used alongside plant butters like shea, cocoa, and mango for creamy formulas, while carnauba or beeswax can lend a firmer, more salve-like consistency. We find that more emollient formulas keep warming ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, and capsaicin active for longer periods, extending symptom relief.

If you prefer to refrain from using products that manipulate your sensation and perception, that’s okay! There are plenty of helpful CBD topicals out there that produce no thermal sensation whatsoever. We suggest selecting a carrier based on your skin type and avoiding ingredients that tend to produce changes in tactile sensation. These tend to be things like menthol, capsaicin, cinnamon, and ginger, but can sometimes include milder extracts like lavender or arnica, so listen to your body on this one. 

If you want to try topical CBD for nerve pain but have very sensitive skin that balks at most mainstream ingredients, don’t lose hope just yet. Instead of reaching for a topical formula with a lengthy ingredient list, try using an unflavored CBD tincture made with only CBD and a suitable carrier oil. You can apply it safely to your skin without worrying about hidden allergies while still reaping the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic benefits of topical CBD. If you decide to try a topical formula, we suggest a salve or balm, which tend to contain fewer common allergens than cream, lotion, or roll-on formulas. 

Topical CBD Supporting Ingredients for Nerve Pain

topical cbd for nerve pain neuropathy

  • Capsaicin – The chemical that gives chili peppers their signature spice (and pepper spray its notorious burn), capsaicin certainly has the potential to cause inflammation. However, in small doses, the fiery compound can actually act as an anti-inflammatory, encouraging circulation and reducing pain and swelling. It also causes a warming sensation when applied to the skin (again, well-diluted) that may be beneficial in alleviating some types of nerve pain. Researchers believe that this analgesic effect may be due in part to this sensation, which helps to desensitize the skin and, therefore, the sensation of pain. Capsaicin is used in very tiny doses in topical CBD pain relief products and is generally well-tolerated. However, those with an allergy to peppers should take care to avoid it.
  • Clove – While it may not be as effective for deep-seated neuropathy in the fascia, clove oil works very well to soothe the sensation of neuropathic pain in the skin and superficial tissues. Clove is a small but mighty spice with surprisingly powerful analgesic properties. Clove oil has been demonstrated to be as effective as benzocaine at relieving pain when applied topically. There is also some evidence to suggest that clove may have a positive regulatory effect on nerves, helping to regulate their firing and, potentially, reducing the intensity and sensation of pain. Clove has an autumnal, spicy scent and is generally well-tolerated, but should be avoided by those with a clove allergy.
  • EucalyptusEucalyptus is widely used for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (and its ability to clear stuffy noses). The extract of the fragrant tree native to Australia, eucalyptus may have a role to play in alleviating neuropathic pain. While the precise mechanism is not yet understood, two factors appear to be at work. Eucalyptus shows analgesic properties when applied topically and may help to reduce the sensitivity of damaged nerves, regulating their firing. Second, the aroma of eucalyptus may have an effect on the central nervous system’s processing of pain signals, reducing pain perception. Those with asthma should be advised that eucalyptus can trigger attacks in some people (though it may be helpful to others).
  • Feverfew – The name of this plant comes from its traditional use in treating pain and inflammation. Also known as bachelor’s button, feverfew leaves and flowers produce compounds that reduce muscle spasms and the burning, tingling, pins-and-needles feeling associated with neuropathic pain. It has been demonstrated to possess analgesic and antispasmodic properties when applied to the skin, though it isn’t fully understood how these effects are produced. Emerging research suggests that this may be due to the terpenes, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds within feverfew extract. If that is the case, these terpenes and other phytochemicals could help to support the dose of CBD in a topical pain reliever.
  • Ginger – A piquant favorite in cuisine, ginger’s use as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiemetic has been well-documented throughout history. Extract from the root of the plant may help to alleviate neuropathic pain and soothe inflamed nerves when applied topically. It can also induce a gentle warming, tingling sensation in the skin, which may help to numb neuropathic pain while desensitizing damaged nerves, regulating their firing. These benefits are also apparent when ginger is consumed (though a separate supplement should be used), indicating that it may be beneficial to the diets of people struggling with neuropathy as well. Those with a ginger allergy or certain sensory integration issues should exercise caution before using topical CBD products made with ginger.
  • Peppermint – Peppermint (and other members of the mentha genus like spearmint) contains menthol, a popular ingredient in topical pain products for the cooling sensation it produces when applied to the skin. Some people may find menthol in particular to be helpful in managing their neuropathic pain. This may be due to menthol’s effect on receptors in the skin, sensitizing them to cold sensations and, therefore, potentially alleviating burning or stinging types of pain. Limonene and carvacrol, two other primary components of peppermint extract, have also been shown to help relieve pain and inflammation when used externally. To receive the full therapeutic benefit, look for products that list peppermint extract rather than just menthol among their ingredients — and keep any substance containing peppermint or menthol far away from mucous membranes. Exercise caution with peppermint (and other mints) if you are allergic or have especially sensitive skin.
  • Rosemary – A culinary darling popular in cuisine traditions across the globe, rosemary is a shrubby herb rich in terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals that may be effective against neuropathy. The plant has historically been used against pain, fever, and seizures, and current research suggests that it may possess antispasmodic properties. One study showed rosemary to be effective at relaxing smooth muscles (the muscles you don’t have conscious control over; they contract involuntarily and can cause debilitating pain due to their proximity to organs and bones). This characteristic may make rosemary a soothing antispasmodic addition to topical CBD products for neuropathic pain.
  • Turmeric – A brightly-colored root popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, turmeric is exceedingly high in a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has been utilized to combat pain, fever, and inflammation, and research suggests it may be helpful against neuropathic pain as well. While further study is needed, curcumin acts on receptors that can help block neuropathic pain signaling, relieving pain. When applied topically, curcumin may be able to regulate the activity of damaged neurons, reducing the frequency and intensity of neuropathic pain. It’s generally well-tolerated, but should be avoided by those with a turmeric allergy.

A Note On Sustainability

topical cbd for nerve pain neuropathy

Our goal at Key to Cannabis is to help our readers find CBD products that support their health and wellness goals, largely through consumer education. This includes not just the science behind CBD products, but their environmental impact as well. As our society grows more conscious of our relationship with (and dependence on) our planet and the ecosystems it supports, sustainability of ingredients is increasingly important to many people (ourselves included).

We recognize that, while there is value in making better buying decisions, “better” doesn’t really ever mean “perfect.” Our intent is not to shame anyone for making the decisions that they feel are best for them (in fact, those are exactly the decisions we want to support), but to encourage conscious consumption where possible. What that looks like to you is fully up to you, and we always want to empower you to define that for yourself.

Wherever possible, we prefer to select plant-based ingredients for CBD topicals, particularly over petroleum products. This is for two primary reasons: first, petroleum is a finite resource with a massive environmental impact at every stage, from extraction to refining to transportation to consumption. Second, a connection has been established between long-term use of some topical petroleum products and cancer later in life.

We also prefer plant products to those derived from animals, though we recognize that not everyone feels the same way. Some animal products, like beeswax, lanolin, and gelatin, are important components in the wellness lifestyles of many of our readers, and that’s valid. While it’s true that there are vegan alternatives to these ingredients, they aren’t viable options for everyone. Also, there’s some nuance to the label “vegan.”

The vegan description on a product label indicates that the product contains no animal products. However, it doesn’t necessarily denote a more sustainable product. Microplastics, pleather, plastic fur, polyester, and petroleum products are considered “vegan,” but aren’t exactly more environmentally friendly than their animal-derived counterparts. We don’t mean to imply that the vegan label is meaningless, but we are suggesting that it isn’t the sole criterion by which to measure a product’s sustainability.

Takeaway

Neuropathic pain is notoriously difficult to treat, but CBD may be able to provide relief where other treatments have failed. Topical CBD may be especially beneficial for peripheral neuropathy, soothing the tingling, burning, stabbing pain often associated with nerve damage. While CBD has strong therapeutic potential for neuropathic pain, the right ingredients can make a world of difference to your wellness experience. We encourage you to be choosy about what’s on the label of your go-to CBD topicals — when in doubt, reach out to the manufacturer with any questions or concerns.

 

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SeaBeDee Muscle and Joint Relief Cream Product Review

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SeaBeDee 500mg CBD Inflammation Blend Tincture Review

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SeaBeDee 500mg CBD Anxiety Blend Tincture Review

SeaBeDee 500mg CBD Anxiety Blend Tincture Review

Product Brand: SeaBeDee

Product In-Stock: 1

Editor's Rating:
3.9

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CBD For Pain

How Does Cannabis Help With Pain?

The reality is that pain will affect everyone at some point in their life. It is comforting to know that there is a natural remedy—one derived from cannabis— that can help. The use of a natural remedy is especially important for those suffering from neuropathic pain and chronic pain, or pain that lasts for more than a few months. Chronic pain affects more than 3 million people in the United States every year – and the worst part? It can’t be cured. 

However, it can be treated effectively with cannabis and hemp. It’s no secret that THC is effective against pain, but recent research shows the potential of CBD for pain, especially chronic discomfort. Some studies show CBD to be more effective against pain than opioids like hydrocodone and oxycontin. 

The irony is that in the United States, the most common medical treatments are nerve blocks, steroids, and narcotics (opioids) – many of which carry a significant risk of side effects and addiction. On top of these side effects, many of these medications have little to no effect against chronic pain. 

Even over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aspirin and ibuprofen can be dangerous when used regularly. These “safe” medications end up hospitalizing over 100,000 people each year and killing approximately 15,000. Fortunately, narcotics and NSAIDs are not your only option for pain relief. 

In addition to physical therapy and self-care, you can incorporate CBD into your treatment regimen for natural, plant-based pain relief. CBD is fundamentally different than most prescribed painkillers, as it’s not addictive, non-toxic, and has very minimal (if any) side effects.

Whether the chronic pain is in your back, neck, hands, feet, or elsewhere – CBD can help. Research and anecdotal evidence shows that CBD for pain can help manage discomfort in a similar manner to the most common analgesics, by binding with neuroreceptors to block signals that communicate pain to the brain. This helps to reduce pain perception while easing the inflammation and overactivity that often sit at the root of persistent pain.

In order to understand CBD for pain management, we turn to a series of medical studies that have been conducted over the past ten years. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from various types of pain. We will address the results below.

What Studies Support the Use of CBD for Pain?

Specific studies regarding the use and pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids for pain management date back over a decade. To date, multiple research efforts have taken aim at explaining the way that cannabidiol works to help provide pain relief. This broad range of studies explores the use of CBD for pain in different forms—on its own, when combined with THC, and in the form of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals. 

In general, research suggests that cannabidiol could be useful for managing pain due to a variety of conditions, including neuropathic pain, like pain related to multiple sclerosis. Studies also suggest that CBD may be a suitable therapeutic option for pain caused by inflammation, like pain due to arthritis or muscle injury. Research even suggests that cannabinoid-based therapy may be suitable for managing intractable cancer-related pain. 

Research related to the use of CBD for pain is still only at its start, but researchers have outlined a clear interest in the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties of CBD, as well as in its use for managing pain related to a variety of neurological and physical conditions. These studies suggest that a variety of different dosing methods, ranging from oral doses to transdermal application, may be appropriate for managing pain related to one or more of these conditions. 

1. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain.

A 2008 article reviewed a variety of research on cannabinoid analgesia and the function of the endocannabinoid system regarding pain mechanisms, as well as multiple clinical trials concerning the use of cannabinoids to manage pain. The articled concluded that “Cannabinoid analgesics have generally been well tolerated in clinical trials with acceptable adverse event profiles. Their adjunctive addition to the pharmacological armamentarium for treatment of pain shows great promise.

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/

2. Meta-analysis of cannabis based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain.

A 2007 study looked at the effects of cannabinoids on treating the debilitating pain experienced by 50-70% of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. The double-blind placebo-controlled study concluded that “cannabinoids including the cannabidiol (CBD)/THC buccal spray are effective in treating neuropathic pain in MS.”

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17257464

3. Oromucosal delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol for neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis: an uncontrolled, open-label, 2-year extension trial. 

Another 2007 study evaluated the long-term tolerability and effects of a THC/CBD pharmaceutical known as Sativex. The study concluded that “THC/CBD was effective, with no evidence of tolerance, in these select patients with CNP and MS who completed approximately 2 years of treatment.” 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18035205

4. Cannabinoids for neuropathic pain. 

A 2014 study stated that “The endocannabinoid system has been elucidated over the last several years, demonstrating a significant interface with pain homeostasis. Exogenous (plant-based) cannabinoids have been demonstrated to be effective in a range of experimental neuropathic pain models, and there is mounting evidence for therapeutic use in human neuropathic pain conditions.” 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25160710

5. Neuropathic orofacial pain: cannabinoids as a therapeutic avenue. 

Another 2014 study suggested that “Analgesia is one the principal therapeutic targets of the cannabinoid system and many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of cannabinoid compounds in the treatment of neuropathic pain.” 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25150831

6. Cannabidiol inhibits paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain through 5-HT(1A) receptors without diminishing nervous system function or chemotherapy efficacy. 

A 2014 study investigated CBD’s therapeutic potential in treating chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain (CIPN). Scientists concluded that “adjunct treatment with CBD during PAC chemotherapy may be safe and effective in the prevention or attenuation of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.” 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24117398

7. Antihyperalgesic effect of a Cannabis sativa extract in a rat model of neuropathic pain: mechanisms involved. 

A 2008 study found, “that a controlled cannabis extract, containing multiple cannabinoids, in a defined ratio, and other non-cannabinoid fractions (terpenes and flavonoids) provided better antinociceptive efficacy than the single cannabinoid given alone…” This is why the use of full-spectrum CBD oil is more effective in treating pain than taking CBD isolate alone – you want the beneficial terpenes and flavonoids contained in the plant. 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18618522

8. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids modulate the descending pathway of antinociception in anaesthetized rats through several mechanisms of action. 

A 2011 study evaluated the effects of two non-psychoactive cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabichromene (CBC), on pain management. The study concluded that “CBD and CBC stimulated descending pathways of antinociception and caused analgesia by interacting with several target proteins involved in nociceptive control. These compounds might represent useful therapeutic agents with multiple mechanisms of action.” 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20942863

9. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. 

A 2012 study reported that, “systemic and intrathecal administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a major nonpsychoactive component of marijuana, and its modified derivatives significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing apparent analgesic tolerance…These cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain and other diseases…” 

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585736

10. 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. 

A 2010 study looked at the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC:CBD extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. “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.” 

Learn more https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19896326

Which CBD products help with pain?

When formulating a regimen of CBD for pain (like chronic or neuropathic pain), it’s important to understand that CBD should be used regularly for maximum relief. Meaning it should be used as a preventative first – it can also be used to manage acute flare-ups, but the preventative maintenance is most important! Think about it like any other dietary supplement, you want to establish a baseline concentration in your system.

There are a variety of different products made with CBD for pain, but we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of Tinctures or Gel Capsules

The ingredients in the two products are the same; the only difference between the two is the form factor and dosage – pills vs. sublingual tinctures. The best CBD tinctures and gel caps will combine the power of CBD for pain with a high-quality MCT oil—a key ingredient needed for your body to break down and absorb cannabidiol. 

Many people find they still need a safe way to manage acute flare-ups in addition to using the products outlined above for daily pain management. Depending on your preference, there is a couple of suitable option for managing sudden pain flares.

Whether it’s caused by a recent injury, cold weather, or general aggravation  – we recommend vaporizing CBD isolate to combat these acute pain flare-ups. The benefit of vaporizing or dabbing CBD isolate is that the relief can be felt almost instantaneously. CBD isolate is 99% pure CBD and provides a wave of relief that can be felt throughout the whole body. 

Certain CBD topicals may also provide quick relief from pain flares. Topicals, like CBD salves and creams, penetrate the skin to help manage pain in the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and at the skin’s surface. 

Often, the best way to manage moderate to severe pain, recurring pain, or pain caused by a number of chronic conditions is to combine different CBD products for all-day preventative and therapeutic coverage. Below are some of our favorite CBD pain relief products that may be useful for managing pain.

What is the correct dosage of CBD for pain?

The correct dosage for you depends on a number of factors, like the type and severity of the condition you hope to treat, as well as biological factors like weight and tolerance to cannabinoid-based products. 

We suggest starting with with 5-10mg per day of CBD for pain. If relief is not felt at this dosage, we suggest increasing by 5-10mg until the desired effects are achieved. One easy way to do this is with a CBD tincture, which makes it easy to measure accurately metered doses as needed each time. 

Other products, like CBD gel capsules, come in pre-measured doses, so starting with the lowest dose (like a ten-milligram capsule) is a great way to understand how much CBD you need to reach the desired level of relief. 

Then, you can increase your dose as needed, but keep in mind that these ingestible products provide sustained relief for several hours – many people find they provide relief for the whole day! The one thing to keep in mind with ingestible CBD products is the delayed onset time – it can take up to 90 minutes for the full effects of the tinctures or capsules to be felt.

Dosing for CBD topicals is a bit different, and you should use as much of the product as you need to cover the affected area. Topical products typically work fast, and relief can be felt within 15 minutes and lasts several hours. Simply re-apply as necessary.

Dosing for CBD vaporizers is also slightly different since it can be difficult to properly meter doses with certain vaping devices. Starting with a low-dose cannabidiol vape or CBD additive can help you smoothly experience the fast-acting effects. Because the therapeutic effects of vaporized CBD for pain kick in so quickly, you can easily “stack” doses as needed until the desired effects are reached. Simply increase your dose one “puff” at a time, waiting about 10-15 minutes in between to monitor the effects. 

A Note About CBD and Drug Interactions

Although CBD has been generally labeled as safe by numerous studies and even the World Health Organization, it is important to note that CBD may interact with certain medications. In the same manner that grapefruit interacts with some medications, CBD may affect the absorption of medications that are metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzyme group. That’s because CBD also relies on this group of liver enzymes for absorption, so there’s a significant opportunity for interaction when medications and CBD are taken simultaneously.

Interactions could include many of the prescription medications taken for pain, like opioids, which often utilize cytochrome P450 pathways for absorption. These interactions are not necessarily dangerous but can cause the effects of the medication to falter, which can be dangerous if the medication is meant to treat severe symptoms or a chronic condition. 

The effect CBD has on these liver enzymes is temporary. Often, putting some space between your dose of CBD for pain and your medication may resolve this issue, but it’s always best that you talk to your doctor about CBD before using it, especially if you already take prescription medications or have a chronic illness. 

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What’s Better for Chronic Pain? Opioids or CBD?

Opioids have been used for decades in medical practice as the front line of defense against many different types of pain—not only are they used to treat acute pain, the kind you feel after a surgery or major injury, they’re also routinely prescribed by pain specialists for chronic pain.

The problem with this is that there is scant evidence to show that opioids are helpful in alleviating chronic pain, particularly neuropathic (nerve-based) pain or the intractable pain associated with illnesses like cancer. Not only that, but there is a veritable mountain ofevidence to show that prolonged use of opioid pain relievers can cause addiction and dependence. They can also cause a host of undesirable side effects, ranging from intoxication to constipation to paranoia and anxiety.

With all the evidence of the harmful potential of opioid pain relievers, it’s easy to see why some patients are choosing to trade their pharmaceuticals for CBD.  Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory, so it works at two levels to target pain. First, it acts on pain perception systems to alleviate the sensation of pain itself. Second, it reduces the underlying inflammation, attacking the root cause of pain rather than just treating the symptoms. Furthermore, CBD carries no risk of addiction or dependence, causes no psychoactive effects, and works with your body’s endocannabinoid system to alleviate pain and other symptoms naturally.

That all sounds nice, but if you’re one of the millions of Americans struggling with chronic pain, you may be skeptical. After all, kicking your prescriptions to the curb in favor of a plant extract sounds kind of…out there. We understand completely, and we want you to make an informed decision, not jump on the proverbial bandwagon. Here, we’ll discuss the science behind the efficacy of CBD for chronic pain, why and how it works, and how it stacks up against the opioid competition. Before we begin, we should note that this article isn’t meant to be medical advice; talk to your doctor if you plan to discontinue your current medication, and make sure you do your researchbefore making such a major decision.

CBD and Pain

CBD is one of over eighty cannabinoids found in cannabis and its close (but non-psychoactive) relative, hemp. Many of these cannabinoids produce pain-relieving effects (which is the main reason our favorite way to use CBD is in the form of a full-spectrum extract that includes not just CBD, but other secondary cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and CBC) and work synergistically with CBD to alleviate pain and inflammation, among other symptoms.  While other cannabinoids help to amplify the effects of CBD, it’s plenty effective on its own—CBD has been studied as an effective treatment for chronic pain, as well as a successful intervention for opioid withdrawal.

CBD is an interesting cannabinoid in that, unlike most members of this class of compounds, CBD does not act directly on either the CB1 or CB2 receptor. Instead, it acts on other receptors within the endocannabinoid system to regulate different systems of the body in different ways, alleviating pain, reducing inflammation, and dissolving tension and anxiety.

CBD At the Molecular Level

The specific biomechanics of CBD’s action on the body are still being studied. However, we do know quite a bit about how it works on pain perception. The site of this action is the TRPV-1 receptor, which is involved in regulating body temperature, inflammation, and pain perception. CBD stimulates this receptor, which in turn reduces inflammation and dulls pain perception. CBD binds to adenosine receptors as well, producing, among many other things, anti-inflammatory effects, reducing the underlying cause of most chronic pain.

CBD also attacks pain from a third angle through the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. You might be familiar with serotonin, a neurotransmitter (or chemical signal your neurons use to communicate) involved in regulating a host of systems, including nausea, appetite, anxiety, sleep, and—most importantly for our purposes—pain perception and addiction circuits. CBD binds to this receptor, stimulating it to produce pain-relieving effects and calm gastrointestinal issues. It also helps soothe the brain circuitry involved in addiction, helping ease the transition from pharmaceuticals to CBD.

So Which Is Better, Opioids Or CBD?

While further study is needed (the more data, the stronger the results), the study results available today look promising: multiple studies have shown CBD to be effective in treating a variety of types of pain, especially chronic and intractable pain. CBD has been found to be effective in treating the neuropathic pain resulting from multiple sclerosis.  his is exciting because, as anyone who suffers from neuropathy can tell you, the intense pain it causes is notoriously difficult to treat, and even heavy doses of opioids aren’t always effective.

CBD not only soothes difficult-to-treat pain in the short term, it’s also effective in the long term. In a study conducted in 2007, researchers found that patients were able to manage their pain (resulting from either MS or chronic nonmalignant pain) with cannabinoids without tolerance (requiring a higher and higher dose to be effective, common to opioids) over treatment programs lasting an average of two years. For anyone who’s had to increase their opioid dose because they quickly develop a tolerance to it, this is big news! CBD allows patients to maintain their same dose for long periods of time, without the risk of addiction or dependence.

Recent studies have shed more and more light on the endocannabinoid system and its role in pain perception and inflammation. The body of literature confirming CBD as a viable and potentially more effective alternative to opioids is growing, especially as interest in CBD as a novel (new to scientific understanding) pain reliever continues to rise. While studies have been conducted using both synthetic and plant-derived CBD, we believe that organically-grown, plant-derived, full-spectrum CBD is the way to go. After all, synthetic cannabinoids are still pharmaceuticals at the end of the day.

A Quick Note About Drug Testing

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture:  avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.  A single study (as yet unconfirmed) suggests that even isolate-based products may not be completely risk-free under certain circumstances.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.

Conclusion

Studies have shown CBD to be just as effective as, if not more so than, opioid pain relievers, and the evidence continues to mount with each new study. The scientific and medical communities are keenly interested in the applications of CBD to treat both chronic and acute pain, and many patients have found relief through CBD. In one study, nearly 50% of patients were able to discontinue their pharmaceutical regimens completely in favor of CBD. If you’re looking for more information about getting off the pharmaceutical roller coaster and treating your pain naturally, check out our CBD ebook. For more on the different applications of CBD, grab a copy of our free case studies and learn more about how CBD can help you take control of your health.

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Why CBD Helps You Get Off Pharmaceuticals

If you’ve done any research into CBD, you’ve likely heard it touted as a miracle compound with uses in medical applications ranging from chronic pain to epilepsy to even cancer.  While we’re firm believers in the necessity of further scientific research on CBD and other cannabinoids, preliminary studies, combined with the stories of thousands of patients, are compelling—CBD has been known for decades to be a potent antioxidant (a compound with cancer-fighting properties), and recent research has shown it to effectively treat a variety of symptoms.

The reason CBD is so effective against so many conditions is its anti-inflammatory action. Think about it: inflammation is the root of a variety of conditions, from type II diabetes to heart disease to epilepsy, and treating that inflammation can help alleviate symptoms. CBD also has analgesic (pain-relieving) and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, broadening its potential applications to cover a wide variety of illnesses. This is all great news, as it means that it is possible to replace your pharmaceutical regimen with CBD!

That said, CBD has another added benefit that is less well-known: it helps stave off the symptoms of medication withdrawal. This makes it an especially good choice for those seeking to get off the pharmaceutical roller coaster, as it can help ease the transition when discontinuing your medications. Today, we want to discuss the science of how CBD alleviates withdrawal symptoms, and how you can use it to get yourself off of pharmaceuticals, many of which carry the potential to cause undesirable side effects, including addiction and dependence.

How CBD Acts On the Body

CBD works naturally with your endocannabinoid system, which is a system of two different types of receptors (called CB1 and CB2, though scientists suspect there may be one or more other types that have yet to be discovered. There are also other cannabinoid receptors that do not bind to THC (which we’ll discuss in more detail in a moment) working together to help regulate your body and maintain homeostasis. A term originating from the Greek homio meaning “stable” or “equal,” homeostasis refers to the stable, natural condition of your body in a relaxed state. CBD helps stimulate the endocannabinoid system to support this state, bringing your body closer to homeostasis and soothing a variety of bodily systems.

The Science of CBD at a Molecular Level

CBD is interesting in that it doesn’t directly act on either the CB1 or CB2 receptor. Instead, it acts on a variety of other cannabinoid receptors like TRPV-1, adenosine, and serotonin receptors to regulate the systems of the body. This sounds complex, but we’ll explain what each of these actions mean in practice.

The TRPV-1 receptor regulates things like body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation, and is responsible for many of the primary effects of CBD. CBD binds to this receptor like a lock to a key, stimulating it and helping regulate these symptoms.

CBD’s action on adenosine receptors is especially interesting: not only does its action on the receptor help reduce both anxiety and inflammation, but the adenosine receptor itself is involved in the production of glutamate and dopamine. Dopamine is a familiar compound that is involved in motor control, cognition, and motivation, while glutamate mediates excitatory signals and is involved in memory, learning, and cognition.

Now, directly to our point: CBD acts on serotonin receptors—specifically the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which is involved in a variety of systems, including pain perception, nausea, appetite, anxiety, sleep and, most importantly for today’s purposes, addiction circuits.  Stimulation of this receptor can help alleviate some of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, as well as soothing the neurons involved in the addiction pathway created by many pharmaceuticals.

Using CBD to Help Get Off Pharmaceuticals

Studies so far have shown that it takes a fairly high dose of CBD to stimulate the 5-HT1A receptor, so you may need to take a higher dose while you’re tapering than you might otherwise in order to keep withdrawals at bay. That’s okay! Unlike pharmaceuticals, CBD doesn’t require you to wean yourself off, so you can always decrease your dose when you’re out of the withdrawal period.

While CBD can work nearly instantaneously depending on the method you use to take it, it is most effective when used over time. This is why we recommend starting your CBD regimen and finding a comfortable dose, then maintaining that for at least two weeks before you begin your chosen tapering program. This will allow the CBD to act as a preventive for withdrawals while also giving you the flexibility to adjust your dose if necessary.

A Quick Note About Types of Withdrawal

Before we close, we need to discuss the nature of withdrawal symptoms, the types of withdrawal periods, and how to adjust your tapering schedule if you feel withdrawal symptoms coming on. First, you need to know what to expect from discontinuing your particular medication: some withdrawal symptoms, like those from opioids, are fairly well-known, while others, like the “brain zaps” associated with withdrawal from some antidepressants, are less well-understood and can be very disconcerting if you don’t know what they are. Furthermore, some medications, particularly psychotropics, have a notoriously long withdrawal period, and riding it out may not be feasible or healthy.

While increasing your dose of CBD can be helpful in treating your symptoms, don’t rule out temporarily restoring your pharmaceutical dose before trying tapering again, this time at a lower increment. Tapering safely may not be a perfectly linear process, and that’s okay! Try using CBD to help ease your withdrawal symptoms, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work for you or your withdrawals are too severe and you have to temporarily restore your dose. It doesn’t make you weak or less determined to discontinue these medications, and eventually you will succeed. Listen to your body and treat yourself with kindness during this time, and the rest will come. We’ve written a comprehensive CBD eBook designed to make this process even easier for you!

A Note on Drug Testing

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture:  avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.  A single study (as yet unconfirmed) suggests that even isolate-based products may not be completely risk-free under certain circumstances.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.

Conclusion

CBD can treat withdrawal symptoms at a variety of levels by acting on multiple different cannabinoid receptors, alleviating not just the physical symptoms of withdrawal but also soothing the circuits underlying addiction. Since it carries no potential for abuse, addiction, or overdose and can be applied to a vast array of medical conditions, CBD is a viable and attractive option for many patients looking to abandon the pharmaceutical carousel.

How Does CBD Treat Arthritis? An Analysis of Published Medical Studies

Arthritis is extremely common; in the United States alone, 23% of all adults (over 54 million people) have arthritis. Arthritis refers to more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect the joints including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, and gout. Pharmaceutical medications like narcotics, steroids, and injections are often used to treat arthritis, but they often have harmful side effects and can even result in dependency. That’s why so many people turn to CBD to manage the pain and inflammation associated with their arthritis naturally.

Arthritis is one of the most proven applications of CBD. In order to understand CBD’s anti-arthritic effects, we turn to a series of medical studies that have been conducted over the past eighteen years. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from various types of arthritis. We will address the results below.

Study Results

A 2000 study looked at the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD), the major non-psychoactive component of cannabis, in murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). “CBD was administered after onset of clinical symptoms, and in both models of arthritis the treatment effectively blocked progression of arthritis. CBD was equally effective when administered i.p. or orally. The dose dependency showed a bell-shaped curve, with an optimal effect at 5 mg/kg per day i.p. or 25 mg/kg per day orally. Clinical improvement was associated with protection of the joints against severe damage. Taken together, these data show that CBD, through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions, has a potent anti-arthritic effect in CIA.”

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10920191

A 2006 study assessed the efficacy of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine containing a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, in the treatment of pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. “In the first ever controlled trial of a cannabis-based medicine in arthritis, a significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed following Sativex treatment.”

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16282192

A 2015 study looked at the efficacy of applying CBD via a transdermal patch as opposed to orally. “Transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose-dependent manner. These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.”

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/

Here we analyze a 2017 study: “Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial joint disease, which includes joint degeneration, intermittent inflammation, and peripheral neuropathy. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a noneuphoria producing constituent of cannabis that has the potential to relieve pain. The aim of this study was to determine whether CBD is anti-nociceptive in OA, and whether inhibition of inflammation by CBD could prevent the development of OA pain and joint neuropathy. The data presented here indicate that local administration of CBD blocked OA pain. Prophylactic CBD treatment prevented the later development of pain and nerve damage in these OA joints. These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.”

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28885454

As indicated by the studies above, topical CBD products are extremely beneficial in the treatment of joint pain and arthritis.

Recommended CBD Regimen for Arthritis

When formulating a CBD regimen for a specific disease or illness like Arthritis, it’s important to understand that CBD should be used regularly for maximum relief. Meaning it should be used as a preventative first – it can also be used to manage acute symptom flare-ups, but the preventative maintenance is most important! Think about it like any other dietary supplement or medication, you want to establish a baseline concentration in your system.

Daily Maintenance

In order to manage the symptoms associated with various types of arthritis, we recommend using a multi-prong approach that relies on ingesting oral CBD and applying CBD locally in the form of a topical salve for maximum relief. We suggest ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of Tinctures or Gel Capsules. The ingredients in the two products are the same; the only difference between the two is the form factor and dosage – pills vs. sublingual tinctures. We suggest those suffering from Arthritis start with 15mg per day of CBD. If relief is not felt at this dosage, we suggest increasing by 5-10mg until the desired effects are achieved. You’ll notice that the Gel Capsules are pre-filled and contain either 15mg or 25mg of CBD per pill. There is no harm in starting above the 15mg CBD threshold as you cannot overdose on CBD, nor are there any serious side effects. These ingestible products provide sustained symptom relief for several hours – many people find they provide relief for the whole day! The one thing to keep in mind with ingestible CBD products is the delayed onset time – it can take up to 90 minutes for the full effects of the tinctures or capsules to be felt.

We recommend supplementing the orally ingested CBD oil with a CBD infused topical salve. Salve should be applied directly to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation. The effects of the salve should be felt very quickly, simply re-apply as needed.

Managing Acute Symptom Flare-Ups

In addition to the daily arthritis management program outlined above, many people find they still need a safe way to manage acute flare-ups. Regardless of the triggers, we recommend vaporizing CBD to combat these acute arthritis flare-ups. The benefit of vaporizing or dabbing CBD is that the relief can be felt almost instantaneously. We suggest either the 99% pure CBD isolate or the pre-filled CBD vaporizer cartridges because they provide a wave of relief that can be felt throughout the whole body.

You can also apply the additional topical salve, or ingest more CBD in the form of tinctures or pills to combat these episodes; just keep in mind that the onset time will be significantly longer than vaporizing.

How to use CBD vs Painkillers: 50% of People Say CBD Works Better

 

One of the most amazing things about the cannabis plant is the breadth of ailments it’s capable of alleviating. Patients who have used painkillers for years have started to take notice, and researchers were curious about the effectiveness of the switch. In an August study, market-research firm Brightfield Group surveyed 2,400 registered users of Hello MD and found that 42 percent of people who use CBD report that they’ve given up pharmaceutical drugs and replaced them with some form of cannabis.

We note that this figure includes all types of cannabis, ranging from high-THC medicinal marijuana with strong CBD content to CBD-only wellness products. Most importantly, 52 percent of respondents agreed that CBD is “more effective,” or “much more effective” than pharmaceutical drugs. The important thing to realize is that while THC is the compound that provides the psychoactive properties, all THC strains will contain CBD to some degree (it’s the 2nd most prevalent cannabinoid after THC). The results are clear, those 52% of respondents were blown away by CBD’s pain management properties.

Why is CBD More Effective

Instead of introducing a foreign substance to the body that may disrupt other functions and complicate things with side effects, try CBD. Why? Because the compounds in CBD are naturally occurring in your body already. Therefore, CBD works seamlessly with your body, it knows how to make you healthier in tandem with your immune system. Using CBD on a daily basis is no different than taking a daily vitamin with essentials compounds that your body needs.

How to Switch Effectively

Pace yourself, on both the decrease and the increase. The problem with switching from painkillers to from medical marijuana or high-CBD medicine is that it’s easy to swap “one addiction for another”. We’re not saying cannabis is addictive (it’s not) but we are suggesting that it can be difficult to switch from the numbness delivered by the painkillers to that peacefulness provided by cannabis.

The goal is to be able to get off the couch, and move beyond the non-functional opioid-induced state. It’s absolutely possible to operate normally on cannabis, and especially CBD-rich products because they do not get you ‘high’ in the traditional, psychoactive sense.

We always recommend starting slowly with the dosage (5-10mg to start), trying different ingestion methods and/or incorporating light exercise like walking, yoga, swimming or biking. Activity gets the blood pumping, which will help your body circulate the beneficial compounds more effectively than if you remained sedentary. CBD is phenomenal for recovery after exercise as well because it naturally works to ease pain and soothe sore muscles, ligaments and joints.

How to Use CBD Responsibly

If you manage your dosage at first and try different products to find the best one for you, there is no reason why you can’t live a normal life with a daily CBD regimen. Between smoking, vaping, topicals, tinctures, and salves, there is a great product out there for you.

While you won’t feel high like typical cannabis, you will certainly notice the “wave of relief” that most people describe in relation to the onset of CBD. You can also view our full CBD for pain management guide for more in-depth daily regimen advice.

A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing

If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn’t an unfounded concern — however, there isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, but there appears to be a small risk of a false positive for some users. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you should consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.