How Does Cannabis Help With Inflammation and Muscle Soreness?

Inflammation is one of the immune system’s “first responders,” so there’s no surprise that it’s involved with nearly every chronic condition, injury, or other ailment that incites an immune response. In fact, inflammation is often one of the top symptomatic concerns for people with arthritis, cardiovascular disease, allergies, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and more. 

Inflammation is also a primary concern on the other end of the wellness spectrum, by those who regularly hit the gym and put their muscles to the stress test. Muscles swell after they are stressed, and excess inflammation can even slow recovery time and decrease gains. 

It’s really no surprise that so many people are paying close mind to inflammatory symptoms. Inflammation is, in fact, usually the main cause of discomfort related to these conditions, is a precursor to pain, and can cause lasting or permanent damage to muscle and nerve tissue. 

Generally, over-the-counter or prescription strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to combat inflammation, but these medications also host a slew of potential side effects, like stomach pain or ulcers, headaches, liver damage, high blood pressure, and more. What’s more is they are often taken in high doses on a regular basis—a sure way to significantly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, stomach bleeding, and permanent damage to the kidney and liver. 

Luckily, there’s another option that’s quickly emerging in the wellness industry as a substitute for many of these harmful medications. Cannabidiol (CBD), naturally derived from cannabis, has shown promising anti-inflammatory effects that may make it useful for most people, like those dealing with inflammatory conditions or injuries. CBD is also gaining popularity for athletes as a post-workout anti-inflammatory remedy. According to the strong supporting evidence we have, it really could be useful to anyone who wants to keep a powerful anti-inflammatory on hand—just in case!

What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD in Inflammation and Muscle Soreness?

Research regarding CBD’s many health benefits is still in its infancy, but experts have identified and reported cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory effects over a range of applications. Much of the research regarding CBD’s effect on inflammation looks at specific instances, such as the use of CBD against pancreatitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the pancreas. 

Some research efforts work to paint the bigger picture, however. Research regarding the endocannabinoid delivery system’s role in sending and receiving signals of inflammation helps clarify CBD’s role in the phenomenon. Now, research exists to explain the exact mechanisms by which CBD interacts in the body, including direct interaction with a3 glycine receptors, a key player in the onset of inflammation. 

Research regarding CBD is rapidly advancing with its evolving legislature, giving experts more opportunity to identify the many potential uses of CBD as an anti-inflammatory medication. Research efforts are expected to continue to grow, but for now, we have the following studies to help us understand the link between CBD and inflammation:

1. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress.

A 2011 article confirmed many anti-inflammatory uses for cannabidiol by dissecting “recent studies suggesting that cannabidiol may have utility in treating a number of human diseases and disorders now known to involve activation of the immune system and associated oxidative stress, as a contributor to their etiology and progression. These include rheumatoid arthritis, types 1 and 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, ischemia-reperfusion injury, depression, and neuropathic pain.”

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2. The endocannabinoid system: an emerging key player in inflammation.

A 2015 study also confirms this and states “The complexity of what may be called the ‘endocannabinoidome’ requires approaches that take into account its dynamics and interconnections with other regulatory systems. This endocannabinoidome continues to offer possibilities for prevention and intervention, but multiple target approaches will probably provide the only keys to success.”

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3. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis.

This 2016 study looks at the effects of CBD on inflammation in yet another chronic ailment, fibrosis. “The review concludes with a presentation of a possible mechanism for the anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic actions of these substances. Thus, several cannabinoids may be considered candidates for development as anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic agents.”


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4. Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice.

A 2013 article suggests that “Cannabidiol…significantly improved the pathological changes of mice with AP and decreased the enzyme activities, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor α; levels, and the myeloperoxidase activities in plasma and in the organ tissues.” The study ultimately concluded that “Cannabidiol…showed anti-inflammatory effects in mice with AP and improved the expression of GPR55 in the pancreatic tissue as well.”

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

A 2012 study explains that cannabidiol suppresses inflammation and pain by targeting certain neuroreceptors. It concludes with “Our findings suggest that the α3 GlyRs mediate glycinergic cannabinoid-induced suppression of chronic pain. These cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain and other diseases involving GlyR dysfunction.”


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6. Cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and related analogs in inflammation.

This 2009 article “covers reports published in the last 5 years on the anti-inflammatory activities of all classes of cannabinoids, including phytocannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, synthetic analogs such as ajulemic acid and nabilone, the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and related compounds, namely, the elmiric acids, and finally, noncannabinoid components of Cannabis that show anti-inflammatory action.”

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Which CBD products help with inflammation and muscle soreness?

As you create a CBD regimen for managing inflammation, muscle soreness, or other inflammatory symotoms, you should keep in mind that CBD works best when used regularly, as a preventative measure. That means that CBD should be taken regularly for maximum relief. After you establish a baseline dose, you can also create a routine for managing acute flare-ups with CBD as well. 

The market is constantly expanding and there are an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. For managing inflammation and muscle soreness, we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of tinctures or gel capsules

Each product features a powerful version of cannabidiol—full spectrum CBD oil. While they are alike in formulation, they provide unique dosing styles. One is taken by mouth just like other pills, and the other is dropped under the tongue for sublingual absorption. Ensure that any full spectrum product you choose includes a high-quality MCT oil, an ingredient crucial to your body’s ability to break down and absorb CBD. 

After you’ve established a regular dosing routine for preventative coverage, you may also find that you need a safe way to manage sudden flares. Again, the options are endless, but some options provide quicker relief than others. 

Whether its due to injury, chronic illness, or overstressed muscles  – we recommend vaporizing CBD isolate to combat these acute pain flare-ups. Vaping provides relief that can be felt in as little as ten minutes. CBD isolate is 99% pure cannabidiol that provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects to the entire body.  

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

Often, the best way to manage moderate to severe inflammation is to design a regimen that includes multiple CBD products. By combining the right products, you should be able to easily achieve the consistent relief from inflammation that you need to get through the day. We’ve put many CBD products to the test, and below are the ones we recommend for inflammation.

What is the correct CBD dosage to help treat inflammation and muscle soreness?

Dosing is a personal experience for every CBD user, and the amount of CBD needed to manage your symptoms depends on a number of factors, like your weight, tolerance to cannabinoids, condition, and the severity of your symptoms. We often recommend a “start low and go slow” technique for finding your best dosage. 

We suggest those suffering from any kind of inflammation start with 15mg per day of CBD. If this dosage doesn’t fully relieve symptoms, we suggest increasing by 5-10mg until you experience relief. A CBD tincture can help with this dosing approach since you can easily measure out each dose in small increments. 

Gel capsules provide a different experience. They offer pre-measured doses that are convenient for those who often dose on-the-go or those who need larger doses of CBD. You can start with whatever dose the brand you choose offers, and there’s no harm in starting higher than 15mg since you can’t overdose on CBD and there are no significant side effects. 

From there, slowly increase your dose as needed, but be sure to allow plenty of time to monitor effects. Remember that ingestibles like capsules and tinctures can take a while to kick in— up to 90 minutes to feel the full effects. 

Dosing for CBD topicals is a bit different, and you need to use an adequate amount for the affected area. Topical products typically work quickly, providing relief in less than 20 minutes. Apply CBD topicals as needed throughout the day to manage inflammation. 

Vaping is much different because it can be difficult to monitor the amount of CBD you’re consuming with each puff. It’s even easier to apply the low and slow approach here, because the effects of vaporized CBD are usually in full swing after only 10 minutes. When vaping, start with one or two small puffs, wait ten minutes to monitor the effects, and then repeat the process until you experience complete relief. 

A Note About CBD and Drug Interactions

CBD’s safety profile is pretty solid and many organizations, like the World Health Organization, feel comfortable supporting its use for adults. However, it’s important to note that CBD may pose a risk of drug interaction with common medications. This is because CBD is metabolized by cytochrome P450 liver enzymes, the same group of enzymes needed to metabolize almost 80% of prescription medications. The interaction between CBD and other medications usually includes lower absorption rates for the other medication, which can reduce efficacy. 

Interactions could include many of the prescription medications taken for inflammation, like NSAIDs, which may utilize cytochrome P450 pathways for absorption. The interaction is not considered dangerous unless the medication is meant to treat life threatening symptoms.

The effect CBD has on these liver enzymes is very brief and many people notice no significant interaction at all. You may be able to avoid interactions by spacing out the CBD dose from other medications. If you’re concerned or if you already take prescription medications, talk to your doctor about CBD.