You’d be surprised at what a joint can do for joint pain. CBD and THC—two of the active compounds in cannabis—do wonders for those suffering from joint pain, whether due to injury or a chronic condition. That’s because weed doesn’t just get you high; it can also naturally help you effectively manage pain, increase dexterity, and improve your overall quality of life.
If you’ve been relying on synthetic pain medication and pharmaceuticals, this article is for you: it’s time to say goodbye to the pharmacy, and say hello to CBD. Read on, and learn how to best medicate and manage your joint pain through smoking marijuana or organic hemp flower, vaping oil, topical applications, and more.
What is CBD?
Let’s start with the basics. You’ve probably heard quite a bit about THC over the years, but are you familiar with CBD? Unlike THC, the psychoactive compound and main factor responsible for marijuana’s high, CBD doesn’t produce mental effects. Instead, CBD works on anti-inflammatory and analgesic pathways in the body to supply relief to those suffering from pain.
In fact, according to California organization Project CBD, a non-profit “dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical uses of cannabidiol (CBD),” the uses of CBD go way beyond simple pain relief:
“Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.”
How do CBD and THC Relieve Joint Pain?
Check out this video. After a brutal bout against UFC legend Conor McGregor, a bloodied up Nate Diaz is seen vaping in a press conference. He claims, “It’s CBD. It helps with the healing process and inflammation.” Nate might not have rheumatoid arthritis, but if anyone can attest to the pain relieving properties of CBD, it’s a bruised and broken man after a battle with one of the world’s most notorious fighters.
CBD affects your immune system, which makes it a natural for applications in autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis—and the science doesn’t lie. A study published in the journal Rheumatology from Dr. Sheng-Ming Dai of China’s Second Military Medical University found that CB2 receptors are found in unusually high levels in the joint tissue of arthritis patients, making them more sensitive to the effects of cannabinoids like CBD. The use of cannabis is shown to fight inflammation in the joints by activating the pathways of these CB2 receptors.
It’s not just CBD that can lend a helping hand, either: “Chronic pain is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, and when it comes to chronic pain, we have 9,000 patient years of data showing that THC [the active ingredient in cannabis] effectively treats it,” says Jahan Marcu, PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer for Americans for Safe Access, an organization devoted to the legalization of cannabis for therapeutic use.
Marcu continues, saying, “Cannabinoids stop the transmission of pain and decrease inflammation, and that’s very important for people with joint issues.” On a basic level, THC is anti-inflammatory and analgesic (it alleviates pain and the inflammation it’s often caused by), and it’s also known to reduce the anxiety and depression that often comes with chronic illness (especially ailments that are cause a loss of mobility, like rheumatoid arthritis).
Have you ever read about how smoking weed can cause seizure patients to physically relax and resume more normal brain function? Based on similar physiological principles, people with chronic pain and stiff joints may find that their body naturally loosens when using marijuana.
Essentially, all of these scientific studies support one of the key principles of medicinal marijuana: both non-psychoactive CBD and psychoactive THC work wonders for those suffering from joint pain.
Smoking, Vaping, Tinctures, and Topical Ointments
Marijuana isn’t a drug of the future, it’s a drug of the past. People have been using marijuana as a source of pain relief for thousands of years. Gooey Rabinski, an aptly named author considering he writes about that sweet sticky icky, writes, “Until the dawn of the 20th century, pot—albeit in tincture form, not smoked—was the primary form of pain killer in the United States. One hundred years ago, if a young girl skinned her knee, she was given a marijuana tincture, not an orange and white Bayer aspirin.”
THC is omnipresent, but CBD has been historically more difficult to come across. However, thanks to the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, industrial hemp, a high-CBD, low-THC variant of the cannabis plant, is legal to cultivate and ship nationwide. Read on for tips to use CBD oils, concentrates, and high-CBD hemp flower to treat your joint pain:
5 Tips to Relieve Joint Pain with CBD Weed:
1. Start with Smoking or Vaping
You can use CBD vape oils (just look out for propylene glycol!) or even raw organic hemp flower (like Lifter strain from Canna Comforts shown in image below), which can be vaped or smoked, to receive a fast-acting dose of CBD for expedient symptom relief. This is often the easiest way to get CBD, especially if you’re in a state with less-than-hospitable marijuana laws, as you can have the products discreetly shipped to your home. Be sure to check out our CBD consumption guide to figure out the best method of CBD intake for you.
2. Apply a Topical Salve
Much like IcyHot or Tiger Balm, a topical CBD salve will help relieve pain from your joints and muscles. Of course, these are easily found in dispensaries in legal states, but likely need to be ordered online in states without a legal cannabis program in place. Worry not, you can buy a salve specifically designed for joint pain management and have it safely, legally, and discreetly shipped directly to you.
3. Sample Each Strain Type
Sativas, indicas, and hybrids all have their strengths and weaknesses. Sample different strains, much like a wine-tasting, and see what works. You’ll be surprised at the sensation supplied by CBD-heavy strains—they’re calming, relaxing, with a powerful soothing effect that is a blessing for those with sore muscles and painful joints. If you live in a state without medical cannabis, don’t worry! You can still reap the benefits of whole-flower, full-spectrum CBD strains with raw hemp flower. Our favorite hemp flower source is Canna Comforts — their organic, batch-tested strains provide a broad range of cannabinoid compositions, creating an option for every need and purpose.
4. Experiment with THC and CBD Ratios
If you’re buying your cannabis from a dispensary, you’ll notice that they typically list both the THC and CBD contents. Heavy-hitting, THC-dominant strains are often in the 20-25% range but may contain a negligible trace of CBD. Alternatively, CBD-dominant strains may have 10+% CBD and little to no THC at all. There are also blends and hybrids that meet somewhere in the middle.
5. Try a Tincture
Nothing says old school like using a consumption method that’s been relied on for thousands of years. Though hilariously old-fashioned, the method is still incredibly effective and one of our personal favorites—a tincture can be just the ticket for your joint pain. The effects of tinctures last much longer than those of CBD that is inhaled through smoking or a vape — they can even provide some people with all-day symptom relief.
One thing’s for sure: for those suffering from chronic pain in their joints, a little bit of chronic can go a long way. Give CBD a shot — you might love the effects, and the worst case scenario is that nothing will happen at all. We rely on CBD after every ski day, backpacking trip, and workout—there’s just nothing better from a natural pain relief and relaxation standpoint.
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.