CBD & Ibuprofen - Anti-Inflammatory Comparison & FAQ

Have a headache or a sore neck? Don’t be surprised if a caring friend hands you ibuprofen (such as Advil) or CBD. Though both are known for their pain-combatting, anti-inflammatory properties, they’re ultimately quite varied from one another. So, in such scenarios, which should you take? While there’s no clear correct answer, below we break down key differences between CBD and Ibuprofen to help you make informed decisions. 

So, What exactly is CBD?

CBD or CBD oil is a cannabinoid derived from the plant. It is extracted from the leaves and flowers, and is THC-free (THC is the intoxicating element that provides a “high”). CBD is an antioxidant-rich ingredient that, when applied or consumed, uses the endocannabinoid system to bond or affect the other regulatory systems in our bodies. 

In this way, CBD is able to solve pain through the nerve system, as well as the symptoms that accompany pain (like inflammation), through the immune system.

And what is ibuprofen (brand names: Advil and Motrin)?

Ibuprofen is a non-steroid, anti-inflammatory, making it helpful for pain relief, inflammation, and even fever reduction. Ibuprofen blocks the production of prostaglandins, which produce swelling and inflammation in response to an injury or illness, and works fairly soon after taking. Important to note is that Advil and Motrin are all brands of ibuprofen, and that there are no major differences between these two popular offerings. 

Comparing the Pros and Cons of CBD vs. Ibuprofen

How CBD has Ibuprofen (Advil) beat

Limited side effects: CBD has fewer side effects than ibuprofen, and doesn’t create as many contraindications (identified adverse reactions that happen between different medications). 

Yes, CBD that is ingested does have to be metabolized by the liver and will enter the bloodstream (with the exception of topically applied CBD). However, it regulates the body via receptors and neurotransmitter interactions instead of changing enzyme levels, as ibuprofen does.

You can click here to further understand the potential side effects of ibuprofen. To quote, “NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine . . . People who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (other than aspirin) such as ibuprofen may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than people who do not take these medications.”

Diverse usage:  One of the best things about CBD oil is how many different ways it can be used, allowing you to choose the method that makes the most sense for your particular pain. Comparatively, ibuprofen like Advil and Motrin is only taken in pill form. 

Man Applying Pain Roller to Elbow

One of the best ways to administer CBD for pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits is through topicals like creams, lotions, and ointments. Instead of dispersing the benefits throughout the entire body, CBD topical products concentrate the anti-inflammatory, pain-alleviating benefits to the anguished area. As a bonus, some solutions combine the CBD with other numbing agents like lidocaine for near-instant effects. 

Another option for using CBD is to apply it directly under the tongue (sublingually). This enables it to bypass the digestive and metabolic processes that go through the liver, and still obtain bioavailability (the CBD enters the bloodstream for more potent results). Compared to the above, this delivers full-body benefits.

Finally, CBD can be ingested through gummies or infused into drinks and foods. 


CBD may be able to alleviate stomach issues: CBD interacts with body’s endocannabinoid system, which extends to the digestive tract. However, this isn't the only way in which it can help lessen stomach issues, as it reduces inflammation and anxiety (which contribute to conditions like IBS). To learn more, read CBD Helps With IBS & Stomach Pain - Learn How. Similarly, many people report that CBD has helped lessen the severity of menstrual cramps, especially when delivered as a bath bomb. 


Benefits beyond pain relief: Unlike ibuprofen, CBD has much farther-reaching benefits than just pain reduction. Because it is so rich in antioxidants, the advantages for beauty and skin care are innumerable. Not only can CBD help reduce the appearance of sagginess and fine lines, but it can increase the production of collagen and elastin, two important elements that allow your skin to adapt to sudden changes and maintain its flexibility and cell youth.

Unlike with ibuprofen, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help clear the skin of acne, and even prevent future breakouts. Other skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea can all be mitigated by using CBD.

Perhaps even more importantly, CBD has the ability to reduce stress, and anxiety, and help regulate your sleep cycle, so you wake with a more rested and rejuvenated feeling.

For more reading, check out Pros and Cons of CBD for Pain

How Ibuprofen has CBD beat

Lower cost and easier to buy: Ibuprofen is readily available at many retail locations, and because it has a generic formulary, the price is accessible for most people who need to take an over-the-counter dose. Even prescription-level doses are relatively affordable and usually covered by health insurance providers. 

Generic ibuprofen is less expensive than a brand name like Motrin or Advil, but even these versions won’t break the bank.

Admittedly, in the battle of anti-inflammatory aids, ibuprofen bests CBD when it comes to price. 

Readily available studies on effects: NSAIDS have been around for a very long time, and ibuprofen in particular has been used successfully for decades. In turn, there are ample studies available that explore specific side effects that may occur, long-term use, and advisories for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. While there are a growing number of studies about CBD, the scientific community is still exploring its benefits.

Pills present no learning curve: As said above, ibuprofen has been around and in use for quite a long time. All of us are familiar with taking pre-formulated capsules or pills and don’t question how.  In comparison, tasks like using a dropper to administer CBD oil under the tongue may feel intimidating to newcomers (though it shouldn’t). 

Is it safe to take CBD and ibuprofen together?

It is possible to have no adverse effects when taking CBD and ibuprofen together, as the two products work differently within the body. However, because they both stimulate the immune system to either quell pain, inflammation, or a fever response, it would be best to choose one or the other. Still, there have been no reported issues that arose from using the two in conjunction with one another. 

When weighing CBD vs. ibuprofen (or whether to take both together), it's always wise consult with a medical professional.  

Botanika Life CBD Products for Pain 

So, you’ve decided to explore CBD anti-inflammatory solutions over ibuprofen like Motrin and Advil? Botanika Life offers a suite of products, all formulated using plant-based ingredients of the highest quality. 

Elite Elixir

This elixir contains only two ingredients: 1500mg of a full spectrum CBD oil and a carrier hemp seed oil. If used for pain relief or anti-inflammatory benefits, we suggest applying the Elite Elixir sublingually or infusing in a beverage or drink. However, it can also work wonders for your complexion if you decide to apply it topically. 

CBD & Plant-Based Pain Relief Line

The Botanika Life Pain Relief Line includes: the CBDPain Relief Roller, the Super Soothing Pain Serum, the Ultra-Relief Pain Rub, and tools like the Cryo Massage Roller. These products have been specially formulated to combine the most powerful, purest CBD oils with other well-known natural soothing ingredients like lidocaine, arnica, and menthol. 

FAQ About CBD vs. Ibuprofen (Advil)

Is ibuprofen an NSAID?

Yes. NSAIDS are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and most of the pain relievers you take are under this umbrella. Both Motrin and Advil, which are brand names for ibuprofen, are NSAIDS. NSAIDS are sold in non-prescription dosages in drugstores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and many other retail locations.

Are either CBD or Ibuprofen dangerous for long-term use?

A doctor can prescribe or manage doses of NSAIDS for longer-term use. However, take note that NSAIDS are metabolized by the body, and excessive doses can possibly cause kidney damage or other types of kidney injury over time. Your primary care physician should always know the frequency and dosage of all medications you take, even the ones that are OTC or prescribed by another doctor or specialist.

CBD has no known associated long-term side effects, or reported public health issues, even if taken daily. Still, you should still alert your primary care physician about the use of CBD

How do the dosing periods for CBD and ibuprofen compare?

For the most part, ibuprofen is advised for an approximate 6-hour dosing period, but there are also limitations on how many doses you should take in a 24-hour period. You should always check the bottle or prescription for the exact dosing instructions, and follow them as they are written.

CBD dosing periods are a little more variable. You may feel the relief for several- up to six hours, but there is no definitive dosing period that you must follow. CBD does not produce a “high”, nor have limitations for metabolization, so it is really up to the consumer to figure out what works. Exuberantly large amounts of consumed CBD may result in an upset stomach, but there are no known cases of death or severe reactions. 

What is the age minimum for taking CBD?

CBD is not intoxicating and is not screened for in any type of drug testing, because it is a perfectly legal element in most places, including throughout the USA. You also cannot overdose or become medically addicted to CBD, making it safe for most minors when taken with adult supervision. Teens in particular can benefit greatly from CBD’s ability to regulate hormones, treat pain, and help with sleep. 

As is true for adults, your child’s doctor should be notified if you want them to start using CBD. 

What does it mean for something to be an anti-inflammatory?

We've used the term anti-inflammatory quite a bit in reference to both CBD and ibuprofen. So what does this term mean? Anti-inflammatory refers to the ability to soothe inflammation, which is the body's natural response to injury, infection, or irritation. While inflammation can actually be good in right quantities, excess can lead to a variety of issues, including swelling, redness, and pain. Inflammation is associated with everything from arthritis to certain cases of lower back pain to potentially migraines! 


Can either CBD or ibuprofen cause addiction or dependency? 

Neither CBD nor ibuprofen is generally considered addictive. However, long-term and excessive use of ibuprofen can lead to tolerance, meaning that greater quanitities would need to be consumed to experience the same pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory benefits. 


Does CBD help mitigate menstraul cramps? 

Ibuprofen-devotees may be surprised to learn that, like their go-to capsules, CBD can help soothe period cramps. While sublingual application is quite effective, our favorite way to address menstraul aches is to add a CBD-infused bath bomb to a hot bath.


Does ibuprofen offer any benefits outside of pain relief, similar to how CBD does?

Unlike CBD, which is associated with various potential health benefits such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and possibly enhancing skincare, ibuprofen's effects are primarily limited to its anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. In short, Advil and Motrin don't typically offer the diverse range of potential health benefits associated with CBD.


Want to Learn More About CBD Pain Relief?

To dive deeper into how CBD can help you tackle pain and inflammation, we suggest: