Physical pain can burst forth for a number of reasons, whether as a symptom of a chronic disorder, an injury, sleeping “funny”, or just a very intense workout. In turn, many of us continue to seek relief that works quickly and is long-lasting.
There’s a lot out there, so how do you know what is good? Popular OTC products like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause damage with sustained use. Prescribed opioids can become addictive, and all medications run the risk of interactions with each other.
At some point, you may also decide to look for more natural ways to fight pain, such as CBD oil. This plant-based ingredient has stormed onto the scene; while wellness fads can come and go, there is a lot of evidence to suggest CBD has beneficial, far-reaching effects when it comes to pain mitigation and prevention.
Yet no product is without downsides, right? In this article, we’ll provide a balanced exploration of the pros and cons of CBD oil for pain relief, helping you manage expectations and determine whether it’s the best solution for your specific needs.
An Overview of CBD Oil for Pain Relief
CBD is harvested from the hemp plant, making it a natural, vegan ingredient that can be used in a multitude of ways for wellness, beauty, and skincare. The oil gets absorbed via receptors- CB1 and CB2- that allow the CBD to access that endocannabinoid system, which then influences the other regulatory systems in the body.
Because CBD can inhibit or antagonize responses throughout these systems, it’s in the unique position to work on how we feel pain, as well as reduce symptoms (like inflammation) that cause pain. CBD even influences hormone production and neurotransmitters that carry messages to the brain.
What are the pros of using CBD for pain?
Healthy alternative to ibuprofen and NSAIDs
The first pro of CBD oil for pain relief is that it does not have the same concerns over damage that come with using ibuprofen or NSAIDS over a prolonged period. Moreover, it is non-addictive, does not produce an intoxicating effect, and cannot cause an overdose. In that way, CBD is a very safe and healthy alternative to the traditional pain relievers on the market.
Multiple application types
CBD oil can be used as an external topical, such as in creams, ointments, serums, and lotions. It can also be ingested within gummies and infusions. A purist at heart? CBD oil alone can be administered sublingually, which is under the tongue. Our point is that a major pro of CBD oil is that it can be used in whichever best relieves your pain. Have a sore neck? Rub a CBD-based pain serum on the specific spot. Dealing with IBS? Use CBD sublingually for its antioxidant benefits.
Other conditions for which CBD may mitigate pain include:
- Hip bursitis
- Relieving itchy skin and sunburns
- Menstrual cramps
- Sciatic pain
- Restless leg syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Joint pain
- Tired muscles
Can prevent the onset of pain and injuries
Aside from using CBD for immediate pain relief, it can also help with prevention. How? CBD can help relax muscles and lessens the onset of inflammation that prolongs the pain. For this reason, CBD can be used prior to major athletic events to keep limbs limber, whether that be weight-lifting or a long bike ride.
Safe interactions with many popular ingredients
Gentle on skin
Certain skin conditions can result in extreme itchiness or inflammation, which can be incredibly uncomfortable. One of the many pros of CBD oil is that it’s both gentle and effective, making it a top ingredient for soothing existing pain while helping to prevent future flare-ups.
Doesn't create any sort of intoxication or "high"
It's important to establish that CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are distinct vastly different from one another. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce the psychoactive "high." In fact, CBD sourced from hemp plants legally must contain less than 0.3% THC. Therefore, one of the many pros of CBD for pain relief is that it's safe to use any time of day when the physical discomfort strikes!
Bonus: CBD is a mood stabilizer, depending upon the application method
If you ingest the CBD in gummies or infusions, or sublingually, there is evidence that it can help with all types of anxiety- generalized, social, as well as panic attacks- and can also contribute to helping with depression.
What are some of the cons against CBD for pain?
Not the cheapest option on the market
When compared to the price of OTC medications like NSAIDS, the price tag of CBD oil or pain products will be higher (especially if it's of high quality). This is due to the elevated cost of ingredients and lack of production at scale.
No government regulation
Currently, the FDA has not approved any OTC application of CBD. This means that the onus is completely on the consumer to vet the companies and manufacturers making the CBD products they wish to buy. Luckily, there are ways to evaluate brands, which we talk about in our article How to Spot Fake CBD Oil & Ingredients to Avoid. Our main tip? Seek out CBD pain relief brands that publish third-party lab results that verify all of their claims (like Botanika Life).
Not legal in every country
Within the US, CBD is legal. It is not tested as a forbidden substance and is safe for athletes to use before, and during competitions. Even teens can take CBD! However, not all countries have the same welcoming attitude towards CBD as the USA. Check the laws for every place you will pass through or visit with CBD oil.
There are stronger options for extreme circumstances
Dosing is extremely variable when it comes to using CBD, a topic with which we assist in our article CBD for Beginners & Tips for Getting Started. However, no matter the dosage you decide to take, CBD oil won’t be the strongest option available.
In some ways, this attribute is actually a pro of CBD oil rather than a con, as it’s appropriate to incorporate into your everyday life. However, in the case of severe injuries, it simply won’t be enough to keep the pain at bay.
There may be a learning curve for sublingual application
Sublingual (under the tongue) application is arguably the most powerful way to intake CBD for full-body benefits. However, it has a specific process that must be adhered to for the CBD to be absorbed into the CB receptors under the tongue and in the mouth. If you have trouble mastering this, it is highly possible that you will not feel the full efficacy or potency of the CBD product you buy. It’s also worth noting that the natural, earthy flavor isn’t for everyone.
May cause contraindications with prescribed medications
As is true for almost all pain relief products, it’s possible that CBD could negatively interact with other medications you take. Always speak to your doctor before adding CBD to your pain management plan to ensure that there aren’t any contraindications.
Botanika Life Pain Relief Products
Now that you’ve read the pros and cons of CBD oil, we welcome you to explore our full pain relief collection. All of our products utilize full-spectrum CBD organically grown within the US. This same level of quality reflects in the caliber of the supporting ingredients, the balancing of the formulas, and the rigorous third-party testing our products undergo.
With 1500mg of full spectrum CBD, 4% lidocaine, menthol, and arnica in a cream-like consistency, this rub is perfect for post-workout massage. Immediately working to mitigate pain, and reduce inflammation and soreness, it specifically targets muscles and lingering nerve pain.
Portable and easy to apply, the roller has 1000mg of full spectrum CBD, along with 4% lidocaine, and menthol. As a result, it will soothe aches and swelling soon after contact.
This cream includes 500mg of full-spectrum CBD, menthol, and 4% lidocaine. The CBD mitigates inflammation, while the menthol is a quick-acting analgesic, and the lidocaine numbs the area in question.
This elixir is perfect for the minimalist in you, as it has only two ingredients: 1500mg of full spectrum CBD oil, and an organic hemp seed carrier oil. Chock full of antioxidants, it nourishes skin and minimizes inflammation. Better yet, it's clean enough to ingest, allowing you to use it sublingually or add it to your morning smoothie for full-body relief.
This 4-pack includes relaxing and rejuvenating bath bombs with scents like lavender, sandalwood, eucalyptus, and rose. The full spectrum CBD and essential oils in these are a great external treatment for stress and anxiety while helping muscles to relax and soothing body aches like menstrual cramps.
FAQ About Using CBD Oil For Pain Relief
Curious to learn about CBD oil beyond high-level pros and cons? We compiled questions we're frequently asked about how this plant-based ingredient combats pain, various applicable uses, etc.
Are there side-effects to using CBD oil for pain?
Most users have positive experiences using CBDs for pain, but there is the potential for side-effects including drowsiness, dry mouth, skin rashes, and diarrhea. If such symptoms arise, it may be a sign that the dosage was too high.
So why are the side-effects not mentioned as a con of using CBD oil for pain? Because all pain relieving supplements and medications carry some risk of side-effects, many which are significantly more severe than what's associated with CBD.
Should I use full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate for pain relief?
Full-Spectrum CBD contains CBD, other cannabinoids, and trace THC (< 0.3%), offering potential combined benefits of multiple compounds from the hemp plant. It's important to note that, even though THC is present, it's not nearly enough to create any sort of psychoactive effects.
Broad-Spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum but THC-free, preserving diverse plant compounds for potential synergistic effects without THC's presence. Isolate solely contains CBD with no other compounds from the hemp plant.
Ultimately, full-spectrum CBD is the most impactful, as the cannabinoids in the oil actually enhance the CBD's pain-relief capabilities. The only con of full-spectrum CBD oil is that its naturally enhanced strength can sometimes lead to a higher price tag.
How long does it take for CBD to deliver pain relief?
The onset of CBD's pain-relieving benefits varies depending on the form of consumption. When taken sublingually it's typical for the effects to be noticeable within 15-30 minutes (oral consumption will take much longer). Topical applications might provide more localized, faster relief.
Products like Botanika Life combine CBD with fast-acting ingredients like lidocaine and menthol that immediately cool and numb the area so users feel relief prior to CBD coming into full effect.