CBD has generated quite a buzz for its ability to help manage pain, anxiety, certain types of seizures, and potentially other beneficial medical effects. What’s more, unlike THC—the most common cannabinoid in marijuana—CBD doesn’t make you feel “high.”
There are many ways to access the medicinal benefits of CBD: In addition to high-CBD flower, you can find high-CBD vaporizers, topicals, and concentrates. In fact, some of the products we sell contain no THC at all.
But one of the most popular ways to use CBD is as an oil, and many of us are finding real relief from stubborn aches and strains by using CBD oil for pain. In today’s post, we’ll share a little about the science that makes CBD oil so effective, as well as some of the best ways to use it!
CBD and the Concept of Cannabinoids
Before we dive into details about CBD oil, let’s be sure we’re clear on the concept of cannabinoids. Because they’re the major “active ingredients” in marijuana, cannabinoids have the greatest effect on our perception of marijuana and its powerful medicinal qualities.
The cannabinoids are a family of roughly 150 compounds, and as we’ve noted they include CBD and THC. Cannabinoids interact with a bodily network called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s one of our vital regulatory systems, helping us govern immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and other functions.
As you might guess from its name, the ECS is uniquely tailored to work with the cannabinoids contained in marijuana. That’s the main reason that marijuana is capable of imparting such powerful medicinal effects; it’s as though the plant already “knows the body’s language.”
You’re probably familiar with THC, the most abundant cannabinoid and the one responsible for marijuana’s “high.” That’s not all THC does: In addition to its characteristic euphoria, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, a sedative, and more. But because CBD oil doesn’t typically contain THC, let’s stick with the topic of CBD for now.
CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid. While it may not get you high, that’s not to say it isn’t entirely psychoactive. While some people don’t feel any effect whatsoever from CBD, others feel a gentle “buzziness” or describe a mild cerebral stimulation, a little bit like the effects of caffeine. That’s not to say CBD keeps you awake at night. In fact, many people use it to help fight insomnia!
What about products labeled “CBD” outside of licensed dispensaries? These are derived from hemp, marijuana’s wild-growing cousin. Because hemp contains so little THC, it’s legal under federal law, which excludes products that contain 0.3% or less THC.
Is the source of the CBD—wild hemp or marijuana—important? That’s a great lead-in to our next topic: What is CBD oil?
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oils are carefully extracted and purified CBD in a neutral solution. We sell a number of CBD oils, in various forms such as capsules, tinctures, and topicals. In other words, CBD oil can be swallowed, added to a food or beverage, or applied as a topical balm or salve.
Does it matter where the CBD comes from? That’s a topic of intense debate. Some researchers feel that because it’s richer in secondary compounds, CBD derived from marijuana is more medically active than the CBD that comes from hemp. Because we want to offer our customers the widest possible range of options, we offer both types.
Regardless of where it was derived from, CBD oil—like all cannabis concentrates—is made by extracting the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes into a potent, shelf-stable, and medically useful format. So in that regard, a product labeled “CBD oil” isn’t really any different from any other cannabis concentrate.
There’s one other kind of concentrate that we want to mention here: It’s called Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). Invented by an amateur home chemist to manage his skin cancer, it’s made by extracting the cannabinoids from marijuana flower into a solvent like isopropyl alcohol and then reducing the extract with gentle heat. That said, most RSO contains THC, so be sure to read the label carefully if you want to avoid psychoactivity.
How to Use CBD Oil for Pain
As we mentioned a moment ago, CBD oil can be consumed on its own, mixed into foods or beverages, or packaged into caplets for convenient dosing. But no matter what form it comes in, CBD imparts powerful pain-relieving effects. As we noted earlier, CBD interacts with many of the same receptor cells in the ECS as THC, although it does so in slightly different ways. For one thing, CBD exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and it can reduce pain at points of physical injuries and pain by modulating the actions of signaling and repair cells there.
But much of the experience of pain occurs in the brain, and CBD interacts with signaling mechanisms there too. Working with neurotransmitter receptors there, CBD helps dampen pain signals as they arrive in the brain.
Because CBD doesn’t impart the same euphoria as THC, some people wonder if it’s still effective for pain on its own. The evidence so far suggests that it is. But for maximum effectiveness, many experts believe that CBD works best in tandem with THC. Even products with a very small amount of THC—for instance, a strain with a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio—will tend to be more beneficial than CBD on its own.
That raises an important note about dosing: Even though CBD imparts a milder experience than THC, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should take more of it. Medical marijuana is biphasic, meaning that we get different benefits depending on how much we take. And the truth is that most of us actually get greater benefits at lower dosages.
That’s one reason we recommend you “Start Low and Go Slow,” even with high-CBD cannabis products. Take the lowest dose possible and wait to observe the medicine’s effects. If you’re not feeling any benefits, you can gradually increase the dosage over time until you’re confident it’s addressing your symptoms.
Still have questions about using CBD oil for pain? We’re here to help. Feel free to schedule a consultation with one of our patient advisors anytime. We’d love for you to start enjoying the benefits of CBD oil and its safe, gentle, and sustainable relief of pain and other chronic symptoms.