CBD oil, also called hemp oil, is an oil made from an extract from cannabis plants. Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain associated with chronic conditions, such as arthritis.
This article looks at the scientific evidence behind the benefits, uses, and side effects of CBD oil. Read on to understand whether CBD oil may be an effective treatment for arthritis and chronic pain.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is the oil derived from hemp, which is a type of cannabis plant.
CBD is a type of cannabinoid, which is a chemical found in cannabis plants. Unlike delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another chemical found in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive. This means it does not change a person's mental state or produce a "high" as THC can.
There are many different CBD oil products available, and the amount of CBD in them may vary.
As cannabis is used as a recreational drug, there is some controversy over the use of products made from cannabis plants.
It is important to note, however, that CBD tends to be extracted from hemp plants as opposed to marijuana plants. Both are types of cannabis plant, but unlike marijuana plants, hemp plants are not selectively bred to contain high levels of THC.
Some people use CBD oil to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Recent research suggests CBD oil may be useful for pain relief and other conditions.
CBD oil and arthritis pain relief
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting over 50 million Americans. The two most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): A disease where a person's body attacks their joints, causing inflammation. It commonly affects the hands and feet and leads to painful, swollen, and stiff joints.
- Osteoarthritis (OA): A degenerative disease that affects joint cartilage and bones, causing pain and stiffness. It often affects the hip, knee, and thumb joints.
Some studies on animals suggest that CBD could help to treat arthritis and relieve the inflammatory pain associated with it:
- A 2011 study found that CBD helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats by affecting the way pain receptors respond to stimuli.
- A 2014 review noted that in animal studies to date, CBD had shown promise as an effective treatment for OA.
- A 2016 study found that the topical application of CBD had the potential to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
- A 2017 study found that CBD might be a safe and useful treatment for OA joint pain.
However, to date, there is little scientific evidence to prove conclusively that CBD is an effective arthritis treatment for humans.
A 2006 study found that a cannabis-based mouth spray called Sativex helped to relieve arthritis pain. However, this medicine was made from cannabis plant extracts containing both CBD and THC.
While findings so far have been encouraging, more research is needed to say with certainty that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.
CBD oil and chronic pain
CBD may help manage chronic pain by affecting the brain's response to pain signals.
Cannabinoids, like CBD, attach themselves to specialized receptors in a person's brain and immune system.
One of these receptors, called a CB2 receptor, plays a role in the immune system by managing pain and inflammation.
Researchers believe that when CBD enters a person's body, it may attach to CB2 receptors. Alternatively, it may cause the body to produce natural cannabinoids that attach to the CB2 receptors.
Either way, scientists believe CBD affects the way these receptors respond to signals being sent to them, possibly helping reduce inflammation and pain.
A 2008 review of research suggested that, for this reason, CBD may play a role in chronic pain management.
Using CBD oil
CBD is available as an oil or powder that can be used to make cream or gel, which people can apply to the skin in areas affected by arthritis.
CBD may also be taken in capsule form or sprayed into the mouth. It is a good idea to speak to a doctor before using CBD oil. A person should also educate themselves about their local laws on CBD oil, as the use of cannabis products is not always legal.
Small-scale studies have found CBD oil to be well tolerated, but some people may experience mild side effects. These include:
- tiredness and trouble sleeping
- feeling irritable
Risks and considerations
Cannabis products, including CBD oil, are not legal in all states. It is essential to check local laws before purchasing CBD oil.
The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) do not currently approve CBD oil as a medical treatment. It is legal in some states in the U.S., but not all. It is a good idea for a person to check the laws in their area before purchasing or taking CBD oil.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to CBD oil, so testing the oil on a small area of skin is recommended.
As with any alternative treatment, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor before trying CBD oil.
CBD oil shows promise as a treatment for arthritis pain. The way researchers believe it affects receptors in the brain and immune system means it may reduce inflammation and pain.
However, more research is needed before researchers can say with certainty that CBD oil is an effective treatment for arthritis pain.