CBD - the non-intoxicating cannabis compound that claims to cure almost everything - has found its way into pain-relieving creams and ointments. Sometimes combined with THC (the cannabis compound that does get you high), these topical products claim to help alleviate joint and muscle pain. Do they work?
CBD & THC Pain Research Looks Promising
It’s still early days for research, but studies suggest CBD, alone and combined with THC, may provide relief for pain and inflammation. Recent research found that people in palliative care using CBD and THC regularly “reported improvements in pain, and the most common form of usage was topical application.”
There’s also evidence CBD creams can help relieve pain sensations, such as:
Arthritis-related pain. A 2016 animal study found applying topical CBD may help with arthritis-related pain and swelling.
- Nerve pain. A small 2020 study of people with nerve damage looked at the effects of topical CBD oil on pain. The study found “a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations.”
Jaw pain. A 2019 study looked at topical CBD as a relief from a specific kind of facial pain that mainly affects the jaw. The study found those applying CBD about twice a day experienced much less pain after 2 weeks.
The Science Behind CBD & THC Pain Relief
There are several theories about how cannabis-infused creams work to reduce inflammation, decrease pain and increase the number of endocannabinoids within the body.
The central idea behind using CBD topically on problems areas, such as joint pain, swelling or open wounds, has to do with the soothing and healing properties of the substance. Since CBD can be used as an anti-inflammatory, applying the cream to the skin can reduce swelling and ease pain in targeted areas.
The second theory is that CBD creams kick start the natural endocannabinoids found within the body, thus reducing any inflammation and soothing areas in pain.
Apply and Enjoy
It’s easy to use a CBD cream. Just massage it into the skin wherever you’re experiencing pain. Arthritic hands? Rub the cream onto your hands, focusing on the painful joints.
If a product contains ingredients specific to pain relief, like menthol or arnica, you might feel cooling or warming sensations. Start with a small application in case those effects bother you.
While science may still not know exactly how cannabis-infused creams work, many have found pain relief through topical application. So there is little risk in trying a CBD cream the next time muscle or joint pain strikes.