CBD Edibles for Chronic Pain
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an increasingly popular option for pain relief. Unlike regular pain medication, CBD is safe, natural, provides other holistic wellness benefits, and doesn’t cause issues with dependence or withdrawal.
As a result, many people turn to CBD oil to improve post-workout recovery and alleviate chronic pain caused by arthritis, multiple sclerosis, herniated discs, cancer, fibromyalgia, surgery, and other issues.
However, CBD oil is not the only way to relieve chronic pain; CBD-infused edibles such as gummies and chocolate can work just as effectively.
In this research-backed article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about using CBD edibles for chronic pain relief.
How Can CBD Relieve Chronic Pain?
Cannabis has long been used to relieve all sorts of pain, so it’s not surprising that CBD-rich products can offer similar benefits.
All forms of CBD, including edibles, can relieve pain by supporting the endocannabinoid system and interacting with parts of the central nervous system that regulate pain and inflammation.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Discovered in the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that synthesize and break them down. This system helps maintain homeostasis, a healthy state of balance in the body.
As such, the ECS works to regulate mood, cognitive function, inflammation, metabolism, sleep, pain, and other essential processes.
Similar to other phytocannabinoids (plant-derived cannabinoids), CBD has been shown to interact with this system.
In doing so, CBD can support the pain and inflammation-relieving effects of the ECS.
Most notably, CBD appears to boost the levels of anandamide, the main endocannabinoid produced by our bodies. CBD also interacts with GPR55, a receptor that regulates inflammatory pain and may be part of the ECS.
CBD and Pain Receptors
In addition to interacting with the ECS, CBD has also been shown to affect other parts of the central nervous system involved in regulating pain and inflammation.
To begin with, studies show that CBD can reduce inflammatory pain by interacting with TRPV1, a receptor that functions similar to the cannabinoid receptors. Also, CBD has been shown to suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain by activating glycine receptors.
Furthermore, some studies indicate that CBD can relieve pain by increasing the brain’s levels of adenosine, an important neurotransmitter (brain chemical). In turn, this leads to increased activation of the adenosine receptor, which inhibits pain and reduces inflammation.
Taken together, these mechanisms offer an explanation for how CBD can benefit people with chronic pain, workout-related soreness, and other pain-related issues.
CBD and Chronic Pain: The Research
Although medical research of CBD for chronic pain relief has only just begun, the findings are promising.
For starters, a 2016 study in rats with arthritis examined the benefits of a CBD-infused gel. The gel reduced pain and inflammation in the affected joints without any side effects.
Similar findings have been reported in studies that used preparations containing CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. Such studies are still relevant for two reasons:
- The studied preparations contained CBD
- Most CBD products have full-spectrum formulas that contain multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds naturally found in hemp
For example, a 2006 British study looked at the pain-relieving effects of Sativex, a pharmaceutical drug containing CBD and THC, in rheumatoid arthritis. The participants experienced significant pain reduction.
Similar improvements were reported in a 2018 Italian study of Sativex for chronic pain caused by multiple sclerosis.
CBD and other cannabinoids can also be helpful for other types of chronic pain. For example, a 2016 study reported that some people successfully use medical cannabis to relieve migraine pain.
Meanwhile, another 2016 study looked at the effects of medical cannabis on various types of treatment-resistant chronic pain in 274 individuals. Cannabis significantly reduced pain and the use of opioid prescription medication.
While these individual findings are helpful, evidence from systematic reviews — papers that combine the findings of multiple studies — is even more substantial.
One such 2015 review of 28 clinical studies on the use of cannabinoids for chronic pain, including neuropathic, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis-related pain, concluded that “There was moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain.”
All in all, although more studies looking specifically at CBD are needed, there’s strong evidence that CBD and other cannabinoids can be used to relieve various kinds of chronic pain.
CBD Edibles and Chronic Pain
CBD edibles include gummies, chocolate, cookies, bars, and other foods infused with cannabidiol. Although CBD oil remains the most popular form of CBD for chronic pain relief, CBD edibles are also effective.
The major difference between using CBD edibles and oil is absorption. Whereas CBD oil is absorbed directly into the blood vessels under your tongue, edibles are subject to first pass metabolism, which means they’re broken down in the digestive tract and liver prior to reaching the bloodstream.
Disadvantages of CBD Edibles for Chronic Pain
Because of the first-pass effect, CBD edibles have lower absorption, and you need to take higher doses to experience the same pain relief as you would with CBD oil.
Another downside is that CBD edibles take some time to start working; as little as 30 minutes on an empty stomach and as long as two hours if you recently ate. As such, they’re not the best option if you need immediate pain relief.
Advantages of CBD Edibles for Chronic Pain
Despite their downsides, CBD edibles have several strengths which make them an effective option for pain.
To begin with, their effects tend to last the longest of any CBD product — typically four hours or longer. This is ideal if your pain lasts throughout the day, which is often the case for chronic pain.
Also, edibles are easy to use and come in precise doses, which is convenient and helps you maintain consistent dosing. Besides, there’s a simple fact that edibles are delicious: whereas a CBD tincture can taste like medicine, CBD gummies are more like candy.
Furthermore, CBD edibles are discreet. You can take them with you on the go and use them without drawing any unwanted attention even if you’re at work. Again, this is great if you need ongoing pain relief.
CBD Edibles: A Natural Option for Chronic Pain
Cannabis has a long history of use as a pain reliever. Today, millions of people continue to enjoy its holistic benefits while avoiding the psychoactive side effects by using CBD for natural pain relief.
Regardless of whether this pain is caused by working out, chronic conditions, surgery, injury, or something else, research suggests that CBD can be beneficial by supporting the body’s endocannabinoid system and other pain and inflammation-regulating pathways.
At the same time, CBD can provide many other health and wellness benefits without causing the significant side effects associated with prescription medications.
While most people prefer CBD oil for pain-related issues, CBD edibles such as gummies are beneficial as well. Edibles have long-lasting effects and are easy, pleasant, and convenient to use.
This makes CBD edibles particularly helpful for pain that lasts throughout the day. For example, you can take a few gummies before heading out to work and take more later in the day as needed.
If you require immediate relief, however, we recommend vaping CBD instead because its effects are instantaneous.