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Top 10 Best CBD Oil for Pain in 2022—Reduce Chronic Pain & Inflammation

Managing any type of pain is a challenge. The complexities of choosing a medication that won’t interfere with performing routine tasks while still being strong enough to manage pain symptoms makes it easy to understand why so many seek an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical and OTC medications. One option whose popularity is growing exponentially is CBD oil. CBD oil is made from extracts of the cannabis or hemp plant and has shown a variety of benefits, including relief from acute and chronic pain.

CBD oil may be an effective pain reliever because of its influence on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD works with this system to regulate the central nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. Although CBD does not work directly on brain receptors, it influences them to help relieve pain. CBD may be the answer for those seeking pain management treatment using a naturally sourced cannabinoid that is free from adverse side effects and can be dosed to meet specific pain management needs.

Top Ten CBD Oils for Pain Relief

    : Top Pick : Runner Up : Worthy Mention : Broad Product Variety : Many Offers : Various Options : High Bioavailability : Full Spectrum : Good Service : Full-Spectrum CBD Specialists

How Did We Select These 10 CBD Oils?

Finding the best CBD oil for pain options started with a wide variety of CBD oil products. Our team of testers used a scoring system that took into account the CBD potency, price, taste, and customer service. The ten best CBD oils for pain on this list have high-quality ingredients, third-party lab testing, and competitive prices. They also offer a wide range of potencies so that you can find the perfect CBD oil for your individual needs.

Whether you are a first-time user of CBD or an experienced CBD enthusiast, this list has the perfect choice for meeting your specific acute or chronic pain management needs.

Top 10 CBD Oils for Pain

CBDfx: Top Pick

  • Multi-cannabinoid formula
  • cGMP certified manufacturing facilities
  • On-staff medical advisory board
  • 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Up to 25% discount on orders
  • Only available to USA customers

CBDfx Company Info

Established in 2014, CBDfx is a key player in the CBD industry. They have been praised for their high-quality products and commitment to customer service. The company is based in California and offers a mix of capsules, gummies, vape oils, topicals, and tinctures for humans and pets.

Using a solvent-free supercritical CO2 extraction process to extract essential cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, CBG, and Delta-9 from organically grown hemp plants, CBDfx utilizes GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified facilities to ensure quality, consistency, and safety. Their third-party lab-tested products offer a safe and accurate way to manage your chronic or occasional pain without prescription drugs. They also provide a 60-day money-back guarantee so that you can try their products risk-free.

CBDfx CBD Oils

CBDfx has an extensive product line of CBD oil for pain management and to treat various conditions. Their 2:1 Wellness tincture combines the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and CBG in formulas containing 500mg, 1000mg, 2000mg, 4000mg, and 6000mg of CBD, and 250mg of CBG.

These types of cannabinoid compounds provide an entourage effect that is effective for pain management. CBDfx also offers their potent full-spectrum CBD oil for pain formulas with added natural ingredients to promote calm, better sleep, and appetite.

Who Should Use CBDfx Products?

CBDfx products are ideal for those experiencing chronic pain and inflammation, as well as those seeking relief from acute injuries. For those looking for an all-in-one health and wellness supplement to manage chronic pain in addition to other chronic conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, or depression, CBDfx provides the best CBD oils with multiple cannabinoids and added botanical extracts.

CBDistillery: Runner Up

  • Formulas available in broad and full spectrum
  • Excellent online user interface
  • Ability to shop by ailment/condition/benefit
  • US Hemp Authority Certified
  • The safety mechanism on the dropper can be difficult to use at first

CBDistillery Company Info

Focused on transparency, quality, and the pursuit of wellness for all individuals, CBDistillery is a leader in the CBD industry. Based out of Colorado, CBDistillery was one of the first companies to receive US Hemp Authority Certification. Their products are made from organically grown hemp and undergo third-party lab testing to ensure purity and potency. Their formulas are available in both broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oil varieties so that you can find the perfect oil for your specific needs.

CBDistillery CBD Oils

CBDistillery oils for pain relief come in 4 different potencies:

  • Regular Strength – 500mg of CBD
  • Extra Strength – 1000mg of CBD
  • Maximum Strength – 2500mg of CBD
  • Maximum Plus Strength – 5000mg of CBD

Full-spectrum CBD oil formulas use a CO2 extraction process to ensure that all beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes are included in the oil. In addition, the formula is blended with coconut carrier oil (MCT oil) to provide the synergistic benefits of fatty acids and better absorption into the body.

For those that don’t want to ingest the trace THC amounts found in CBDistillery’s full-spectrum CBD oil, the CBD company offers broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate formulas that are just as potent without any trace of THC.

Who Should Use CBDistillery Products?

Anyone looking for a high-quality, budget-friendly broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD oil online should consider CBDistillery. Additionally, those who do not like CBD oil’s earthy taste will enjoy the natural fruity flavors incorporated into various CBD products offered online at CBDistillery.

Sunday Scaries: Worthy Mention

  • Flavored CBD oil tincture
  • Low dose perfect for beginners
  • Enriched with anti-anxiety vitamins
  • THC-free broad-spectrum formula
  • Limited supply in comparison to other products available

Sunday Scaries Company Info

Created by those who understand the effects of stress on the body, Sunday Scaries is a CBD company focused on providing everyday CBD wellness tinctures. Certified with just about every popular CBD certification you can think of, Sunday Scaries is committed to providing safe products that incorporate broad-spectrum natural CBD oils.

Offering subscription-based and one-time purchases, the team at Sunday Scaries is committed to providing anxiety-free living as an effective solution to chronic and acute pain.

Sunday Scaries CBD Oils

The Sunday Scaries CBD tincture is a THC-free, broad-spectrum CBD oil enriched with essential vitamins B12 & D3 and a coconut carrier oil for the best in absorption and bioavailability. Low in dose (500mg of CBD per bottle), this is a great introductory oil for those who have never used CBD before to start their journey to a stress and pain-free life. Enhanced with a light fruit punch flavor, Sunday Scaries oil tastes great on its own or mixed with water or tea.

For those looking for a best CBD oil for pain relief in addition to a powerful sleep aid, Sunday Scaries also offers a sleep formula that includes a variety of additional cannabinoid compounds to ensure a restful night’s sleep as well as providing powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Who Should Use Sunday Scaries Products?

Sunday Scaries CBD products are perfect for those just starting their CBD journey, especially those looking for a THC-free option enhanced with essential vitamins.

Green Roads: Broad Product Variety

  • Formulated by pharmacists
  • Wide range of CBD products
  • Rewards program
  • Military, first responder, and teacher discounts
  • Daily dose packets available
  • A bit more expensive than other CBD brands on this list

Green Roads Company Info

Started by a pharmacist with 25 years of experience helping others, Green Roads is a popular provider of CBD oil online that strives to provide easy-to-take CBD products. With a variety of oils, edibles, spa products, soft gel capsules, and more available through their online store, Green Roads offers a way to manage pain and anxiety symptoms for everyone.

Green Roads CBD Oils

Unlike companies that stick to a few ingredients in their CBD oil tinctures, Green Roads goes above and beyond, formulating their proprietary blend of full and broad-spectrum CBD with no less than six active ingredients to manage pain and treat various ailments. The full and broad-spectrum CBD formulas are available in 30ml bottles containing 250-1500mg of CBD, depending on your potency preference. Additionally, these formulas are available in convenient daily dose packages for those who do not like to fuss with droppers or measuring. As an added benefit, Green Roads offers all of their CBD oil tinctures in a Kiwi Apple Bliss or Mint Breeze flavor in addition to the standard natural CBD flavor.

To further enhance a user’s CBD experience, Green Roads infuses their oils with various carrier oils, including hemp seed oil and sunflower oil, to provide essential fatty acids that are beneficial to the body.

Who Should Use Green Roads Products?

Green Roads CBD products are perfect for those who want high-quality, vegan, and gluten-free CBD oil available in various flavors and dosages.

Charlotte’s Web: Many Offers

  • Available in large 100ml bottles
  • Significant savings for subscription purchases
  • Informative educational resources
  • Ships to Canada
  • Broad-spectrum formula only available in mint chocolate flavor

Charlotte’s Web Company Info

Boosted to international acclaim after being featured in some of the most reputable media outlets such as USA Today, The New York Times, and CNN, Charlotte’s Web is a world-renowned CBD company that was one of the first to market CBD products. B Corp Certified and family-owned, Charlotte’s Web offers many CBD products, including oils, capsules, topicals, and pet products designed to improve health and well-being.

Charlotte’s Web CBD Oils

Charlotte’s Web offers full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil formulas to help manage joint pain and other aches and pains that often accompany serious workouts. The full-spectrum CBD oil formulas have the most variety in potency, with 30ml bottles containing 7, 17, 50, and 60mg of CBD per mL. This means that there is a CBD oil for every need, whether you are a beginner or an experienced CBD user, or dealing with chronic pain or looking to relieve sore muscles or joint pain after working out. The broad-spectrum formula is THC-free and comes in a 25mg of CBD per mL bottle with a delicious mint chocolate flavor.

Using an alcohol extraction process to preserve the essential phytocannabinoid and terpene profiles, Charlotte’s Web oils are some of the purest and most effective on the market, especially for those suffering from acute inflammation and pain related to daily physical activity such as exercise.

Who Should Use Charlotte’s Web Products?

Charlotte’s Web CBD options are beneficial for those looking for a highly-effective, full-spectrum CBD formula that comes in large bottles to reduce cost per dose.

Zatural: Various Options

  • Free shipping available
  • Founded by a Naturopathic physician
  • Voted Best Broad-Spectrum CBD 2021 by Miami Herald
  • Potent CBD isolate formulas
  • Full-spectrum formulas don’t ship to all 50 US states

Zatural Company Info

Founded by a woman who has dedicated her life to natural remedies and the science of alternative health, Zatural is a CBD company dedicated to helping people heal from chronic conditions related to pain, anxiety, and stress. Their products are made in the USA in an FDA-registered laboratory that adheres to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Using the best in extraction methods, Zatural’s best CBD oil for pain options are potent and effective.

Zatural CBD Oils

Zatural offers CBD in full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate formulas. The full-spectrum CBD oil formula is available in 30ml, 60ml, and 120ml bottles with CBD dosages as low as 300 mg and as high as 12,000mg of CBD per bottle. In addition, customers can choose between a natural CBD flavor or a peppermint flavor sweetened with stevia. The award-winning broad-spectrum formula is available in similar bottle sizes and CBD strengths with an additional array of flavors, including coffee, spearmint, lemon-lime, natural sweet, cinnamon, and peppermint.

For those looking for pure CBD that is THC-free, Zatural has you covered with a potent formula containing up to 2500mg of pure CBD. Their oils are formulated with hemp seed carrier oil for maximum CBD absorption and effectiveness.

Who Should Use Zatural Products?

Anyone experiencing chronic pain from arthritis, injuries, or other conditions, should try a Zatural CBD product. Their CBD oil has been shown to provide relief from chronic pain and inflammation using potent formulas containing high concentrations of CBD – particularly their isolate products.

CBD American Shaman: High Bioavailability

  • Water-soluble CBD oils
  • Nanotechnology enhances bioavailability
  • Batch tested using Ultra Performance Convergence Chromatography
  • Gluten-free
  • Eco-friendly processing practices
  • Other products offered on the website may not be gluten-free

CBD American Shaman Company Info

CBD American Shaman is a leader in the hemp-derived CBD industry, offering competitive pricing, proprietary CBD formulas, and the latest technology to make their best CBD oil products. CBD American Shaman uses non-GMO ingredients and eco-friendly processing practices to create pure, safe, and effective hemp oil extracts in full-spectrum and THC-free formulas.

CBD American Shaman CBD Oil

With various potencies, flavors, and bottle sizes, CBD American Shaman leaves nothing to be desired in their products. Their water-soluble CBD oils are some of the most bioavailable and effective oils on the market due to the nanotechnology-based enhancement of absorption.

Available in strengths ranging from 300 to 900 mg of CBD, these full-spectrum CBD oil options have everything a person needs to manage pain and other chronic conditions. Their terpene-rich formulas include considerable concentrations of Myrcene, Limonene, Linalool, A-pinene, and many others to benefit the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Who Should Use CBD American Shaman Products?

Anyone looking for high-quality CBD in a water-soluble oil to mix into their favorite drinks and meals as an alternative to sublingual drops should consider the high-quality oils formulated by CBD American Shaman.

Extract Labs: Full Spectrum

  • ISO Certified labs
  • International shipping available
  • 100% secure checkout
  • Excellent customer service
  • Free shipping only on orders over $60

Extract Labs Company Info

One of the few American brands to offer international shipping, Extract Labs is committed to providing the highest quality CBD products to as many people as possible. Voted Top Ten CBD Oil in 2020, Extract Labs offers a full range of CBD products, from tinctures to capsules and topical ointments.

Founded by a military veteran who understands the need to provide the best CBD oil products, Extract Labs is one of the most reliable and customer-focused brands in the CBD industry.

Extract Labs CBD Oil

A customer favorite at Extract Labs is their 100% organic, vegan, and gluten-free CBD oil tincture. The high-quality CBD oil comes in a variety of strengths ranging from 300 mg to 3,000 mg so that customers can find the ideal dose for their pain management needs. The full-spectrum hemp extract oil contains quick-acting cannabinoids (CBG) that are ready to boost the body’s endocannabinoid system to provide relief from pain and other chronic conditions

For those seeking a THC-free alternative, Extract Labs offers a potent isolate formula that’s pure CBD – perfect for those who want to mix their daily dose of CBD into drinks and food.

Who Should Use Extract Labs Products?

CBD newbies and old-hands alike will appreciate Extract Labs’ high-quality tinctures that are potent and specifically designed to enhance the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Bloom Hemp: Good Service

  • Independently owned and operated
  • Certified organic
  • Up to 20% discount available for new customers
  • Manufactured in GMP and ISO certified facility
  • No international shipping
  • Domestic shipping more expensive than others on this list

Bloom Hemp Company Info

Started in 2018, Bloom Hemp has made it their mission to produce CBD products specifically designed to combat chronic and acute conditions such as pain, depression, digestive issues, and more using Ayurvedic practices combined with potent CBD formulas. Always going above and beyond the standards set within the CBD industry, Bloom Hemp products are certified organic with no pesticides, heavy metals, or solvents.

Bloom Hemp CBD Oil

For those seeking effective pain relief with CBD products that contain herbs and natural ingredients proven in Ayurvedic medicine to be powerful anti-inflammatories, Bloom Hemp’s oil might be a perfect choice. The Ayurvedic infusion in Bloom Hemp’s CBD oil helps to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and promote a sense of calm and well-being with its proprietary Recovery Tincture that contains:

  • 1200mg of CBD
  • 100mg of CBG
  • Terpene-rich profile: A-Pinene, Terpinolene, Linalool, Myrcene, B-Caryophyllene
  • Turmeric extract
  • Blackseed extract
  • Ginger extract
  • Bioperine

Bloom Hemp also offers other full-spectrum CBD and THC-free formulas made with the same dedication to quality and purity as their oil.

Who Should Use Bloom Hemp Products?

Anyone looking for a high-quality, organic CBD oil that is Ayurvedically infused should consider Bloom Hemp. With discounts available for new customers, military personnel, and first responders, this brand is committed to making its premium CBD products affordable for all.

Five CBD: Full-Spectrum CBD Specialists

  • Easy to navigate website
  • Special deals and discounts
  • Three flavors to choose from
  • Multi-cannabinoid formula
  • Online quiz to help select the best CBD product for customers
  • No THC-free CBD oil is currently available

Five CBD Company Info

Focused on creating effective full-spectrum CBD oil tinctures that enhance the body’s endocannabinoid system, Five CBD is dedicated to providing relief to those suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, and other conditions. Offering an extensive online CBD knowledge base and a handy quiz to help customers select the perfect Five CBD products for their needs, this company uses its eco-friendly practices and organically grown hemp to create products that everyone can enjoy.

Five CBD Oil

Five CBD full-spectrum CBD oil tincture comes in natural, citrus, and lavender flavors. Customers can order potencies of 1500, 3000, and 6000mg of CBD per 30ml bottle. Containing a rich terpene profile and additional minor cannabinoids such as CBC and CBG, this oil is designed to maximize the body’s endocannabinoid system.

In addition to their potent tincture, Five CBD uses their full-spectrum CBD formula in a variety of other powerful products such as vape oils, gummies, chocolates, and soft gel capsules, all containing a 5:1 ratio of CBD to minor hemp compounds. Customers can choose to purchase one bottle at a time or save up to 20% on subscription purchases.

Who Should Use Five CBD Products?

Those looking for a high-quality full-spectrum CBD oil for pain that has been enriched with minor cannabinoids should try Five CBD. With discounts available for subscription purchases, Five CBD is the perfect company for those seeking affordable and reliable pain relief with all-natural products.

How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Pain

When it comes to using powerful CBD supplements for their superior anti-inflammatory properties, there are many options to choose from. Considering that CBD oil tinctures and supplements come in various potencies and formulations, choosing the best CBD oils for pain relief comes down to understanding your needs and preferences. To make the CBD oil for pain choice that works best for you, it’s essential to consider a few key points.

  • The severity of your pain

The more intense your pain, the more powerful the CBD you’ll need to find for an effective result. The CBD concentration per bottle doesn’t always determine power, however. Sometimes, the best way to manage acute or chronic pain is by choosing a CBD formula that contains essential terpenes, flavonoids, and phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant to provide what is known as the entourage effect.

The entourage effect causes the synergy between CBD and these other beneficial plant compounds extracted from the hemp plant to boost the body’s endocannabinoid system and relieve acute or chronic pain.

  • Your general health and wellness

Depending on your overall health or current health and wellness goals, you might consider purchasing a CBD oil infused with additional vitamins and minerals to help supplement your diet. For example, a CBD oil tincture rich in omega-3 fatty acids and terpenes might be a better choice for those who are looking to improve their cardiovascular health in addition to providing pain relief.

  • The frequency of dosing

If you experience chronic pain that requires daily doses of CBD oil for pain, you might want to consider an oil formulated with an effective carrier oil like hemp seed oil that improves absorption but has a low to medium CBD concentration. This allows you to take a single dose or up to a few doses per day.

On the other hand, if you only experience mild pain on an intermittent basis, you might be better served with an oil that comes in a smaller bottle with a more powerful CBD potency for pain relief as it happens.

  • The type of CBD oil you’re considering

CBD oil tinctures come in three basic formulas: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil formulas are made using the whole hemp plant and contain all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids naturally present in the hemp plant. This includes THC, but in very small trace amounts (

A broad-spectrum CBD product is similar to a full-spectrum CBD oil in that both contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant, but the broad-spectrum option has had the THC removed. This makes broad-spectrum oils an excellent way to get the benefits of CBD without the risk of putting THC in the body that you get from full-spectrum options.

CBD isolate is a pure form of CBD that has been isolated and concentrated into a potent therapeutic supplement for faster results. Isolate products contain no THC, other cannabinoids or terpenes and are the perfect choice for those who want to strictly take CBD without any other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. Isolates are often preferred by those that want to mix their CBD with their favorite foods and beverages.

Each type of CBD has its own unique benefits for the user, and choosing the right one will depend on your needs, your body’s reaction to specific cannabinoid compounds and your preferred method of ingestion.

The Benefits of CBD Oil for Pain Relief

Studies are still ongoing regarding the benefits of CBD oil , and it’s an area that is growing all the time. The following conditions have been linked to positive results when users take CBD oil for pain relief.

  • Cancer
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Arthritis

The list is expanding as researchers are still finding new ways CBD can help with pain relief. But, so far, it seems that CBD is a safe and effective means of managing a wide variety of chronic and acute pain conditions with few to no side effects.

Currently, the FDA has only approved one CBD drug for use in the United States , but more drugs are in development at medical facilities across the country. As the CBD movement progresses and more research is done on the benefits of CBD, it seems likely that more ailments will be added to the list of illnesses managed with CBD oil in the future.

How to Use CBD Oil for Pain

Each CBD company has different dosing and usage directions for their products. Depending on the CBD oil you take, the method in which it is used, and your specific condition, there are a number of methods to choose from for using CBD oil.

CBD tinctures are the most popular form of CBD oil products and are administered by dropping a few drops under your tongue using the pipette applicator included in the bottle. Holding the oil under the tongue for a minute or two will help it absorb into the bloodstream faster than if you swallow it. You can also add CBD oil to food or drinks, but keep in mind that the bioavailability – the amount of CBD that actually gets absorbed into your system for pain relief – may be reduced when you add it to other substances. If you do choose to mix CBD oil into other substances, be sure to choose a water-soluble CBD oil or a CBD isolate with high bioavailability.

When you first begin using CBD oil for pain relief, it is important to start low and go slow. This means starting with a small dose and increasing gradually until you find the dosage that works best for you. Doing so will allow users to understand how their body reacts to CBD oil and will help to avoid any unpleasant side effects.

What Are the Side Effects of CBD Oil?

While CBD oil is a natural substance typically extracted from organically grown hemp plants that are free from harmful pesticides, heavy metals, and herbicides, there are still a few potential CBD oil side effects to be aware of. These side effects usually occur in new users who are not yet accustomed to the effects of CBD. Side effects may also occur in those that take too high of a dose, which is why starting low and slow is the best way to avoid them.

Side effects reported by new users or those that have taken too high of a dose include:

  • changes in appetite
  • changes in mood
  • dry mouth
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea & vomiting
  • upset stomach
  • fatigue or drowsiness

These CBD oil side effects are very common and often subside after a few days of continued use, but if you do notice any unusual changes in mood or behavior, stop taking CBD oil and consult your healthcare provider immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is CBD extracted from hemp?

There are a variety of extraction methods for creating CBD oil. They include ethanol extraction, olive oil extraction, and steam distillation. Currently, the best method is considered to be the CO2 extraction method as it preserves the full profile of the hemp plant’s natural compounds without leaving any harsh resins or solvents behind.

2. Is CBD oil psychoactive?

No, CBD oil is not psychoactive. CBD oil will not get you high and will not change your mental state in any way. If you are worried about trace amounts of THC in CBD oil products, consider purchasing broad-spectrum formulas or CBD isolates as they are THC-free.

3. How long does it take for CBD oil to work?

Effects vary between individuals. Many users report feeling CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory or calming effects within 30-90 minutes of dropping CBD oil under their tongue.

Get Effective Pain Relief With CBD Oil

CBD oil provides users with a natural alternative for pain relief without the potential side effects of OTC or pharmaceutical medications. All our options for the best CBD oils are focused on creating safe, effective, and affordable CBD oil products. Try one of the CBD oil for pain choices we’ve highlighted and take advantage of this helpful plant extract without worrying about the potential for adverse side effects.

This article is sponsored content. The editorial staff of 5280 had no role in the preparation of this content.

Does CBD help with arthritis pain?

If you have chronic arthritis pain, you may be wondering about cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment. CBD, along with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals, is found in marijuana. But unlike THC, CBD is not “psychoactive” — that is, it does not cause the intoxication or high associated with marijuana use.

There’s a good chance you’ve tried it already: according to a Gallup poll in August of 2019, about 14% of Americans report using CBD products, and the number one reason is pain. The Arthritis Foundation conducted its own poll and found that 29% reported current use of CBD (mostly in liquid or topical form), and nearly 80% of respondents were either using it, had used it in the past, or were considering it. Of those using it, most reported improvement in physical function, sleep, and well-being; of note, a minority reported improvement in pain or stiffness.

Perhaps you’ve been tempted to try it. After all, most types of arthritis are not cured by other treatments, and CBD is considered a less addictive option than opiates. Or maybe it’s the marketing that recommends CBD products for everything from arthritis to anxiety to seizures. The ads are pretty hard to miss. (Now here’s a coincidence: as I was writing this, my email preview pane displayed a message that seemed to jump off the screen: CBD Has Helped Millions!! Try It Free Today!)

What’s the evidence it works? And what do experts recommend? Until recently, there’s been little research and even less guidance for people (or their doctors) interested in CBD products that are now increasingly legal and widely promoted.

But now, there is.

A word about arthritis pain

It’s worth emphasizing that there are more than 100 types of arthritis, and while pain is a cardinal feature of all of them, these conditions do not all act alike. And what works for one may not work for another. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and stiffness and maintaining function for all types of arthritis. But for certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, conventional prescription medications are highly recommended, because these drugs help prevent permanent joint damage and worsening disability.

In addition, individuals experience pain and respond to treatment in different ways. As a result, it’s highly unlikely that there is a single CBD-containing product that works for all people with all types of arthritis.

What’s the evidence that CBD is effective for chronic arthritis pain?

While there are laboratory studies suggesting CBD might be a promising approach, and animal studies showing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, well-designed studies demonstrating compelling evidence that CBD is safe and effective for chronic arthritis pain in humans do not exist. A randomized trial of topical CBD for osteoarthritis of the knee has been published, but in abstract form only (meaning it’s a preliminary report that summarizes the trial and has not been thoroughly vetted yet); the trial lasted only 12 weeks, and results were mixed at best. One of the largest reviews examined the health effects of cannabis and CBD, and concluded that there is “substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.” But there was no specific conclusion regarding CBD, presumably because definitive studies were not available.

Of course, there is anecdotal evidence and testimonials galore, including reports of dramatic improvement by people who tried CBD in its various forms (including capsule, liquid, topical, and spray) for their pain. But we are still waiting for well-designed, scientifically valid, and rigorous clinical trials (such as this one in progress) that are so badly needed to answer the question of just how helpful CBD may be to people with chronic arthritis pain.

Are there downsides to CBD treatment?

As with any treatment, there can be downsides. CBD is generally considered safe; however, it can still cause lightheadedness, sleepiness, dry mouth, and rarely, liver problems. There may be uncertainty about the potency or purity of CBD products (since they are not regulated as prescription medications are), and CBD can interact with other medications. For pregnant women, concern has been raised about a possible link between inhaled cannabis and lower-birthweight babies; it’s not clear if this applies to CBD. Some pain specialists have concerns that CBD may upset the body’s natural system of pain regulation, leading to tolerance (so that higher doses are needed for the same effect), though the potential for addiction is generally considered to be low.

There is one definite downside: cost. Prices range widely but CBD products aren’t inexpensive, and depending on dose, frequency, and formulation, the cost can be considerable — I found one brand that was $120/month, and health insurance does not usually cover it.

Are there guidelines about the use of CBD for chronic arthritis pain?

Until recently, little guidance has been available for people with arthritis pain who were interested in CBD treatment. Depending on availability and interest, patients and their doctors had to decide on their own whether CBD was a reasonable option in each specific case. To a large degree that’s still true, but some guidelines have been published. Here’s one set of guidelines for people pursuing treatment with CBD that I find quite reasonable (based on recommendations from the Arthritis Foundation and a recent commentary published in the medical journal Arthritis Care & Research):

Dos:

  • If considering a CBD product, choose one that has been independently tested for purity, potency, and safety — for example, look for one that has received a “Good Manufacturing Practices” (GMP) certification.
  • CBD should be one part of an overall pain management plan that includes nonmedication options (such as exercise) and psychological support.
  • Choose an oral treatment (rather than inhaled products) and start with a low dose taken in the evening.
  • Establish initial goals of treatment within a realistic period of time — for example, a reduction in knee pain that allows you to walk around the block within two weeks of starting treatment; later, if improved, the goals can be adjusted.
  • Tell your doctor(s) about your planned and current CBD treatment; monitor your pain and adjust medications with your medical providers, rather than with nonmedical practitioners (such as those selling CBD products).

Don’ts:

  • Don’t make CBD your first choice for pain relief; it is more appropriate to consider it if other treatments have not been effective enough.
  • Don’t have nonmedical practitioners (such as those selling CBD products) managing your chronic pain; pain management should be between you and your healthcare team, even if it includes CBD.
  • For people with rheumatoid arthritis or related conditions, do not stop prescribed medications that may be protecting your joints from future damage; discuss any changes to your medication regimen with your doctor.

The bottom line

If you’re interested in CBD treatment for chronic arthritis pain or if you’re already taking it, review the pros, cons, and latest news with your healthcare providers, and together you can decide on a reasonable treatment plan. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, it may be quite important to continue your conventional, prescribed medications even if you pursue additional relief with CBD products.

We may not have all the evidence we’d like, but if CBD can safely improve your symptoms, it may be worth considering.

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling

About the Author

Robert H. Shmerling, MD , Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio

Disclaimer:

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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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