CBD for Pain? Here’s What to Know

If you haven’t heard of CBD, you will. It’s the hottest new cure-all, added to everything from lotion to smoothies. My clients tend to ask me about CBD oil and creams for pain. But CBD products are also being sold for a much wider variety of issues, including anxiety, sleeplessness, and inflammation. So, what is CBD and does it work?

Cannabis without the high

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of the two most abundant compounds in cannabis, a family of plants which includes both hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is rich in THC, the ingredient that gets you high. Hemp is rich in CBD—which won’t get you stoned—and contains almost no THC.

So, is it a miracle cure-all?

OK, a couple of things to know for starters.

First, there are a lot of wild claims about what CBD can do. The FTC is starting to crack down on some manufacturers for unsubstantiated claims. Second, research into the health benefits of CBD is still in its infancy. So there’s a lot that medical science hasn’t tested. That said, here’s what the NIH and Harvard Health are saying so far….

There’s strong evidence for CBD as a treatment for a couple of severe forms of childhood epilepsy. There’s no strong evidence for anything else. Yet. But…

The next most promising areas of study are looking at CBD for anxiety, pain, and inflammation. But most of this evidence comes from studies in animals, not humans.

Is it legal?

It’s complicated…and depends on your state. In California, all cannabis is legal (with a caveat below). Nationally, hemp is legal, but it’s not in some states. Oh, and…the FDA doesn’t yet permit CBD from hemp in supplements, food, and drinks (even though that ship has sailed), and California follows this rule. So legally, you can buy a pot brownie here but not a CBD gummy made from hemp.

Confused? Join the club. The FDA is actively working to sort out the mess.

If you’re going to buy CBD products, just know that it’s kind of the Wild West out there. Though CBD is generally regarded as safe, there’s not a lot yet known about side effects or drug interactions. And what you get in the bottle (vape juice, latte, gummy bear), may or may not be what’s claimed on the label. Do your research.

So how about you?

Have you used CBD products for pain or other issues? If so, I’d love to hear back from you on what worked, what didn’t, and anything you’d recommend.

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