CBD is becoming everyone’s go-to wellness product. From coffee to cocktail menus, grocery stores to day spas, CBD has definitely gone mainstream. Many, however, turn to CBD for more pragmatic reasons, like pain relief.
As a CBD writer and someone who’s used cannabinoids for pain, I’m a firm believer that this plant-based compound can offer powerful, yet natural pain relief. Whether you struggle with chronic pain or are recovering from an injury, a few drops of CBD can usually help.
CBD helps with pain because it affects the pain-signaling part of your nervous system. It also helps reduce inflammation, anxiety, and sleeplessness, all of which can be related to painful conditions.
Since CBD cannot make you feel intoxicated (that is, “high”) and is not considered addictive, it has become popular with many who want relief without the side effects common to many over-the-counter or prescription medications.
A 2018 review that examined several studies on CBD and pain conducted between 1975 and 2018 concluded that CBD can be effective in managing cancer-related pain, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain. The review also found that CBD seems to have few side effects, and unlike other painkillers, doesn’t seem to be addictive.
Appropriate CBD dosage depends on factors such as metabolism, weight, and body composition. Finding your best daily dosage may require a bit of experimentation. Dosage can also depend on the form of CBD you’re taking. If you’re ingesting CBD, it’s a good idea to start small and gradually increase the dose over time.
Remember, you don’t have to start with a full dose. A good starting point is 10-20mg. If, at the end of the week, you find this isn’t enough, you can increase the dose by 5-10mg each week until you find relief.
It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before using CBD, especially for pain. A health professional who’s knowledgeable about CBD can guide advise you on the proper dosage for your needs.
Keeping a journal to chart your doses and their effectiveness can also help. Variables such as brand, concentration, type of CBD taken (e.g., Isolate versus Full-spectrum), and the time of day the CBD is taken are all variables that may prove helpful in tracking your current dosage schedule.
Whether or not CBD is taken with food is another factor to consider. This is because taking CBD with fats (or fatty foods) or via tinctures that contain MCT or coconut oils may help your body absorb it into your system. Ditto for whether or not your CBD is full-spectrum or has terpenes or a terpene mixture added to it, since the terpene profile of the product can also influence its overall effect.
Another aspect to consider is your consistency in taking CBD. While some may experience relief with a single dose, taking CBD more consistently may provide more effectiveness over time. The latter method might be best for someone with an ongoing issue, while dosing as needed could be better for others seeking short-term relief.
CBD Tinctures and Oils
Although CBD edibles (e.g., gummies) have the advantage of offering an easy way to get exact dosing, one advantage of using oils or tinctures is that they can be absorbed into your system faster and more effectively.
The way you dose is also important. Placing the oil under your tongue for several seconds—at least 30 seconds—will give it a further head start on being absorbed into your system.
Although it can sometimes be a bit tricky to figure out an exact dose of CBD oil or tincture, it can be done! While some brands tell you how much to take on the packaging, it’s a good idea to work it out yourself. To calculate the mg of CBD in each ml of oil, you can use the formula:
(total CBD mg of bottle) ÷ (total ml of bottle) = (mg CBD per ml)
For example, Naysa’s Peppermint Hemp Oil Tincture comes in a 30ml bottle that contains 500mg of CBD per bottle.
500mg ÷ 30ml = 16.66666677 mg / ml
So, if you’d like to take about 15mg of CBD a day, using a little under 1 ml of this oil would fit the bill.
CBD is considered generally safe, but can have mild side effects when taken in higher doses. These include nausea, changes in appetite, changes in weight, and fatigue. If you experience any of these effects, stop using CBD and talk to your doctor.
CBD may also alter the effects of other medications. If your current medication or prescription has a “grapefruit warning,” talk to your doctor before using CBD. CBD, like grapefruit, contains an enzyme that can change the way your liver processes certain drugs.
Research suggests that CBD can be effective in helping with pain relief, especially when taken properly, and oils and tinctures can be a great option. Talking to your doctor, making sure you’re getting the right kind and dose of CBD, and being mindful of possible interactions should put you on track to achieve great results that build overall health.
Sian Ferguson is a health writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her work covers issues related to CBD, medical cannabis, and mental health. Her work has been featured in Healthline, HealthyWay, bud.com, Greatist, and more.