CBD is also gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional over-the-counter pain relievers and as a fitness supplement to aid in muscle recovery. But do those products really work? Are they better than popping ibuprofen or rubbing menthol cream on your aching muscles?
There are hundreds of CBD products to choose from, both oral and topical, andcould make all the difference to your aches and pains.
How topical CBD works for muscle pain and muscle pain
The promise is simple: spread on a cream or gel containing CBD where it hurts to relieve pain. But whether they actually work or not is another story.
Topical CBD has only been minimally studied, says Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana. “Generally speaking, there are also herbs or other ‘skin penetrating’ ingredients in the final formulation of topical CBD products,” says Titus. “Other ingredients such as arnica or menthol are added to make product claims such as pain relief.”
In many cases, explains Titus, the concentration of CBD is often low in topical products and the soothing feeling you feel is a product of the other ingredients. It is important that consumers view not only the ingredient list, but also the Certificate of Analysis, which reveals the total concentration of different cannabinoids in a product.
A CoA shows the weight percentage of CBD and other cannabinoids, including THC, so only then can you interpret the amount of CBD per “serving” of topical application, Titus says. Make sure the CoA is also performed by an independent third-party lab.
That said, high-quality, high-potency topical CBD products are believed to provide temporary relief from aches and pains. There is a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the skin and when CBD is applied topically, it activates the endocannabinoid system through those receptors. CBD binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your epidermal and dermal skin, a process that results in pain and inflammation relief. The anti-inflammatory effect is also why topical CBD is an effective treatment for some skin conditions.
Topical CBD only works where you use it – applying CBD cream to your legs when your abdominal muscles are in pain won’t help you. Depending on your situation, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. For example, if you tend to experience pain all over the body, you should use a lot of CBD cream for relief and that can get tedious and expensive.
Just remember that human skin is incredibly absorbent and will absorb more than just the CBD in creams, gels and oils. Check the ingredient label to make sure you are not applying anything you are allergic to or anything that, if absorbed, could interact with medications. If in doubt, consult your doctor.
How oral CBD works for muscle pain and muscle pain
While topical CBD only provides topical relief, oral CBD should have a systemic effect if the product is potent and reliable, Titus says. Oral CBD works in the same way as topical CBD, but on a much larger scale, as it enters your bloodstream and can reach cannabinoid receptors throughout your body.
Oral CBD is believed to have strong anti-inflammatory effects, and since inflammation is the cause of most of the pain, it makes perfect sense that CBD intake can provide relief from inflammation-related pain, including muscle aches and joint pain.
Keep in mind that most studies on the effects of CBD on pain and pain have been small-scale so far; Most of the large studies have been conducted on animals, and those results may not have been translated to humans. There is still a long way to go before all of the effects of CBD – taken orally or applied topically – are confirmed.
It’s also worth knowing that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve CBD as oneor dietary supplement. The agency is concerned about the safety of ingested CBD due to the lack of large-scale, long-term studies in humans, and has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to declare CBD safe. Regardless, oral CBD is widely available and legal in many states. Talk to a health professional about oral CBD if you are interested in using it for muscle aches or other types of pain.
Should you use topical or oral CBD for pain?
Whether you should use topical or oral CBD for aches and pains depends on the source and intensity of your pain. Based on the above research and comments from Titus of Medical Marijuana, here’s an overview of common uses of CBD and which type helps best.
CBD for muscle soreness after training: A high-quality topical CBD should help treat temporary muscle soreness from workouts, Titus says. A recent study found that oral CBD can also reduce muscle soreness when taken right after a workout.
CBD for chronic muscle pain: Topical CBD can help with flare-ups, but you are better off taking oral CBD for systemic pain. A combination can be especially helpful, Titus says. Taking CBD helps relieve pain from within, while applying topical cream can soothe particularly sensitive areas.
CBD for joint pain: Topical CBD is unlikely to reach cannabinoid receptors in your joints, no matter how powerful. Oral CBD is more likely to help those with pain from arthritis and other joint conditions. People with fibromyalgia pain will also benefit more from absorbable CBD, Titus says.
CBD for general muscle stiffness and tension: For general muscle stiffness (like neck tension after a long day at your desk), high quality topical CBD can provide much needed temporary relief.
In general, the effectiveness of CBD varies depending on the product, the intended use, and the person. Some people find CBD helpful, while others don’t notice much of the effect whether they take it orally or apply it topically. It can take a lot of research and experimentation to find a CBD product that works for you.
Other ways to treat muscle aches and pains
If you’re not ready to jump on the CBD cart just yet, try these other methods:
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.