Considering Different CBD Products for Back Pain
Many forms of cannabidiol (CBD) products are available and have potential for alleviating back pain. CBD is relatively new to the health and wellness industry. Some products may make claims not supported by scientific evidence or may not actually contain potent levels of CBD.
There are many types of CBD products available, including edibles, oils, tinctures, and creams. These products are available over-the-counter at stores and online.
Considerations When Choosing CBD Products
Because of the abundance of types and companies that produce them, there are certain testing and labeling elements a person should look for when considering CBD products.
- Third-party testing. Look for products that have been tested by a company other than the one selling it. Third-party testers are concerned with the ingredients regardless of what the manufacturer says.
- Clear and accurate labeling. Manufacturers should make testing results accessible and easy to understand on the label and online.
- Continuous testing. Each “batch” of a product can vary in quality and content. Reliable manufacturers regularly test their products and will update the testing results on the labels and online.
CBD products are unregulated by the FDA. Because of this, it is important to read labels carefully and discuss any concerns with a health care provider.
Types of CBD Products Available
Currently, there are no CBD products available that specifically treat back pain. Some of the most common CBD products that may be used to treat back pain include:
- Oils. CBD oil can be taken orally, vaporized, or mixed into beverages. Generally, oil is what is used in other CBD products, such as creams, and sprays, but can also be used alone. CBD oil-filled capsules are also available, which provide the ability to more accurately determine dosing (for example, taking 450 mg vs. 3000 mg).
- Tinctures. A tincture is made by soaking cannabis flowers in alcohol for an extended period of time. This process will extract the CBD into a more concentrated form than found in most CBD oil products. Generally, tincture bottles are designed with a built-in dropper so a person can take one drop or several. Tinctures can be used on their own or mixed with food or beverage.
- Edibles. CBD can be mixed into foods and drinks. They can also be made at home by mixing CBD oil or tinctures into food and drinks. Examples include baked goods, gummies, and chocolates.
- Creams and gels. CBD-infused lotions are considered topical because they are applied to the skin. CBD-infused creams and gels are absorbed by the skin, which makes them a good solution to back or neck pain, and they have been shown to reduce inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
Choosing the correct CBD product to alleviate back pain symptoms may require trial and error in order to find the correct delivery method and dosing.
Consumers of CBD are encouraged to stay informed about regulations surrounding products.
Understanding CBD (Cannabidiol) for Back Pain
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a new and relatively understudied treatment for pain, including back pain. Studies suggest it may help relieve inflammation, which is often a factor in chronic back pain. 1
CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain. 2
CBD requires more research in order to prove and explain its effectiveness as well as to better understand potential side effects (especially long-term) and potential drug interactions.
What Is CBD?
CBD oil is derived from a plant called cannabis sativa. The plant has over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that have a range of effects, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) qualities.
The cannabis sativa plant has two main varieties that are grown for specific purposes:
- THC content. THC is the compound associated with the “high” feeling of marijuana use.
- Industrial (non-drug) uses. This form of the plant contains trace amounts of THC (less than .03%) and can be used to make paper, clothing, and some building material. This variation of the cannabis plant is called hemp.
While CBD is present in both varieties, many of the CBD products available to consumers are from the hemp plant. CBD does not come with the high or psychogenic effects of marijuana.
Ways CBD Treats Back Pain
Research indicates that CBD may reduce back pain by:
- Reducing inflammation 3
- Combating anxiety, often associated with long-lasting or chronic back pain 4
- Helping with sleep and improving overall state of relaxation 5
Some studies suggest that CBD can have an effect on how an individual perceives pain, but more robust research is needed. CBD is generally considered a full-body treatment, which means that it does not target back pain specifically—except in the case of topical products—but contributes to an overall feeling of relaxation and pain relief.
Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions in addition to back pain, such as anxiety-related disorders. 5
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
Cannabidiol, even in high amounts, is generally safe. Side effects from CBD may include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
More severe side effects, while rare, include:
- Mental confusion
As with other natural products, there is potential for adverse reactions when taken with other medications, especially those that come with grapefruit warnings, such as certain blood thinners. These warnings indicate that certain medications should not be taken with products containing grapefruit.
CBD use prior to surgery
Before having surgery, all cannabis use, including CBD and marijuana, should be disclosed to the surgeon or anesthesiologist. A recent study suggests that cannabis use may have an effect on medications used to sedate patients. 6