Recognized as the leading cause of disability worldwide, back pain is a common condition that can cause extreme discomfort – not to mention a few missed days of work or physical activity. Evidence suggests that 50% to 80% of adults will experience at least one episode of back pain at some point in their lives.
More peer-reviewed research is needed, focused specifically on CBD treatment for back pain relief, but numerous studies have already demonstrated the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of this cannabinoid.
Several researches indicate that CBD may reduce back pain by reducing inflammation; combating anxiety, often associated with long-lasting or chronic back pain and helping with sleep and improving overall state of relaxation.
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.
One study, published in the September 2015 edition of the journal Neurotoxicology, found that CBD also inhibits glutamate levels in the brain and spinal cord, which is associated with increased sensations of pain and transmission. Past research also suggests that CBD could be an effective treatment for some of the most detrimental conditions that cause chronic pain, such as neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis (MS) and intractable cancer pain.
In a 2012 study, also conducted on lab mice, researchers found that CBD targets alpha-3 glycine receptors to suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain associated with dysfunctional glycine receptors, an important target for pain processing by the spine, without causing any noticeable analgesic tolerance.
CBD has also been examined as a treatment for other conditions that cause intense bouts with back pain. For instance, a 2014 study demonstrated that CBD reduced the severity of damage caused by disc degeneration in the vertebrae. After inflicting lab rates with a spinal injury, the research team injected them with various concentrations of CBD, and concluded that higher doses of CBD provided an anti-degenerative effect and “attenuated the effects of disc injury.”
The most common way to consume CBD oil is the sublingual method. Using the dropper that comes with the CBD oil bottle, simply apply a few drops under the tongue and allow the CBD to absorb into the bloodstream.
If there’s a specific area where the back pain is located, CBD oil or CBD-infused topicals or transdermal patches can be applied directly to target the source of discomfort. Always read the product label to check for specific dosage instructions. CBD oil and CBD-infused topicals can both be used to assist with pain management, but which is the more effective treatment method?
There’s no definitive answer yet, but a 2016 animal study published in the European Journal of Pain found that topical application may be more effective than the sublingual method. The research team discovered that while CBD had poor oral bioavailability in lab rats, topical CBD application provided more constant plasma levels, bypassing gastrointestinal administration and first-pass metabolism, which is a phenomenon where the concentration of a drug is reduced before it reaches circulation.
At the moment, there is no universally established guidance for accurate CBD oil dosages, let alone for ailment-specific dosages. The optimal CBD dosage is contingent on several factors, including the CBD quality, the individual’s weight and metabolism, as well as the reason it’s being taken in the first place.
How frequently should you use CBD oil for back pain? Start with the lowest viable dose and gradually raise the amount of CBD consumed in one dose or increase the frequency of use until pain relief is achieved. Once you sort out an optimal dosing regimen, use those measurements and monitor whether the effects remain consistent as treatment continues.
Until additional evidence is gathered, those who are interested in using CBD oil for back pain will likely have to undergo a bit of trial and error to find the most effective CBD dosage. But don’t be too concerned with overdoing it, the potential side effects of CBD tend to be mild. According to Mayo Clinic, the U.S.-based nonprofit academic medical center, CBD side effects include dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. Additionally, in a study published in Molecules on April 19, 2019, researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science found that CBD elevated the risk for liver toxicity in mice.