Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a relatively new and understudied treatment for chronic pain. Studies suggest it can help reduce inflammation and combat anxiety, which are often associated with long-lasting or chronic pain.1,2
Can CBD Really Treat Chronic Pain?
Advocates of CBD believe it can be used to treat a range of conditions, including arthritis, essential tremors, multiple sclerosis3, and more.
Research suggests that CBD can:
- Reduce inflammation and other signs of pain4
- Combat anxiety, which is often associated with chronic pain2
In addition, advocates suggest CBD can help with sleep as well as improve a person’s overall state of relaxation. Some research suggests that the use of CBD has an an effect on pain perception; however, more in-depth studies are needed.5
Potential Risks and Side Effects of CBD
CBD, even in high amounts, is generally safe. A person may experience these mild side effects:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
As with other natural products, there is potential for adverse reactions with other medications. Certain medication, such as those that come with a warning to avoid grapefruit products, may be of particular concern. It is important to check with a health care provider before using CBD.
CBD use prior to surgery
A recent study suggests that cannabis use may have an effect on medications used to sedate patients.6 Before having surgery, all cannabis use, including CBD and medical marijuana, should be disclosed to the surgeon or anesthesiologist.
Where Does CBD Come From?
The cannabis sativa plant has around 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that have a range of effects.
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 very 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, the CBD available to consumers is generally from the hemp plant.
How CBD Oil Is Extracted
CBD is an oil and can be extracted from the plant in several ways:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction. This method uses special machines to extract CBD from the plant product. The machines use carbon dioxide in a variety of different temperature and pressure controlled environments to extract a concentrated CBD oil.
- Liquid solvent extraction. This method uses a liquid solvent, such as butane or ethanol, to strip plant matter of CBD and turn it into a liquid. The liquid is then evaporated leaving a concentrated CBD oil.
- Oil extraction. This method requires that the plant product be heated to a certain temperature in order to activate the chemicals. Once activated, they are added to oil (typically olive oil) and heated to extract the CBD. Unlike other methods, the extracted CBD is not concentrated and is not as potent.
Once extracted, CBD may be packaged and sold or used as an ingredient in food, lotions or other products.