Use of cannabis, hemp and cannabinoid products for many different medical conditions, including back pain, is gaining popularity. Photo Source: iStock.com.
With the rise of opioid-related addiction and death, people have sought out cannabis and cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol, or CBD) as pain-relieving alternatives. And if traditional treatments have failed to ease your back or neck pain, you may be curious to try cannabis or CBD products. As these therapies skyrocket in popularity and become more readily available, don’t forget to keep your doctor looped in. He or she needs to understand how you’re managing your pain to ensure your treatment regimen isn’t doing you more harm than good.
What are the key definitions I need to understand regarding medical marijuana?
Harris-Taylor M. He Started Vaping THC To Cope With Chronic Pain. Then He Got Sick. NPR. December 11, 2019. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/12/11/776356212/he-started-vaping-thc-to-cope-with-chronic-pain-then-he-got-sick. Accessed January 29, 2020.
For people who have struggled with chronic back or neck pain, the list of treatments tried is likely long. Some traditional therapies for pain, namely opioid medication, pose significant risks. Seeking safer alternatives, people are increasingly using cannabis, hemp, and cannabinoid products (such as cannabidiol, or CBD) to manage spine pain. But because marijuana-related pain management is legally conflicted in the United States and a relative newcomer to mainstream medicine, questions remain about its safety and efficacy.
To narrow the field, researchers recommend you ask the following questions before buying 1 :
There is an argument to be made for the simple fact that science hasn't caught up to the trend (and laws) of cannabis yet. (Here's what research has to say about the potential benefits of CBD and cannabis so far.) And there are doubtlessly researchers testing the efficacy of CBD creams for pain relief as we speak.
The theoretical logic is that are a few different ways CBD could help regulate pain — by increasing your natural endocannabinoids, decreasing your inflammatory response, and desensitizing your pain receptors (although it's still unclear whether this stands when absorbed topically compared to orally).
How CBD and Cannabis Might Help Pain Relief
Science has shown that cannabis is an effective pain reliever, reinforced in a massive new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. But there's a big difference between ingesting cannabis or its individual chemicals orally and absorbing it topically through your skin.
Let's start simple: Endocannabinoids are natural signals in your body that help maintain homeostasis by detecting and regulating hunger, pain, mood, and memory. (They're actually part of your post-workout exercise high.) CBD helps elevate your natural levels of pain-relieving endocannabinoids by blocking metabolism as they're moving around your body.
Even still, cannabis creams could still reduce your acute pain or muscle soreness. That's because pretty much all of these hemp pain relief creams on the market right now have other scientifically-proven analgesic compounds, such as menthol, camphor, and capsaicin which are also found in other, non-CBD topical pain relievers. "Any cream with a heating or cooling sensation desensitizes the nerves to pain by distracting them with stimuli on top," explains Dr. Colberg. Plus you're often massaging the area as you apply, which improves circulation and reduces muscle spasms, he adds. (Get the best of both worlds by trying a CBD massage.)
Since CBD topicals work on localized pain, the first step is to identify your problem area(s). You'll then want to carefully clean and dry the area before applying a small amount of the topical on your skin to start.
Our favorite topical CBD products include soothing creams, balms, salves, and lotions, all of which are made from American-grown hemp and have been independently tested by third-party labs for quality and safety purposes.
Cornbread Hemp CBD Lotion + Menthol is made using a unique flower-only hemp extract that leaves out the stems, leaves, and stalks for a purer and more potent CBD. It's USDA orgranic and contains organic menthol, lemongrass, and eucalyptus for naturally cooling relief with no oily residue. Plus, it's free from parabens and preservatives.
Best Full Spectrum: FAB CBD Topical CBD Cream
Once you've finished applying, you can wash your hands and wait. Most CBD lotions will take a few minutes before they kick in, but can peak one to two hours later. You may need to reapply a few times a day for full effect.
In this article, we'll look at the best CBD creams for pain, which have been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN.
Balm available in 2 oz. jar
Plant People prides itself in selling high-quality hemp products, which are organic, lab-tested, non-GMO, and gluten free. The brand's Soothe+ Balm topical is made with full spectrum hemp extract that includes minor cannabinoids, including cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG). Plant People is also a certified B Corp, making this a pain cream from a top-notch organization.