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.
The second method of pain relief centers around the damage you do when you work out. When you strength train, you create micro-tears in your muscles, which is why you feel sore as you heal. Once your immune cells detect damage, they release inflammatory mediators in order to repair the tissue. CBD, though has the ability to limit the release of some proinflammatory signals, thereby helping with pain without thwarting the healing entirely, explains Gerdeman. (Related: Is Working Out When You're Sore a Bad Idea?)
So do you need CBD? All of the experts here agree that until there's more peer-reviewed research, all claims should be looked at as marketing hype and not evidence-based. (Or, they can be anecdotal. Read what happened when one woman tried CBD for anxiety.)
How CBD and Cannabis Might Help Pain Relief
These topical ointments, creams, and lotions are infused with CBD, or cannabidiol, a compound found in the cannabis plant. Manufacturers claim it can help alleviate acute pain and muscle soreness. To reiterate for the uninitiated: CBD is not the same as THC because CBD does not have any psychoactive effects — aka it won't get you high.
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).
"The pain and stiffness that comes post-workout or from overexertion certainly has a pro-inflammatory component to it, so it's reasonable to think CBD or other cannabinoids might have benefits, but we have no research to support this yet," adds Gerdeman.
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.
So what are the medicinal alternatives? Well, luckily there is a number to choose from – and up there among the most popular are CBD oil and CBD topicals.
Well, when we consider the way both topicals and CBD oil are absorbed into the body, it will stand to reason that for overall benefits, CBD oil may come out on top. Rather than targeting one specific problem area, CBD oil can provide its purported benefits across the entire body, not only potentially treating the pain, but also possibly offering other general benefits.
CBD Oil vs CBD Topicals for Back Pain: What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is any carrier oil that contains a concentrate of cannabidiol extract. Different oils vary in strength and you can use them in many ways. But what makes the product so popular – and more importantly, can it actually provide relief for back pain?
With people reaching for a joint to ease symptoms of pain all over the world, it seems no wonder that more and more of us are opting for the fast-acting results associated with cannabis. However, with such a large number of people suffering from back pain, there has been a shift over to non-psychoactive variants of the treatment, which is where CBD oil and CBD topicals come in.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, which is a massive indicator of just how severe back pain can be!