CBD oil is a plant extract (tincture) made from the cannabis plant. It is extracted from industrial hemp plants. As hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) is abundant in CBD and has only a trace amount of THC – it does not produce any “high” and is considered safe to use.
In this article, we will overview how CBD oil for back pain can benefit your health.
Back pain: what causes it and how to treat it?
Back pain is the pain people feel in their backs. There are 3 types of back pains: Acute pain, Sub-acute pain, and Chronic pain.
Back pain is a very common issue that people experience every day. In fact, it is so common that up to 80% of the planet’s population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Even though it is not a critical condition, it can still interfere with everyday activities.
Back pain is considered as an outcome of mechanical frictions rather than a disease.
Common reasons are sprained ligaments, strained muscles, ruptured disks, irritated joints, sports injuries or accidents, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress.
Usually, anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat acute and sub-acute back pain. For chronic pain anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxants are usually prescribed.
Tips to prevent back pain:
- Be active – exercise (yoga or running can be great activities)
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle – eat mostly whole foods to prevent obesity.
- Warm-up before physical activities.
- Limit your time laying in a bed or a sofa.
- Maintain a healthy posture – for example, when lifting something heavy, lift it with your knees, and with a properly positioned back (shoulder should be moved to the back position).
- Replace your mattress if it is too soft, as it can influence your spine curve.
- Consider quitting smoking as it can interfere with oxygen and nutrient flow to your spinal tissues.
CBD oil for back pain
Studies show that CBD oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and muscle relaxant properties. It may also work as a painkiller as it can block pain receptors, therefore in the end letting you “feel” less pain.
It makes a perfect natural remedy for back pain due to its lack of harsh side effects and non-addictive nature. Also, it can be used long-term.
1) CBD oil as an anti-inflammatory drug
The most common drugs used for acute back pain are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Be it as it may they have their own side effects if used long-term.
These include stomach ulcers, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, stomach aches, diarrhea, damage to the liver.
A natural alternative to these drugs is CBD oil. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, athletes are now switching from ibuprofen (a popular anti-inflammatory medicine) to CBD oil as inflammation is a constant thing going on in athletes’ lives. As CBD oil is tolerated in high doses and is “perfectly safe to use”, it makes an ideal alternative for long-term usage.
CBD works on CB1 and CB2 receptors by attaching to them.
CBD helps by working on CB2 receptors, which activation leads to a decrease in ROS and TNF-α levels, which reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.
A 2019 study points out “That CBD may indirectly improve anti-inflammatory effects. Clinical studies have confirmed that CBD reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibits T cell proliferation, induces T cell apoptosis, and reduces migration and adhesion of immune cells. In addition, CBD anti-inflammatory activity has been shown to be antagonized by both a selective CB2 antagonist and AEA, an endogenous CB2 receptor agonist”.
Another cannabinoid Anandamide (Ananda means Bliss in the Sanskrit language), which is now thought to be responsible for “runner’s high” is also a known anti-inflammatory drug. CBD slows the inhibition (destruction) of Anandamide thus making it work longer.
By working as an anti-inflammatory drug, CBD can help relieve back pain with little to no side effects.
2) CBD oil as a pain-relieving drug
The most unpleasant part of back pain is obviously the pain, which gets in a way of day to day activities.
In chronic back pain, the cause is unknown. However, it does interfere with daily productivity and can make life uncomfortable.
It is also dangerous because doctors frequently prescribe painkillers (which can be highly addictive, especially if used for chronic pain for a long period of time).
But as many people would rather choose cannabis treatment for pain, instead of opiates, let’s see how CBD can help to relieve pain.
Most pain-relieving drugs also have side effects, especially if used long-term. That is why changing it with fewer side effects having alternative – CBD oil could be beneficial.
All of us have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies.
It is a complex system with cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2 and others positioned all over our bodies – brain, immune system, muscles, and many more.
What are the receptors?
They are small proteins attached to the cells.
ECS is a cell signaling system and scientists think that CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid receptors in your brain.
Receptors receive signals from various stimulations and then help your cells (to which receptors are attached) respond to it (stimuli).
3) CBD oil as an anti-depressant
Anti-depressants are a common and successful drug used in treatment for people with chronic low back pain.
They change brain chemistry in a way that alters the perception of pain. That is why they are considered a good treatment for chronic pain – because the perception of back pain is changed.
However, most anti-depressants usually have mild to harsh side effects. Plus, if you want to stop using them, you will have to go through serious withdrawals.
Common anti-depressant side effects are:
- increased appetite and weight gain.
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm.
- fatigue and drowsiness.
- dry mouth.
- blurred vision.
- Withdrawal effects (73.5%)
- Sexual problems (71.8%), together with an inability to reach orgasm (64.5%)
- Weight gain (65.3%)
- Feeling emotionally numb (64.5%)
- Not feeling like themselves (54.4%)
- Reduced positive feelings (45.6%)
- Feeling as if they’re addicted (43%)
- Caring less about other people (36.4%)
- Feeling suicidal (36%)
A natural alternative to anti-depressant drugs, to treat chronic back pain, is CBD oil. It has been shown to have anti-depressant properties.
Current anti-depressant drugs take a long time to induce its effect. That is why scientists looked into faster alternatives:
A study published in Molecular Neurobiology looked at how CBD works on rodents. “These results indicate that CBD induces a fast and sustained antidepressant-like effect in distinct animal models relevant to depression. The data support a promising therapeutic profile for CBD as a new fast-acting antidepressant drug.”
Scientists think that the CBD anti-depressant effect comes from its effect on serotonin receptors in the brain.
CBD seems to have an effect on how your brain’s receptors respond to the serotonin that already exists in the body rather than boosting its production.
The study also concludes that “Most of the studies demonstrated a good interaction between CBD and the 5-HT1A neuro-receptor.”
The 5-HT1A receptor is responsible for binding to serotonin. Scientists believe that this exact interaction between CBD and serotonin receptors are giving anti-depressant drug effects.
4) CBD oil can help treat insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep, complicated to stay asleep or wake up too early, and not being able to go back to sleep.
As sleep is one of the most important things impacting your health, insomnia is one of the causes of back pain. People suffering from insomnia often have chronic back pain. Lack of sleep can have serious effects on your physical health.
There is a vicious cycle – lack of sleep can cause chronic back pain and chronic back pain can cause insomnia.
As time spent sleeping is crucial to rest and recharge, those who get less sleep ( the recommended length of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours) are more likely to experience back pain due to poor physical health.
But what causes insomnia?
The most common insomnia causes are:
- stress, anxiety, or depression
- physical conditions, such as chronic pain
- uncomfortable beds
- alcohol, caffeine, nicotine or other recreational drugs
- jet lag
- shift work
CBD might help better your sleep routine by treating the root cause of the problem. That might be stress, anxiety, chronic pain, etc.
While we need more research on CBD, some studies show that CBD can treat insomnia and anxiety.
In 2019 The Permanente Journal published a study “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series” where they looked at how CBD could improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
The study consisted of 72 participants, 47 of whom were experiencing anxiety and 25 having insomnia problems.
Most study participants were taking 25mg/per day of CBD (in capsule form) each day.
People experiencing anxiety used CBD in the morning after breakfast. People experiencing sleep problems used CBD in the evening after dinner.
Authors note that “CBD was well tolerated with few patients reporting side effects.”
Which might be a perfect alternative to some synthetic drugs as they can have plenty of side effects.
The results of the study?
Within the first month of CBD oil usage, 79,2 percent of the patients reported reduced anxiety and it remained decreased during the study. While 66,7 percent reported improved sleep.
So CBD might help tackle back pain by treating the root cause of it and improving sleep, which might lead to better physical health.
A study (Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules) published in Frontiers in Pharmacology noted that there’s a fair amount of evidence to support the claim that CBD soothes pain. The authors note that by reducing chronic pain, CBD can improve sleep.
So it kinda destroys the vicious cycle!
Authors noted that “it does reduce pain which leads to better sleep” and better sleep leads to better physical and psychological health – which might be necessary to having a healthy and smooth back without pain.
CBD is thought to help improve your sleep and overall physical help by treating the root cause of the problem.
As insomnia is usually caused by stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, CBD oil has been shown to help with these problems.
Poor sleep is one of the main factors in chronic back pain and CBD can help by improving your night’s sleep and boosting an overall healthier lifestyle.
5) CBD can help muscles to relax more deeply
Another medicine used to treat chronic back pain is muscle relaxants.
The most commonly used muscle relaxants are spasmolytic muscle relaxants.
Spasmolytic drugs are commonly prescribed for lower back pain, neck pain, or fibromyalgia. However, they are not recommended as the first choice of drugs as they are not more effective than paracetamol or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The use of spasmolytic muscle relaxants is not based on high-quality scientific evidence. On top of that, they all have negative side effects, the most common of which are dizziness, drowsiness, and heavy sedation.
Muscle relaxants are not approved by the FDA for long-term usage. Some doctors do prescribe cyclobenzaprine, which is taken before going to bed, to better sleep for the patients as improved sleep is critical for people experiencing chronic back pain.
However, the use of cyclobenzaprine is not recommended for more than a few weeks.
Also, side effects are common and include:
- lack of energy
- decreased motivation
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
And on the other hand, if you stop taking the medicine, your symptoms might get even worse. So always discuss it with your doctor.
You might be wondering what are the alternatives?
CBD oil is a natural muscle relaxant. It makes a perfect remedy because it’s safe to use and even when taken in huge doses for long periods of time, side effects are minimal to non-existent.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) participates in the transmission of signals to the muscles. It is thought that CBD oil can modify ECS in a way that it can help muscles to relax more.
Cannabis plant does naturally contain two anti-inflammatory properties having terpenes:
- Delta-limonene – terpene that gives lemon it’s lemony smell and taste.
- Beta-myrcene – also found in lemongrass and basil.
6) CBD can help regenerate faster from injuries
CBD is an anti-inflammatory agent. It is now becoming more widely accepted and used by the sports community and worldwide in general.
Even the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has deleted CBD from the illegal substances list. So the world’s leading elite athletes association does agree that CBD can help elite athletes by providing them with anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing effects, which ultimately helps to recover from injuries.
One of the reasons for back pain are injuries (mechanical damage). As with most injuries, the best medicine is time and anti-inflammatory drugs. It is wise to choose anti-inflammatory drugs that can be used for long amounts of time with as few side effects as possible.
CBD is believed to be one of the better anti-inflammatory drugs on the market because it does not produce serious side effects and is perfectly safe even in high doses. That is why it can be used long-term.
CBD can help to recover from injuries faster and fully.
Most injuries require to restrain from hard physical activities to let the body recover. CBD can help fasten the recovery from the trauma by improving sleep and providing anti-inflammatory effects.
As sleep is crucial to good health, CBD does the perfect job by improving sleep and working as an anti-inflammatory drug.
If the injury is healed fully, there is a lower chance that the back pain will persist in the future.
7) CBD can help live an overall healthier life
A healthy lifestyle usually leads to better health. By being healthier, people experience fewer health problems – one of which could be chronic back pain.
Key factors to a healthy lifestyle are good night’s sleep, whole foods diet, good mindset, amongst others.
It is believed that living a healthy life will lead you to fewer health problems in the future.
And as a matter of fact, CBD can come in handy. As we now know, CBD can help improve a good night’s sleep, reduce anxiety, and help muscles heal faster after an exercise. All of these things lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for homeostasis (balance) in your body.
It regulates as well as balances many processes in the body. Including communication between cells, immune response, metabolism, appetite, memory, mood, sleep, and many more.
It helps to regulate a stable internal environment in the body despite changes in the outside world.
By working on your endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD regulates mood, appetite, reduces pain sensations, and decreases inflammation.
It is thought that CBD supplements the ECS and helps it work more efficiently.
By balancing out your body processes and improving overall health, CBD can help prevent chronic back pain or make it less serious.
How to use cannabis (CBD) oil?
It is worth mentioning that everyone has a different endocannabinoid system and varying tolerance levels to cannabis.
Therefore there is no such thing as “recommended dose” or “universal dosage”.
However, we are here to help and will make it easy for you to get started!
The best thing to do at first is to read the label of your product – you should understand what the strength (concentration) of your oil is.
When you figure out how many milligrams of CBD you are getting in a single drop from a pipette, then you can start experimenting with your dosage.
The best tip we can give – start slowly with a low dose and build it up gradually. This way you are able to figure out what works for you personally – you can figure out your own “golden spot”.
Also, good to know that CBD is often well-tolerated and even in huge doses does not seem to cause harsh side effects.
However, some people do get side effects, which might include dry mouth, reduced appetite, fatigue. If you do feel side effects, we simply recommend to lower your dose and see if it persists.
Cannabinoids, together with terpenes and flavonoids, which are responsible for the smell and taste of the cannabis plants, when present together, create an “entourage effect” – all cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes working synergistically and creating a more potent effect. That is why it is suggested to choose the full-spectrum CBD oil.
What to know about using CBD?
CBD is considered safe to take and suitable for long-term use.
As stated in the WHO report, “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”
That brings us to: CBD interactions with other drugs
CBD oil can have a drug interaction with commonly used drugs, such as anti-depressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-anxiety drugs, benzodiazepines, antibiotics, heart medication.
So while cannabidiol (CBD) does not seem to have a harsh side effect by itself, it might interact with other medications. It is wise to discuss implementing CBD to your medication routine with your doctor, to figure out if CBD oil could interact with medications you are already taking.
A pretty common warning is the “Grapefruit effect” – CBD does interact with grapefruits and some other citrus fruits.
When you take CBD oil together with grapefruit, chemicals (furanocoumarins) interact with the CYP3A4 enzyme in a similar way that CBD does. The end result is a slower metabolization of certain medications. While it is not very serious by itself, it can make your medications not as bioavailable.
Meaning that the dosage of the drugs might have to be adjusted.
If you decide to take CBD oil and are currently using other types of medications, always discuss it with your doctor to know if there might be any interactions and how to solve it.
Conclusion: CBD oil for back pain - Yes, please!
Back pain is a common condition due to sitting for extended periods of time, wrong posture, and inactivity.
While there are drugs to treat it, the most commonly used medicines at the moment can have harsh side effects or can’t be used for long periods of time.
That is where CBD comes in.
CBD oil can help back pain by providing its anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, muscle relaxant, sleep improving, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties.
Cannabidiol can also be beneficial because of its safety profile. As studies have shown that CBD is safe to use long-term and is non-addictive.
While there is no “universal dose” – it is easy to find out. Just start with low dosages and gradually build it up, until you find your own “golden spot”.
If you are using any medications at the moment, don’t forget to discuss implementing CBD oil to your lifestyle, to acknowledge any interactions with currently taken drugs.