Study Summary: CBD for Pain

Updated: Jul 10

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the major cannabinoids produced by hemp and cannabis/marijuana. It is the non-psychoactive chemical cousin to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Some claim that CBD is mildly psychoactive due to its ability to relieve anxiety.

This cannabinoid is known for its ability to decrease systemic inflammation in humans and mammals via interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD can pull a trick that THC cannot in that it can bind with both the CB1 and CB2 type receptors in the human ECS. THC has been shown to bind with only the CB1 variety (most dense in the brain and central nervous system; thus the overt psychoactivity produced by this controversial compound).


"CBD can pull a trick that THC cannot in that it can bind with both the CB1 and CB2 type receptors in the human ECS. THC has been shown to bind with only the CB1 variety."

A 2021 research study entitled "Cannabidiol [CBD] Attenuated Nociceptive Behaviors in an Animal Model of Tonic Pain" that was published in the journal Neuroscience Letters investigated the potential for CBD to act as a therapeutic agent for pain management and explored some of the underlying mechanisms that might be involved in this process.


The study's authors noted that CBD is "the major non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis" and that it has attracted "much attention as a therapeutic agent for intractable chronic pain in many conditions."

The CBD molecule


CBD's ability to act as an analgesic (pain reliever) is typically credited to its ability to reduce systemic inflammation. Thus, a sprained elbow that features localized inflammation that results in pain could benefit from any cannabinoid or terpene that decreases that inflammation.


CBD's ability to act as an analgesic (pain reliever) is typically credited to its ability to reduce systemic inflammation.

The Results

This study, conducted on rodents, was significant because it revealed that CBD may also mitigate pain via effects in the brain, where pain processing and perception occurs. The scientists injected CBD directly into the brains of rats and then measured their sensitivity to pain.

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The study revealed that the rodents that had been injected with CBD experienced decreased sensitivity to pain. This research reveals that the mechanisms underlying the ability of cannabinoids such as CBD to manage pain may extend beyond reductions in localized inflammation.


Such data suggests that it may be possible to provide patients with products and medicines that include a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes strategically intended to mitigate pain via multiple mechanisms.

Such data suggests that it may be possible to provide patients with products and medicines that include a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes strategically intended to mitigate pain via multiple mechanisms. As revealed by this study, these mechanisms could include not only reductions in localized inflammation, but also changes in how the brain processes and perceives pain.


The study's authors concluded that CBD "may be developed as therapeutic agents in conditions such as persistent inflammatory pain for which primary treatments are insufficient or not possible."


View the original study.


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