CBD For Muscle Pain and Inflammation – What You Need To Know
No matter what your sport or workout is, muscle soreness, aches, and inflammation are typical results of hard work. While there are several over-the-counter aids an athlete can take, many bring side effects that need to be managed. Enter the latest in all-natural, high-potency CBD supplements designed for the needs of today’s athletes and competitors.
For people with muscle pain and related health conditions, cannabidiol (CBD) has increasingly become popular as a natural medication to gain relief from pain. CBD is one of the chemical constituents of cannabis and it’s often touted as a viable alternative to the regular OTC and prescription painkillers used in the treatment of some health conditions.
This article discusses the use of CBD for muscle pain and inflammation. Attempts shall also be made to highlight some of the scientific research behind this practice.
CBD is the main natural ingredient in the hemp plant, an all-natural solution that is increasingly recognized for its effective use in active recovery of the body following physical stress. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive properties – meaning it doesn’t give you the sensation of being high. According to the latest scientific research, CBD has been demonstrated to have important health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. The unique properties of CBD make it an effective tool for athletes, providing significant advantages for muscle recovery and relaxation. Scientifically speaking, by interacting with receptors in the body and brain, CBD can help regulate processes such as pain, inflammation, appetite, mood and circadian rhythms, offering important therapeutic benefits for athletes of all types.
Effects of CBD on Our Bodies
The non-psychoactive and non-addictive properties of CBD make it suitable for therapeutic use. Apart from its use for treating epilepsy, CBD is also used for treating anxiety, depression, stress, and other medical conditions. And there are numerous scientific studies to support these claims.
For example, one study connected CBD use with a reduction in the severity of certain health conditions, such as hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes.
Also, some research has linked CBD with a reduction in appetite as well as minimizing of PTSD symptoms, such as anxiety, negative memories, and nightmares. But for us to better understand the effects of CBD on our bodies, we first need to understand its influence on the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System: What is it?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is simply an internal system made of endocannabinoids, which is suspected to play important roles in major biological processes, like appetite formation, mood, and sleep. It was first discovered in 1992, but we still don’t fully understand how it functions.
The ECS system consists of 3 components, namely:
- Enzymes: these are organic catalysts which take part in metabolic processes.
- Receptors: receptors are found throughout the human body acting as binding agents to endocannabinoids.
- Endocannabinoids: these organic compounds help to keep the body in optimal conditions.
Understanding how the use of CBD for muscle pain and inflammation is possible involves investigation of the link between the endocannabinoids and receptors.
To start with, there are two kinds of receptors called CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain’s central nervous system (CNS). They tend to control body functions like appetite, coordination, memory, mood, and movement.
In contrast, CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which controls inflammation and pain.
Second, many researchers have argued that CBD influences the receptors without attaching itself directly to them. After enzymes must have broken down the CBDs, the endocannabinoids usually bind with receptors to bring about complete drug metabolism. Activating those receptors is what brings the many health benefits that are associated with CBD use.
Besides, CBD is also suspected of being capable to influence non-cannabinoid receptors in ways that are yet to be accurately determined.
For instance, an article by Teaera Roland of Lotus Health showed that CBD could influence the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which controls psychotic disorders.
Moreover, cannabidiol affects the TRPV1 receptor which can minimize muscle pain and inflammation. The thing is, when CBD Influences the TRPV1, it completely blocks pain signals from being transmitted throughout the body. Thus, this action provides relief from pain caused by aches, discomfort caused by other health conditions, injuries, and swelling.
You may also want to know how long cannabidiol stays in the body system. Click the link here to learn more about this and many more.
Why is CBD Popular?
According to a 2014 report by the American Association of Anesthesiologists (ASA), more than 60 million people are affected by chronic pain and related conditions across the globe. These ailments not only affect life quality, but also increase health-care costs and reduce productivity at work.
Actually, there are dozens of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications used to treat pain and inflammation. But many of these medications come with obnoxious side effects, such as addiction and damage to the body’s vital organs (kidney and liver).
For this reason, people now seek CBD products which offer alternative means of treating pain without endangering their health in the process.
CBD and Muscle Pain
A study has revealed that CBD could help reduce muscle pain experienced by people with Multiple Sclerosis. In the trials, though the results were modest, several subjects reported a reduction in symptoms. However, further studies are needed to fully understand how effective this will be on humans.
Moreover, a group of scientists have compiled the findings of multiple systematic research covering tens of such experiments. They concluded that there was enough evidence showing the effectiveness of CBD as treatment for muscle pain in adults.
Also, the scientists found out that there was little chance for people to develop tolerance for CBD. So there wouldn’t be any need to increase dosage over time.
We need to mention, however, that cannabidiol has very poor bioavailability when consumed orally. Therefore, topical application of CBD to the affected areas is advisable. When using CBD topicals try out RECOVER Muscle Cream and apply directly to the affected muscle groups.
Here is a fitness tip! Use of CBD is very effective after a workout. In fact, some experts it can actually have a positive impact on muscle development by reducing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Other natural remedies include a hot shower and a good stretch to ease your soreness!
CBD and Arthritis Pain
In a monumental research report published in 2016 by the European Journal of Pain, another group of researchers observed that topical CBD gel helped reduce measures of inflammation and pain, as well as joint swelling due to arthritis in mice.
This suggests people could use CBD for arthritis pain, but further research on humans is needed to confirm those results.
CBD and Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is pain resulting from damage to the body’s somatosensory nervous system. It’s often associated with pain caused by normally non-painful stimuli or by abnormal sensations known as dysesthesia.
A 2017 review in the Journal of Anesthesia & Analgesic revealed that cannabidiol could help reduce neuropathic pain in humans. The researchers examined eleven randomized controlled trials involving 1,219 patients. Howbeit, further research is still needed for us to comprehend how CBD acts on neuropathic pain.
CBD and Cancer Pain
Cannabidiol is also used by people to relieve cancer pain. A recent report by the National Cancer Institute has listed CBD among the potential options for minimizing side effects of chemotherapy such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Hair loss
- Mouth sores
CBD and Inflammation
Inflammation is simply the process by which the body fights against any invading agent that harms it, such as infections and toxins, so as to heal itself. In such a case, the body releases certain chemicals that often trigger a counter response from the immune system.
The whole process involves the release of particular antibodies to fight the foreign agents, and this could last for several hours or even days. Chronic inflammation occurs when this response persists, thus leaving the body in a continuous state of alert. With time, this condition can cause harmful effects on body organs and tissues.
Common symptoms of chronic inflammation are:
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Mouth sores
These symptoms range from mild to severe, and may last for years if not properly treated.
A study suggests that chronic inflammation may play a big role in serious health conditions like asthma and cancer.
Causes of inflammation include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Long exposure to chemical irritants or pollutants
- Chronic stress
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Untreated infection or injury
Anti-inflammatory Properties of CBD
Whereas inflammation helps us to heal faster after damage or injury, chronic inflammation may harm vital organs of the body. It often leads to more pain, anxiety, and depression.
But cannabidiol has shown great potential as a plant-based, natural anti-inflammatory agent with little or no side effects.
In fact, a number of studies involving animal models have shown the ability of CBD to reduce inflammation and chronic pain.
For example, a 2017 report showed the effects of cannabidiols on male rats with osteoarthritis. After 14 days, it was observed that acute inflammation was reduced by applying topical cannabidiol on the affected area. The researchers also found out that CBD treatment minimized the development of joint pain and nerve damage.
There are ongoing attempts to extend these experiments to humans for us to get the accurate picture of how effective CBD could treat muscle pain and inflammation.
Here is a fitness tip! If you experience post-workout fatigue, try to avoid taking painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. While these drugs do well for problems like inflammation, they are not very effective after a workout. In fact, some experts warn that using these drugs can actually hinder muscle development. If possible, try and stick to a hot shower and a good stretch to ease your soreness and incorporate all-natural CBD products to help assist in your inflammation.
If you injure yourself while exercising, it is important to ice the injured area. Ice helps reduce inflammation and can numb a degree of the pain. You want to make sure that you are icing the injury long enough that your muscle is soothed, but not so long that you cause frostbite to your skin. 15-20 minutes has been proven to be an ideal icing time frame.
Side Effects of CBD
CBD is well tolerated by most people, but there could be a few side effects.
According to a Report on Consumer Health published by the Mayo Clinic, some potential side effects of CBD use can include:
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Change in weight
In addition, CBD can interact with other medications, such as:
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
- Dietary supplements
Caution must be taken if your medication come with a “grapefruit warning” sign. CBD and grapefruit often act similarly to disrupt drug metabolism in humans. Therefore, you need to first consult with your physician before taking any medication with CBD products.
It is possible to speed up recovery time from a particularly hard workout. The day after your hard workout, incorporate a technique known as active recovery by lightly exercising the same muscles. Use weights which are about forty percent of your max weight and do two sets of twenty-five repetitions. This will help to deliver nutrients and blood to muscles to help them recover at a faster rate.
As you begin to recover from a painful muscle injury or strain, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your recovery workout rather than jumping right back into your previous workout routine. This is when CBD shines is in assisting with Recovery whether it is pain, soreness or inflammation.
Always remember, that one of the best forms of recovery is quality sleep. If you require a sleep aid, try our RECOVER CBD Tincture and use sixty minutes before bed for a calming, mind easing and non-sedative sleep aid.
From the foregoing, it’s clear that there is enough scientific literature and anecdotal evidence that suggests CBD for treating muscle pain and inflammation.
Nevertheless, it’s very important for us to remember that most of those studies are based on animal research, and more works still need to be done to fully understand how CBD works in human bodies. Hence, the need for us to be circumspect and follow the physicians’ instructions on using CBD for muscle pain and inflammation.
Champions + Legends RECOVER Series is specifically formulated to support active recovery of post-workout aches, pains, and inflammation, by leveraging the science of full-spectrum CBD across the product range. Regular use as part of your active recovery routine can promote blood flow, muscle repair, and support a deeper, more restful sleep. So, whether you’re targeting specific painful joints or sore muscles with a muscle cream or rub, or simply supplementing your evening routine with a dose of tincture or pre-bedtime softgel, the long-lasting effects of CBD will pay dividends in your day-to-day recovery and support your pursuit of excellence both physically and mentally.
CBD in the Holistic Practice of Dermatology
When an online survey was given to over 500 dermatologists in October 2019, more than 50 percent of respondents described patient-initiated cannabis discussion. However, 81 percent of dermatologists were uncomfortable with their knowledge of cannabinoid biology. Older dermatologists were more willing to prescribe cannabinoids. 1 The visible (inflammation, redness, and sun damage) and invisible (pain, itch, sleep, and anxiety/depression) impacts of dermatologic diseases are common reasons patients inquire about CBD, as there are many sources (both reliable and unreliable) endorsing the effectiveness of cannabidiol for these maladies. This paper serves to bridge the gap between dermatologists’ knowledge and patients’ curiosity.
A Brief History of Cannabis
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Briefly, Cannabis sativa has two different strains of plants. One strain, marijuana, is high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive phytocannabinoid. THC is the chemical in marijuana that is intoxicating—colloquially known as the “high.” The other strain, hemp, is high in cannabidiol (CBD), a biologically active anti-inflammatory antioxidant phytocannabinoid. Hemp has less than 0.03% THC, and therefore is not intoxicating and has low abuse potential.
As of April 2020, 11 states have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational use, whereas 33 states allow the legal use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The Farm Bill, which passed in 2018, made hemp and its derivative products legal on a federal level in the United States; however, individual states, such as Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, have made hemp-sourced CBD illegal with very rare exceptions.
Three systemic cannabinoids have been approved by the FDA since 1985. Nabilone (Cesamet, Meda Pharmaceuticals) was approved in 1985 for adults with chemo-induced nausea and vomiting. Dronabinol (Marinol, AbbVie) was approved in 1986 for adults with human immunodeficiency virus associated anorexia as well as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Each of these are THC products, and their indications and actions are limited. THC related cannabinoids are not the focus of this paper.
Epidiolex (Greenwich Biosciences) is a pure pharmaceutical grade CBD that was approved by the FDA in 2018 for the treatment of rare forms of pediatric seizure disorders in ages two and up. It is the only CBD based cannabinoid approved in the US; however, in Canada and Europe, Sativex, a combination of delta-9-THC and CBD, is approved as an oral buccal spray for spasticity and neuropathic pain. Aside from Epidiolex, the medical use of CBD is in uncharted territory. Many unregulated products are being formulated, orally and topically, with claims marketed toward consumers for a variety of clinical and cosmetic applications with little data regarding efficacy or safety. 2 Dispensaries advertising over-the-counter CBD products make unsubstantiated claims regarding CBD effectiveness for rejuvenation, itching, pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression. 3 The concentration of CBD in over the counter formulations is usually incorrect—50 percent have overstated the concentration and 30 percent have understated the concentration and that, coupled with batch-to-batch and manufacturer variability, may result in inconsistent results. 4
Cannabinoids in Dermatology
A number of excellent reviews about cannabinoids in dermatology provide an overview of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). 5,6 The ECS is comprised of cannabinoids, the proteins that regulate their metabolism, and cannabinoid receptors. 7 Skin cells and immune cells have cannabinoid receptors on them. The two most prevalent cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. CB1 is distributed mainly in the central nervous system. THC binds with high affinity to CB1, which results in its intoxicating actions. CB2 is found in high concentration in immune cells and cutaneous nerves. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are in synovial tissue. 8 These receptors can be bound by endogenous or exogenous (e.g., THC) cannabinoids. The two most common endogenous cannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, which are on-demand neurotransmitters that are released after nerve depolarization from post-synaptic cells and serve to regulate neurotransmission. The ECS is just beginning to be explored and targeted. CBD does not appear to exert effects through the binding of CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, CBD appears to affect the metabolism and reuptake of endogenous cannabinoids enhancing their effects. In addition, direct and indirect effects are caused by binding a variety of receptors including transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1), 9 G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55), 10 and 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor subtype 1A (5-HT1A). 11
In the March 2020 issue of Practical Dermatology, Matthew Zirwas, MD addressed the growing interest among patients about cannabidiol (CBD) 12 despite a scarcity of data involving CBD for human dermatological conditions. Many studies investigating CBD for medical conditions fail the required standards of quality. CBD may have a positive impact on acne, the most common skin disease. CBD applied to cultured human sebocytes exerted an anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and sebostatic effect. Taken together, these characteristics are all promising findings for a novel anti-acne therapy. 13
A three case observational study of patients with epidermolysis bullosa (EBS) treated with topical CBD found that patients reported improvement in pain and blistering as well as faster wound healing. 14 In addition, a small open label study involving patients with psoriasis (n=5), atopic dermatitis (n=5), and scars (n=10) who applied a topical cannabidiol to lesions twice a day showed skin evaluation improvements at three months with no adverse events. 15 Recently, topical application of CBD in an in vivo mouse model demonstrated an increase in the cytoprotective heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX1) enzyme, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties. Additionally, CBD increased keratinocyte proliferation, specifically keratin 16 and 17, which are associated with wound repair and may be in part why we see a therapeutic effect in EBS. 16 Interestingly, this same HMOX1 enzyme, which is upregulated by CBD, has been reported to have a protective role against UV-induced oxidative stress. 17 Additional basic science research demonstrated the cytoprotective activity of CBD in cultured fibroblasts against ultraviolet radiation. 18 Further studies may elucidate the role of CBD in photoprotection in humans.
Despite the lack of studies investigating the effect of CBD on specific dermatological conditions, there is some evidence that CBD can affect prominent symptoms of several common dermatologic conditions: pain and itch. There have been studies in non-dermatological conditions suggesting that CBD can help pain. Animal studies on rats provided researchers with initial evidence of cannabidiol’s effectiveness for arthritis pain. 19,20 In the animal model for rheumatoid arthritis, collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), CBD given either orally 25mg/kg/d or intraperitoneally 5mg/kg/d suppressed the progression of CIA and there was a reduction in collagen-specific CD4+ T cell proliferation, gamma interferon, and TNF-a. 21 Despite these promising animal results, there is a paucity of studies researching joint pain in humans.
CBD may help both itch and pain, since those stimuli are detected peripherally by small diameter nociceptive neurons in the dorsal root ganglion and they express TRPV1. Additionally, central nervous system itching involves serotonergic neurons, which can potentiate itch by activating 5-HTR1a receptors. 22 One small placebo-controlled trial involving patients with peripheral neuropathy of the lower extremities revealed that application of a topical oil containing 250mg of CBD per three fluid ounces was statistically superior to placebo in reducing intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations, with no safety signals reported over four weeks. 23 In an animal model, paclitaxel-induced neuropathy was diminished by CBD and 5-HT1a receptors were involved in the neuroprotective effect. 24 Currently there are nine trials investigating CBD for pain listed on clinicaltrials.gov.
The Mind-Body Connection
The mind-body connection is especially relevant to dermatology. There is ample evidence that sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression can adversely impact dermatologic disorders. A vicious cycle can occur because the dermatologic disorders can exacerbate anxiety, depression, and sleep. Several studies demonstrate CBD’s utility in these psychological conditions.
Sleep: Sleep disorders are very common in inflammatory dermatoses. 25 For patients with atopic dermatitis, sleep disturbance—most commonly due to nocturnal pruritus—correlates with disease severity, and adequate disease control needs to address the sleep disorder. 26 Additionally, approximately 60 percent of patients with psoriasis have sleep disorders. 27-30 Patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) were also found to have sleep disturbances; 40 percent had insomnia and 70 percent were considered poor sleepers. The presence of itch and pain were correlated with their sleep disorders, 31 which demonstrates the complex interaction between itch, pain, and sleep.
In rats, intraperitoneal CBD injections resulted in an increase in total percentage of sleep in the CBD group compared with placebo. 32 However, most studies in humans that have investigated the effect of CBD on sleep have only looked at sleep as a secondary measure. In a 2016 study, Shannon and colleagues examined a cohort of 72 adults with anxiety and sleep complaints treated with oral CBD at a dose ranging from 25mg to 175mg per day. Objective measures of anxiety and sleep showed improvement at one-month follow up, but the sleep data fluctuated over the later course of the 12-week study. 33 Thus it was unclear if the benefits in sleep were due to the reduction of anxiety or due to a primary effect of CBD.
Anxiety: An international multicenter prospective study analyzed the association of anxiety and depression in patients attending an outpatient dermatology clinic for various skin disorders via a questionnaire and clinical exam (n=3635). Patients with atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, hand eczema, and leg ulcers had the association of anxiety and depression. 34 A 2018 meta-analysis examined the association of atopic dermatitis with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in children and adults and they found a significant association between atopic dermatitis and both depression and anxiety. 35 In 2017, a large review of observational studies and clinical trials sought to quantify the prevalence of anxiety in patients suffering from psoriasis. They found a prevalence of anxiety in patients with psoriasis that ranged between seven and 48 percent, which was significantly higher than controls in two of three studies. Additionally, several other studies showed improvement in anxiety when psoriasis was treated. 36 Finally, patients with acne and pigmentary disorders frequently have comorbid anxiety. 37-40
There is a current lack of evidence that CBD is effective for the treatment of anxiety. However, one small study of 24 individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) (compared with 12 control patients) was conducted where participants were treated with CBD (versus placebo in the control group) prior to a simulated public speaking task. 41 The CBD treatment group performed better than controls with significant decrease in anxiety, cognitive impairment, and hyper-alertness. Pretreatment with CBD reduced the anxiety level in the patients with social anxiety to near that of healthy controls during the simulated public speaking task. In addition, there is a single case report of a 10-year-old child with post traumatic stress disorder who was refractory to traditional psychiatric medications and was treated with 25mg of CBD orally at night to help with sleep as well as 6-12mg of CBD orally during the day for her intermittent anxiety with dramatic symptom reduction. 42
Many common dermatologic conditions have associated subjective complaints that need to be addressed for comprehensive care of patients. There is emerging evidence to suggest that cannabinoids are beneficial for dermatological conditions as well as a range of associated conditions including pain, itch, and inflammation. The transformation of cannabinoids from an herbal supplement into a highly regulated prescription drug is progressing rapidly. Future alternative methods of administration (transdermal, intranasal, etc.) will likely improve bioavailability. Additional data on the effects of CBD for sleep and anxiety may be relevant to a more holistic therapeutic approach to dermatologic disorders.
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32. Chagas MH, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, et al. Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats. J Psychopharmacol. 2013;27(3):312-316.
33. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041.
34. Dalgard FJ, Gieler U, Tomas-Aragones L, et al. The psychological burden of skin diseases: a cross-sectional multicenter study among dermatological out-patients in 13 European countries. J Invest Dermatol. 2015;135(4):984-991.
35. Ronnstad ATM, Halling-Overgaard AS, Hamann CR, Skov L, Egeberg A, Thyssen JP. Association of atopic dermatitis with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in children and adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;79(3):448-456 e430.
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40. Sereflican B, Tuman TC, Tuman BA, Parlak AH. Type D personality, anxiety sensitivity, social anxiety, and disability in patients with acne: a cross-sectional controlled study. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2019;36(1):51-57.
41. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226.
42. Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005.
Jennifer Cather, MD
Dr. Cather is a board-certified dermatologist in private practice at Mindful Dermatology and Modern Research Associates in Dallas.
Conflict of interest: Dr. Cather is co-founder of SOTA Healthcare products, a CBD company.
Investigational Oral Treatments for Psoriasis: A Review of Phase 2 and 3 Trials
Donovan G. Kearns, BS; Shelley K. Uppal, BS; Vipawee S. Chat, BS; and Jashin J. Wu, MD, FAAD