CBD Oil for Sciatica: What the Research Shows
Sciatica is a condition that causes varying degrees of pain, numbness, or weakness in your back and legs. Current treatment options largely revolve around pain relief, and with the addiction issues that come with continued pain treatment, safer treatment options are needed.
CBD may help you to improve your sciatica and get up and moving again. We’ve researched this natural compound to help you decide if you want to try CBD for your sciatica.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition that affects your spinal cord, specifically your sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve affects your hips, legs, and buttocks, so when it is irritated, you feel pain in these areas—also known as sciatica.
Sciatica typically occurs when you experience an injury that affects (pinches or puts pressure on) your sciatic nerve, such as a herniated disk or piriformis syndrome caused by a car crash, a fall, or sitting too long. These kinds of injuries can leave you swollen, in pain, and with a reduced range of movement.
Certain people will be more at risk of developing sciatica. If you’re older, lift heavy objects often, smoke, or have diabetes then your chances of developing sciatica go up.
Current treatment for sciatica includes cold and hot compress, stretching, pain medication, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, steroid injections, and muscle relaxers. Although even with these options, sciatica can still be hard to treat.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound that could help to manage sciatica symptoms thanks to its potential health benefits. Found in cannabis and hemp plants, CBD is a type of compound known as a cannabinoid.
If you’re looking for a natural treatment, CBD is a good option. Research tells us that CBD has shown promise as a treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to skin conditions ( 1 , 2 ).
How can CBD help sciatica?
CBD might be able to help you manage your sciatica by targeting the pain and inflammation that make the condition so debilitating. While there are no studies directly involving the effects of CBD on sciatica symptoms, research into the side effects of sciatica on other conditions gives us some insight into how effective CBD might be in managing the pain and inflammation of CBD.
CBD’s ability to target pain is thought to come from two mechanisms—targeting serotonin receptors and targeting TRPV1 receptors. Serotonin is a hormone that plays an important role in pain management and TRPV1 is a receptor protein that regulates the sensation of pain. CBD has been found to activate both serotonin and TRPV1 receptors and it may be through this mechanism that the cannabinoid can reduce pain ( 3 , 4 ).
Research also tells us that CBD may be able to reduce inflammation by acting on a range of pro-inflammatory markers. CBD’s anti-inflammatory activity likely occurs through a combination of its ability to block the production and expression of pro-inflammatory factors and by activating anti-inflammatory receptors ( 5 , 6 ).
Research on CBD and sciatica
- A 2020 review published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology analysed studies that investigated CBD’s effect on chronic pain. The review found strong evidence that the CBD treatment over 7 days may relieve chronic pain caused by injury to the sciatic nerve in rats and mice. While this review is based on animal model studies, it does highlight the potential of CBD to reduce pain caused by sciatic nerve injury ( 7 ).
- CBD’s pain-relieving abilities have been further explored in the use of medications like Sativex, a mouth spray medicine that contains equal amounts of CBD and another cannabinoid called THC. Studies tell us that Sativex is a safe and effective treatment for various forms of pain. It’s important to keep in mind that Sativex contains THC as well and CBD, so we cannot be sure if these pain-relieving effects can be attributed to CBD alone, but the effectiveness of Sativex as an analgesic is promising and further research into CBD’s pain-relieving effects alone is warranted ( 8 ).
- A reduction in inflammation would provide significant benefits to patients suffering from sciatica. Luckily, CBD seems to show a lot of promise in this area as well. A 2020 study published in the journal Cell Death and Disease investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, specifically focusing on its effects on inflammatory cells that are present in the inflammatory condition rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that CBD reduced the viability, proliferation, and production of inflammatory inducing cells and concluded that CBD could help to improve inflammatory conditions ( 9 ). While this study does not investigate CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect in sciatica directly, it could be indicative of CBD’s ability to reduce swelling in the disorder.
Side effects of CBD
CBD’s side effects are largely mild, so you can feel safe adding CBD to your sciatica routine. We do recommend, however, that you consult your doctor first.
Side effects that you might experience after CBD use include sleepiness, reduced appetite, lethargy, and diarrhoea ( 10 ). But these tend to be mild and infrequent. In fact, studies tell us that doses of CBD as high as 1,500 mg can be used safely ( 11 ).
So long as the CBD you use contains only CBD, then you don’t have to worry about experiencing a high. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for that.
The bottom line
Sciatica can be painful, limiting, and hard to manage, but CBD could offer some hope for sufferers. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties may be able to help relieve some of the symptoms of sciatica and get you moving more freely again. Although it is important to keep in mind that research is largely in the early stages, we need more specific research investigating how CBD affects patients with sciatica before any specific conclusions can be drawn about its effectiveness.
Will CBD Help Sciatica Pain? What You Need to Know.
Will CBD help sciatica pain? This has been one of the biggest questions we get asked about CBD infused products. Before I answer the question, I must share my own personal experience.
Sciatica pain sucks!
I’ve been battling sciatic pain for a decade. The tingling and burning sensation running down my back and leg wasn’t horrible at first, but it was very concerning. Over the years the pain has gradually worsened to the point I considered surgery. There have been days I felt like I’m being punched in the junk and other days it was challenging to even walk.
While I appreciate my primary care physician, he hasn’t been the help I was searching for. Cortisone shots are effective for a few weeks. Muscle relaxers don’t work and only make me feel like a zombie. Stretching is beneficial but doesn’t alleviate the pain. It wasn’t until I started exploring cannabis infused products that I discovered relief.
Fortunately a friend of mine introduced me to a THC infused lotion from Apothecanna. At the time, this was the only product that could provide me any form of sciatic pain relief. The problem is you can’t get the THC infused lotion anywhere. It’s only available in states where medical marijuana or adult use is legal. It’s because of this challenge I turned to CBD.
Will CBD help sciatica pain?
Since sciatica is usually caused by a bone spur or herniated disk pushing on the nerve in your back, Cannibidiol or CBD, cannot cure sciatica. Only surgery is seems to be the option for complete treatment. However, CBD could potentially provide pain free days and much needed relief.
How CBD can alleviate sciatica pain.
Sciatica typically creates two types of pains, neuropathic and nociceptive. Limited research has suggested CBD could potentially alleviate both neuropathic and nociceptive pain. How does this work?
CBD is a molecule that binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system, a system responsible for communicating “good and bad signals” throughout your body. When CBD attaches itself to these receptors, it can change the bad signal to a good one, restoring balance or homeostasis in your body.
Cannabinoids have been shown to help your body heal from a variety of health issues. CBD is a cannabinoid that helps fight inflammation and pain. This is why CBD can help sciatica pain.
Currently there’s not enough medical research on treating sciatica with cannabis. The good news is anecdotal evidence is promising!
Using CBD for treating sciatica.
It’s important to state you should consult with your physician before changing any medications or using CBD with current medications. The two best CBD infused products are listed below.
CBD tinctures are oils you place under your tongue, hold for 30-60 seconds, and swallow. The CBD oil will enter your bloodstream and eventually provide you with relief.
I recommend at least a 1000mg tincture due to the strength of the CBD. Start with a lower dosage (half a dropper) and increase from there. Since cannabinoids affect each person differently, be sure to keep on a daily regiment until you find your proper dosage.
CBD topicals are lotions or salves you rub onto the affected part of your body. While topicals won’t provide long lasting relief, they can provide immediate relief — usually up to two hours.
Again, I suggest a higher grade product due to the severity of sciatica. My favorite CBD topicals are Happy Hemp Farmacy Balm and Apothecanna Extra Strength.
It’s important to note that any topicals using menthol are wonderful — but make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after applying. Touching your eyes or your private areas with these lotions will be a very memorable and unpleasant experience.
What about THC Products for Sciatica?
If you live in a state where medical cannabis or adult use of cannabis is legal, THC products are worth checking out. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that makes you feel high, but it’s also great for pain and inflammation.
I’ll be honest. There are times when I use low dose THC edibles to help fight back pain and sciatica, in addition to CBD products. I certainly don’t like the couch lock high or super anxiety that comes with certain high dose THC products. It can be scary! However, I do appreciate the relief a 2.5-5mg THC infused chocolate or candy will provide.
If you choose to incorporate THC into your sciatica treatment, always remember to GO SLOW. If you get too high, read these valuable tips for coming down. And always use responsibly.
CBD infused products are a great choice.
Using CBD to help sciatica pain is an awesome choice because these products are healthy and have rare side effects. It’s definitely a better option than opiodes that cause harm to your body and organs.
If you have any questions about CBD or cannabis, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We do our best to provide you with the right answers or will guide you to resources to help.