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CBD for Pain Relief: Cannabinoid Benefits Without a High?
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Learn if CBD might help pain relief without the side effects of medical cannabis. 

If you’re one of the 20% of Americans who live with a chronic pain condition, then we don’t have to tell you how much living with pain sucks

It makes it harder to do everything—basic things, like going to work, interacting with others, eating, sleeping… even functioning at the bare minimum is tough when you’re in pain. 

The worst part is, there aren’t any perfect solutions for managing pain. Opioids used to be the doctor’s go-to for many complaints, but now researchers know that these medications don’t work at controlling long-term pain, and they lead to dangerous side effects like addiction and depression. NSAIDs like Tylenol can work, but they can also lead to complications when used long-term, including gastrointestinal bleeding and an increased risk of blood clots. 

Instead of trying prescription medications, you might consider asking your doctor about cannabidiol for plant-based pain relief. 

A 2019 survey by Project CBD found that:

  • Pain was one of the top reasons users reported using CBD (the others included mood/sleep and wellness).
  • Over 87% of CBD users report that they started using it because they experience pain most or all of the time. 
  • Users reported the most significant improvement in pain, along with mood.
  • Nearly “90% of participants reported some improvements in the frequency and duration of their pain.” 
  • Almost 70% of participants “reported that their pain intensity was much better” with CBD. 

Along with holistic changes to your lifestyle to manage pain, cannabinoids may be a valuable tool for certain people. Let’s take a look at some more studies:

What the research says about CBD for pain

Sadly, CBD research was somewhat limited before the end of 2018 (that’s when the Farm Bill was passed, making hemp-derived CBD a federally legal substance.) 

There is plenty of research on cannabis for pain, but many of those studies involve plants or products that contain over 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the really psychoactive part of the plant). High THC content is basically what separates medical marijuana from broad-spectrum CBD. 

The entourage effect is a phenomenon where different compounds (various cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) work together to have a greater impact, so we know that THC affects how CBD works. That’s why you have to take this research with a grain of salt since it doesn’t specifically reflect CBD’s effects alone. 

But some recent studies did reach various conclusions about cannabis and pain: 

  • In a 2020 study, 20% of musculoskeletal surgery patients reported using cannabis to manage their pain, and 9 out of 10 said it was effective.
  • In a 2019 study of fibromyalgia patients who had no response to pain medications, the patients who received cannabis oil reported moderate improvement in anxiety and depression related to their pain (50%) and a reduction in their pain scores (33%).
  • In another 2019 study, 80% of chronic pain patients reported substituting cannabis instead of narcotic pain medications, “citing fewer side effects and better symptom management.”  

We still don’t know much about cannabis’s pain relief mechanism beyond that it seems to work—but that’s a question that researchers are already considering. Additional studies on cannabinoids for pain relief without THC are also in the works, and, of course, many users report finding some relief through CBD.

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Does CBD get you high when used for pain?

Nope. In fact, properly labeled and tested CBD shouldn’t get you high at all. CBD isn’t the same as medical cannabis. 

Legally speaking, CBD products have to contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s an amount that’s unlikely to cause any euphoria or other side effects associated with THC. 

Pain management strategies take numerous forms

Most pain-control methods seem to work better together. For a well-rounded plan, you may consider trying out these holistic approaches:

  • Lowering stress: “Negative feelings like depression, anxiety, stress, and anger can increase the body’s sensitivity to pain.”
  • Exercise: Yeah, we know… who wants to move when you’re hurting? Well, chronic pain may improve with exercise, since moving your body produces feel-good hormones like dopamine that can help change your focus.
  • Drop the alcohol: Aside from the overall benefits of doing this, booze can negatively impact sleep, which may enhance pain. Nix smoking, as well. It has terrible effects on circulation, among numerous other things.
  • Get a massage: “Massage can help reduce stress and relieve tension — and is being used by people living with all sorts of chronic pain, including back and neck pain.”
  • Pranayama: The ancient art of mindful breath control, pranayama may help tackle pain. One study found that deep breathing reduced pain levels significantly during and after a severely painful chest tube procedure.  

A host of other pain-control steps, including biofeedback, tracking pain, eating healthy, and more can be found at this WebMD resource.

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A great way to try CBD

If you’d like to try CBD for pain relief—a cannabinoid option without the THC—make sure it’s high-quality and that every batch is tested to ensure it’s exactly what it says it is. At Sunday Scaries, we source all of our broad-spectrum CBD products from the world’s best Colorado hemp! And we double-test every batch to ensure quality. 

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Whether your M.O. is hilariously adorable gummies or a no-nonsense (but still tasty) tincture, we’ve got a variety of products to choose from. And if you subscribe to Sunday Scaries, you’ll get 20% off and free shipping to your door! 

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