CBD Element

CBD and Pain

Sunday, October 11, 2020 • 11 minute read

Please note: Pain is a complex issue with equally complex causes. CBD is not a licenced medicine so it is not intended to be used to treat or cure a medical condition, also the FSA advises against taking CBD with other medications.

Why do we feel pain?

Continuous pain (otherwise known as chronic pain) can have a negative effect on the quality of life.

It is estimated that 43% of people in the UK live with chronic pain 1.

Pain can affect your ability to function day to day, impacting every aspect of your life. Continuous pain can also lead to depression and mental illness. With an ageing population, it’s likely more people will suffer from chronic pain and will increasingly look for pain management strategies. CBD can be used as another tool to relieve those niggly aches and pains, allowing you to get out and enjoy life.

The feeling of pain is your body’s warning mechanism, when you experience pain your body sends signals to the brain to warn of danger or alert you of damage and stress within the body. Pain is essential for our survival; without pain, we would cause serious damage to our body without being conscious of it. The problem lies when signals sent by pain receptors are excessive (signals are stronger than they need to be), unnecessary (no damage is occurring) or persist for too long. In these scenarios where our pain signalling system malfunctions, it may be necessary to block the pain so you can get on with your normal day to day life.

How does Pain work?

The process of pain is complex and involves interactions with many different neurotransmitters, cells and specialised sensors.

Here’s a basic summary of the process:

Stage 1: Painful stimulus

Firstly, something triggers pain in the body, for example stepping on a sharp nail, this causes tissue damage which triggers the pain receptors (nociceptors) that fire pain signals towards the brain via peripheral nerves.

Stage 2: Pain signals travel to the spinal cord

The peripheral nervous system carries the pain signal to the spinal cord, within an area called the dorsal horn.

Stage 3: Pain signals travel to the brain

Pain signals travel through the dorsal horn, eventually reaching the thalamus. This is the brain’s sorting station which relays signals to different parts of the brain. This is your Ouch moment, and when you consciously perceive pain.

How CBD may help with managing pain?

It is believed that the endocannabinoid system and the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) 2 play an important role in controlling the sensation of pain. Research shows that CB1 and CB2 receptors could play a role at each stage of the pain process, these receptors are found throughout the central nervous system (CNS) 2 3. CB1 receptors may be active in frontal-limbic pathways in the brain, which play a key role in the emotional aspects of pain 3 4. CB2 receptors appear to play a role in pain signalling by being involved in the development of chronic pain. 3 5

A review article concluded that cannabinoids could be a great tool for pain management. 6. CBD may have other beneficial effects such as anti-sickness and aiding with sleep. These significant ‘side benefits’ work in addition to pain-relieving 6, by helping people feel better physically and emotionally, which results in people feeling less pain.

How to take CBD for pain?

CBD supplements may be a good option to manage those niggly aches and pains, but CBD is not a medicine, please speak to a medical professional if you are suffering from debilitating or long-term pain. Also, you should seek medical advice if you have unexplained pain as you may have an underlying condition.

CBD is a supplement which should only be taken alongside an already healthy lifestyle and the FSA recommend that CBD should not be taken with other medications.

Let’s start with your total daily dosage. 

CBD Element recommends starting with a medium  total daily  dose that can be increased slowly to reach your desired effect.

Most of the research investigating the effects of CBD on pain management recommends higher doses 7. However, start with a medium dose and increase your dose slowly to ensure you do not experience side effects and use the CBD Element dosage calculator as a guide.

Some CBD users prefer vaping for pain management. This is because the effect is more immediate and vaping allows more frequently dosing throughout the day. This helps to allow the pain-relieving effects to be felt throughout the day.

Capsules and edibles are a convenient way of taking CBD, however this may not be the best option to manage pain. This is because the amount of CBD reaching the blood may not be sufficient to relieve pain.

Topicals may offer some relief for pain caused by joint and muscular injury as they deliver CBD directly to the source of the pain. We would recommend combining topicals with CBD oil drops, most people find using topicals on their own are not strong enough to relieve pain.

Does CBD help with Arthritis Pain?

There is evidence to suggest that CBD may help with arthritis pain due to its interaction with the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors which are found throughout the body (detailed above). CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects may also help in the management of arthritis pain (8).

As arthritis is a medical condition, CBD Element recommends speaking to a medical professional before taking CBD as part of your treatment program.

Initial studies and anecdotal evidence for CBD’s effectiveness at tackling arthritis pain looks promising, but there have been no large-scale scientific trials, so the jury is out on overall effectiveness. Feedback from CBD users has been positive with many finding CBD products helpful in managing the symptoms of arthritis. In our experience, combining CBD topicals with oils is the most effective way for managing pain.

This is a constantly evolving and exciting area of CBD research and we believe in the future, we may see more CBD products targeted towards arthritis.

Other lifestyle interventions?

Check out our article on CBD and muscle recovery because the lifestyle tips we recommend in that article will also help to manage aches and pains. Previously, the advice for long-term pain was plenty of bed rest, we now know this is not the best advice.

Long periods of inactivity lead to your muscles stiffening up and could make your pain worse.

Try your best to keep going to work and exercising. Lying in bed for long periods could lead to loneliness and low mood which would lead to your pain feeling worse

If you are suffering from persistent pain, we recommend you speak to a healthcare professional.

Anything else I should know about CBD and pain?

People are turning to natural remedies to manage their niggly aches and pain. In fact, recent market research has shown that the majority of CBD users take it for pain management. People are being put off by side effects from strong prescription pain killers and the widely reported opioid crisis. We recommend taking CBD alongside a wider wellness routine that includes gentle exercise such as yoga and meditation.

Remember, CBD is not a medicine and should not be used to treat a medical condition. If it is appropriate and safe for you to take CBD we recommend trying our brands to ensure you take a safe, third -party tested, quality product.


  1. nhs.uk. 2020. Almost half of all UK adults may be living with chronic pain - NHS. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/news/medical-practice/almost-half-of-all-uk-adults-may-be-living-with-chronic-pain/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  2. PubMed. 2020. The endocannabinoid system and pain - PubMed. [ONLINE] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19839937/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  3. PubMed. 2020. The role of the endocannabinoid system in pain - PubMed. [ONLINE] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25846617/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  4. PubMed. 2020. [18F]MK-9470, a positron emission tomography (PET) tracer for in vivo human PET brain imaging of the cannabinoid-1 receptor - PubMed. [ONLINE] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17535893/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  5. PubMed. 2020. Endocannabinoid system and pain: an introduction - PubMed. [ONLINE] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24148358/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  6. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2020. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain-NCBI. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  7. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2020. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment-NCBI. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6222489/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  8. Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S.A., Hegde, V.L. and Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, [online] 1(7), pp.1333–1349. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/.
  9. nhs.uk. 2020. Ways to manage chronic pain - NHS. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/ways-to-manage-chronic-pain/. [Accessed 11 October 2020].
  10. David Prosser. 2020. UK Demand For CBD Products Soars Amid Covid-19 Pandemic. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidprosser/2020/05/11/uk-demand-for-cbd-products-soars-amid-covid-19-pandemic/#19915ca56e07. [Accessed 11 October 2020].