What to Know About Using CBD for Inflammation

If you struggle from chronic inflammation, CBD is a great natural alternative to consider for pain-relief.
By Staci Gulbin, M.S., M.Ed., R.D.
June 12, 2020
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According to a 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) one-fifth of the American adult population experiences chronic pain and inflammation on a daily basis. And for those who deal with inflammation, finding better long-term alternatives to over-the-counter NSAIDs can be another unexpected struggle all on its own. 

Recently, more and more people are turning to a new natural health alternative known as cannabidiol or CBD. By now, you may have heard of CBD, a cannabinoid found in hemp plants, as this buzzy new supplement is being touted for its wellness benefits for everything from anxiety to pain relief to skin care—and that includes the positive effects of CBD on inflammation. (Related: 3 Reasons You Should Try CBD Even If You Have No Interest In Weed)

What Causes Inflammation?

The inflammatory response is a natural defense mechanism that helps your body fight off pathogens and foreign compounds. There are two different types of inflammation: Acute, which lasts for short periods of time and occurs when cells or tissue in the body are damaged, and chronic, which can occur for months—or even years—and lead to harmful long-term effects on the body

Some of the most common solutions for chronic pain and inflammatory diseases are NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. Advil), as well as acetaminophen drugs (i.e. Tylenol). But these pain-reducing pills have their own drawbacks, including possible negative long-term effects, which is why many people look for alternative treatment options to naturally ease pain and inflammation. (Related: What's the Best CBD Cream for Arthritis Pain?)

Does CBD for Inflammation Really Work?

Some recent research (although still in its early stages and mostly derived from animal studies), seems to suggest that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Here’s how it works: CBD may be able to impact inflammation through its actions on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an extensive physiological system in your body.

The endocannabinoid system is involved in key inflammatory processes, and it's vital for maintaining normal functioning of the nervous systems, immune system, and many other organs and tissues. 

The effects of CBD are made possible primarily through cannabinoid receptors that are activated by the inflammatory response. Cannabinoids from hemp, like CBD, stimulate these same receptors, and in the process it can help modulate pain sensation and inflammation.

Best CBD Oils for Inflammation

Whether you’re struggling from an inflammatory bowel disease, joint pain, arthritis, or any other chronic condition associated with pain and inflammation, CBD may be worth a shot. But just like anything else you consume or apply on your body, it’s important to consider the quality of what you’re purchasing. You’ll want to choose options from high-quality, trustworthy brands that provide third-party lab tests for their products (which helps ensure the purity, potency, and safety of CBD products).

Additionally, just like with any supplement, you should always check with your doctor before taking CBD, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or take prescription medications. Side effects are uncommon, but it's best to play it safe when it comes to your health and wellness. (Related: A Definitive List of the Proven Health Benefits of CBD Oil)

If you're looking to give CBD a try, check out some of the top CBD products for inflammation below, including CBD oils for oral consumption and CBD topicals that can be applied directly to the skin to alleviate specific pain areas.

Spruce

Buy It, $269

When it comes to inflammation, a strong, full-spectrum CBD oil tends to have the best results, and this tincture from Spruce offers just that. Made with organic, vegan, and gluten-free ingredients, the brand's CBD oils are made in the U.S. and use third-party testing to ensure safety and efficiency. This tincture of full-spectrum CBD in hemp seed oil comes in an extra strength 2,400 milligram option or a 750-milligram option. Since this one uses full-spectrum CBD, keep in mind that it may contain trace amounts of THC, the main compound of marijuana. 

CBD strength: 750 or 2,400 milligrams

FabCBD

Buy It, from $39

Another full-spectrum CBD oil with an added twist, FAB CBD has all the benefits of a whole plant hemp extract, but with the option to choose between five flavors (vanilla, mint, citrus, berry, and natural). This brand also has affordable prices and offers many potency ranges for its CBD oils, which is great for anyone trying CBD for the first time. Similar to the option above, note that this CBD oil may contain trace amounts of THC since it’s full-spectrum. 

CBD strength: 300, 600, 1200, or 2400 milligrams

Medterra

Buy It, from $35

If you're not in the market for a full-spectrum CBD product, the CBD isolate oil from Medterra is a great option. With this product, you’ll get a strong, effective CBD oil with the same pain- and inflammation-relieving benefits, but with the guarantee that it’s completely free of THC. 

CBD strength: 500, 1000, or 3000 milligrams

Spruce

Buy It, from $89

Just like its CBD oil, Spruce’s rub-on CBD Salve is one of the best options on the market when it comes to alleviating inflammation. Made with all-natural and organic ingredients, this full-spectrum CBD topical includes 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams (depending on which size you choose) of beneficial cannabinoids. Spruce also offers a lower potency CBD cream designed for easy absorption.

CBD strength: 1,000 milligrams in a 0.87-ounce jar or 2,000 milligrams in a 1.7-ounce jar

cdbmd

Buy It, from $30

This non-GMO, vegan formula features broad-spectrum CBD extract, which means it’s completely THC-free. Aside from CBD, the topical, rub-on cream also includes other pain-relieving ingredients like eucalyptus oil and arnica, as well as skin-soothing botanicals like shea butter and aloe vera.

CBD strength: 300 milligram in a 2-ounce tub, 750 or 1500 milligrams in a 4-ounce tub

Seabedee

Buy It, $50

Last but not least is this CBD-infused relief cream from Seabedee. The topical combines full-spectrum hemp extract with moisturizing shea butter and other essential oils to provide a soothing, cooling sensation on the skin. The natural pain-relieving properties of this cream make it a great option for muscle inflammation.

CBD Strength: 500 milligrams in a 3-ounce pump bottle

This story has been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N.