Pain Management: All About CBD Oil

CBD is a plant oil that has pain-relieving and other medicinal properties.

What Is CBD?

It's short for cannabidiol, and it's a natural compound found in both marijuana and hemp plants. There's some evidence that it might help treat pain, seizures, and some other health problems. But much more research is needed for doctors to know for sure what it can do.

CBD is available in oral, inhaled, and topical forms.

How Do You Take It?

You can take CBD oil by itself by mouth, or use one of many products that has it as an ingredient. These include pills, chewable gels, "tinctures" you drop under your tongue, vape cartridges you breathe in, creams on your skin, and foods like chocolate bars. The amount and quality of CBD in these products can be very different.

Unlike THC, CBD will not get you high.

Does It Make You High?

CBD doesn't -- another substance in marijuana called THC does that. If you use a CBD product, check the label and make sure that's the only cannabinoid listed. In states where marijuana is legal, some companies put product information online that lists the amount of each ingredient. Regardless of the package labeling, the industry is not heavily regulated and products can contain THC so be cautious if you need to avoid it for a drug screen.

CBD alone, without THC, is not addictive.

Is It Addictive?

CBD oil by itself is not. But CBD products that also have THC can be. The key again is to know the source and check the ingredients and the amounts so you know exactly what you're using.

Some form of CBD is legal in 47 states in the US.

Where Is It Legal?

Forty-seven states now allow some form of CBD. Only Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska ban all marijuana use. Legal details are different by state, so do your research to make sure you're on the right side of the law.

A CBD-based drug is FDA-approved to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

Can CBD Help With Seizures?

The FDA has approved only one CBD-based drug, and it's used to treat two rare types of epilepsy -- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome -- as well as seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis complex. It's called Epidiolex, and it's approved for adults and kids over age 1. The FDA has not approved CBD for any other use at this point in time.

Scientists are trying to determine whether CBD helps with nerve, muscle, and joint pain.

Can It Ease Pain?

Scientists are working to see if it might help with arthritis, and some people with HIV say it helps relieve nerve pain (also called neuropathy). There's some evidence that it may help muscle spasms linked to multiple sclerosis, too. More research is needed to know for sure.<

CBD is being investigated for potential blood pressure-lowering effects when one is stressed.

Does It Help Blood Pressure?

In normal conditions, CBD doesn't seem to affect this one way or the other. But researchers are studying whether it might help keep your blood pressure stable when you're stressed. More work needs to be done before scientists fully understand its effects.

Research on CBD's potential anti-inflammatory effects is ongoing.

Does It Help Inflammation?

Early studies show that CBD might help with this, especially if it's related to arthritis, MS, diabetes, or Alzheimer's. But scientists are still trying to prove that and figure out how it works.

CBD kills breast cancer cells in mice, but human studies are needed to prove similar benefits for people.

Does CBD Help Cancer?

In studies done on lab mice, CBD oil showed promise at killing breast cancer cells and making chemotherapy drugs work better. But researchers have much more work to do to see if CBD can help people in that way.

CBD may help you have clearer skin and fewer acne breakouts.

Is It Good for Your Skin?

There is evidence that CBD might be a treatment for acne. It seems to help with both the inflammation that can lead to breakouts and the amount of fatty acids in the blood, which can make them worse. It also may protect skin cells from damage.

CBD may ease symptoms of psychosis while THC can provoke them.

Does It Help Psychosis?

One study showed it helped ease the symptoms of psychosis in people with schizophrenia, but more research is needed to know just how well it might work. Keep in mind that THC, which is found in a number of CBD products, can have the opposite effect, and product labels aren't always accurate.

CBD may be useful in breaking addiction to cigarettes, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Does It Help Addiction?

Much more study is needed, but early studies show that CBD may help people who want to break their addiction to cigarettes as well as drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. This may be in part because it seems to help with anxiety and muscle tension.

Fatigue, diarrhea, and appetite changes are a few CBD side effects.

Are There Side Effects?

So far, CBD doesn't seem to cause serious ones. When it's used to treat epilepsy or psychotic disorders, people reported tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. But CBD can affect how other medications work, so be sure to tell your doctor about everything you take, including vitamins and supplements.



  1. OlegMalyshev / Getty Images
  2. (Clockwise from top left) Kwangmoozaa / Getty Thinkstock, edwardolive / Thinkstock, Evgeniy Kleymenov / EyeEm / Getty Images, MSPhotographic / Thinkstock, al62 / Thinkstock
  3. Robin Lynne Gibson / Getty Images
  4. temmuzcan / Getty Images
  5. Phil Roeder / Getty Images
  6. David Mack / Science Source
  7. shih-wei / Thinkstock
  8. SARINYAPINNGAM / Thinkstock
  9. Alfred Pasieka /Science Source
  10. Roger Harris / Science Source
  11. Ranta Images / Thinkstock
  12. 159600404 / Getty Images
  13. AntonioGuillem / Thinkstock
  14. junce / Thinkstock


  • American Psychiatric Association: "Cannabidiol May Benefit Patients With Early Psychosis, Cannabis Misuse."
  • "CBD-Rich Products."
  • Consumer Reports: "What Is CBD? What to Know Now About This Cannabis Product."
  • Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: "An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies."
  • Epilepsy Currents: "Cannabidiol: Promise and Pitfalls."
  • European Journal of Pain: "Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis."
  • Frontiers in Pharmacology: "A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Haemodynamic Effects of Cannabidiol."
  • Government of the District of Columbia DOH: "Medical Cannabis Adverse Effects & Drug Interactions."
  • Journal of Experimental Medicine: "Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting a3 glycine receptors."
  • The Journal of Clinical Investigation: "Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes."
  • National Conference of State Legislatures: "State Medical Marijuana Laws."
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: "Is marijuana addictive?" "Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes: The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol (CBD)."
  • Neuropsychopharmacology: "Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle."
  • Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment: "Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors: A Systematic Review of the Evidence."
  • University of Mississippi: "Marijuana Research."
  • World Health Organization: "Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report."
  • FDA: "Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products,” “FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy."
WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information