CBD Oil for Pain – Can it help?

CBD oil is a great natural option to consider if you suffer from chronic pain as it may possibly provide relief from pain symptoms and inflammation, allowing you to enjoy more of what life brings. Medicinal cannabis is an unapproved medicine and is prescribed on a case by case basis when it comes to pain.

Having said that, my experience from prescribing it to thousands of people with pain has been a very positive one.

CBD Oil for Pain – Can it help?
The Cannabis Clinic doctors have prescribed medicinal cannabis to treat thousands of Kiwis who suffer from pain in an attempt to improve their quality of life

I will share some of my experience here and discuss what CBD oil can do for you if you are suffering with pain. 

CBD oil is made by extracting cannabidiol (CBD) from cannabis plants and mixing it with a carrier oil, such as MCT coconut oil or hemp seed oil. Unlike cannabis products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD won’t make you “high”.

CBD oil is legal in New Zealand with a prescription. It may have many therapeutic properties for the body and mind, with pain relief being one of the most common uses.

CBD Oil for Pain Management

1 in 6 people in NZ suffer from pain. That is, 16% of our total population!

Short-term pain and chronic pain can significantly reduce your quality of life. It can put a stop to many things we take for granted, such as the ability to enjoy a walk, play with your children, or even sleep.

When suffering with pain, it can quite easily overtake your day and become the centre point of your life. When the pain is good, life is good and vice versa.

While there are many medications for pain, chances are that you don’t like the idea of pumping your body full of pharmaceutical drugs, or that your body simply does not tolerate them.

Neither do I!

Thankfully, research shows that CBD can possibly help to decrease pain without the risks that come with conventional pain medications. CBD alone has been shown to improve about 25% of people with chronic pain by itself. From my experience, a further ~50% can be helped with the use of a combination of CBD and THC.

CBD is thought to naturally reduce pain by affecting endocannabinoid receptor activity and possibly reducing inflammation (1). In fact, many athletes are turning to CBD to manage pain and improve performance.

I will discuss some more specific types of pain below and what CBD oil can do for you.

CBD oil for chronic pain

Chronic pain is defined as pain present for at least three months or more. If you have chronic pain, CBD oil may possibly help provide some relief. It’s effective, safe, and well-tolerated.

Interestingly, CBD oil can go from your stomach and through to your brain! There’s a barrier that protects the brain between the blood and the brain, called the blood-brain barrier. After crossing it, CBD affects a hormone called adenosine in your brain, and this is how CBD oil can possibly help reduce chronic pain (2).

CBD oil is not only possibly useful for pain when taken orally, but it can also work if applied as a cream on the skin directly, also known as “topical application”. 

Some products have CBD extracted and made into a cream specifically for this reason. When researchers looked at how effective CBD on the skin is for pain, they found that pain from arthritis and neuropathic pain was reduced, with minimal side effects (3). 

Medicinal cannabis for pain is a promising area where there is some research and the experience of thousands of our patients backs it up. It is however not proven and more research is needed to make conclusive statements.


Dealing with pain is one of the more difficult side-effects of cancer treatments. About 65% of people with cancer suffer from chronic pain.

The simple, ready-to-use, plant-based nature of CBD oil makes it an excellent choice for for possibly trying to help this type of pain, with the added benefit of minimal side effects.

When researchers looked closer at the type of pain experienced during cancer and treatment, they discovered that cancer and inflammation often walk hand in hand.

On the one hand, chronic inflammation often leads to increased cancer risk, and on the other, cancer has also shown to promote inflammation throughout the body, increasing pain (4). 

CBD can possibly act as an anti-inflammatory by decreasing oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. Oxidative stress triggers your immune system, which can actually damage healthy cells. Lowering both of these symptoms may possibly reduce the pain from inflammatory diseases like cancer (5). 


Arthritis is a type of inflammation in joints that can worsen with age. This often results in stiff and painful movements.

About 17% of adults in NZ are affected by a form of arthritis in NZ.

CBD can possibly help lower inflammation in your body, meaning CBD oil can be a possible way to try and help pain caused by arthritis.

Studies on animals show that CBD may possibly help with arthritis pain. However, more studies on humans are still needed. While animals are very similar to us in specific ways, research with humans is still the best way to decide what works best.

One of these animal studies includes a recent study on rats. Researchers found a link between CBD use and reduced inflammatory pain by CBD changing how pain receptors respond to stimuli (6).

Back pain

CBD is generally considered a possible pain-relief treatment that affects the whole body. While CBD oil doesn’t specifically target back pain, it may possibly help the pain from this area, contributing to full-body relaxation.

Back pain affects many of us and can range from minor to severe, depending on the cause. While minor cases of back pain usually go away by themselves after a few weeks, it can still be inconvenient and painful.

Recent studies have shown promising results in CBD use for reducing inflammation and neuropathy, two factors that can contribute to neck and back pain (7). 

Other types of pain

Because CBD oil has such wide-ranging possible effects on pain, including possibly lowering inflammation levels and reducing pain signals, it may also help with different causes of pain, including multiple sclerosis (MS), osteoarthritis, and general day-to-day aches and pains (8). 

How Does CBD Possibly Help With Pain?

Every human has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes (9).

These endocannabinoid receptors in your body receive signals and your cells then respond to these signals. The response in the endocannabinoid system from CBD consumption leads to the possible anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects that may help you manage pain.

How To Try Use CBD Oil For Pain

Before using CBD oil for pain relief, talking to a doctor is important. They will assess your pain needs individually and discuss how CBD can potentially help you. 

There are many different ways of taking CBD, including capsules, vaping, and topical applications. An excellent way to take CBD is via a tincture, also known as taking CBD sublingually, where you place a few drops of CBD under your tongue. Your tongue is rich in capillaries, which allows for excellent absorption rates.

When incorporating CBD oil into your routine, it is essential to start slow, especially if you have never used CBD products before.

A suitable CBD dosage to start at would be 15-20mg per day. While this is a relatively low dose, it is best to start with a small amount to test CBD’s effects on your body before gradually increasing it based on the level of pain management you need. 

Ultimately, the dosage required will depend on your body chemistry, weight, and pain severity, which will affect how well the CBD oil works.

CBD Side Effects

While side effects will depend on the person, possible symptoms include changes in appetite, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea (10). CBD products can also interact with certain medications, so it’s a good idea to talk to a health professional if you’re concerned. 

One way to decrease your chance of getting any negative side effects is to choose CBD oil products from reputable companies. Ideally, choose a CBD oil that has been tested by a third party and from a company that consistently produces high-quality products.

The bottom line

I have helped thousands of people use CBD oil for their pain caused by a wide range of causes and conditions. While CBD for pain is a great starting point, some people find that the addition of THC is also very effective. 

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, leading to possibly reduced inflammation and pain, making it a great option for trying to help with various pain types. 

While using CBD, it’s recommended to start slow before tailoring for your pain relief needs. It is also helpful to check in with a health professional, especially if you are worried about potential side effects or interactions with other medications.

While medicinal cannabis has been helpful from my experience, it is important to note that the research is not complete and it is prescribed on a case by case basis.

To speak to one of our experienced doctors about using CBD oil for your pain, please click here.

Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider. 

MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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