CBD for Inflammation: Everything You Need to Know

CBD oil bottle assortment

Although inflammation is a natural defense mechanism of the body, it can cause serious problems in both the short and long terms. Chronic, low-grade inflammation is a threat you can’t ignore as it contributes to several types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more. In fact, three out of five deaths globally are due to the following chronic inflammatory conditions:

  • Stroke
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Heart disorders
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Even if you just experience a short-lived inflammatory response from getting sick or injured, it doesn’t hurt to have a natural and effective anti-inflammatory remedy to turn aside from NSAIDs. 

Now that natural wellness is making a comeback and medical hemp is getting notable attention, you’ve probably heard that CBD is a strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory. But is it true? Can CBD really help with inflammation and pain?

In short, yes, there are many studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of CBD, especially inflammation and pain relief. 

So if you’re curious about whether CBD could offer relief from pain and inflammation, chronic or temporary, keep reading. We clarify what CBD is, inflammation as an immune system response, how CBD helps, and how to use it.

What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

CBD is a cannabinoid, one of many natural therapeutic compounds from cannabis plants. But not all cannabis plants are the same. CBD is derived from hemp, a type of cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by definition. 

Unlike the high-inducing cannabinoid THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects and is safe to use. CBD is rapidly emerging as an effective remedy for inflammation and pain relief, even working for difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain.

The key to CBD’s beneficial effects on the body is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is the body’s system for processing cannabinoids, with cannabinoid receptors in both the immune system (CB2) and nervous system (CB1).

By controlling many normal body functions, the ECS helps maintain balance in the body’s systems in response to the introduction of CBD.

How the Body’s Immune Response Works

When an injury, infection, or disease occurs, the immune system tries to protect and heal the body by sending in immune cells like cytokines, macrophages, and neutrophils. This is usually a healthy protective action and a sign that your body is working as it should. 

But, sometimes that inflammatory response can cause pain and discomfort, result in an overactive immune response, or persist too long and cause more harm to the body. Here’s how inflammation can lead to problems, and where natural anti-inflammatory solutions can be advantageous.

Acute Inflammation

Acute inflammation presents alongside illness, infection, or injury, and doesn’t stick around too long – typically less than two weeks. The problem occurs when acute inflammation causes pain and discomfort from swollen tissues. For example, if you injure a particular body part, the swelling may intensify the pain and cause hypersensitivity. Or, if you get sick, the inflammation in your digestive tract, sinuses, throat, or airways can worsen symptoms. 

Chronic Inflammation

Lasting months or years, chronic inflammation is a more serious concern. Potential causes include autoimmune disorders, chronic conditions like arthritis, and oxidative stress from free radicals. Under extended inflammation, immune cells build up causing the body to enter a state of oxidative stress, further increasing inflammation, and causing irregular cell death which can be life-threatening.

Whereas it’s usually not the end of the world to take NSAIDs for the occasional injury or sickness, experts caution chronic inflammation sufferers not to rely on NSAIDs. 

Though we tend to think of these common drugs as harmless, they can damage the kidneys and GI tract over time, increasing both blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, the damage NSAIDs can eventually wreak on the gastrointestinal lining causes a leaky gut, exacerbating body-wide inflammation.

In addition to making wise lifestyle choices regarding food, exercise, sleep, and stress levels, people with chronic inflammation can benefit significantly from natural alternatives for pain and inflammation that are gentler on the body.

Understanding CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties and Effects

The anti-inflammatory mechanisms of CBD can be attributed to how it interfaces with CB2 immune system cannabinoid receptors and their inflammatory signals.

Firstly, CBD counteracts inflammation by limiting the immune system’s cells, like cytokines, and their inflammatory functions. Next, CBD works as an antioxidant by neutralizing the oxidative stress that perpetuates inflammation. This further inhibits cell death and the escalation of inflammation.

How to Use CBD for Relieving Inflammation

Next, we’ll detail how CBD can fight inflammation and pain in specific contexts like inflammatory conditions of the GI tract, skin, back, shoulders, throat, sinuses, prostate, eyes, and brain.

Though CBD appears to be safe and well-tolerated in most cases with less severe risks and side effects than other medications, it’s not 100% risk-free and does include minor possible side effects. Keep reading to learn how to be safe when trying CBD.

What to Consider When Using CBD for Inflammation

Getting positive results from CBD while avoiding adverse reactions comes down to the following precautions:

Understand the Potential Side Effects

The most common side effects of CBD are upset stomach, fatigue, and changes in appetite or weight. Eat right, get adequate and consistent sleep, and take responsible doses to avoid these.

Consult Your Doctor

To make sure CBD is safe for you and to rule out any possible drug interactions, talk to your doctor before trying CBD.

Learn the Legalities

Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% are federally legal, but in some states, CBD products must have 0% THC. Know the laws in your state and the contents of the product you’re buying.

Use the Correct Form

Depending on your preferences and the type of inflammation you want to fix, some CBD products may be better than others.

CBD Capsules

Capsules are broken down in the digestive tract, where the CBD then aborbs into your system. So capsules may take longer to kick in than sublingual CBD, but may help soothe GI symptoms.

CBD Gummies

Sweet-tasting CBD gummies also digest before taking effect, with slower onset than sublingual CBD oil. But these are the strongest CBD gummies you can get, at 50 mg each.

CBD Topical

Topical CBD can be great for muscle/joint pain and soreness, and some skin problems, since it settles into the underlying tissues for inflammation relief.


CBD oil can be one of the most potent ways to take CBD, especially if you administer it directly under the tongue and swish. You also have the option of mixing it with food and drinks.

Know the Correct Dosage

The ideal dose for you depends on your size, symptom severity, type of CBD product being taken, and whether you use full-spectrum or isolate CBD. You should start with a low dose and slowly increase it in small increments if needed. Depending on the above factors, you might choose to start with between 5-50 mg of CBD per day.

Frequently Asked Question About CBD For Inflammation

Does CBD oil eliminate inflammation?

Yes, CBD oil can keep excess inflammation under control.

Does CBD reduce inflammation or just pain?

CBD reduces both inflammation and pain.

Is CBD the strongest anti-inflammatory?

No, CBD is not the strongest anti-inflammatory overall, but it is effective.

Will CBD oil show up on a drug test?

No, CBD oil from trusted sources with legal levels of THC (under 0.3%) will not lead to a failed drug test.

Does CBD oil help with muscle inflammation?

Yes, CBD can help with muscle inflammation.

Is it better to take CBD internally or externally for inflammation?

Taking CBD internally can be more potent in general and more ideal for some symptoms. However, external/topical CBD may be preferable in some cases, like shoulder inflammation.

Is it ok to apply CBD cream to treat skin inflammation?

Yes, it’s okay to apply CBD cream for skin inflammation, as long as you avoid contact with broken skin and CBD cream with ingredients you’re allergic or sensitive to. It’s smart to do a patch test first.

How could CBD help you manage inflammation for better quality of life?

Now you know about CBD’s wide-ranging anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body. Whether you suffer from acute or chronic inflammation, CBD is an effective, natural, and gentle alternative to potentially harmful pain and inflammation treatments.

As long as you take all the responsible steps first to prevent unwanted side effects, there’s a significant chance of relieving inflammation and pain as well as many underlying causes and related factors.

Once you’re ready to shop around, here’s where to find some of the best CBD products to relieve inflammation.


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