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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which would be totally fair this year) you’ve likely heard about the #wellness wunderkind that is CBD.
CBD is an active ingredient in the cannabis plant, but it’s not the one that makes you feel high — that’s your ol’ pal THC. But over the past 10 years, CBD has been touted as a therapy option for everything from anxiety and insomnia, to epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Could it help with nerve pain?
Long story short: There’s no definitive study proving it helps specifically with nerve pain, but if you’re open to trying CBD for nerve pain, you may be able to find some relief.
Nerve pain happens because of disease or injury to the nervous system. It can be caused by things like:
- vitamin deficiencies
- conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal stenosis, or disc herniation
- toxins like radiation and chemotherapy
Symptoms include tingling, numbness, a burning sensation, or a feeling of “pins and needles.”
Though there’s no cure for nerve pain (aka neuropathy), there are common treatments that doctors have been using for a while now. They include:
- Botox injections
- NMDA antagonists like ketamine and dextromethorphan
- capsaicin cream
- topical medications like anesthetics, or topical anti-inflammatory ointments and creams
- antiepileptics and antidepressants (these get in the way of chemical interactions in your brain and spine that cause you to feel pain)
CBD is an active ingredient (also known as a “phytocannabinoid” if you ever find yourself making small talk with a scientist) found in hemp and cannabis plants.
CBD for nerve pain
Currently, there haven’t been enough studies that specifically link CBD to nerve pain relief to be able to say that it helps or doesn’t. However, there’s evidence that CBD can help with some kinds of pain management, including inflammatory pain.
How to take CBD
It’s generally considered safe, so if you are interested trying it, the risks are low. CBD can interact with other medicines, though, so it’s best to reach out to your doctor to be safe before getting started.
CBD is available in a few forms. Our top picks include oils that you can drop under your tongue and gummies that you can eat.
Choosing the right dose depends on a few factors like what type of CBD you’re taking and what form it’s in. CBD can affect people differently, so there’s no universally-recommended dosage to follow. Start by trying a low dose and slowly increase it if it’s going well but you want a stronger effect.
Cool or criminal?
CBD is descheduled federally, which means that you won’t get in trouble with the feds for having hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent of THC. But individual states have the option to ban it if they want to, and several of them do.
States tend to be more lenient with CBD that comes from the hemp rather than the cannabis plant, but it also depends on whether the CBD is meant to be used medicinally or recreationally.
The Spectrum of CBD
There are three spectrums of CBD:
Full-spectrum CBD. This contains all the phytochemicals naturally found in the plant, including CBD, terpenes, essential oils, and trace cannabinoids. It tends to also contain THC, but a very, very small amount.
Broad-spectrum CBD. Exactly like full-spectrum CBD, except there is no THC at all.
CBD isolate. The purest form of CBD. It’s been… isolated… from all the other ingredients.
When comparing products, we took a lot of factors into consideration, but the CBD itself wasn’t one of them. Instead, we chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.
We made sure to only include products that:
- are produced by a company that provides a COA and third-party testing results from an ISO 17025-compliant lab
- contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, per the COA
- are grown in the US-of-A
- are free of pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, and molds, according to the COA
Other factors we considered in making these selections include:
- company certifications and manufacturing processes
- product potency
- overall ingredients
- indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as customer reviews
- whether the company has been subject to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter
- whether the company makes any unsupported health claims
- $ = under $30
- $$ = $30–$50
- $$$ = $55–100
Without further ado, here are the five best CBD considerations for nerve pain, all vetted by our medical experts.
1. Zatural Cannabis Full-Spectrum CBD (300 mg)
CBD per serving: 10 milligrams (mg)
Total CBD: 300 mg
CBD type: full-spectrum
Zatural’s Full-Spectrum CBD Oil drops are made from an unflavored CBD hemp oil base. It contains all natural ingredients, no GMOs, additives, or preservatives and, even though it’s technically full-spectrum, all of the THC is removed. The hemp is also grown organically in U.S.
2. Joy Organics CBD Gummies
CBD per serving: 10 mg (1 gummy)
Total CBD: 300 mg
CBD type: broad-spectrum
Joy Organics CBD gummies come in a BPA-free jar and include other clean ingredients like organic cane sugar and organic tapioca syrup. These babies are vegan, gluten free, and THC free. They come in two delicious flavors: green apple and strawberry lemonade.
Order Joy Organics CBD Gummies.
3. Organic CBD Gorilla Gummies 300 mg
CBD per serving: 10 to 20 mg (2 to 4 gummies)
Total CBD: 300 mg
CBD type: isolate
These CBD gummies are made with organic ingredients and are nut and soy free, non GMO, Kosher and plant-based. They claim to help you relax, and come in three fun flavors: wild berry, strawberry, and gorilla berry.
Order Organic CBD Gorilla Gummies.
4. NuLeaf Naturals Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil
CBD per serving: 30 mg
Total CBD: 300 mg
CBD type: full-spectrum
This CBD oil comes from an entire plant extract that includes other cannabinoids that could help the CBD work better because of something called the entourage effect. NuLeaf sells 5 sizes of this product, so you can try it out with the 300 milligram bottle and, if you love it, order as much as a 6000 milligram bottle.
5. Ojai Energetics Full-Spectrum Hemp Elixir
CBD per serving: 8.3 mg
Total CBD: 250 mg
CBD type: full-Spectrum
This organic, full-spectrum CBD oil has the added benefits of superfood extracts like acerola cherry and moringa. It’s water soluble, and potent enough that 250 milligrams of this elixir has the same effect as 5,000 milligrams of a standard CBD hemp oil.
Also the label and tincture are made in the USA and are eco-friendly.
CBD is generally considered safe, but the FDA isn’t entirely sold on CBD yet. One of its biggest issues is the limited data that’s available about it. And within the data that exists, some of it suggests there could be risks that should be taken into account.
Another big factor is not the CBD itself, but the brands selling it. Keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products.
Many companies may make unproven medical claims and use questionable quality ingredients, so it’s important to really understand what you’re getting before buying and/or consuming CBD products.
Although largely considered safe, the FDA lists a bunch of potential side effects CBD could cause.
- It can affect how other medications you’re taking work, or interact with them in a dangerous way.
- It could cause liver issues down the road.
- Taken with booze or recreational “downer” drugs, you could potentially get overly sedated and end up injured or incoherent.
- In studies of animals exposed to CBD, it caused fertility damage in some males, as well as the male offspring of women who were exposed to it.
Other side effects include:
- gastrointestinal issues including decreased appetite (so the opposite of THC-induced munchies) and diarrhea
- change in mood such as agitation and irritability
- feeling drowsy and experiencing decreased alertness
Although there isn’t enough data to prove CBD can specifically help with nerve pain, studies have shown that CBD can help relieve pain from inflammation and other conditions, so it may be worth looking into.
You should consult your doctor before taking any CBD products as they could interfere with other medications. But if you’re looking for relief from nerve pain, CBD might just be the ticket.
Is CBD Legal? Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.