Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, an estimated 20.4% (50 million) of U.S. adults had chronic pain, and 8.0% (19.6 million) had high-impact chronic pain.

There are many different causes for chronic pain. Disease can be an underlying cause, while Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia are well-known culprits. Persistent pain may also be due to cancer, multiple sclerosis, old or lingering injuries, or a variety of other illnesses.

Regardless of the cause, Americans have increasingly been seeking alternative treatments to opioids which can be very addicting and have countless side effects. CBD oil for pain relief is going mainstream and progressively being sought after.

A recent Newsweek article broke down the usage of CBD oil for pain in America. “Hardly anyone had heard of CBD three years ago, but now two-thirds of Americans are familiar with it, according to a recent Gallup survey. One in seven Americans use it as an over-the-counter treatment for pain, anxiety and sleep problems.”

Almost one in five Americans over 50 now uses some kind of CBD product, according to a recent Gallup poll. In fact, 64 million Americans tried out a CBD product in the 24 months ending in January 2019, estimates Consumer Reports. With so many Americans turning to CBD oil for pain management, a compound that has yet to be fully researched or approved by the FDA, what do we know about this alternative treatment?

CBD is Safe

The one thing scientists can agree on with regards to CBD is that it is relatively safe. There is reliable data that supports the idea that CBD does no harm. “There are no credible issues with toxicity, and most people tolerate it quite well,” says Michael Tagen, a pharmacology researcher who consults for pharmaceutical companies about cannabis-related neuroscience.

CBD is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Consumer Reports spoke with Dr. Joseph Maroon, a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “CBD’s most far-reaching health effect may be its anti-inflammatory properties. And not just in a knee or hip joint, but throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the brain.” In a 2018 review, he and colleagues said such effects could possibly reduce anxiety, depression, seizures, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even benefit people who have had a concussion.

CBD is Legal (Mostly)

CBD is federally legal as long as it does not contain more than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical responsible for most of cannabis’ psychological effects). Some state laws, however, have put restrictions on buyers. In Virginia, for example, consumers can only buy and possess CBD if they have a prescription.

CBD can Alleviate Pain

Most of what we know concretely about how to use CBD drops for pain management comes from animal-based research. Verywell Health recently wrote about CBD oil for pain. “When taken orally, CBD has poor bioavailability. Topical CBD application to localized areas of pain is said to provide more consistent levels of CBD with less systemic involvement”. This research includes a study published in the journal Pain in 2017, in which scientists observed that treatment with topical CBD helped thwart the development of joint pain in rats with osteoarthritis. Another study, published in the European Journal of Pain in 2016, found that topical CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling and measures of pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis.

How To Use CBD For Pain

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, taking a full dosage of CBD in the morning and night will help alleviate some of your symptoms. For arthritis and other joint pain, you can use a topical CBD cream whenever pain arises, even if it’s throughout the whole day.

Not All CBD is Created Equally

Remember, not all CBD’s are created equally, nor do they work the same. Just as each person is unique, so is CBD and how it interacts with each individual. One person may require a higher dosage than another, so it’s important for consumers to know how much they need according to their symptoms. It is typically recommended to start with a log dosage and gradually increase until achieving the desired effectiveness.