CBD-oil for pain management: myths and evidence

Published online: Apr 21 2022


M. Träger, B. Morlion

Department of Anesthesiology and Centre for Algology & Pain Management, UZ Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Background: Recently, there has been a growing interest in the analgesic properties of a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). Although society’s expectations are high, the supporting evidence remains questionable. This study aims to explore society-shared beliefs about cannabidiol and compare them to the current scientific literature.

Methods: First, we searched on the internet to collect information about the public claims regarding CBD’s analgesic potentials. Second, we conducted a narrative review to gather the current evidence on the same topic.

Results: Worldwide, there are organisations, physicians and patients who propagate CBD as a safe and effective analgesic remedy.
So far, most of the high-quality papers regarding CBD’s analgesic effect, are rodent studies. Although CBD is a phytocannabinoid, its analgesic effect may not be mediated through the classic cannabinoid receptors, but rather through other chemical structures, such as 5-HT1a, TRPV1 and Glycine alfa receptors. In contrast to the animal studies, human studies are few with controversial results. Moreover, there are some safety issues to concern as well.

Discussion: Given the low-quality of evidence from human studies, the lack of standardisation of the currently used CBD products, and the possible adverse effects, we cannot support the common use of CBD in pain management.

Conclusion: We conclude that most of the common beliefs about CBD are actually „myths” and not based on robust evidence.