This mint-green bath bomb, made by Los Angeles-based De La Beuh, combines the invigorating aromatherapy of peppermint oil with the pain relief benefits of CBD. I sat in the bath with this bath bomb soak for an hour—until the water ran cold—when I had both cramps and lower back aches, and while it doesn’t beat ingesting a painkiller, it did help soothe my pains so that I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. De La Beuh sells bath bombs in many varieties—including a glittery Kaleidoscope version that will turn your bath into “unicorn” colors—so your preference just depends on your preferred aroma.
Bacon had said that I might need to try two full droppers worth of the oil to really feel its benefits. I knew that I had an incredibly busy and stressful day ahead of me—I needed to fit in a five mile run before work, had lots to do at the office, was scheduled for a busy event in the middle of the day, and had a 2-hour meditation class later that night which would require a lot of mental clarity. Tentatively, I squirted two droppers of CBD oil into my bulletproof coffee and sipped away.
So when people began touting the benefits of CBD for pain, it was a big deal. A non-addictive substance that can ease pain without making you feel high or groggy? It’s easy to see why CBD has been making so many waves. In fact, cannabis plants have a long history as a pain reliever. Whether or not it’s true that Queen Victoria took CBD-rich cannabis to help with menstrual cramps, it is certainly true that her royal physician, Sir J. Russell Reynolds, listed cannabis as “one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” Victorian doctors aside, there are also ancient Assyrian and Ayurvedic manuscripts that recommend cannabis for pain.
All this talk about THC lands us nicely in the whole “Full Spectrum vs. Pure Isolate” debate. Once you begin shopping for CBD products, you’ll notice a lot of jargon that gets thrown around without much explanation. Now that we’ve introduced THC into the conversation, we can talk about the difference between, and relative benefits of, Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate (and the lesser-known contender: Broad Spectrum).
CBD may be best known for its relaxing, calming effects. CBD reduces autonomic arousal, having the inverse effect of THC on the body. CBD’s anti-anxiety effect is why many in the cannabis community talk about how CBD relieves paranoia, although that is not scientifically proven yet. CBD is also known for its anti-nausea and pain relieving effects. It really depends on why your body’s specific needs and the quantity in which you take CBD.
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It’s safe to say that Charlotte’s Web is probably the most recognized CBD brand out there — and it’s not all hype. This company pioneered the CBD industry and made it their mission to de-stigmatize CBD by setting the bar high for transparency. They produce and oversee their organic CBD products from seed to sale, standing behind them with a solid return policy.
A major theme when reviewing the research on the best CBD for pain is the need for more large-scale clinical trials on CBD in isolation from other cannabinoids like THC. That’s not to say that THC is bad. It’s developed a stigma because it makes you high, which makes people think of hippies and the sixties and maybe your perennially stoned neighbor who clearly doesn’t have his stuff together. But THC also comes with a pretty respectable list of benefits. These range from antiemetic (anti-nausea) and anti-inflammatory effects to appetite stimulation.
The studies on CBD for headache pain are still in their infancy, but with promising results so far. A 2017 study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research Journal worked with 26 people who were experiencing rebound headaches. The pain management results were better for the cannabis-nabilone formula over either ibuprofen or nabilone alone. (As a nerdy side note, the article is a great read if you’re interested in the history of cannabis as a pain reliever.)
Researchers at the Department of Pharmacognosy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, UK, basis the study conducted on mice found that CBD oil has analgesic properties and may relieve chronic pain of all kinds . It can disrupt the activity of pain receptors in the body and instead cause a release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine – “feel good” compounds that can ease discomfort and pain, even if the pharmaceutical painkillers have no effect.
A study published by David Cheng, Postdoctoral Scientist, Neuroscience Research, University of New South Wales, NSW, Australia, says that CBD has a potential as a preventive measure against symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This presents yet another exciting development for medical researchers, given the persistent challenges to finding effective solutions for this condition.
But scientists have found that CBD doesn’t bind well with endocannabinoid receptors. Instead, CBD influences the system indirectly. This creates many benefits, which is why you’ll hear of CBD as a treatment for so many different medical conditions. And, unlike THC, it won’t make you high. When it comes to pain, we know that CBD has multiple functions. First, it influences neurotransmitters and receptors. One receptor known to be involved with pain and inflammation is called TRPV1 — also known as a vanilloid receptor. CBD binds to the TRPV1 receptor, influencing the way you perceive pain. CBD can also affect the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and glutamate, which are related to pain sensation.
Transparency: Fab’s website features third-party lab results for most products. They only have a lab test for one of their tinctures though (which shows results for cannabinoid potency, as well as contaminants like pesticides). Customer service pointed out that the same CBD oil is used for all their products, but since potencies do vary, we appreciate companies that show potency testing for all products.
Oh, was I just talking about Girl Scout cookies? I prefer showers over baths—we all have an allegiance to one or the other—but we can’t ignore how many memes have come out of #bathbombs. It’s satisfying to watch them fizzle, they turn your bath into fun colors, and they claim to provide aromatherapy benefits, too. They’re also much tidier than traditional bath salt products; just chuck one in and wait!