Guest post by Eric Van Buskirk; Image by Unsplash

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, which is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an array of endogenous receptors and chemicals that play a major role in many of the body’s functions such as pain perception and management, inflammatory response, appetite, and even mood. CBD is currently being studied for a number of potential therapeutic applications in natural medicine, including for its analgesic, spasmolytic and anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD is available in a variety of forms, including oils, tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topicals. It can be taken orally, inhaled using a vaporizer or applied directly onto the skin for localized relief. Product manufacturers like Crescent Canna procure CBD isolate at wholesale and add it to already proven formulations within the beauty, skincare and sports medicine industries.

So what exactly can CBD do for muscle aches and joint pain? In this post, we go over the most common root causes of these conditions, as well as how CBD — particularly CBD topicals like salves, balms and roll-ons — can help to control and reduce the severity of their symptoms.

What Causes Joint Pain?

Joint pain is most often caused by inflammation in the joints, categorized as different forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, for instance, is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. This can happen due to normal wear and tear, along with suboptimal production of chondroitin, glucosamine and/or methylsulfonylmethane — all three of which are the main building blocks of cartilage. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but is most common in the knees, hips, and hands.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another type of arthritis that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints. This can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in the wrists, elbows and knees. Other types of arthritis include gout, psoriatic arthritis, and septic arthritis.

Inflammation can also occur as the body’s natural response to injury or infection, causing swelling, redness, heat, and pain. Joints are particularly susceptible to inflammation, injury and infection because they’re constantly moving and bearing weight. When joints become damaged, they can become stiff, painful, and difficult to move.

What About Muscle Aches?

Overuse is arguably the most common cause of muscle aches and muscle injury. Overuse typically occurs with repetitive motions over long periods of time, such as when gardening or typing. It can also happen with poor use of a single muscle group throughout a single prolonged activity, like lifting heavy boxes or hauling furniture with poor posture.

Overuse can cause microscopic tears in muscle fibers. This can lead to inflammation, pain and the muscle groups in question becoming primed for serious injury. Muscle aches from overuse often happen gradually and get worse with time.

Poor circulation is another major cause of muscle pain. When blood flow is restricted or slowed, it can cause muscles to ache and cramp. This can happen for a number of reasons, including inflammation, dehydration, sitting or standing in one position for too long, or even wearing tight clothing that restricts blood flow. Poor circulation can also be a symptom of more serious underlying health conditions, such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease.

How Can CBD Help?

In order to appreciate CBD’s role in ameliorating muscle aches and joint pain, it’s important to understand how it works in the body. CBD primarily interacts with the two classes of receptors within the ECS; namely the cannabinoid receptor-type 1 (CB1) group which located in the nervous system, and the cannabinoid receptor-type 2 (CB2) group, which is found in peripheral organs and the immune system.

CBD controls inflammation by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is responsible for the production of a number of inflammatory mediators. In addition, CBD has been shown to modulate the production of a number of other chemical mediators linked to inflammation, including interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Finally, CBD can also alter the body’s sensitivity and response to inflammatory cytokines, as well as downregulate cytokine activity at sites of infection, irritation or injury.

The regulatory influence of CBD on the body’s inflammatory response makes it a viable natural alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. NSAIDs) as well as conventional painkillers like acetaminophen and opioids, both of which are notorious for their side effect profiles and abuse potential. CBD can also be used to supplement conventional courses of physical therapy (e.g. orthopedic PT, neurological PT) in order to improve one’s overall quality of life throughout their rest and recovery process.