Sometimes popping an Advil extra strength when you’re experiencing pain simply doesn’t cut it, and the unwanted side-effects of using NSAIDs can make you feel even worse over time. Luckily, there are alternatives out there that can help relieve your chronic pain. One alternative, in particular, has worked especially well – cannabidiol (CBD) products.
The Two Most Important Things You Need to Know About CBD
Medications associated with the word “cannabis” can sometimes be intimidating, but CBD products aren’t what you might think.
#1. Everyone’s First Question: “Does CBD Cause a High?”
CBD is one of the two most abundant compounds found in cannabis, the other being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (1). THC is psychoactive and produces the “high” feeling that affects the brain when cannabis is used (2). CBD, on the other hand, is a hemp-based compound that does not cause a high (2,3).
CBD products come in many forms including oil tinctures, liquids, gummies, and capsules, and even intimate massage oils for women! (3)
All of these CBD products are offered in a THC free form, which means they won’t have any psychoactive effect when used (3). And since they don’t contain THC, they’re also available everywhere, not just in places where recreational cannabis use is legal.
#2. What’s CBD Good For?
One effect CBD does usually have on users is reducing the amount of pain a person feels (1). CBD stops the body from breaking down anandamide, a compound associated with regulating pain, and limits inflammation in the brain and nervous system (1). These effects make CBD a realistic all-natural pain relief option for these 7 conditions:
6 Painful Conditions CBD Can Help Manage
Endometriosis is a painful, chronic inflammatory condition that affects about 11% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 (5,6). It occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus, the endometrium, grows outside your uterus (7). The out of place endometrial tissue has no way to exit your body and gets trapped, which can result in irritation and scar tissue formation in the affected pelvic organs (7).
- The most common symptom of endometriosis is severe pelvic pain around the time of your menstrual period. Other signs of endometriosis include:
- pain during intercourse
- pain when urinating or having a bowel movement
- excessive bleeding (7)
HOW TO USE CBD FOR ENDOMETRIOSIS PAIN:
Applying CBD topically and vaginally helps relieve the painful symptoms of endometriosis with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties (6).
The Hearty Soul team (that is, the women on the team!) are big fans of Awaken by Foria. It’s a no-THC intimate massage oil that can help ease the discomfort of endometriosis and heighten pleasure during intercourse. Formulated with hemp oil, kava kava, and organic aromatic oils (it smells like chocolate mint!), this multi-aphrodisiac formula is specifically designed for women.
Endometriosis health coach, Gretchen Decker, explains in this 1-minute video how using this CBD oil works for women with endo:
2. Arthritis and Joint Pain
Approximately 40 million people in the U.S. are affected by arthritis, a painful condition that involves the inflammation of one or more joints (16). Common symptoms of this condition include:
- joint stiffness
- redness (16)
HOW TO USE CBD FOR ARTHRITIS
So far, most research has only been done with animals, but studies have suggested that both oral, topical, and injections of CBD could help to relieve pain in both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (17, 18, 19, 20, 21), which leads to a reduction of inflammation (22).
Anecdotally, many people report pain relief for arthritis pain from massaging CBD oil around the affected area. In fact, many massage therapists in Colorado now offer popular CBD massages! (23)
3. Menstrual Cramps
It is estimated that 1 in 5 women suffer from menstrual cramping so severe that it interferes with daily activities (9). The most obvious symptom of menstrual cramps is the throbbing pain in your lower abdomen (8). Other common symptoms include a dull, continuous ache and/or pain that radiates to your thighs and lower back (8).
HOW TO USE CBD FOR MENSTRUAL PAIN
The pain relieving properties of CBD can help to relieve menstrual cramps by interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system, specifically CB1 and CB2 receptors in your uterus (10). Additionally, CBD has an anti-spasmodic effect which can help reduce uterine cramping.
Rather than taking CBD orally, a topical or vaginal application can provide more direct relief.
You may have already heard about the vaginal cannabis suppositories (aka the “cannabis tampons” everyone was raving about) made specifically for menstrual pain relief. Karin Linner, operations manager of their maker, Foria, explains:
“You’re basically putting the medicine right where the pain is instead of taking aspirin or Ibuprofen. … You’re actually putting the medicine and cramp-relieving, pain-relieving properties right where the cramps are happening.” (24).
The problem was that because of its THC content, not all women had access to the cannabis tampons. So Foria has since created Awaken, which contains zero THC and is available for women everywhere!
Awaken is an organic intimate massage oil made with kava kava, which among other benefits, can decrease muscular tension, improve circulation, and decrease pain signaling.
By using it as a “pre-lube”, you can reduce pain, relax, and take advantage of the natural cramp-relieving benefits of a great orgasm (yes, O’s are good for cramps- it’s science).
Watch Marysia Miernowska, master herbalist, explain how each ingredient was carefully chosen for the best experience:
Migraines are a severe throbbing pain that is usually present on one side of the head (24). Migraines are pretty common and over 38 million people in the U.S. suffer from them (25). Two to three million Americans experience debilitating chronic migraines (25).
Other symptoms that can accompany stress migraines are vomiting, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to sounds and light (24). Warning symptoms of an oncoming migraine may include constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, food cravings, frequent yawning, and increased thirst and urination (24).
HOW TO USE CBD FOR MIGRAINES
It has been speculated that CBD products can be used to prevent migraines since they boost serotonin levels in some people (26). The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD also provide pain relief to migraine sufferers (26).
Experts generally recommend vaping or oral consumption of CBD for the most effective results:
“CBD oil is taken via vaping or ingestion. Oral CBD is less likely to cause side effects, so beginners may want to start here. You can put a few drops of the oil under your tongue, take CBD capsules, or even eat a CBD-infused treat.
Vaping CBD oil may be beneficial if you’re experiencing a severe migraine at home and you don’t have to travel anywhere. The NCI explains that the inhalation process delivers the compounds to your bloodstream much quicker than other methods.
Currently, there aren’t any formal guidelines for proper dosing for a migraine. CBD Oil Review recommends using between 2.5 and 20 milligrams (mg) per day for chronic pain. If you’re new to CBD oil, you should start with the smallest dosage possible. You can gradually work your way up to the full recommended dose. This will allow your body to get used to the oil and reduce your risk of side effects.” ~Kristeen Cherney & Dr. Debra Rose Wilson
5. Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is a shooting or burning pain that is often chronic (27). It is usually caused by nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system (27). Conditions associated with neuropathic pain include multiple sclerosis, sciatica, and diabetes (27). It is estimated that about 1 in 5 Americans experience neuropathic pain (28).
Symptoms of neuropathic pain vary, but some common signs include shooting, burning, or stabbing pain, tingling and numbness, spontaneous pain, difficulty sleeping, and/or emotional problems (28).
HOW TO USE CBD FOR NEUROPATHIC PAIN
CBD can alleviate neuropathic pain by activating glycine receptors and calming neuropathic inflammation when administered through an injection(29).
6. Painful Sex
It’s an unfortunate truth that so many women (75 %, according to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians) experience painful sex at some point in their life and simply don’t talk about it, let alone seek help.
There are many causes of painful sex, but one noteworthy medical condition is vaginismus. It’s a condition in which the vagina’s muscles spasm or squeeze when a foreign object enters (11). This can cause extreme discomfort and the first symptom of vaginismus is often painful, or even impossible, intercourse (11). This condition affects roughly 313,000 women in the U.S. (12).
A second common cause of painful sex in women is vaginal atrophy: the thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls caused by your body not having enough estrogen (13). About 50-60% of postmenopausal women suffer from this condition (14)! Common symptoms of this condition include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal burning
- Vaginal discharge
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Bleeding and discomfort during intercourse
- Tightening of the vaginal canal (13).
HOW TO USE CBD FOR PAINFUL SEX
CBD products, like Foria’s Awaken, can help with the painful intercourse associated with these conditions and others by relaxing muscle tension, decreasing inflammation, and acting as an analgesic (15).
All you need to do is apply Foria Awaken lube to your clitoris, inner and outer labia, and the inside of your vagina and you’re good to go! We love hearing from women who’ve finally been able to reclaim their sex lives:
“I’ve not been able to have pain free sex with my husband for several years. Until today! We got our Awaken in and it happened to be when we were taking an anniversary vacay. We’ve been married for 24 years and he has been very patient with me and my Endometriosis journey. But today! Today! With Awaken we have had sex multiple times! We’ve both had multiple orgasms and I’ve had ZERO PAIN! It’s amazing!” ~ Dana
“After experiencing problems due to taking an antidepressant, I was looking for an aid to fix my lack of sensation and dryness. Awaken is just the ticket for me. It normalized and enhanced blood flow to where it’s needed and quickly helps arousal as well as provides non irritating natural oils and much needed moisture. And then the unexpected bonus…multiple o’s…a pleasure I thought was gone after menopause. ” ~Kristi