Muscle soreness has been part of my daily life for years and, as a result, I'm constantly on a mission to find ways to ease the pain. Some of my muscle pain can be attributed to lupus, but with those symptoms mostly under control for the past year, I experience aches at the times you'd expect, like after a workout, a long flight, or hours spent at my desk. A number of friends have told me they swear by CBD for pain relief — so I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a try.
What Happened When I Took CBD For 2 Weeks
I purchased CBD pills and tinctures that are specifically aimed at treating body pain and began taking CBD each day to see if I noticed a difference. Because I'm a night owl who typically works out in the evenings, I decided to stick to a consistent schedule — I planned to exercise at around the same time each day and take my CBD dose after I'd showered and settled in to read or watch TV.
I'm accustomed to waking up sore and, although this certainly didn't go away entirely, I did notice that my body ached less when I woke up the morning after a vigorous workout. That result was enough for me — as long as it doesn't interfere with my ability to go about my day, a tolerable level of soreness is to be expected after a workout.
About a week after I started taking CBD, my routine changed as I traveled from Seattle to New York City to surprise my best friend, whose boyfriend wanted her closest friends there to celebrate when he popped the question. I'm a travel writer who spends a great deal of time on planes, so I knew to expect muscle and body pain after my flight. At that point, I diverged from my routine and took one dose of CBD before boarding my redeye flight and another when I arrived in New York. When I flew home two days later, I did the same thing. Perhaps uncomfortable plane seats are to blame, but in this case, I really didn't think that CBD helped ease my muscle pain. It was fairly comparable to the pain I experienced a month prior when I flew home to Connecticut to visit my parents.
Less than 36 hours after returning from my friend's engagement party, it was time for a two-hour flight to California for work. During my four days in California, I didn't stick to my typical workout routine, but I was active — I took a six-hour bike tour of Sonoma and squeezed in a few brief workouts at my hotel's gym. The last time I rode a bike, my muscles were pretty sore afterwards. This time, I was significantly less sore and I suspected the CBD had something to do with it.
Is There Evidence That CBD Works For Muscle Pain?
After two weeks of using CBD to treat my sore muscles, I reached my own verdict: it's not a miracle worker, but it did ease some of the pain. Still, I sought the insight of a doctor to find out why CBD may have helped my sore muscles and if there's anything I should be aware of before I make it a permanent part of my routine. It turns out that most evidence is anecdotal — and although the doctor didn't advise against taking CBD, she did tell me to be mindful of exactly what I'm ingesting.
Claudia William, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician who specializes in cannabis, explained that studies are limited. "In my practice, I've heard anecdotal evidence from patients that CBD topical creams help for musculoskeletal pain, such as muscle strains, muscle tightness, or soreness," Dr. William told POPSUGAR. "In some instances where it doesn't completely relieve pain, it has helped decrease the amount of NSAIDs or oral pills people have had to take."
However, Dr. William noted that consumers should be cautious when purchasing CBD. She recommends carefully reading the ingredient list and only choosing products where third-party testing information is available. One concern, for example: residual pesticides limits are set by the state, rather than at the federal level. So, while there's a seemingly endless supply of CBD products on the market, they're not all created equal.
And, although Dr. William said benefits have certainly been observed, she added that there's a gray area when it comes to available data — and patients and consumers who use CBD products should be conscious of this. "We may not be aware of possible long-term adverse effects due to limited research on the substance," she explained. So, when people like me use CBD products, there's a level of self-experimentation involved. Until policy changes in the United States, "research on [cannabis] will be limited or stalled," Dr. William said.
I'll probably continue to use CBD, but Dr. William's insight definitely made me realize that I need to closely examine the ingredient list and third-party testing information of any product I use in the future. And, because so many people are using CBD to help with everything from body aches to anxiety, I hope the path for more research is cleared sooner rather than later.