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CBD or THC for Pain? Understanding Their Potential Pain-Relieving Effects

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Deciding between CBD and THC for pain management? There's a case for both cannabinoids here, as THC appears to influence how the brain interprets pain, while CBD may help to support inflammation and discomfort at the source.

In this article, we'll dive into the current scientific research that might shed some light on which cannabis compound might be more suitable for your needs.

THC for Pain: What The Science Says

THC molecular structure

Among the numerous compounds in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) stands out prominently, especially for its psychoactive effects. But beyond the “high” it induces, what role does THC play in pain management?

1. THC Has Psychotropic Effects That May Influence Pain Perception

A European Journal of Pain study highlighted how THC may modulate pain perception. It reveals that THC can modulate our perception of pain, and it achieves this by directly influencing key areas of our brain, like the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex [1].

Now, let's put this into a relatable scenario. Imagine enduring a tough day, whether it's physical strain from exercise or mental stress from work. Your brain is like an alarm system, constantly sending signals that say, "Hey, something's not right here!"

This can result in feelings of discomfort, pain, or anxiety. But introducing cannabis products with psychoactive doses of THC to this system can be like turning down the volume on that alarm. It helps your brain interpret those signals differently, possibly making them less distressing.

This is why, after consuming cannabis with THC, such as pure THC oil, or CBD gummies for pain, many individuals describe feeling not just a reduction in pain but also an uplifted mood or a sense of relaxation. It's not just about chasing a “high” — it's about seeking equilibrium, comfort, and a momentary escape from the chronic pain and stresses that life throws our way.

2. THC Binds to CB1 and CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors That May Influence Inflammation

Located predominantly in the brain, the CB1 receptor has a high affinity for THC.

When THC binds to CB1, it can produce psychoactive effects and influence other neural processes.

According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, activating CB1 receptors can inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory neurotransmitters, potentially resulting in reduced inflammation [2].

While CB2 receptors are found in smaller amounts in the brain, they are abundantly located in immune system cells. A study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry showed that when THC binds to CB2 receptors, it can modulate immune response, leading to decreased inflammation. This mechanism might be particularly relevant for inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and inflammatory bowel disease [3].

Even though many of these studies are based on animal models, these findings offer a window into understanding the potential medical benefits of THC and how it may operate in the human body. For individuals navigating the challenges of inflammation-related conditions, these findings can pave the way for informed conversations with healthcare professionals about potential therapeutic avenues.

3. THC and Vanilloid Receptors May Offer Another Pathway to Pain Relief

To understand the ways THC might offer pain relief, we must venture beyond the well-known cannabinoid receptors.

An intriguing yet less publicized interaction is the relationship between THC and vanilloid receptors. These receptors, specifically TRPV1 receptors (Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid Type 1), are a class of ion channels pivotal in sensing pain, temperature, and physical abrasion.

A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that THC could activate TRPV1 receptors. Prolonged activation, interestingly, can lead to receptor desensitization, potentially reducing pain signals sent to the brain [4].

Individuals suffering from inflammatory pain, whether due to an active lifestyle, certain health conditions, or just the wear and tear of daily routines, might find solace in products that harness the combined power of THC and its influence on vanilloid receptors.

This means for a jogger with inflamed knees or a chef with burn sensations from frequent exposure to heat, understanding and leveraging this relationship can make the difference between a day overshadowed by pain and one filled with relief and continued passion.

As always, the journey to pain management is personal, but the science behind THC and vanilloid receptors provides another toolkit for those seeking comfort in their daily lives.

4. THC for Cancer Pain: A Supportive Role in Integrative Health

One of the significant challenges many cancer patients face, particularly those undergoing chemotherapy, is debilitating pain and loss of appetite. This is where the properties of THC may offer support.

Numerous studies have delved into THC's potential role in managing cancer-related pain. A notable clinical trial published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management demonstrated that patients who consumed THC experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those on a placebo [5].

In terms of adding support to cancer treatments, chemotherapy often brings with it the unwelcome side effect of appetite loss. As illustrated in a study from the Annals of Oncology, THC can act as an appetite stimulant, helping patients maintain their nutritional intake and body weight during treatment [6].

Recognizing these potential benefits, several medical marijuana programs have emerged globally, endorsing the use of THC as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments. These programs offer prescribed doses of THC to aid in mitigating cancer pain and improving appetite. It's not just about symptom management but also enhancing patients' overall quality of life during an incredibly challenging time.

The Bottom Line: Tetrahydrocannabinol and Pain

Delta-9 THC gummies falling out from a jar and into the hand of a person standing in front of a vanity mirror

When it comes to using THC products including THC gummies for pain, the science is there, with studies for chronic pain patients that has seen the THC gummies perception offer relief.

For those cautious about dosing with THC products, THC Capsules provide a viable solution. They offer a controlled and convenient way to utilize THC's analgesic properties, ensuring consistent therapeutic effects for pain relief.

However, everyone's pain journey is unique, and while THC might be the answer for some, it may not be suitable for everyone. The mind-altering effects of THC can be a deterrent. On top of this, legal challenges in many regions mean accessing THC from marijuana cannabis plants isn't always straightforward.

If you find yourself in a jurisdiction where marijuana products face legal restrictions, there's a silver lining.

Hemp-derived THC products, compliant with the Farm Bill and containing less than 0.3% THC by weight, might be your answer. These offer a semblance of the effects characteristic of recreational cannabis THC products but without breaking any federal laws. That said, states may have their own regulations on THC, so it's important to check with your state's laws before purchasing and using THC products.

Ultimately, whether you lean toward THC for its potential synergistic effects on pain and mood or its ancillary benefits like appetite stimulation, the journey to relief is deeply personal and best navigated with informed choices. If you're considering THC as a potential treatment for pain management, ensuring that you source your products from reliable providers is crucial. Buying from a trusted provider of THC tinctures can ensure quality and legality, providing you with confidence in the products you choose to help manage your pain.

CBD for Pain: What the Science Says

CBD Molecular structure

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, has rapidly gained attention in natural remedies, especially concerning the effects of Gummies for inflammation management. Unlike THC, CBD doesn't produce psychoactive effects, making it preferable for many seeking relief without the "high."

1. CBD and The Endocannabinoid System Modulation

CBD is believed to influence the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex system involved in various physiological processes, including pain modulation. Research in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain in mice and rats by targeting specific endocannabinoid receptors [7].

For the average individual, the science behind CBD and the ECS translates into potential everyday benefits.

Whether it's the occasional athlete recovering from a strenuous workout, the office worker grappling with the stresses of prolonged sitting, or just about anyone navigating the aches and discomforts of daily life, CBD's influence on the ECS could offer relief. Adding the best CBD products for pain management into your regimen might pave the way for a more balanced, less painful daily existence by regulating and enhancing the body's natural systems.

2. CBD and Its Potential for Targeting Inflammation at the Source

Chronic inflammation is at the root of many pain-related conditions, and targeting this process can pave the way for effective pain management.

CBD's potential role in combating inflammation is multifaceted. One of the ways it works is by directly interfacing with the key players in the inflammatory process. A pivotal study published in the European Journal of Pain underscored this mechanism. In this research, the topical application of CBD on an animal model of arthritis resulted in a marked decrease in both inflammation and pain-related behaviors [8]. These findings suggest that any CBD cream, or lets say CBD salve for pain has the potential to address inflammation at its source, thereby providing overall relief.

3. CBD and Vanilloid Receptors

Just like THC, research has found CBD to activate TRPV1 receptors directly [9].

This activation may help desensitize these receptors over time, a mechanism that can reduce pain and other sensations associated with these receptors. By modulating how these receptors respond to stimuli, CBD could control pain perceptions, especially those that are more neuropathic or inflammatory. This means that you could choose CBD gummies for joint & knee pain

Whether it's the chronic discomfort from conditions like fibromyalgia in which you can use the best edibles for fibromyalgia,  or the sharp stabs of neuropathic pain, understanding that CBD operates on multiple levels, including the modulation of vanilloid receptors, can offer individuals more comprehensive avenues for relief. 

For those dealing with the all-encompassing pain of fibromyalgia, incorporating edibles for fibromyalgia into their regimen could provide sustained relief by leveraging CBD’s mechanism of action on these pain pathways. Edibles offer a convenient and discreet way to manage symptoms, allowing for consistent dosing and longer-lasting effects throughout the day

4. CBD with THC for Cancer Pain

Multiple studies have sought to understand CBD's direct impact on cancer-related pain. A notable study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that an oral spray combining THC and CBD effectively reduced cancer pain in patients who didn't respond adequately to traditional painkillers [10]. It's worth mentioning that a full spectrum CBD spray contains THC, and there is some research suggesting potential effectiveness in alleviating cancer pain. While this study used a combination of THC and CBD, it underscores the potential role of cannabinoids in managing cancer pain.

While promising, it's important to note that research into CBD for cancer pain is ongoing, and the compound is not a replacement for traditional cancer therapies. Instead, it might serve as an adjunctive treatment, providing supplementary relief. Anyone considering using CBD for cancer-related pain should discuss this with their oncologist or healthcare provider to ensure it's a suitable and safe option.

The Bottom Line: Cannabidiol and Pain Relief

CBD red gummies laying on top of a wood piece with bottle on the side

Grounded in a mix of preclinical and clinical studies, CBD has shown potential in addressing both inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two types of discomfort that have historically been challenging to treat.

With the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD products are much easier to get ahold of, allowing more people opportunities to take their wellness into their own hands.

Among various CBD products, CBD oils for pain has gained attention for its convenience and effectiveness in managing discomfort.

Its interactions with the body's endocannabinoid system and other receptors like TRPV1 underscore its complex and multi-targeted approach to pain relief. Its potential anti-inflammatory attributes also paint a picture of a compound that might offer holistic benefits.

However, it's crucial to recognize that while CBD holds promise, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone's experience with pain is deeply personal, and what works for one individual might not work for another.

The Takeaway: CBD or THC for Pain?

Both CBD and THC have emerged as notable natural compounds in the discussion on alternative pain relief methods, each backed by scientific studies illustrating their potential benefits. However, the ultimate choice between CBD and THC isn't straightforward. Personal needs, desired outcomes, and individual reactions to cannabinoids influence it.

CBD might appeal to those looking for potential pain relief without the psychoactive effects, targeting inflammation and neural pathways in diverse ways. On the other hand, THC, with its mind-altering properties, might offer a unique experience, altering pain perception while providing potential direct relief.

But one thing remains clear: there's no universal answer. Every individual's journey with pain is as unique as they are, and the response to these cannabinoids can vary based on genetics, physiology, other pain medications they're taking, and even personal expectations.

Whether you lean towards CBD, THC, or a blend of both, it's essential to prioritize personal comfort, desired effects, and, importantly, legal and medical guidance.


  1. Fitzcharles, M. A., & Eisenberg, E. (2018). Medical cannabis: a forward vision for the clinician. European Journal of Pain, 22(3), 485-491.
  2. Bartholdi, D., & Schwab, M. E. (1997). Expression of pro‐inflammatory cytokine and chemokine mRNA upon experimental spinal cord injury in mouse: An in situ hybridization study. European Journal of Neuroscience, 9(7), 1422-1438.
  3. Kozela, E., Pietr, M., Juknat, A., Rimmerman, N., Levy, R., & Vogel, Z. (2010). Cannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol differentially inhibit the lipopolysaccharide-activated NF-κB and interferon-β/STAT proinflammatory pathways in BV-2 microglial cells. Journal of biological chemistry, 285(3), 1616-1626.
  4. Costa, B., Giagnoni, G., Franke, C., Trovato, A. E., & Colleoni, M. (2004). Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. British journal of pharmacology, 143(2), 247-250.
  5. Johnson, J. R., Burnell-Nugent, M., Lossignol, D., Ganae-Motan, E. D., Potts, R., & Fallon, M. T. (2010). Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. Journal of pain and symptom management, 39(2), 167-179.
  6. Brisbois, T. D., De Kock, I. H., Watanabe, S. M., Mirhosseini, M., Lamoureux, D. C., Chasen, M., ... & Wismer, W. V. (2011). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol may palliate altered chemosensory perception in cancer patients: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Annals of Oncology, 22(9), 2086-2093.
  7. Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., ... & Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121.
  8. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain‐related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain, 20(6), 936-948.
  9. Sagredo, O., Ramos, J. A., Decio, A., Mechoulam, R., & Fernández‐Ruiz, J. (2007). Cannabidiol reduced the striatal atrophy caused 3‐nitropropionic acid in vivo by mechanisms independent of the activation of cannabinoid, vanilloid TRPV1 and adenosine A2A receptors. European Journal of Neuroscience, 26(4), 843-851.
  10. Johnson, J. R., Burnell-Nugent, M., Lossignol, D., Ganae-Motan, E. D., Potts, R., & Fallon, M. T. (2010). Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. Journal of pain and symptom management, 39(2), 167-179.
Dr. James Hook

Chiropractic Degree, Life Chiropractic College West Dr. James graduated Magna Cum Laude with a doctorate of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College West. James grew up in Bozeman, Montana, where he started playing sports at a young age, which sparked his interest in human anatomy and ...

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