Is CBD an Anti-Inflammatory? 

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Posted on July 13th, 2020

Inflammation is a major source of pain and has been linked to many chronic illnesses. It’s also one of the top reasons people turn to CBD oil: hoping to find relief. But what exactly is inflammation? What are its causes? And more importantly, is CBD an anti-inflammatory?

What Is Inflammation?

To boil things down to the basics, an inflammatory response, or inflammation, is your body’s natural protective response to harmful or foreign substances. Common symptoms of inflammation include heat, swelling, pain, and redness. While inflammation symptoms are uncomfortable, they’re also a sign that the system is doing its job to protect you, recruiting the immune system to guard your cells from harmful invaders and to initiate tissue repair.

Typically, signs of inflammation resolve after a few days or weeks. This is because your inflammatory response process is programmed to stop and to switch the immune system’s battle from its attack phase to a healing phase, allowing your cells and tissue to return to normal after the danger has passed.

But What Happens When Inflammation Won’t Stop?

Sometimes, inflammatory symptoms just won’t clear up. And when your inflammation won’t resolve, you may experience debilitating consequences such as inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis. For your body’s inflammatory response process to work correctly, it relies heavily on chemical messengers to send immune cells to areas of damage in your body. When these chemical messengers are disrupted, and inflammation is unleashed inappropriately to locations such as joints, or inflammation continues even in the absence of any threat, the immune cells keep releasing chemicals and end up attacking the patient’s cells. And damage may be lasting and permanent. 

Types of Inflammation

There are two kinds of inflammation:

Acute Inflammation

This is the type of inflammation that occurs when you sprain your ankle or suffer an injury. While acute inflammation is uncomfortable, it is short-lived and a sign of your immune system fighting against harmful or foreign stimuli. Acute inflammation causes redness, swelling, heat, and pain, but these all go away once your injury heals. Common causes of acute inflammation include:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Allergic reactions
  • Early stages of depression
  • Traumatic injuries

Chronic Inflammation

This refers to a prolonged inflammatory response in your body. When symptoms of inflammation linger for more than six months, it means that your immune system keeps fighting a perceived threat, even when inflammation is not necessary to heal you. Chronic inflammation leaves your inflammatory response switched on, which can detrimentally impact your cells, tissues, and organs. Chronic inflammation is linked to several medical conditions, including:

  • Hepatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Depression
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis

Chronic inflammation is also linked to conditions such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and smoking, but more research is necessary to understand the relationship between these elements. 

How to Address Inflammation

There are many unique approaches to combating inflammation, including dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), TNF inhibitors, and steroid medications.

While you can take these medications to suppress instances of inflammation, they may come with side effects and risks, which is why some people turn to alternative options to naturally alleviate inflammation.

CBD oil tincture on natural backgroundIs CBD an Anti-Inflammatory?

Current evidence suggests the answer could be yes, but as with many other subjects regarding cannabis, more research is needed.

CBD – a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, has many suggested benefits; but one of CBD’s best-researched effects is its potential anti-inflammatory properties. CBD shows great promise as a natural anti-inflammatory, without the risks and side effects associated with other anti-inflammatory medications.

What Studies Say

The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are backed by years of research. Even as you’re reading this, researchers and scientists are still uncovering new information about CBD and inflammation. Several animal studies highlight cannabidiol’s anti-inflammatory properties:

Using an animal model, a research study from the European Journal of Pain revealed that applying cannabidiol on the skin may help relieve arthritic aches and inflammation. Another study showed the mechanism by which cannabidiol inhibits both neuropathic and inflammatory pain.

A 2017 study published in the journal Pain explored CBD’s effects in animal models (male rats) with osteoarthritis. After two weeks of observation, researchers noted that the joints’ acute inflammation reduced after a localized CBD application.  

A 2016 study in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation examined CBD as a treatment for pancreatic inflammation in diabetic mice. The study revealed that the mice subjects that received CBD treatment developed diabetes much later than the mice that didn’t receive CBD

A 2013 study found that CBD was a potential candidate for treating inflammatory bowel disease

Numerous studies using animal models have shown that CBD may modulate your immune system to help reduce inflammation. While these studies are promising, rigorous clinical human trials are needed to make CBD an approved medication for inflammation and to determine the best CBD application for specific types of inflammation. 

How CBD May Help Reduce Inflammation

The inflammatory response process is complicated and involves many signaling pathways. The body uses inflammatory messengers to initiate and terminate its inflammatory response.

One way CBD may reduce inflammation is by inhibiting Prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2, an enzyme that plays a crucial role in your body’s ability to create inflammation. NSAID medications such as Aspirin also target this enzyme in their method of action.

CBD also appears to impact inflammation through its action on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved in inflammatory processes and is vital for maintaining your immune and nervous system’s optimal function. When CBD interacts with the ECS, CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated, and in turn, the body’s immune response is moderated.

Another way CBD may reduce inflammation is by breaking down anandamide, a potent regulator of inflammation in your body.

CBD also appears to reduce the effects of cytokines, a class of molecules that are vital to the inflammation process, hence reducing unwanted inflammation.

CBD also has a high concentration of omega fatty acids. These fatty acids are known to lubricate your joints and also help reduce inflammation.

Which Is the Best Form of CBD for Inflammation?

CBD is available in several forms – but not all are suitable for every condition. So, which is the best form of CBD for inflammation? The following are the five common forms of CBD and their pros and cons for alleviating inflammation.

CBD Oil/Tinctures

CBD oils or tinctures are one of the most popular CBD delivery methods. This form of CBD allows effective dosing and can be applied directly beneath your tongue. CBD tinctures may be useful for conditions such as IBS, where internal inflammation is responsible for your symptoms.

CBD Edibles

Edibles, including CBD gummies, provide you with a discrete way to get CBD into your system. While edibles offer great convenience in terms of discretion and taste, it can be challenging to measure their dose strength. Besides, many edibles, especially sweetened treats, may increase your risk for long-term side effects due to food additives and high sugar content. Therefore, CBD gummies may not be the best form of CBD for those looking to reduce chronic inflammation. 


Vaping CBD is perhaps the most efficient way to take CBD because bioavailability through the lungs is usually much higher than methods that pass through your digestive tract. Vaping also allows you to try different flavors. However, vaping may worsen conditions such as asthma, or lead to permanent lung injury, so caution is advised.

CBD Pills & Capsules

Capsules and pills represent an easy way to take CBD Pills and capsules remove the guesswork in dosing and make it easy for you to take CBD on the go.

Woman in blue dress using Tanasi CBD lotion on handTopicals

If you have plaque psoriasis, eczema, acne, tendonitis, or inflammation involving your skin, topical CBD products are your best choice. Applying CBD cream, lotion, or salve allows the active ingredients to work directly on inflamed local tissues. Topicals are excellent for relieving local aches and inflammation without waiting for CBD to go through your digestive or circulatory system. This means you’ll experience much faster effects. 

Final Thoughts

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties have been studied over the last two decades, and there’s no denying it may play a role in alleviating pain and inflammation. The key to getting the most out of CBD for inflammation is to make sure you’re using high-quality products. While virtually any form of CBD can help you enjoy anti-inflammatory benefits, we suggest you find a full-spectrum oil due to its high-potency, ease of use, and increased bioavailability.

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