how to use cbd oil for pain uk

Can I treat chronic pain with CBD?

An estimated 28 million people in the UK live with pain. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, this number is likely to rise, with chest pain and joint pain being common symptoms of long COVID. Doctors, patients and campaigners explain how CBD controls their pain, and how further research might widen access.

Authored by Ellie Broughton ·
Reviewed by Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE
03-Sep-21 · 8 mins read

Noel*, 46, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) just over six years ago. Before his diagnosis he’d noticed a number of symptoms, including back problems and muscle problems, and had been prescribed codeine to cope. He works long hours at a desk job and at the time, noticed that it was getting more and more painful to sit down all day.

After his diagnosis he says his pain was managed well by his consultant and the local nursing team, but he was somewhat anxious about using opioids because of concerns about dependence.

Noel also bought a CBD product over the internet and found that while it improved his sleep, including on nights when his back pain was worse, it didn’t have a significant effect on his pain.

Having smoked cannabis as a teenager, and knowing another friend with a different chronic health condition who smokes cannabis to manage pain symptoms, Noel started smoking cannabis again. He works full-time and smokes in the evenings: he says cannabis improves his sleep, reduces pain and relaxes his muscles.

Noel is not alone. According to a survey from 2014, one in five people with MS report using cannabis to help with symptoms. MS Society, who conducted the survey, says that people with MS often report using cannabis to treat pain.

Cannabis constituents

CBD is one of many constituents of cannabis. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive part of cannabis. It is products containing cannabidiol (CBD), which does not cause a ‘high’, which have seen an explosion in use in recent years.

Possession of cannabis is still illegal in the UK so many turn to CBD products, some of which are available legally in the UK over the counter (without a prescription). CBD products get the green light whenever they can demonstrate acceptably low levels of THC. CBD can be extracted from cannabis, or from hemp (a legal variety of the cannabis plant that has little or no THC).

Many people have tried CBD to treat problems such as mild pain (such as period pain) or poor sleep. Anecdotally, some have seen a benefit. The problem for consumers is that there is not yet a recognised standard for CBD products, so it is impossible to know the efficacy of a product, or the amount of CBD it contains.

Guidance to doctors

In its November 2019 guidance, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body that advises the NHS on evidence, identified certain conditions where CBD, THC or combination products should be recommended for use on the NHS. The products and combinations they recommended varied with the conditions they considered – severe nausea and vomiting brought on by chemotherapy, MS, and certain types of treatment-resistant epilepsy.

NICE said that doctors should not offer CBD, THC or a combination to people with chronic pain. But it did advise that adults who already use cannabis-based medicinal products should carry on – at least until they and their doctor think it is appropriate to stop.

CBD treatments are sometimes used for epilepsy and cancer, but they are licensed to treat seizures or nausea – not pain. Likewise a CBD:THC treatment, Sativex, is licensed for muscle spasms (also called spasticity) in MS and recommended by NICE in certain circumstances – but again, not for pain symptoms.

Cannabis-based products for epilepsy

In its guidance on cannabis-based medicinal products, NICE only recommended one highly purified CBD product, Epidyolex®. Even then, it’s only recommended in certain situations for people with two rare forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.

However, earlier this year NICE was forced to issue a clarification about its advice on cannabis-based medicinal products for people with epilepsy. It highlighted that in its guidance it concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to make a population-wide recommendation on using these products in patients with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy. However, NICE clarified that this did not mean it was recommending against using them more widely, and that doctors should still feel able to use them if they felt it was appropriate.

Researchers and clinicians warn about the impact that the lobby for recreational cannabis might have on slowing or stopping progress on medical cannabis.

CBD for chronic pain

Dr Arun Bhaskar is a head of service and consultant in pain medicine at Imperial, and president of the British Pain Society. He says that CBD on its own is inherently safer compared to products with CBD and THC, particularly where we might be concerned about mental health side effects.

Research into pain can be challenging, he adds. Although typical standards of evidence for clinical trials, double-blind randomised control trials (RCTs), are still the right ones to use when studying chronic pain treatment, research into chronic pain can be difficult to quantify. That’s because pain reporting relies on more subjective measures (namely pain scores) rather than objective quantitative measurement (such as changes in size, weight or blood pressure).

Chronic pain has a huge impact on people’s quality of life and mental health: one estimate found that up to 85% of people with chronic pain may also suffer from severe depression.

“We don’t want to waste taxpayers’ money chasing treatments that don’t work and we also don’t want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary medical admissions and social care for patients who can benefit from treatments which will improve that pain and their quality of life,” he says. “The vast majority of chronic pain patients are desperate to find an answer.”

He suggests an NHS registry to record patients’ experience of how medical cannabis or CBD treatments affect chronic pain symptoms could improve the use and understanding of treatment.

A UK Registry

In May this year, the first analysis from the UK Medical Cannabis Registry found that for 129 patients in its study, researchers saw statistically significant improvements in chronic pain symptoms. Study authors wrote that subsequent studies will analyse effectiveness and safety of cannabis-based medicinal products for chronic pain patients. Readers were advised to note that several of the study authors have an interest in the privately operated Sapphire Medical Clinics; that said, a non-profit research organisation in New Zealand found similar results about chronic pain in a similar-sized study.

As doctors well know, people who use medical cannabis have developed their own approaches to law and policy prohibitions. Patient advocacy groups have crystallised around services like CanCard, a privately run membership system that offers people with certain diagnoses a form of ID to say so. The ID is a ‘mitigating factor’ that the scheme says may prevent or reduce the risk of arrest for possession, but it does not ‘legalise’ cannabis for the cardholder.

Charities have also campaigned for exemption: since 2017 the MS Society has requested that no MS patient be charged for using cannabis to treat symptoms.

CBD for MS

MS patients are eligible for a CBD treatment called Sativex (also known as nabiximols) but the drug is currently only available to people with ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ muscle stiffness or spasms. It is also only available to NHS patients in England and Wales, so far.

NICE estimates that about 4,800 people in England are eligible to try Sativex but according to NHS data from May, MS Society estimates that only 630 people were issued with a prescription.

A new campaign by MS Society aims to widen access to Sativex by campaigning for CCGs to add the drug to the list of options available locally (known as the formulary).

Fredi Cavander-Attwood, policy manager for health and social care at MS Society, says the charity wants to see more research into the safety, quality and efficacy of unlicensed and licensed forms of cannabis for pain: “It is a priority research area – the Chief Medical Officer carried out a review of medicinal cannabis in 2018 and found that there was conclusive or substantial evidence for the efficacy of medicinal cannabis products for chronic pain.”

Leo*, 49, was diagnosed with MS in 2003, and has sensory pain in his hands and feet with pain and stiffness in his calf muscles. He has been using a first-line treatment for his leg pain and stiffness for a while, but hopes to discuss Sativex with his MS nurse when they meet again soon.

“I considered Sativex over a year ago but was told I need to persist with baclofen, which I have been on for some time,” he says. “I thought that the lack of efficacy was something I had to put up with. I am hoping it will help with my walking distance and general mobility. The stiffness makes it hard to walk, and tiring. If Sativex can help alleviate even a percentage of the stiffness and pain it will be worthwhile.”

Helping clinicians see the evidence will make it easier for them to help patients like Leo make informed decisions about their options.

When cannabis works

While some patients are still waiting for prescriptions, others are sticking with what works – and doctors know it.

Neil has told his doctors that he smokes cannabis and says that apart from warnings about the dangers of smoking, he has felt that his doctors haven’t hassled him to stop.

“I think making cannabis more widely available on the NHS would be better,” he says. “They’ve accepted that it works.”

Best CBD Oil UK: Six top CBD brands to try in 2021

If you’re looking to try CBD oil in the UK, these are some of the best brands to buy from, says Consumer Logic Research.

High-quality CBD oil has gotten quite a bit of attention from physicians and governments around the world. As a result, more and more individuals are looking and seeking out what it is that they are going to be able to do with the help of a product such as CBD oil.

With so many potential uses, you want to be sure that you are going to get CBD oil that works and that you can use it in an effective manner. CLR has written the following report – a deep dive into what this looks like, what it claims are the best CBD oil UK brands, and the legality of CBD in the United Kingdom.

Why is there demand for CBD?

Cannabidiol, which is the main phytocannabinoid that is extracted from the cannabis plant or hemp plant to make CBD oil, has a number of potential benefits associated with regular use. As a result, the CBD industry in the UK has been growing and cannabis oil has been normalized. Here are some of the potential health benefits of CBD oil.

* It May Help to Control Pain Naturally

CLR There are plenty of lab reports and scientific studies that show that cannabis sativa and its cannabinoids can reduce pain. The great thing about CBD oil is that it is going to help your body to relax and keep your neurological system under control, which is essential to getting your pain under control. It may take time, but the results are worth the time you wait.

* Potential Skincare Benefits

Topical CBD creams can go a long way if you’re fighting off wrinkles or dry skin. Hemp extract made with CBD also helps to retain elasticity and ensures that you get the proper amount of moisture without making your skin oily.

* Organic Option for Mental Health Purposes

CBD oil products can potentially do wonders for people who struggle with problems related to anxiety of all sorts. It can also help to boost mood for people who may be trying to work through depression as well.

* Potentially Fewer Side Effects than Many Medications

The best CBD oil in the UK will have very few side effects, which is why more and more people are flocking to use it for wellness. Some people may report having an upset stomach or some other similar problem with high dosing, but that only happens in a small number of cases. As always, consult with your doctor or healthcare professional if you’re unsure about trying CBD alongside other medications.

* CBD Oil Does Not Make You High

There is little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the best CBD oil UK (due to UK CBD laws, which will be discussed later in this guide). So, you don’t need to worry about any psychoactive effects like you would if you used the marijuana or cannabis bud outright.

Best CBD Oil UK: 6 Top CBD Brands to Try in 2021

As you look at the USA and UK markets for CBD oil, you are likely trying to sort out which CBD company provides the best CBD oil products. Here are some of the top picks in the UK based on our experience, testing and customer reviews.

Arguably the #1 CBD name in the UK is the Blessed CBD brand, which is known for having the most potent formula on the market. Their best seller is their 1000mg of CBD oil that is gluten free and non-GMO, which makes it perfect for anyone who is concerned about the purity of their CBD.

All of their CBD comes from organic plants in Colorado, which is known for their high-quality hemp plants. Every drop of their CBD oil has an effective terpene profile, and their products are affordable and effective. As well as this, all customers receive a copy of their third-party lab reports with every order for added assurance.

You can only buy Blessed CBD’s products from their official website (their products are not stocked in high street stores). For the #1 CBD oil brand in the UK, try Blessed CBD.

Vibes CBD is one of the best CBD oil UK brands that you can find. Their most popular products are their CBD capsules, and with good reason. You don’t have to worry about measuring every time you use their CBD, the taste isn’t awkward or earthy, and it’s a subtle way to add CBD to your daily routine.

Their CBD oils are also just as effective, with both a 1000mg and 2000mg strength available to choose from. Don’t be surprised to see all of their products regularly out of stock due to high demand!

The company provides top customer service and they’re always innovating new ways to help those who want to add CBD to their day-to-day wellness routine. They’ve even won awards for it, and that’s why they’re at the top of our list.

3. Excite CBD

Excite CBD is also among the best CBD oils in the UK. With a network of licensed farms, Excite CBD does everything possible to help small farms cultivate the very best cannabis. Then, that cannabis is used in a variety of vegan friendly products, from coconut oil capsules to gummies, and more.

Excite CBD goes the extra mile to ensure that their strains are high quality and have done research to narrow down what strains they use. This ensures purity and gives customers peace of mind regarding whatever products that they get from the Excite CBD team.

4. CBDistillery

CBDistillery is yet another company that sources all of their cannabis from Colorado farms. With a wide array of products (including gummies, topical solutions, and tinctures), they have one of the widest selections of high-quality products that you can find in the United Kingdom. They’re based in the USA though, so shipping can sometimes take a few weeks, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their most popular product is their unique “Relief and Relax” blend, which is a full spectrum CBD (that seems to fall within UK guidelines) that focuses on providing anxiety reduction and pain relief.

5. Eir Health

If you’re looking for a company that works with organic farmers in the United Kingdom and the European Union, then Eir Health is a solid option to consider. They feature high potency tinctures (approximately 100 mg of CBD per serving) that are filled with high quality cannabinoids.

While Eir Health primarily focuses on CBD oil tinctures, they are currently working to add more variety to their selection in the future.

6. Elixinol

Elixinol has some of the most unique flavors of any of the best CBD oils in the UK, including a cinnamint flavor. They’ve done a lot of work in order to ensure that they offer the most variety in their products without reducing the quality of those products. From 300 mg bottles of CBD oil to skin creams and daily gummy supplements, there are plenty of choices with Elixinol.

All of their oils have coconut oil and MCT oil in them, both of which are known to help speed up the CBD oil as it goes into your bloodstream.

Is CBD oil legal in the UK?

Recently, the United Kingdom adjusted and changed some of the laws surrounding cannabis and hemp CBD oil. While CBD oil in and of itself is not a controlled substance, THC is. This can make it difficult to understand the CBD market, and organizations like the Cannabis Trades Association have been trying to help businesses.

In short, all CBD products – from CBD gummies to CBD vape oils, oil drops and CBD balms – need to have less than 1 mg of THC content in them. Every product needs to be independently tested and provide third party lab results showing THC levels and whether they fall within that range, among other reports related to their purity and cleanliness. Lab reports will also allow you to better understand if there’s any pesticides, herbicides or solvents in the product.

Now, this only applies to products sold at ordinary businesses at your local high street. Farms that grow cannabis can have up to 0.2% THC. Once it has been processed, it has to meet that 1 mg threshold.

Full spectrum CBD oils may or may not fall into this range, so companies may have to change their extraction methods to eliminate as much THC as possible. On the other hand, broad spectrum CBD oils (which are mostly CBD but also may have fatty acids, CBG CBDA and other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other compounds, but little to no THC) and CBD isolate (“Pure CBD”) can typically fall in this range without issue.

As of 2021, CBD brands in the UK must also comply with the new Novel Foods laws.

How do you know which UK CBD oil is best?

* Additives

The additives a company uses are helpful if you’re using CBD oil as a food supplement or for vaping. Look at what carrier oil they use (MCT oil, coconut oil, and hemp seed oil are the most common) and find the options that are right for you.

* Brand

Different brands will be better than others based on a variety of flavors. Do they use organic hemp? What does their range of products look like? Do they use herbicides and pesticides? And are they based in Europe or somewhere else?

* Extraction methods

There are a lot of extraction methods for CBD, and each one gets different results. The most popular options are low pressure ethanol extraction and supercritical co2 extraction process. The latter process is known to provide the best terpene profile, best quality CBD content, and other cannabinoids and flavonoids which encourages the entourage effect.

* Price

Obviously, the price is going to vary based on what high quality form of CBD product that you’re shopping for and the amount of CBD you get. CBD e-liquid for vape pens may cost more than a simple 10ml bottle of CBD oil tincture with a dropper. Compare prices and look at value.

Using any sort of CBD product as a main way to work things out with your own body and its endocannabinoid system takes some getting used to (especially if it’s your first time), but it can be really effective in the long run.

Many times, you’re going to notice that there are many ways to get the highest quality products and ensure that you can live a healthy, thriving lifestyle with CBD oil as a help. We recommend Blessed CBD as one of the best CBD oil brands.