Pain and inflammation are part of everyone’s life. These events are natural reactions of our body triggering a self-healing attempt, which is often successful. When pain increases, it’s likewise natural to seek help from outside the body. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are the most common painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs for conditions that are not too severe.

Ibuprofen is one of the most common anti-inflammatory drugs, discovered in 1961 and today available under several trade names. Other common NSAIDs include aspirin, diclofenac, ketoprofen, and a few more. They are effective in reducing or eliminating pain, inflammation, fever, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis and more, but these drugs have serious potential side effects, such as ulcers, heartburn, headaches, dizziness, liver or kidney diseases, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Ibuprofeno vs Cannabis for Fighting Inflammation


When the body suffers an injury, compounds called prostanoids are produced. These include prostaglandins, which are involved in inflammation, and thromboxane, which is involved in blood clotting. These compounds are produced by cyclooxygenase enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2.

Like other anti-inflammatory and pain-control drugs, ibuprofen inhibits the release of these chemical compounds generated by our body’s response to an injury, trauma, or infection. Ibuprofen inhibits the production of prostaglandins by decreasing the activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, but, just like aspirin, ibuprofen is a non-selective COX inhibitor. This means it inhibits both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, potentially causing more side effects than other select NSAIDs. However, ibuprofen is effective against the symptoms of general pain, head pain, joint inflammation or damage, fever, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, minor musculoskeletal injuries, and rheumatic diseases. Still, a lot of people make large use of this drug without being fully aware of its side effects and risks for their health.


The endocannabinoid system is mainly active in pain control at the central nervous system level, but it’s also active in the peripheral systems against painful and itchy symptoms of inflammation generated by dermatitis and allergies. Through their action on our endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids are able to modulate pain thresholds and inhibit the release of proinflammatory molecules, just like ibuprofen. Moreover, they exert synergistic effects with other systems in our body that modulate pain, such as the endogenous opioid system.

Preclinical and clinical studies have proven the anti-inflammatory and pain-control effects of cannabinoids[1], suggesting the cannabis derivatives may prove useful in treating diseases related to acute or chronic pain, even in conditions that are often refractory to conventional therapies. In particular, CBD is able to reduce the inflammatory process by lowering the production of cytokines by the  immune system, and by inhibiting some of the receptors responsible for pain perception.

Several clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of THC and CBD[2] in managing central and peripheral neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer pain. As a consequence, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently removed CBD from its list of banned substances. This has allowed many professional athletes to join other patients in testing CBD as a substitute for ibuprofen or other pain-control and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Cannabinoids have different analgesic mechanisms from those of ibuprofen or other prescription drugs, and despite an increasing volume of research, the multiple interaction dynamics between cannabinoids and our body are not fully understood. Lab research on how cannabinoid receptors interact with pain mechanisms is progressing, but clinical trials are advancing slowly.

Nevertheless, the scientific confirmation of cannabinoids’ wide range of benefits has brought thousands of patients to use them in order to quit or reduce the use of painkillers, thus decreasing the short and long-term side effects of ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. As opposed to many prescription drugs, THC’s side effects are generally well-tolerated, while the side effects of CBD are minimal. Cannabidiol doesn’t alter heart rate or blood pressure, and it doesn’t exert negative gastrointestinal effects. It doesn’t cause dizziness or any kind of temporary mental or physical impairment that THC might generate. Despite that, CBD strongly interacts with receptors which affect our perception of pain, resulting in an effective and relaxing analgesic effect.



Today, we can find plenty of CBD products on the market. Along with CBD oils, there are capsules, sublingual tinctures, edibles, topical creams, liquids for vaporization, and of course CBD-rich cannabis strains. Smoking, vaporizing, and sublingual administration are the fastest ways to reduce pain with CBD, yet some patients combine different methods: a few oral applications a day, inhaling vapour as needed, and a topical cream on the affected areas for soothing local pain, as an example.

There is no risk of overdose associated with CBD, and this cannabinoid is well-tolerated even in high doses. However, most users start out with low doses, slowly increasing intake over a period of days or weeks until they reach a dosage that can control their specific kind of pain. A starting dose of 2.5mg of CBD per day can typically be increased up to 20mg of CBD per day. The main precaution when using CBD is to understand that it may affect the way other drugs are metabolised, potentially augmenting or decreasing their effectiveness. If you are currently on medication and wish to start using CBD, do consult your physician first.

CBD Replaces Medications

Some medical cannabis users find that cannabis strains, or derivatives, rich in THC work best against painful symptoms, while others prefer products that contain little or no THC, or a balance of both CBD and THC. Cannabis terpenes also display attributes that may be complementary to pain treatment, and this is the reason why a full spectrum extract is usually preferred to a single isolated cannabinoid, according to the “entourage effect” theory.

When replacing ibuprofen with CBD turns into therapeutic success, the patient can experience comparable relief, with no risks and with additional health benefits that go beyond analgesia. These include antiemetic effects, neuroprotective effects, and sleep quality improvement. Moreover, thanks to the antioxidant properties of CBD, this cannabinoid can protect cells against free radical action while reducing pain and inflammation.

External Resources:
  1. Role of the Cannabinoid System in Pain Control and Therapeutic Implications for the Management of Acute and Chronic Pain Episodes
  2. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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