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CBD for sciatica

Sciatica pain is excruciating and can strike at any time, leaving both young people and old unable to walk.

Recent studies seem to suggest that using CBD for sciatica pain can help.

In this blog post we look at what causes sciatica, at natural ways to avoid and treat it, and the scientific basis for using CBD to treat it.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a type of back and leg pain that results from irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and starts in the lower back, runs through the buttocks, and down each leg.

When this nerve becomes irritated or compressed, it can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the legs.

Sciatic pain most often occurs when something presses on or squeezes the sciatic nerve as it passes through your spinal column such as a herniated disc. 

The discs are soft tissues located between each vertebrae in your spine that act as shock absorbers and help keep your spine flexible. When these discs become damaged or worn out, they begin to press against the sciatic nerve, causing pain.

The nerve can also be compressed by pieces of overgrown bone (bone spurs), or much more rarely, by a tumour. It can also be damaged by a disease such as diabetes.

Sciatic pain is caused when something compresses the sciatica nerve
Sciatic pain is caused when something compresses the sciatica nerve

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Many people use it daily to relieve pain, particularly chronic pain.

There are two main cannabinoids found in cannabis: CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive compound that gets people “high” while CBD does not have any such effects. This is because CBD does not bind with the same receptors as THC.

The human body also produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. These are involved in many processes including pain perception, appetite, mood and memory. CBD seems to work by increasing the amount of endocannabinoids available or by interfering with their breakdown in a similar way to the SSRI group of drugs.

How CBD can help sciatic pain

CBD may help to reduce sciatica pain by: –

Relaxing muscles in the back and neck that are contributing to sciatica. 

This can be helpful for those who suffer from muscle spasms or cramping which can increase nerve inflammation. Relaxation of these muscles also helps relieve pressure on nerves, reducing pinched nerves and sciatic pain.

Reducing inflammation

CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and may help to reduce the inflammation that is causing sciatica pain.

Reducing neuropathic pain 

Both medicinal cannabis and CBD have been shown in multiple studies to reduce chronic neuropathic pain

Stimulating the endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating nerve function and inflammation, both of which can contribute to sciatica pain. CBD helps to stimulate this system, providing relief from pain.

Preventing or reducing nerve damage

CBD has been shown to protect nerves from damage, which can help to prevent or reduce sciatic pain.

Reducing anxiety and stress

Stress and anxiety can aggravate sciatic pain, so CBD’s ability to reduce these feelings may be helpful.

Improving sleep

It is hard to sleep when you are in intense pain and highly stressed. The sleep inducing properties of medicinal cannabis and CBD are well documented and backed up by many studies

CBD can relieve the symptoms of sciatica in many different ways
CBD can relieve the symptoms of sciatica in many different ways

Do I need a prescription for CBD?

You don’t need a prescription for CBD in most countries in Europe and the UK. Approved nonprescription CBD products are available as an over-the-counter supplement in many pharmacies and health food shops.

Forms of CBD available

Many different hemp derived CBD products are available:

CBD oil

This is made by extracting all of the cannabinoids from the cannabis sativa plant including CBD, then diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut (MCT) oil or hemp seed oil.

There are many different methods for extracting the cannabinoids from the plant material, each method produces oils with unique ratios of cannabinoids.

CBD oil can be taken orally, applied topically, or added to food or drinks. The most effective way to take it is sublingually, under the tongue where it is absorbed by the mucous membranes. CBD oil taken this way should stay in the system for 6 to 8 hours. 

For 24 hour cover take 3 times a day.

Full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oil

CBD oil is available as broad-spectrum or full spectrum CBD oil.

A full spectrum CBD oil contains everything present in the plant it was extracted from, including trace amounts of THC (less than 0.02%). It provides users with a complete range of the flavonoids, terpenes and cannabinoids present in cannabis plants. These include CBG, CBC, CBN and over 100 more that are yet to be fully explored.

Broad spectrum CBD contains all the cannabinoids from the plant, but has had the THC removed, meaning it contains no psychoactive effects. It also contains no CBN, the cannabinoid that THC breaks down into which makes it a good choice for those who want the benefits of CBD without any THC. It is particularly good for people who suffer from anxiety which may be triggered by THC.

CBD Isolate is pure CBD and does not contain any other cannabinoids. This may be a good choice for those who are highly sensitive to THC or want to avoid it completely.  

CBD tinctures

A CBD tincture is a liquid containing CBD and other cannabinoids, which has been extracted from cannabis plant material using alcohol. Tinctures usually come in small bottles with an eyedropper for dispensing the oil.

Tinctures are taken by placing a few drops under the tongue and holding them there for a minute or two before swallowing. This allows the CBD to be absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth and throat.

Cannabis capsules 

These are made by combining CBD extract with an oil or other filler. The CBD is then sealed in a capsule shell. They can be either full spectrum CBD or broad spectrum.

Capsules are swallowed like any other pill and the CBD is absorbed through the stomach and small intestine.

Topical CBD products 

These are CBD products that are applied directly to the skin. They are usually used to treat conditions such as inflammation, pain, and acne.

They are particularly good for sciatic nerve pain as they can be applied to the precise area that hurts: massaged into the legs for leg pain or into the lower back or feet.

Topical creams should be rubbed into the skin until they are fully absorbed. They can be used on any area of the body, but should not be applied to open wounds.

CBD edibles 

These are food or drink products that have been infused with CBD. They can take many different forms, such as gummies, brownies, and chocolate bars.

Edibles are usually eaten like any other snack. The CBD is absorbed through the digestive system and enters the bloodstream. It then travels to the brain and interacts with receptors

CBD flowers

vaping or smoking CBD flowers can  give instant relief from pain
vaping or smoking CBD flowers can give instant relief from pain

These are the buds of the cannabis plant that have been dried and cured. They contain a high concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids.

Flowers can be smoked, vaporized, or eaten. Smoking or vaporizing is the most popular way for sciatica patients to consume them, as the effects are felt almost instantly. 

CBD vape oil

CBD vape oil is a type of CBD product that is made especially for vaping. Vape oils are usually mixed with propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin before being vaporized. This helps the CBD to be absorbed more quickly than if it were to be smoked

How to use CBD for sciatica pain relief

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to use CBD will vary from person to person and you can use many different CBD products for sciatica.

CBD can be applied directly to the affected area as a cream or massaged into the muscles in a massage oil.

Massage CBD oil, creams and lotions into the painful area to help relieve sciatic pain
Massage CBD oil, creams and lotions into the painful area to help relieve sciatic pain

Alternatively you may prefer to take it internally to reduce pain, inflammation or stress. 

Be prepared to experiment a little, try different methods and see what works best for you.

If taking it internally as a CBD oil remember that it is always best to start with a low concentration and work up. As little as 5mg times a day may help some people, whereas others may need a much higher dose. 

For intense pain you may wish to use both CBD and a painkiller, or to use a CBD oil for the inflammation and also smoke or vape CBD flowers for instant pain relief. 

Side effects of using CBD oil 

CBD is safe and well tolerated in humans, but there have been some reports of dry mouth, light-headedness and drowsiness when taking high doses of CBD. 

It does have a few potential drug interactions, particularly with high blood pressure medicines and those that carry a “grapefruit warning” so if you are thinking of using it for sciatica pain, speak with your GP before starting a new treatment or self-medicating. 

It’s also important that you follow the instructions on how much to take very carefully as too much can lead to sedation rather than relief from symptoms.

Other natural ways to treat sciatic nerve pain

There are a number of other natural ways to reduce sciatica pain. These include: –

Stretching exercises. Stretching can help to relieve tension in the muscles and improve flexibility which may help to ease back pain and sciatica symptoms. In particular sitting spinal stretch, standing hamstring stretch, basic seated stretch and standing piriformis stretch.

Ice or heat therapy. Applying ice or heat may help to reduce inflammation and discomfort. Ice should be used for the first 48-72 hours after an injury while heat should be used for chronic pain relief.

Massage therapy. Massaging the affected area can help improve blood circulation, which may provide relief from pain and stiffness. Use a CBD topical or CBD oil for additional pain relieving qualities. 

Yoga or Pilates. Yoga and Pilates can strengthen the core muscles which can support the back and improve flexibility. This can help to reduce back pain and sciatica symptoms. “Pigeon pose” is particularly good for sciatica patients.

Relax! Stress can make sciatica worse. Whilst it is okay to move around, avoid physical labour and do things that promote relaxation like a nice hot bath.

Yoga and stretching exercises can help relieve the pain of sciatica
Yoga and stretching exercises can help relieve the pain of sciatica


Whilst CBD can not cure sciatica, there is strong evidence that it can help in many ways. Its anti inflammatory properties can help reduce sciatic nerve pain, and It is also great for relaxing muscles and reducing nerve damage.

It is non-addictive and, unlike opiates,  has no side effects. And while it can be used by anyone who suffers from chronic back or joint pain, it’s especially beneficial if your sciatica symptoms come about suddenly without warning like they often do in younger people

If you’re living with the pain of sciatica, isn’t it worth giving CBD a try?


What are the benefits of using CBD oil for pain?

CBD oil is easy to take, well tolerated and has few side effects. It is much gentler on the system than many prescription painkillers such as opioids but research shows it is good for neuropathic pain.

What’s the best form of CBD for sciatica?

The best form of CBD for sciatica will depend on the individual and their preferences. Some people prefer to take CBD in oil form, while others find tinctures or CBD capsules more convenient.

CBD is also available as a topical cream which can be applied directly to the affected area. This may be a good option for those who don’t want to take CBD orally.

You can also buy products that combine CBD with other ingredients such as THC, herbs, and minerals. These may be beneficial if you are looking for additional relief from your symptoms.

Be sure to do your research before purchasing any CBD product and talk to a healthcare professional if you have any questions.

Is it safe to use CBD oil for sciatica pain relief?

CBD oil is generally safe to use for sciatica pain relief. However, it is always important to do your research before using any new supplement and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any questions.


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