I Tried CBD for Anxiety and Pain Relief—Did It Work?
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If you’ve been around the wellness world in the last few years, you know that CBD oil and its derivatives are more ubiquitous than matcha lattes and avocado toast. Tinctures, pills, balms and patches are touted as your solution to practically everything, from chronic pain and muscle soreness to anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.
But, does CBD really work for all (or any) of this? We tried it out—and here’s what happened.
My Problem: Chronic Pain and Anxiety
I’ve struggled with chronic pain and anxiety in many forms for most of my life. Not only do I have a chronic back injury (thanks, competitive gymnastics!), I was also recently diagnosed with Ehler-Danlos syndrome, a group of genetic disorders that affect the connective tissues supporting the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues—you may have heard actor and activist Jameela Jamil recently talk about her diagnosis and treatment of EDS. Its most prominent side effect for me is joint and muscle pain, as well as bruising and really, really sensitive skin.
EDS has no cure, and the treatment is mostly pain management (and collagen supplements, which I’m totally on board with). Yoga and acupuncture can help, and they’re part of my regular routines, but I’m always looking for support outside of that, especially if it’s in the form of a non-pharmaceutical.
My Solution: Papa & Barkley Hemp Products
I’m no stranger to CBD products. I’ve tried tinctures and pills and patches and hemp-infused drinks. But I’ve mostly tried them on a haphazard basis, without much regularity or consistency—more like an acute treatment instead of something that could be beneficial on the daily.
Papa & Barkley is a brand that offers both—they’ve got a tincture and a pill form of full-spectrum CBD that you can take regularly, and they have a topical pain-relief balm that you can use as needed. On top of the multiple delivery methods, the brand uses no solvents or harsh chemicals to do their Whole Plant Infusion process, which extracts the CBD directly from hemp flowers.
The full-spectrum piece is important too. Extracting from the whole plant gives your body access to a more complete cannabinoid and terpene profile. On the flip side, products that contain CBD isolate are stripped down to only a single molecule, which can have fewer benefits (read more about this in our guide to choosing the best CBD for you).
The Results: Less Pain, Less Anxiety
I have to admit: I was a little skeptical about the actual power of CBD when it came to my anxiety. I’d tried tinctures before and given up on them because I didn’t notice much of a difference in my overall demeanor. Papa & Barkley was different. The tincture has not only been helpful in keeping me out of an anxiety spiral, but it’s also powerful against pain. I’ve taken it preemptively when I’ve felt a migraine or bad headache coming on, and more than once, it’s provided relief I’ve before only been able to get from an OTC pain killer.
I also credit my daily dose of the brand’s Releaf Capsules with helping to maintain a healthy gut, which is in balance for the first time in years (two autoimmune diseases can really do damage to your gut microbiome). I’ve tried SO. MANY. things to support my gut, from specific meal plans, gut-healing protocols and the Whole30, to collagen, bone broth and probiotics. While I think many of them have had a positive impact, taking CBD daily has promoted a healthier gut than I’ve had in recent memory—proven by recent labs I’ve had that confirm no bad bacteria overgrowth.
The Papa & Barkley Balm has been maybe my favorite though. It actually works for pain relief, for starters, and it’s helpful at quelling my anxiety because I know that when I have a bad pain day, I have at my fingertips something to reach for that makes an impact. I use it on my neck and shoulders a couple times a week (a little goes a looooong way), and on EDS flare-ups regularly. I was having joint and wrist pain that was making it really hard to type (not great for a writer), and keeping the P&B Balm on my desk to reach for has helped make that pain less frequent too.
Overall, it’s one of the best CBD brands I’ve used. I’ve seen both an improvement in my overall health, but also in my acute anxiety and pain. CBD brands generally promise you the moon—this one actually delivers.
Interested in learning more about CBD? Check out our guide to choosing the right one for you.