CBD Oil For Sciatica: Does It Help?

Written By: Dr. Donna Schwontkowski

When your friends recommend you try CBD oil for sciatica back pain, it’s good to research the topic a little before you say yes. When you get the whole story, you will know what to expect whether or not the horrible back pain you have that travels down your leg will be relieved.

Researching online, first try search phrases such as CBD for sciatica or CBD for sciatica pain. You may find some articles on the topic of different websites promoting their products. There you may find their recommended CBD dose for sciatica, how to use CBD oil for sciatica, and the best CBD oil for sciatica

With a scientific mind, these won’t be good enough. That’s when it’s time to go directly to Pubmed for actual medical studies. And that’s when the truth will be found:  there are no studies yet on CBD for sciatica! In fact, there aren’t many for back pain, either, although you will find studies on CBD and neck pain or headache.


What Poorly Designed Review Studies Say About CBD Oil and Back Pain

In one review study on different cannabinoid options for pain, scientists found 16 studies with 1750 participants where pain relief was sought for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. This is pain on a nerve that is pretty much relentless. They were looking for pain relief at a level of 30% and 50% or greater. The studies were 2 to 26 weeks long. Some tested a THC-CBD spray for the mouth, a synthetic THC mimicker (nabilone), inhaled cannabis, or THC from plants (dronabinol). 

They stated that “cannabis-based medicines may increase the number of people achieving 50% or greater pain relief compared with placebo.” Twenty-one percent of those on cannabis medicines got 50% or greater pain relief compared to 17% of the placebo group. That’s life-changing to one’s quality of life if you’re in the 21% group. 

But next the researchers stated that the evidence was of low quality. They tried to discount the effectiveness by saying that patients dropped out of the studies due to side effects with the cannabis-based medicines but not the placebo, which was dihydrocodeine. 

Right there it sounds a bit suspicious. First of all, Mother Nature’s medicines usually don’t have side effects. Certainly, there are times they do such as when there’s THC in a plant and it affects how one thinks. However, all drugs have side effects, and especially opioids like the one that was the placebo! Because they didn’t differentiate between the products – those with THC and those without, or those that were synthetic and those that were not, the side effects are sketchy. 

This is important for you to note because when you get your CBD cream for back pain and look for instructions on how to use CBD oil for back pain, it’s best to make sure it’s a natural product. Look for whether or not it contains THC.

The researchers did admit that there was moderate evidence for a reduction of pain of 30% or more “but the overall studies were poor.” What they’re saying is that it’s pretty clear there were some good results in helping those with neuropathic pain. Surprisingly they did say that they don’t agree with the views of the International Association for the Study of Pain. This organization stated in the past that cannabis-based medicines are not effective for chronic neuropathic pain. 

This study did not include anyone with sciatica.  Don’t let all your hopes for relief get trashed though; it doesn’t mean that using the best CBD oil for back pain won’t give you pain relief. Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes since man has been on earth. The plant was used widely in the field of medicine before pharmaceutics came on the scene and made it illegal. Yep! Doctors used it and prescribed it!


Go One Step Farther in Your Research About CBD for Sciatica Pain Relief

Even though medical cannabis has been legalized in many states, too many generations of doctors did not use it for therapy. The wisdom of the plant was lost. That’s why many doctors don’t really know a lot about it or are biased against it. They don’t know how to prescribe CBD cream for back pain or CBD oil for sciatica pain unless they take classes in it. 

Once you start discovering this, you may wonder where do you look for information next? The answer would be to become a medical detective. Snoop around for what the plant ingredients are and how they work. And whether or not the plant has been used for the condition in which you seek pain relief.

For example, the cannabinoids are the active ingredients in the plant. They interact with many different pathways in the body. One pathway is the endocannabinoid (EC) system and its receptors. This system is for pain control, memory, mood, stress reduction, sleep, immune system, and appetite. Another pathway is one that decreases inflammation.

Once you know how cannabinoids work in the body, you can then see what happened in studies when these pathways were addressed. In one Phase II double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 56 rheumatoid arthritis patients with Sativex, patients were allowed up to six sprays per evening. After five weeks, they found that pain in the morning at rest and with movement was relieved in the patients on the Sativex but not the placebo. Your next question might be if any of the patients used CBD oil for sciatica or how much CBD was in the spray.

In another study, Sativex improved the pain of 177 cancer patients that had intractable pain. This is the kind of pain that makes someone want to kill themselves; it’s that bad. Sciatica pain that you’re experiencing is not likely to be that bad, but here we have evidence that it worked on the EC system quite effectively.


Making a Prediction of Whether or Not A CBD Cream for Sciatica Will Work

Often for things that are not fully tested, you have to make your best guess at whether your particular issue will be relieved. Could sciatica respond to these active ingredients? Sciatica is caused by compression on the sciatic nerve. It feels like a big baboon is ‘sitting’ on top of the sciatic nerve and you can’t bend, stand up straight, and moving is difficult. There’s going to be inflammation in this case, so something that is taken – like CBD oil for sciatica – could work. CBD decreases inflammation. Logically, it would make sense to try it. 

Of course, the true answer for compression of a nerve is to find the root cause of the compression. Remove the baboon.  This could mean you take your wallet out of your back pocket before sitting at a desk. It could mean a chiropractor comes to your aid or in some situations, surgery. But while you’re working on addressing the root cause, the best CBD oil for sciatica is working to decrease your inflammation. That means right there it’s potentially going to relieve pain.  

Sciatica is defined as neuropathic pain. This means the pain is coming from the nerves themselves. Your nerves are screaming out for relief. That’s where using CBD oil for sciatica pain relief could make the difference. Other treatments for the root cause are going to take some time; what you are doing in the meantime matters!


Finding the Best CBD Oil for Sciatica Depends on Ingredients Too

Learning how to use CBD oil for sciatica or other back pain is simple. Just as you would use a topical cream for pain, you do the same with the CBD for sciatica. The directions will tell you how often it may be applied. If it contains menthol, be sure to avoid touching your eyes; wash your hands after each use. Menthol causes a burning sensation in the eyes. 

The best CBD oil for sciatica may be one that contains THC, but in choosing the CBD dose for sciatica, consider the level of THC. Don’t think that the best CBD oil for sciatica is going to necessarily be the highest dose of THC. Experiment around with the CBD dose for sciatica from the cream or oil and find what works best for you.


Baron, E.P. Comprehensive review of medicinal marijuana, cannabinoids, and therapeutic implications in medicine and headache: what a long strange trip it’s been. Headache 2015 Jun;55(6):885-916. 

Russo, Ethan B. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag 2008 Feb;4(1):245-259. 

Mucke, Martin, et al. Cannabis-based medicines for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018 Mar; 2018(3): CD012182.