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Does CBD Help Relieve Pain or Is It A Psychological Effect?

While we wait for FDA guidance on the broader use of CBD, researchers are working diligently to prove the many benefits and effects of CBD. Leading the latest research efforts is a group of researchers from Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Science. Their recent study, published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, compares CBD’s ability to reduce pain and the psychological effects of expecting something to work, better known as the placebo effect.

“For science and the public at large the question remained, is the pain relief that CBD users claim to experience due to pharmacological effects or placebo effects,” said Martin De Vita, a researcher in the psychology department at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences and first author on the paper, in a press release. “That’s a fair question because we know that simply telling someone that a substance has the ability to relieve their pain can actually cause robust changes in their pain sensitivity. These are called expectancy effects.”

Most people think of pain as an on and off switch; you either have it or don’t. But pain, as De Vita describes it, is a complex phenomenon with several dimensions influenced by psychological and biological factors. De Vita and his team conducted four separate experimental sessions on 15 healthy adults to back up their hypothesis. Manipulating the information given to participants about which substances they received. In some cases, participants were told that they got CBD when they actually received a placebo or told they would be getting a placebo when they got CBD. According to the study, the participants were split into four groups:

  • Control (told inactive—given inactive)
  • Expectancy (told active CBD—given inactive)
  • Drug (told inactive—given active CBD)
  • Expectancy + Drug (told active CBD—given active CBD).

“We hypothesized that we would primarily detect expectancy-induced placebo analgesia (pain relief),” says De Vita. “What we found, though, after measuring several different pain outcomes, is that it’s actually a little bit of both.”

The results showed that CBD is working in many ways, and additional research will show how CBD is causing specific reactions to a pain stimulus and why it is reducing pain unpleasantness. One important note to also consider is the source of the CBD. “What we used in our study was pure CBD isolate oil,” says De Vita. “Commercially available CBD products differ in their content and purity, so results might be different for different CBD products, depending on what other compounds they may or may not contain.”

In addition to exploring the placebo effect and collecting evidence to prove CBD relieves pain, researchers in other parts of the world are working on studies to back up CBD benefits to lower blood pressure and improve GI issues.

Are you looking for CBD products to implement into your daily routine? Then, visit to learn more about our variety of Sacred CBD products. All consist of pure full-spectrum CBD oil and other natural ingredients, ideal for your holistic journey.