Last updated on 27 September 2021
Pain can be debilitating and painful disorders like Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) can have a major impact on how you live your life.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a fast-growing and highly effective treatment for TMJ and other sources of pain. There’s a growing body of medical research supporting its effectiveness. It’s simple to use, it’s non-psychotropic so it can’t get you high, inexpensive, and legal. More and more people are turning to it as a TMJ treatment.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. If you open and shut your mouth and hold your hand to your face you can feel it working. TMJ disorder is a pain in that joint. You may have experienced it before – it’s not pleasant.
What Causes TMJ
The primary causes of TMJ are connective tissue diseases including certain types of arthritis and jaw injuries.
TMJ is often a byproduct of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. In these cases, TMJ manifests as a side effect. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common type of arthritis that attacks the cartilage that covers bone joints.
Osteoarthritis occurs over a longer period of time but has much the same effect – cartilage is worn away and disorders like TMJ can develop.
Jaw injuries as a result of a blow in sporting activities, assaults, or accidents can cause TMJ. There is also some evidence ongoing and severe grinding or clenching of teeth may cause TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ
The first sign of TMJ is usually a pain in and around the jaw. Your ear, mouth, and face may hurt as well as your jaw or you may be experiencing what is known as a TMJ headache.
The pain may be a chronic ongoing ache or a sharper more acute pain that comes with actively using your jaw, such as when eating. Chewing may become painful.
Lockjaw is another symptom. Lockjaw is a treatable but painful condition that causes your jaw muscles to spasm. Using your mouth becomes difficult.
The effects of TMJ on your life should not be underestimated. It can impact your ability to socialize if you’re getting lockjaw or even just pain, particularly if eating, drinking. Talking can also become a challenge.
Day-to-day activities and commitments like work can be an issue if TMJ is manifesting in ways such as a TMJ headache. TMJ may also make your face appear asymmetric (lopsided). Muscles can develop on one side of your face quicker than the other side. This can be noticeable and quite distressing.
CBD for TMJ
CBD products are popular with TMJ sufferers seeking a TMJ home treatment. Options include CBD cream or CBD oil. Most people prefer the richer oil-based products. A medium strength 1500mg (15%) bottle of oil can help with dull, recurring pain. For stronger pain, CBD oil is available in strengths up to 2500mg.
If you do suffer from chronic TMJ pain or any other pain and haven’t used CBD products before it might be worth starting with lower or mid-level strength. We all have different biochemistries and a mild dose of a CBD product might be all you need. If it isn’t working, you can always buy a richer dose. We always recommend the step-up approach as described in the book “CBD – A Patient’s Guide to Cannabis” by Leonard Leinow. For a complete guide on how much CBD to use, please read our dedicated dosage article.
How to Use CBD to treat TMJ
CBD oil for TMJ and CBD cream for TMJ are two common ways of using CBD to treat TMJ. How do you use them?
CBD cream for TMJ is a simple product – a skin lotion or cream with a CBD extract mixed in. CBD cream for TMJ pain relief or any other purpose is taken topically, that is, on the skin.
You massage it in like a moisturizer on the area that needs pain relief. The key benefit of cream is that it is pretty quick-acting and you can target particular areas.
CBD and Heart Medication
If you take heart medication, CBD can drastically reduce the medication’s efficacy. Please consult with a doctor before taking CBD, especially if you are already taking heart medication.
CBD oil is taken under the tongue, that is, sublingually. Usually, it’s administered with a dropper and you should try to let it rest for a minute before swallowing. How much should you take? Well, that depends. It depends on how strong the dosage is and your body weight.
Why CBD can be an effective treatment for TMJ
In a nutshell, CBD stops the pain messages from shooting up into your brain – it’s a neural blocker.
Humans interact with endocannabinoids in interesting ways. 30 years ago, researchers identified endocannabinoid receptors in rats. So what, you might say, from their research extend into human endocannabinoid receptors and it was conclusively established that our bodies were set up to interact with cannabinoids.
Our brain is full of receptors, including pain receptors, and endocannabinoids can help manage those receptors, be it stimulating or blocking them. CBD works as a treatment for TMJ because it blocks the pain.
In addition to blocking pain, CBD reduces inflammation. That may not seem key criteria in managing TMJ pain but if you think about it, the destroyed or degraded cartilage around the temporomandibular joint is now letting the joint bones against each other, the localized trauma inflaming the surrounding area and further exacerbating the pain. Reducing joint inflammation is an important reason to use CBD for TMJ pain and other types of inflammatory pain.
There’s also good ground for using CBD as a preventative medication rather than a solely reactive one, particularly when preventing arthritis. Osteoporosis is a form of arthritis where bones become brittle and fragile. There is credible research that CBD products can help strengthen bones and help fractures heal.
Prevention is always better than the cure and for older people and people with a history of arthritis is the family, there is a sound case for regularly taking a mild dose of a CBD product
What’s medical research saying about CBD?
There is a growing amount of medical research supporting the use of CBD for TMJ pain. In addition, research has found the CBD can have benefits for people suffering pain, anxiety, nausea, seizures, and there is some tentative evidence it may be useful for some cancer suffers.
The British Journal of Pharmacology published a study in 2011 that found CBD helped alleviate nausea and vomiting1. A 2013 Stanford University study published in Epilepsy Behaviour found CBD treatments had very good results in reducing the incidence of children having seizures, having dramatic benefits for both the children and their families2.
TMJ treatment is one of the most common reasons people turn to CBD and there is a considerable amount of medical research supporting CBD as a treatment for TMJ. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found CBD was an excellent blocker of pain messages to your brain and acts as a neural pathway blocker3. This is excellent news for people looking to use CBD for TMJ pain, especially when the pain is long term and constant.
For sufferers of arthritis and those looking for a TMJ home treatment, research published in the European Journal of Pain offered evidence that CBD cream for TMJ and other types of pain could be beneficial, reducing not only pain but also inflammation4.
Folks might be reluctant to try CBD products to help manage pain relief because they associate it with cannabis and stoners. Nothing is further from the truth. There are some 100 cannabinoids in a marijuana plant. There’s one, THC, that gets you high. Another, CBD, is what’s used in these pain products and is totally distinct from THC. The atoms are arranged differently and this difference means CBD has no psychotropic effect.
What CBD does have is proven and established medical and therapeutic benefits. It is making huge inroads in managing kids who have seizures and huge differences to people who suffer from pain due to conditions like TMJ.
If you are suffering from a chronic pain condition it is always wise to manage the condition in partnership with your doctor. CBD products can be a part of this management plan. No prescription is needed, it’s entirely legal, and reliable online vendors can ship the product to you quickly and efficiently.
It’s thinking outside the box, it’s trying something new, but the evidence is quickly building that CBD products are the ideal treatment for TMJ pain.
- Parker, L., Rock, E. and Limebeer, C. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), pp.1411-1422.
- Porter, B. and Jacobson, C. (2013). Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsy & Behavior, 29(3), pp.574-577.
- Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H., Ren, K., Xu, Y. and Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 209(6), pp.1121-1134.
- Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., McIlwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A. and Westlund, K. (2015). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, 20(6), pp.936-948.