A bunch of pain killer medicines in the background with a text about cbd in the foreground.

Key Takeaways

  • Painkillers like NSAIDs and paracetamol work by blocking enzymes in the central nervous system, stopping your body from producing the prostaglandins responsible for the pain (NSAIDs also help with inflammation), while opioids cause pain relief by binding to opioid receptors present in the body.

  • In contrast to other cannabinoids, CBD doesn’t bind very well to receptors within the endocannabinoid system but instead binds to other non-cannabinoid receptor pathways, helping suppress pain and decrease inflammation.

  • Short-term side effects of painkillers include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, trouble falling asleep, and anxiety, while long-term usage can cause kidney and stomach problems, fluid retention, and high blood pressure, not to mention the addictiveness of opioids.

  • CBD is generally considered a safe and well-tolerated ingredient that can cause only mild side effects like dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue, and it’s not addictive.

  • The type of painkillers needed to be administered and their dosage depend on the pain condition, which also affects how long the effects will last.

  • While CBD allows for greater control over pain management by offering multiple consumption methods, it will take some time to determine the dosage that will work for you.

Among the many benefits of CBD we have talked about in our blog, one frequently mentioned outcome is how it can help manage pain.

But how is this pain relief different from what painkillers have to offer?

In this article, we’ll be comparing CBD and traditional painkillers to help you understand how the two differ.

This article will also help you determine which method of pain relief might be more suitable for you.

The Mode of Action

One of the key ways to understand the differences between CBD and painkillers is how each group works in our body to suppress pain.

How Do Painkillers Work With Pain?

Your body responds to an injury or tissue damage by releasing prostaglandins. These compounds cause inflammation, pain, and blood clotting. Enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 produce prostaglandins. 

We can primarily categorize painkillers into three groups, each of which has a different mode of action.

The first group consists of Acetaminophen, commonly known as paracetamol.

This medication works by blocking the COX enzymes in the CNS. 

As a result, your body does not produce the prostaglandins responsible for the pain. However, paracetamol does not help with inflammation.

The second group, called NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs), works the same way as paracetamol.

However, this class of medication also helps reduce inflammation in addition to pain.

Thirdly, opioids work by binding to opioid receptors present in our body, causing pain relief.

How Does CBD Work With Pain?

If you have been following our blog, you must know by now that cannabinoids interact with our body via the endocannabinoid system.

This binding, as a result, may influence several pain signaling pathways.

Because CBD itself does not bind very well to ECS receptors, it instead binds to other non-cannabinoid receptor pathways, which may help suppress pain and decrease inflammation.

This behavior means that CBD may work synergistically with other body systems that regulate pain, making your body feel better.

The Side Effects

You may be wondering what makes CBD so unique. After all, it will provide you with the same results that you hope to achieve with painkillers; to reduce pain.

However, one significant way that CBD may be a better option is if you’re trying to avoid the side effects that come with conventional pain medication.

Side Effects of Painkillers

Although pain medications are readily available and may be an excellent solution for short-term pain treatment, they have many side effects.

Short-term side effects of Acetaminophen may include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, trouble falling asleep, and anxiety.

According to a study review, long-term side effects include a small increased risk of conditions such as heart attacks, gastrointestinal bleeding, and impaired kidney function.

As for NSAIDs, long-term usage can cause kidney and stomach problems, fluid retention, and high blood pressure.

On the other hand, opioids pose a danger when mixed with other drugs, and they are highly addictive.

Side Effects of CBD

Although CBD may be well-tolerated by people, you may initially experience a few mild side effects.

These may include dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue.

These side effects are temporary and end as soon as the CBD leaves your system. The best way to avoid these side effects is to start slow and gradually build up to acclimate your body.

In addition, no long-term side effects of CBD may develop if used correctly.

What makes CBD exceptionally safe is that you don’t have to worry about becoming dependent on it, as current research suggests that it isn’t addictive.

Dosage and Effects

Another factor that differentiates painkillers and CBD is the dosage and how fast you feel the effects.

The type needed to be administered for painkillers, and its dosage is decided based on the pain condition.

Usually, this will also determine how long the effects will last.

On the other hand, CBD is a little tricky to work with when it comes to dosage. Because it is still undergoing research, no specific clinical guidelines on the dose of the products are available.

Furthermore, because there are so many methods of consumption present for CBD, your route of administration will determine how quickly CBD reaches your bloodstream and how fast you will feel the effects.

Similarly, since the effects depend on the product’s bioavailability, this also means that how long the results last depends on your method of consumption.

Although the bioavailability may be a little confusing, especially if you’re only starting in your CBD journey, it actually puts you at an advantage.

Taking CBD will mean you’ll have more control over managing your pain.

You can choose your method of consumption according to how quickly you want to feel the effects or how long you want them to last.

Let’s review!

If you’re still unsure how CBD and painkillers differ and which one you should use for pain management, let’s once go over the pros and cons of CBD over painkillers.


  • Painkillers generally have to be taken by mouth, whereas various consumption methods are available for CBD. You can go in the way you find most comfortable! 

  • There are a limited number of side effects associated with CBD compared to those that come with traditional pain medication.

  • You can manage your pain symptoms better when using CBD to determine how fast or how long you want to feel the effects.


  • Research surrounding CBD is still incomplete, whereas painkillers have made it to the market after rigorous research.

  • Painkillers come with extensive instructions for dosage. However, dosage with CBD can be tricky as bioavailability plays a prominent role in the outcome of CBD consumption.


CBD products may help you with your pain management just as well as painkillers without the side effects.

Of course, how you choose to manage your pain depends on what method you find the most appealing.   

However, whether you’re thinking of using CBD, painkillers, or both, it is best to do your research and then run your plans by your doctor to help you make the right decision.

Sharing is caring!