Being a nurse is physically and emotionally taxing. Many nurses experience pain and soreness in their back, legs, and feet from long shifts. Nurses must also contend with the stress, anxiety, and even sleep disturbances that have become more prevalent since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In recent years, the use of cannabis products to treat medical or physical ailments has seen growing acceptance in the health care and scientific community. Cannabidiol, or CBD, a type of cannabinoid derived from oil in hemp plants, was legalized at the federal level in the 2018 Farm Bill. Since its legalization, CBD use has grown in popularity.

To comply with federal law, hemp-derived CBD products must contain less than 0.3% of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis plants that causes people to feel high.

Although human trials still need to be ramped up on CBD’s uses and effectiveness, some research and anecdotal evidence indicate there are at least three potential benefits for nurses from the use of CBD.

Relieving Muscle Pain and Joint Inflammation

Nurses frequently work long hours and do a lot of heavy lifting when helping patients or moving equipment during their shifts, often resulting in a variety of aches and pains.

CBD has been shown to be a natural anti-inflammatory that can help reduce neck, back, and muscle pain that nurses experience, according to Morgan Cox, co-owner of CBD Stat, a LGBTQ- and family-owned company that sells products made from CBD, such as oils, topical creams, and muscle roll-ons and is co-owned by her spouse Leah Greenwood, RN, and her father William Cox.

While research on the topic remains somewhat limited, some studies support the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of CBD in reducing pain and inflammation.

Morgan Cox, who has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and has spent much of her career in athletics, movement, anatomy, and nutrition, said cannabidiol may appeal to nurses and others who don’t want to rely on prescription drugs or painkillers to alleviate pain.

“It’s pretty much a healthier alternative than having to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen every day,” she said. “We’re trying to create a more natural option [for pain relief].”

Tina Vinsant, a travel nurse from Tennessee, has been using CBD products for more than a year to alleviate foot and heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. She learned about the potential benefits of CBD from a nurse podcast she runs and from a friend, who is also a nurse.

Vinsant said she applies a CBD ointment to her feet before she goes to bed at night, which helps relieve the muscle tightness and pain she often experienced. “It relaxes the tissue so that it’s not so tight. I’m just happy it works. I really love it.”

Greenwood, who works full time as a nurse in addition to being part owner of CBD Stat, said using CBD topicals has helped her with the aches and pains that come with her nursing career.

“When I would come home, I would have horrible shin and arch pain, and I would have to elevate my leg for an hour,” she said. “Now I massage the topicals into the bottom of my feet at the end of each shift, and I haven’t had to elevate my feet since. I no longer have arch pain after a long shift and have noticed a massive reduction in the number of aches and pains I face each day.”

While CBD is used in topical products to relieve common neck, back, and other pains, Morgan Cox said many of their customers also have given feedback about how it helps them with chronic pain symptoms from conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sciatica.

Some research also suggests CBD may help alleviate chronic pain. A new study in the July 16 issue of the journal Cureus involved a systematic review of research on the efficacy and safety of CBD for chronic pain over the past five years.

The study’s authors concluded that, “CBD is an excellent alternative to an opioid in [addressing] chronic pain because CBD is non-intoxicating in its pure form. More clinical trials should be done to prove CBD’s significance clinically and statistically.”

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