Cannabis has been a staple of ancient medicine for thousands of years, with the first recorded use going back to around 2700 B.C.E. in ancient China. But thanks to medical, scientific, and legal advances, cannabis - especially CBD - could soon become a staple of modern medicine as well.
According to Advil’s website, their products have been on pharmacy shelves for over 35 years, offering “powerful relief from several kinds of pain, including headache, muscle aches, minor arthritis and other joint pain, and backache…”
Preliminary and anecdotal evidence suggests CBD can also help those symptoms. The question is whether CBD is a better painkiller than Advil or other over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Many will answer with an emphatic “yes,” but as with any novel medical treatment, it’s important to take various factors into consideration.
What is Advil?
Advil is a brand name for ibuprofen, which was originally discovered in the 1960s. Ironically, we’ve known about CBD since 1940, but legal barriers effectively buried its existence.
This non-prescription drug is affordable, accessible, and more effective for pain control than acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol).
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), meaning it works by combating inflammation. The drug inhibits the production of prostalgins, which are chemical compounds that trigger inflammation, pain, and fever.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) needs little introduction. Once an obscure cannabinoid living in THC’s shadow, CBD is now a household name with a long list of potential benefits.
A significant portion of CBD users consume the product for pain, among other things. Its versatility and non-intoxicating effects make it a highly attractive option for people seeking relief outside of conventional medication.
Like Advil, CBD suppresses inflammation. However, the mechanism of action is different. According to a 2009 publication in Future Medicinal Chemistry, CBD attacks inflammation by inhibiting cytokine production.
Cytokines are proteins that signal an inflammatory reaction in immune cells. Without those cytokines, the body’s inflammatory response is significantly reduced.
Is CBD Better for Pain than Advil?
Although the biggest question is whether CBD outperforms Advil as an analgesic, effectiveness is just one factor to consider. Even if CBD is a better painkiller, it might not be for you.
Assuming you’re comfortable with trying CBD supplements for pain, it’s important to do your research before you buy. For some excellent suggestions, check out this list of the best CBD oil products in 2022.
Before you make a decision to replace your Advil with CBD, there are several things we need to address.
Although Advil manufacturers are diligent in placing childproof lids on their products, the bottom line is that consuming too much Advil can be and has been responsible for deaths and hospitalizations among children and adults alike.
So far, nobody has been harmed or hospitalized from excessive CBD consumption. In fact, CBD is biphasic, meaning exceeding the “sweet spot” dose reduces the product’s effectiveness. At worst, too much CBD could lead to mild side effects, including:
- Upset stomach
- Appetite changes
Advil’s side-effects are also potentially worse than CBD’s. The company’s FAQ section warns that their product could result in potentially deadly allergic reactions - although these are rare.
All NSAIDs may trigger stomach bleeding in certain individuals, specifically those 60 years of age or older. People with ulcers and other chronic conditions should also avoid these products.
Once more, CBD scores points for possessing none of those aforementioned risks.
Both CBD and Advil can cause complications when consumed with certain drugs. Drugs.com - a drug information database - lists 365 medications that may interact with Advil.
CBD has its own list of potential interactions. As of March 2022, some medications in the following drug categories are known to interfere with CBD - or vice-versa:
- Angiotension II Blockers
- Anticonvulsants / Anti-Seizure Medications
- Calcium Channel Blockers
- HIV Antivirals
- HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitors (Statins)
- Immune Modulators
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
- Oral Hypoglycemic Agents
- Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
- Steroids and Corticosteroids
Whether you choose Advil or CBD for pain, make sure you consult with a doctor or specialist.
Bioavailability refers to the amount of medication utilized by the body after metabolism. In this area, ibuprofen substantially outperforms CBD.
Vaporized CBD has a bioavailability of around 50 to 80%, depending on the device. Oral CBD’s bioavailability is much lower, sitting at roughly 20%.
Ibuprofen’s bioavailability, on the other hand, is “absolutely absorbed,” which is a term given to medications with 100% bioavailability.
Advil is substantially cheaper than CBD. Although prices on quality CBD products have become more competitive over the years, a bottle of Advil is a smaller investment than CBD.
Still, CBD’s potential ability to mitigate a variety of symptoms gives it a much broader scope than the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory applications from Advil.
Ibuprofen costs less, but its therapeutic effects are limited compared to CBD’s. So we can argue that, while CBD is more expensive, it offers better medical value.
Now comes the final question: is CBD a better painkiller than Advil?
We’ve established that CBD is significantly safer than Advil. But that doesn’t mean much if cannabidiol underperforms against its synthetic counterpart.
Fortunately, the preliminary research so far points in CBD’s favor. One reason CBD is so effective is that, unlike ibuprofen, CBD attacks the issue at its source by targeting cytokines. Advil and similar medications simply mask the symptoms.
Conclusion: Is CBD a Better Painkiller than Advil?
As we’ve seen, Advil (ibuprofen) and CBD are two very different substances. Both have benefits and drawbacks.
From a therapeutic perspective, CBD is more effective against pain and offers greater versatility. Advil, however, is cheaper and more bioavailable.
Both products can cause issues with certain drugs, which is why it’s crucial you consult with a medical expert.