Is CBD Better Than Advil for Pain?

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Written by Jen Keehn

Dr. Zora DeGrandpre

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zora DeGrandpre

Are you in pain? Here. Grab an Advil. Take it! Take it! Your pain will go away soon. And then thank you, Advil!

But really?

Are Advil or other forms of ibuprofen (Motrin) really worthy of your praise and thanks? What about the side effects?

Ibuprofen (Advil) comes in both over-the-counter strength (100mg and 200mg), along with 400mg, 600mg and 800mg, which are prescription medication strength.

We’re going to introduce you to an all-natural alternative to NSAIDs such as Advil/Ibuprofen. CBD vs Ibuprofen: Is one better than the other? Let’s find out.

What you should know about Advil (Short and Longterm Effects)

Advil, whose generic name ibuprofen, is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug or NSAID, and is one of the most popular painkillers. 

NSAIDs like Advil are easily accessible, affordable, and effective in giving you pain relief.

But what if I told you that Advil has side effects that you should be wary of?

It is a relatively long list, but here is a shortened version: upset stomach, bloating, gassiness, constipation, indigestion, heart palpitations, hypertension (high blood pressure), loss of appetite, headache, hot flashes, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, sweating, swollen ankles and lightheadedness.

Long-term use of Advil/Ibuprofen can cause ulcers, hearing loss, an increased risk of heart attacks and kidney and/or liver damage1. Taking “ibuprofen during the first stages of inflammation can have repercussions on the immune system by interfering with optimal antibody production”2, as well.

But many people think they need their Advil to control pain and ignore all the side effects they might have read about long-term Advil use.

Unfortunately, the side effects of Advil are real.

doctor discussing medical issues with a patient

The longer you use Advil/ibuprofen painkillers and the higher their dosage, the higher your risk for developing hearing loss, kidney disease, heart problems, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

What You Should Know About CBD (The Safe Way to Go)

CBD Oil Vs Advil/Ibuprofen

We know that Advil/Ibuprofen have side effects—sometimes serious ones. What is the safety profile for CBD?  

The most current review of the adverse effects (AE) and toxic effects of CBD oil, which comes from two types of cannabis plant: a hemp plant and a marijuana plant, have concluded that “In humans receiving the drug for the treatment of epilepsies and psychiatric disorders, the most common AEs included tiredness, diarrhea, nausea, and hepatotoxicity. 

Overall, the incidence of these occurrences is low and, in comparison with other drugs employed for the treatment of these diseases, CBD has a better side effect profile3.” The review also stated that CBD has been associated with fetal toxicity, so at this point, it is safest that CBD should not be taken by pregnant women, but that overall, CBD is associated with an acceptable safety profile and needs to be further investigated for drug interactions.

What drugs might interact with CBD4? Drug interactions have to do with the actions of liver enzymes and may result in either decreased or increased actions of various drugs when used together. The major concerns are interactions with:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Leflunomide
  • Levomethadyl acetate
  • Lomitapide
  • Mipomersen
  • Pexidartinib
  • Propoxyphene
  • Sodium oxybate
  • Teriflunomide

multiple colored pills in a pileAlso, look for the “grapefruit warning” which indicates that people taking a particular medication should avoid eating or drinking grapefruit or grapefruit juice. 

For most people, the side effects of CBD are minimal and temporary, but you should always talk to your healthcare provider and pharmacist before adding CBD (or any other product) to your routine.

But how effective is CBD in reducing pain and inflammation—compared to Advil/Ibuprofen or any other anti-inflammatory drug?

We don’t have direct comparisons between Advil/Ibuprofen and CBD for pain and inflammation. But we do know that CBD is effective in reducing pain under various circumstances such as for arthritic pain, headaches, chronic pain and other painful conditions5, 6. As mentioned, we also know that CBD is quite safe when used for these conditions—whether in a topical form—as in reducing pain in arthritic joints—or as CBD oil or capsule for chronic pain.

Importantly, CBD doesn’t have any intoxicating effects and won’t produce hallucinations, mood changes, mental changes, drowsiness, etc. because it is a non-psychoactive compound and is, in fact, neuroprotective7, 8

Comparing the Uses of Advil and CBD

Both Advil and CBD are used for pain and inflammation.

But CBD oil has the ability to help more than just these symptoms though.  CBD is also an effective antioxidant, so while it’s reducing pain and inflammation, it’s also protecting the healthy cells against the destructive byproducts of metabolism like free radicals9. In other words, not only is CBD an effective tool for pain relief, it also helps protect your body from damage.

Smart CBD Dosing Advice

The generally accepted approach is to “Start low and go slow”. This means to start with as low a dose as possible—by taking, for example ¼ of a dropperful of CBD oil or cutting a CBD edible into quarters.  Then, give yourself at least 20 minutes to monitor the effects.  If there are no noticeable effects—eg. little or no pain relief, start slowly increasing the dose—by adding, for example, an additional ½ dropperful of CBD oil or ½ an edible. Monitor your response, giving the CBD oil at least 20-30 minutes to spread through your body. Once you find your best dose, you are done!  If you are using topical CBD, the same approach can be used—using a very small amount to start and slowly increasing the amount your rub into your aching joint. With CBD oil, you have more control with your dosage.

hands measuring out CBD into a spoon 

A common starting dose is 2.5 mg of CBD per day, slowly increased to about 20 mg of CBD per day for many.

Could CBD oil be better than Advil or Ibuprofen?

It’s obviously your choice whether to use Advil and other ibuprofen products or to use CBD for your pain.  But reading through all the research studies reporting that CBD can benefit even persistent, chronic, and intractable pain and be knowing it has an excellent safety profile, what do you honestly think?

Let us know in the comments section below.

I’ll leave you with one more thought to ponder:

According to a Professor at the University of Oxford’s Department of Pharmacology, Dr. Leslie Iversen, in a book he published in 2000 entitled “The Science of Marijuana,” cannabis is safer than aspirin.

As always, please speak to your doctor and pharmacist before using either Advil/Ibuprofen and CBD oil for any condition.

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1Ibuprofen Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term. (2020, July 26). Retrieved January 07, 2021, from 

2Bancos, S., Bernard, M. P., Topham, D. J., & Phipps, R. P. (2009). Ibuprofen and other widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit antibody production in human cells. Cellular immunology258(1), 18–28.

3Huestis, M. A., Solimini, R., Pichini, S., Pacifici, R., Carlier, J., & Busardò, F. P. (2019). Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity. Current neuropharmacology17(10), 974–989.

4Brown, J., & Winterstein, A. (2019, July 08). Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug–Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from

5VanDolah, H. J., BA, Bauer, B. A., MD, & Mauck, K. F., MD. (2019, August 21). Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from

6Argueta, D. A., Ventura, C. M., Kiven, S., Sagi, V., & Gupta, K. (2020). A Balanced Approach for Cannabidiol Use in Chronic Pain. Frontiers in pharmacology11, 561.

7Iuvone T, Esposito G, Esposito R, Santamaria R, Di Rosa M, Izzo AA. Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non‐psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on β‐amyloid‐induced toxicity in PC12 cells. Journal of neurochemistry. 2004 Feb;89(1):134-41. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from

8Costa B, Trovato AE, Comelli F, Giagnoni G, Colleoni M. The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. European journal of pharmacology. 2007 Feb 5;556(1-3):75-83. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from

9Hampson AJ, Grimaldi M, Axelrod J, Wink D. Cannabidiol and (−) Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1998 Jul 7;95(14):8268-73. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from

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