A team of researchers from three Polish universities set out to determine whether the well-known analgesic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) could also help patients suffering from myofascial pain (MFP) and temporomandibular disorders (TMD, better known as TMJ). These kinds of pain, which are believed to be caused by bruxism (involuntary grinding of the teeth), can manifest as face or neck pain, headaches, or pain in the ear.
“Myofascial pain within masseter muscles [the muscles around the jaw] is a common disorder,” the study authors wrote. “Innovative methods to reduce muscle tonus and allow masticatory muscles to recover from myofascial pain are in demand. CBD as a safe alternative to THC should be carefully studied in all possible applications in medicine.”
Researchers selected 60 subjects from a group of 87 patients attending the Department of Temporomandibular Disorders, Medical University of Silesia in Zabrze, Poland. These patients, between the ages of 18 and 60 and judged to be in good general health despite their TMD, were then further divided into two groups for a double-blind clinical trial.
Subjects in the experimental group received an ointment containing a 20 percent concentration of CBD oil, while the control group received a similar ointment without CBD. Each group was asked to apply the lotion on the skin surface of their masseter muscles, at the sides of the face. Every subject was asked to apply the lotion twice daily for two weeks.
The researchers used surface electromyography (sEMG) to determine the amount of masseter muscle activity both before and after the trial. For the subjects who used the CBD lotion, masseter muscle activity declined by around 12 percent, compared to less than 3 percent in the control group.
Subjects were also asked to self-report the intensity of their facial pain before the trial began, and again when it concluded. Patients in the CBD group reported an astounding 70.2 percent decrease in pain intensity, compared to 9.81 percent in the control group.
The CBD lotion significantly reduced “pain intensity of masseter muscles… and improves the condition of the muscle in patients with MFP,” the researchers concluded. “Further research is needed in this field, but CBD, as an alternative for THC, should be taken into consideration in the therapy of masticatory muscles in patients with TMD… Advanced clinical trials should be conducted to determine the dose, route of administration, and effectiveness of CBD in the therapy of myofascial pain of masseter muscles.”