Can CBD Help With Plantar Fasciitis?

  • Plantar fasciitis is ligamentous inflammation in the bottom of the foot. A study demonstrated how CBD helped reduce inflammation on animal subjects by stimulating different pain receptors (1)
  • An animal study from Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management mentioned how CBD’s analgesic properties might help manage difficult-to-treat pain (2)
  • The European Journal of Pain posted a 2016 study on transdermal CBD use in animal subjects. Results demonstrated that the daily application of CBD gel reduced pain and improved limb posture (3).
  • There is a lack of definitive study on how CBD might affect inflammation and pain in human joints and ligaments. Most existing studies are done on animal subjects.

Can CBD Really Help With Plantar Fasciitis?

The inflammation of the plantar fascia (thick ligament attached to the heel) is known as plantar fasciitis. This condition is usually accompanied by unbearable pain and difficulty walking. 

Plantar fasciitis may lead to chronic conditions and problems in other parts of the body, such as the back, knee, and hips (4).

The plantar fascia is designed to protect humans from pressure and pain on the feet. Many factors can cause injury and inflammation, such as repetitive impact activities, sports, and obesity. 

Most studies on CBD’s therapeutic potential demonstrated tests on joint conditions, such as arthritis. Researchers have yet to find how CBD might affect pain and inflammation on the plantar fascia.

However, like joints, the plantar fascia is crucial in bodily movements. Both plantar fascia and joints are composed of ligaments that constantly absorb high stresses. 

Inflammation of the plantar fascia can also be accompanied by heel pain, ankle pain, and overall foot pain.

An animal study posted in the European Journal of Rheumatology showed how cannabidiol (CBD) might help with alleviating inflammation by stimulating pain receptors in the central nervous system (5)

The authors mentioned that these receptors are present in the joints and other ligaments in the body. The study concluded that stimulating the receptors might be advantageous for treating inflammatory pain (6)

Another study demonstrated how CBD effectively blocked the progression of arthritis in animal subjects. The study showed that a 5-25mg/d (milligrams per day) CBD dose was able to produce an anti-arthritic effect in collagen-induced arthritis (7).

Moreover, CBD has been known to reduce rat models’ pain scores when applied topically on target areas.

A study published in the European Journal of Pain demonstrated how transdermal CBD application reduced inflammation, thereby improving pain rating scores and limb posture among the animal subjects (8)

The study also concluded that CBD might possess anti-inflammatory properties and help treat chronic pain. The authors added that CBD showed almost no side effects on animal subjects. 

Still, all the studies mentioned remain a hypothesis. There is still a lack of comprehensive studies on how CBD might help inflammation and pain in human ligaments. 

How CBD Oil Works to Help With Plantar Fasciitis

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is composed of endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and G-coupled receptors located throughout the human body

The receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2), can be found mostly in the central nervous system, immune system, and peripheral organs. The function of the ECS is to modulate biological processes within the body (9).

Stimulating the ECS has therapeutic applications in several health conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases (10), chronic pain (11), anxiety, insomnia (12), and epilepsy (13)

The more abundant receptor, CB1, can be found in pain circuits. CB1 also participates in influencing anti-inflammatory effects (14).

Cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have an affinity to CB1 receptors. 

In a study shared by Current Neuropharmacology, cannabinoid receptor agonists play a role in stimulating CB1 receptors, providing therapeutic effects on chronic pain conditions, such as neuropathic pain (15)

The British Journal of Pharmacology published a 2018 study that acknowledged how CBD, even with its low affinity to the receptors, can act as both CB1 agonist and antagonist (16).

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Plantar Fasciitis

The Pros

  • CBD might help reduce inflammation in ligaments and provide relief from pain (17)
  • CBD might help block the progression of arthritis and other painful ligament conditions, such as plantar fasciitis (18).
  • Studies demonstrated how the transdermal application of CBD helped in reducing pain on target areas (19).
  • Studies acknowledged that CBD is safe for human consumption (20).  

The Cons

  • CBD is poorly regulated. Individuals are encouraged to do extensive research before choosing a CBD brand. 
  • CBD may cause side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, and loss of appetite (21).
  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that extremely high doses of CBD might cause liver injury (22).
  • There is a lack of definitive study on how CBD may affect inflammation and pain in human joints and ligaments. Most existing studies are done on animal subjects.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

Podiatrists may recommend prescription medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or physical therapy for plantar fasciitis.

However, some individuals may not tolerate side effects or find physical therapy time consuming and expensive. The side effects may also be the reason why people are turning to alternative pain relief solutions.

A natural aid for plantar fasciitis is massaging the affected area. Lavender essential oil, often used in massages, is a known alternative for its anti-inflammatory properties (23).

Individuals can use CBD oil as a massaging agent. Like the lavender essential oil, CBD is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties (24)

How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Plantar Fasciitis

Individuals looking for pain relief may opt for full-spectrum CBD or broad-spectrum CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids present in hemp plants, such as CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and THC

Full-spectrum CBD oil is prohibited from containing more than 0.3% THC due to the United States’ federal law.

Broad-spectrum CBD contains the same cannabinoids as full-spectrum, except for THC. Some individuals may prefer not to have any THC in their system due to work, school, or lifestyle choices. 

Both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD provide the “entourage effect,” meaning an individual takes in the supposed health benefits of all the cannabinoids in one dosing. 

Some individuals may prefer not to take or cannot tolerate other cannabinoids. In that case, CBD isolate is available for them to use, either in powder form or liposome form.  

CBD Dosage for Plantar Fasciitis

Currently, there is no universally-accepted dosage for CBD. Experts advise that first-time CBD users start with a low dose and gradually increase once the body gets used to the cannabinoid. 

The British Journal of Pharmacology posted a recent study that recommended less than 1 milligram to 50 milligrams a day (25). However, this amount was recommended for unrelated conditions, such as epilepsy, anxiety, and insomnia. 

Studies have yet to determine the appropriate topical CBD amount when reducing pain in target areas. 

Individuals must always use caution when experimenting with CBD dosage. Another recent study has discovered that high CBD dosages may lead to liver damage(26)

How to Take CBD Oil for Plantar Fasciitis

When taking CBD oil for plantar fasciitis, the quickest administration is through vaping. A study had mentioned that the lungs are very efficient in absorbing compounds. 

The study explained that CBD inhaled through aerosols or vaporizations can deliver plasma concentrations in the bloodstream. The supposed health benefits of CBD can be felt in 10 minutes or less (27)

However, vaping can potentially cause harm, such as chemical irritation, allergic reactions, shortness of breath, and chest pains (28).

For people who do not want to vape, they may opt for topical administration. This method is the most popular among individuals with localized pain, such as plantar fasciitis.

Topical products are available as lotions, creams, gels, and salves. These products are also recommended for use on Achilles tendonitis (overuse of the Achilles) and other forms of foot pain

The transdermal application of CBD is recommended for athletes or sports enthusiasts due to the products’ anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to quickly address target areas (29).

Other administration methods include oral or sublingual (under the tongue) delivery in the form of capsules or tinctures

Sublingual delivery can be done by using an applicator to drop CBD tinctures under the tongue. However, note that some tinctures may have an earthy taste and smell due to terpenes and flavonoids added into the concentration. 

Individuals who do not care for the distinct flavor may opt for tinctures with peppermint flavoring or CBD capsules. CBD capsules are usually taken with meals.

Both oral and sublingual deliveries allow for optimal absorption (30).  

Some additional things to consider before taking CBD:

  • Check the certificate of analysis (COA), a third-party lab test result.
  • Individuals must discuss their treatment options with a licensed physician before using CBD products for medical conditions.
  • Topical creams and gels may contain other compounds, such as essential oils or fragrances. Individuals are advised to test a small amount of topical CBD on the skin to test for allergic reactions. 
  • Always check product reviews and testimonials for additional information.

FAQ

What Are the Causes of Plantar Fasciitis?

The common causes of heel pain include the following (31):

  • Age – Plantar fasciitis is common among individuals ages 40-60.
  • Occupation – Jobs that require the individuals to stand for long periods may cause plantar fasciitis.
  • Foot mechanics – Flat-footed individuals are more likely to get plantar fasciitis.
  • Specific exercises – Exercises and over-use, like repetitive jumping, dancing, and long-distance running, may place a lot of stress on the heels.
  • Obesity – The heavier one weighs, the more stress their heels endure.

What Are the Natural Remedies for Plantar Fasciitis?

Individuals must know that plantar fasciitis treatment may not be effective if they do not address the root cause.

For some, this may be a lifestyle change, like less strenuous exercise, reducing weight, or changing one’s occupation (32)

  • Wear shoes with plenty of arch support. 
  • Orthotic inserts provide extra support for the heels and help with distributing weight more evenly.
  • Worn out shoes can cause many foot injuries. Active individuals must regularly replace athletic shoes.
  • Apply ice on the affected area in 15 to 20-minute intervals.
  • Simple exercises can stretch the plantar fascia, calf muscles, and Achilles tendon. Stretching can help relieve pain.  
  • Physical therapists may recommend the use of night splints. This device stretches the calf and foot arch while sleeping.
  • Individuals must remember to get plenty of rest.
  • Reducing body weight can help prevent foot problems.

In 2018, the United States Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp derivatives, such as hemp oil and CBD. These derivatives are legal for commercial use as long as THC levels are 0.3% or lower. The US does not require consumers to procure a medical description when buying CBD products

Although CBD is legal, the industry remains highly unregulated. There are plenty of CBD brands that claim their products contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids. 

To distinguish which brands are legitimate, individuals can search for the COA. The COA is a test result from third-party ISO-certified laboratories. 

With the COA, consumers know the exact cannabinoid content in the product. The COA also determines if the product is free from harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals, fungicides, pesticides, and other contaminants.

Conclusion

Studies have shown that CBD has therapeutic potential in treating pain by stimulating CB1 receptors in animal subjects (33)

Animal studies also demonstrated that CBD’s transdermal application might reduce inflammation and pain on the joints (34)

While there are no conclusive studies on CBD’s efficacy on plantar fasciitis pain management, researchers agree that the cannabinoid may have therapeutic potential on ligaments.

Currently, most studies are using animal models. More data is needed to support CBD’s clinical value as a treatment for pain and inflammation. 

Individuals are advised to discuss treatment options with a medical professional before including CBD into their daily regimen.


  1. Schuelert N, McDougall JJ. The abnormal cannabidiol analogue O-1602 reduces nociception in a rat model of acute arthritis via the putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55. Neurosci Lett. 2011;500(1):72‐76. DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2011.06.004.
  2. Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928
  3. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818
  4. The Mayo Clinic. Plantar Fasciitis Overview. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354846
  5. Barrie, N., & Manolios, N. (2017). The endocannabinoid system in pain and inflammation: Its relevance to rheumatic disease. European journal of rheumatology, 4(3), 210–218. https://doi.org/10.5152/eurjrheum.2017.17025
  6. Ibid.
  7. Malfait AM, Gallily R, Sumariwalla PF, et al. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000;97(17):9561-9566. doi:10.1073/pnas.160105897
  8. Hammell, D. C. (2016), Op Cit.
  9. Lu, H. C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biological psychiatry, 79(7), 516–525. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028
  10. Khan, M. I., Sobocińska, A. A., Czarnecka, A. M., Król, M., Botta, B., & Szczylik, C. (2016). The Therapeutic Aspects of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) for Cancer and their Development: From Nature to Laboratory. Current pharmaceutical design, 22(12), 1756–1766. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612822666151211094901
  11. Mlost, J., Wąsik, A., & Starowicz, K. (2019). Role of endocannabinoid system in dopamine signalling within the reward circuits affected by chronic pain. Pharmacological research, 143, 40–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2019.02.029
  12. Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
  13. Silvestro, S., Mammana, S., Cavalli, E., Bramanti, P., & Mazzon, E. (2019). Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(8), 1459. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24081459
  14. Manzanares, J., Julian, M., & Carrascosa, A. (2006). Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Current neuropharmacology, 4(3), 239–257. https://doi.org/10.2174/157015906778019527
  15. Ibid
  16. Thomas A, Baillie GL, Phillips AM, Razdan RK, Ross RA, Pertwee RG. Cannabidiol displays unexpectedly high potency as an antagonist of CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists in vitro. Br J Pharmacol. 2007;150(5):613-623. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707133
  17. Schuelert N, (2011)., Op cit.
  18.  Malfait AM.,  (2000)., Op cit.
  19. Hammell, D. C. (2016), Op Cit.
  20. Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 139–154. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0034
  21. Bauer, B. (2018, Dec 20). What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  22. FDA. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
  23. Cardia, G., Silva-Filho, S. E., Silva, E. L., Uchida, N. S., Cavalcante, H., Cassarotti, L. L., Salvadego, V., Spironello, R. A., Bersani-Amado, C. A., & Cuman, R. (2018). Effect of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil on Acute Inflammatory Response. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 1413940. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1413940
  24. Schuelert N, (2011)., Op cit.
  25. Millar, S. A., Stone, N. L., Bellman, Z. D., Yates, A. S., England, T. J., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2019). A systematic review of cannabidiol dosing in clinical populations. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 85(9), 1888–1900. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14038
  26. FDA. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out)., Op cit.
  27. Devinsky, O., Cilio, M. R., Cross, H., Fernandez-Ruiz, J., French, J., Hill, C., Katz, R., Di Marzo, V., Jutras-Aswad, D., Notcutt, W. G., Martinez-Orgado, J., Robson, P. J., Rohrback, B. G., Thiele, E., Whalley, B., & Friedman, D. (2014). Cannabidiol: pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Epilepsia, 55(6), 791–802. https://doi.org/10.1111/epi.12631
  28. Shmerling, R.H., Can Vaping Damage Your Lungs? (2019)., Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-vaping-damage-your-lungs-what-we-do-and-dont-know-2019090417734
  29. Hammell, D. C. (2016), Op Cit.
  30. Millar, S. A.,(2019)., Op cit.
  31. The Mayo Clinic. Plantar Fasciitis Overview., Op cit.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Schuelert N, (2011)., Op cit.
  34. Hammell, D. C. (2016), Op Cit.
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