• CBD has purported analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and muscle-relaxing properties(1). These potential health benefits may help with symptoms linked to TMJ disorder.
  • Common TMJ disorder symptoms include jaw pain, swelling on the side of the face, and muscle tension in the jaw(2).
  • A 2019 study suggested that transdermal CBD application may be an optimal delivery method for TMJ disorder(3).
  • Studies regarding CBD’s effect on TMJ disorder are limited. Therefore, more longitudinal research is warranted to elucidate how CBD may help with such a condition.
  • There is no standard dosage chart available for the use of CBD in TMJ disorder.

Why People Are Using CBD for TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder or temporomandibular joint disorder, sometimes called TMD, is a dysfunction of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which joins the lower jawbone to the skull(4)

People with TMJ disorder typically experience jaw pain, swelling on the side of the face, and muscle tension in the jaw(5).

CBD (cannabidiol) has purported analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant properties(6). These therapeutic potentials may be the reason why people are using CBD for TMJ disorder.   

How CBD May Help Alleviate Symptoms of TMJ Disorder: Does CBD Help With TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder is associated with pain and inflammation(7). Although studies regarding the effects of CBD on TMJ disorder are limited, CBD’s therapeutic potential and activity in the ECS may elucidate how CBD may help with such a condition. 

CBD constitutes about 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract. CBD works by binding to various physiological targets of the ECS (endocannabinoid system)(8)

The ECS is responsible for bodily homeostasis or balance and comprises cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), enzymes, and endocannabinoids.

Cannabidiol has a weak affinity for cannabinoid receptors. However, CBD agonist activity at CB2 receptors may account for the compound’s anti-inflammatory properties and influences on pain(9)

An agonist is a drug that activates a receptor to elicit a response. 

The putative efficacy of CBD for pain and inflammation is plausible considering the compound’s pharmacology. 

Still, more research is warranted to ascertain whether CBD is indeed helpful in alleviating TMJ-related symptoms. 

The Effects of CBD on TMJ Disorder

A randomized, double-blind trial from the Journal of Clinical Medicine suggested that transdermal cannabidiol application induced myorelaxant (muscle relaxant) potential to help patients with TMJ disorder or TMD(10).

Transdermal administration involves active ingredients being supplied across the skin for systematic distribution.

Pain is common in TMJ disorder(11)

The pain is labeled as TMJ pain when symptoms are felt near the temporomandibular joint. On the other hand, the sensation is considered neuropathic pain when it is linked to the onset of undetermined sensory symptoms in the orofacial region(12).

Neuropathic pain or nerve pain may go away on its own. However, there are instances when it may become chronic. 

A 2020 research article from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences mentioned that in various inflammatory-induced chronic pain models, cannabinoids like CBD may exert anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects(13)

Osteoarthritis or OA is a form of degenerative joint disease that occurs mainly in the hips, hands, and knees. This type of arthritis can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain(14)

OA can also affect other joints in the body, including TMJ(15)

A study indicated that 250mg of CBD gel administered twice daily for 12 weeks reduced knee pain scores of adults with OA. Nevertheless, the researchers observed that CBD was not statistically different from placebo(16)

The Pros and Cons of Using CBD Oil for TMJ Disorder

Using CBD oil for TMJ disorder has some pros and cons. Here are a few things people should consider before administering CBD oil to help with TMJ disorder and other associated symptoms

The Pros

  • CBD may have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant properties(17). These purported health benefits may help with symptoms linked to TMJ disorder.Individuals with TMJ disorder often experience pain, swelling, and muscle tension around the jaw or face(18).
  • Cannabidiol has a favorable safety profile(19).
  • Transdermal CBD application may be helpful for patients with TMD(20).

The Cons  

  • Research on the effect of CBD on jaw muscles and TMJ disorder is inconclusive.
  • The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not approve CBD as a potential therapeutic agent for TMJ disorders.
  • CBD use may induce some risks and side effects, such as dry mouth, drowsiness, and low blood pressure(21).  

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for TMJ Disorder

An alternative treatment option for TMJ disorder is acupuncture(22)

Acupuncture is an alternative Chinese medicine in which thin metallic needles are inserted through the skin at strategic points on one’s body. 

A study from the journal Medicine hypothesized that conventional acupuncture therapy may be an effective treatment in decreasing pain in patients with TMJ disorder or TMD, especially those with myofascial pain symptoms(23).

Myofascial pain syndrome causes pain in the musculoskeletal system. The primary symptoms of this chronic condition include localized muscle pain and trigger points that activate the pain(24).   

Generally, acupuncture is relatively safe, and its complication rate seems low(25). Still, available studies regarding acupuncture’s pain-relieving effects have mixed reviews(26)

Meanwhile, CBD also has purported pain-relieving properties driven by its pharmacological action and psychological placebo effects(27)

The placebo effect establishes a stronger connection between the body and brain and how they work together(28)

CBD is also safe and well tolerated in humans(29). However, like acupuncture, CBD’s therapeutic benefits, including its pain-relieving potential, and the related research literature are inconclusive.

How to Take CBD for TMJ Disorder

The most commonly used CBD delivery methods are the following:

  • Ingestion
  • Inhalation
  • Sublingual (under the tongue) method
  • Topical application

Researchers examining the efficacy of CBD in patients with TMD suggested that transdermal CBD administration seemed to be optimal(30).  

A study from Nature Biotechnology suggested that transdermal application may offer compelling opportunities to address the pain and inconvenience of injection and the low bioavailability of several oral drugs(31)

Bioavailability is the extent to which a particular substance becomes entirely available to its intended biological destinations.

CBD’s bioavailability through the transdermal delivery method is 90%. Meanwhile, the onset time of CBD via the transdermal route is between 15 and 30 minutes(32)

Meanwhile, how long CBD stays in one’s system depends on several factors like the type of CBD product used and the user’s tolerance level. 

If a person applies CBD transdermal gel to the skin, the effects of CBD may last up to four hours. Meanwhile, CBD’s effects may stay in one’s system for eight hours when an individual uses CBD transdermal patches(33).

Can a Person Use CBD Oil Instead of Topicals for TMJ Disorder?

CBD oil is a versatile product. Hence, individuals suffering from TMJ pain may ingest CBD oil or use this form of CBD as a topical product. 

Topical CBD products, such as CBD creams, lotions, ointments, and salves, are applied to the skin for localized relief. 

Some topical products may also include menthol

Menthol is known for eliciting cold sensations and may help with certain types of pain, like joint pain(34)

Other CBD formats available in the market include tinctures, edibles like gummies, and vapes. 

How Much CBD Oil Should a Person Take for TMJ Disorder?

There is no standard dosage chart for the use of CBD in TMJ disorder. Furthermore, the FDA does not endorse CBD oil for that particular medical condition. 

However, doses between 10mg and 100mg of CBD daily may help with pain and inflammation(35). TMJ disorder, when left untreated, can lead to chronic pain and inflammation(36)

Still, it is best to talk with a doctor versed in cannabis use to determine how much CBD oil a person should take for TMJ disorder. This step is crucial, especially for first-time CBD users. 

Is CBD Safe to Use for TMJ Disorder?

CBD’s safety profile has been shown in many studies(37)

In fact, a study from the journal Current Drug Safety hypothesized that chronic use and high doses of CBD up to 1,500 mg per day are reportedly well tolerated in humans(38)

Still, the FDA believes that additional work is warranted to build an extensive database of research on CBD usage and safety(39)

Notably, the studies regarding the effects of CBD on TMJ disorder are still in their infancy. Hence, longitudinal clinical trials are necessary to determine CBD’s long-term safety for such a condition.

In addition, the FDA also warns the public regarding the possible side effects people may encounter when using CBD. These side effects include(40):

  • Changes in alertness
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Changes in mood   

To date, the only FDA-approved CBD drug is Epidiolex, used to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy and seizures linked to tuberous sclerosis complex in patients one year and older(41).  

Tuberous sclerosis complex is caused by the growth of benign tumors in several parts of the body. 

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, is a cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant

CBD is a component of medical marijuana(42). However, it does not induce a euphoric high, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis.    

CBD also has purported analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and neuroprotective properties(43)

Because of CBD’s medical potential, the non-psychoactive compound has shown promise as a pharmaceutical and therapeutic drug target(44).

CBD comes in different variants. The full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil types contain all the compounds of the cannabis plant. However, broad-spectrum CBD oil is THC-free, while full-spectrum CBD oil has less than 0.3% THC. 

In addition, a study from the journal Frontiers in Plant Science suggested that the entourage effect in full-spectrum CBD extracts may produce better health benefits than pure CBD(45)

The entourage effect occurs when all the cannabis compounds are integrated into the product, resulting in the extract’s enhanced medicinal effects.

Although the result of the study seems promising, remember that the best CBD oil product is the one that works.  

What Is TMJ?

TMJ or temporomandibular joints are situated on both sides of the face, in front of the ears. They join the lower jaw to the skull and assist in movements like speaking and chewing(46).

Some individuals may use the terms TMD and TMJ interchangeably. 

TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder is a dysfunction of the TMJ

TMD occurs when the ligaments and muscles around the jaw joints become irritated or inflamed, resulting in pain that may range from mild to severe(47).   

What Are the Causes of TMJ Disorder?

The cause of TMJ disorder is unknown for most people. Meanwhile, the following reasons are not well-proven(48)

  • Orthodontic braces or a bad bite
  • Stress associated with teeth grinding (bruxism)  

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include(49)

  • Jaw pain 
  • Pain in one or both TMJs
  • Facial pain

How Is TMJ Disorder Usually Treated?

EMG (electromyography) has been widely used for TMJ and myofascial pain disorders(50). Electromyography not only measures muscle response; it also helps detect neuromuscular abnormalities(51).  

On the other hand, treatments for TMJ disorder range from simple self-care practices to open surgery. Still, many professionals agree that surgery should be the last resort and that medication should start with conservative, nonsurgical therapies(52)

Nonsurgical TMJ treatments that may provide pain relief include(53)

  • Undergoing corrective dental treatments
  • Avoiding extreme jaw movement
  • Taking medications, such as over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) 

Powerful anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids typically work better than NSAIDs for TMJ. However, they come with greater risks, including an increased risk of hypertension(54)

Meanwhile, muscle relaxants serve as central nervous system depressants with musculoskeletal relaxant and sedative properties. However, they can cause increased drowsiness(55)

Every drug has its benefits and drawbacks. In addition, what works for an individual may not work for others even if they share the same diagnosis. 

Therefore, whether it is a muscle relaxant or an anti-inflammatory drug, the best medication for TMJ-related symptoms is what doctors prescribe.

  1. Cannabidiol
  2. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  3. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial
  4. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  5. Ibid.
  6. Cannabidiol
  7. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  8. Cannabidiol
  9. The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain
  10. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial
  11. Neuropathic Pain in Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: Case-Control Analysis by MR Imaging
  12. Ibid.
  13. Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action
  14. Osteoarthritis (OA)
  15. Temporomandibular Joint Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and Long-Term Conservative Management: A Topic Review
  16. Synthetic Transdermal Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Knee Pain Due to Osteoarthritis
  17. Cannabidiol
  18. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  19. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
  20. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial
  21. CBD: What You Need to Know Before You Try
  22. Acupuncture Therapy in the Management of the Clinical Outcomes for Temporomandibular Disorders
  23. Ibid
  24. Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  25. Relieving Pain With Acupuncture
  26. Ibid.
  27. Research Shows Pain-Relieving Effects of CBD
  28. The Power of the Placebo Effect
  29. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
  30. Myorelaxant Effect of Transdermal Cannabidiol Application in Patients with TMD: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial
  31. Transdermal Drug Delivery
  32. Healing With CBD, page 194.
  33. Ibid.
  34. The Effect of Either Topical Menthol or a Placebo on Functioning
    Knee Pain Among Patients With Knee OA
  35. CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis, page 129.
  36. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  37. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
  38. Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa Constituent
  39. Better Data for a Better Understanding of the Use and Safety Profile of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products
  40. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD
  41. FDA Approves New Indication for Drug Containing an Active Ingredient Derived from Cannabis to Treat Seizures in Rare Genetic Disease
  42. Cannabidiol (CBD)-What We Know and What We Don’t
  43. Cannabidiol
  44. Ibid.
  45. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain
  46. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  47. Ibid.
  48. TMJ Disorders
  49. TMJ Disorders
  50. Uses of Electromyography in Dentistry: An Overview With Meta-Analysis
  51. Electromyography (EMG)
  52. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
  53. Ibid.
  54. Medications
  55. Ibid.
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