Free Shipping on all orders over $99

CBD vs. Aleve (Naproxen) for Pain: How Do They Compare?

Is CBD a good alternative to Aleve (naproxen)?

Research suggests CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it may render some of the  same benefits as Aleve. However, CBD isn’t as proven as Aleve and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are, so it’s best regarded as a supplement, rather than a replacement, for Aleve.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the research behind both Aleve and CBD and discuss how they work. We’ll also cover the pros and cons of each so that you can choose the best option for your situation. 

CBD gummies for sleep

What is Aleve?

Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Aleve is one of the most popular brand-name versions of naproxen (we’ll use “Aleve” from now on to simplify things).

NSAIDs work by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. Aleve is frequently used as a temporary solution for minor aches and pains due to arthritis, muscular aches, backache, menstrual cramps, headache, toothache, and common colds. 

Aleve is also used to temporarily reduce fever. 

Benefits of Aleve for Pain

Naproxen is an FDA-approved drug for conditions like acute gout, sciatica, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more [1]. 

Research suggests that naproxen effectively relieves pain, and that it may render all day relief as compared to many shorter-acting options [2]. 

A 2004 research review found that oral naproxen was an effective analgesic (pain-reducing) medication for adults with postoperative pain [3]. 

These studies are just a small sampling of the research supporting the benefits of naproxen for pain and inflammation; it’s an FDA-approved option that reliably reduces inflammation and pain. 

How Does Aleve Work?

Aleve is an NSAID. NSAIDs work by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme which your body uses to make prostaglandins. 

Prostaglandins can cause inflammation and pain, so by reducing the amount that are produced, NSAIDs can reduce discomfort and fever. 

NSAIDs also inhibit the activation of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell which can release other inflammation-causing bodily products.

Through these mechanisms, Aleve and other NSAIDs can reduce inflammation and pain associated with a variety of conditions. 

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in the cannabis sativa plant (hemp is cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight). 

While CBD is just one of more than 100 cannabinoids in hemp, it’s one of the most researched because of its high natural abundance and potential therapeutic benefits. 

In addition to pain and inflammation, CBD has been researched for anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and more. 

Unlike THC, CBD is not inebriating. It is technically psychoactive, in that it affects the mind, but its effects are mild feelings of calm and relaxation, rather than the feelings you’d normally associate with a high.

Benefits of CBD for Pain

Research suggests CBD has analgesic, or pain-reducing, and anti-inflammatory effects [4]. 

A 2021 research survey of 253 CBD users sought to understand how effective it is for pain.

Overall, the results were positive: participants reported that CBD helped their pain (59.0%) and allowed them to reduce their pain medications (67.6%) [5].

A 2017 peer-reviewed book examined a number of studies and found that CBD had beneficial effects on both chronic and acute pain [6].

Generally, research has found that CBD has therapeutic benefits for people dealing with pain and inflammation. However, more studies are needed to confirm the reliability with which CBD exhibits these effects, and it’s not an FDA-approved pain treatment.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that CBD is a viable supplement to Aleve and NSAIDs, but it’s not necessarily a proven replacement.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD works by supporting your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a receptor system in your body that’s responsible for regulating your vital functions, including your inflammatory and pain responses.

There are two main types of receptors in your ECS:

  • CB1 receptors, which produce mental effects when interacted with
  • CB2 receptors, which produce physical effects when interacted with

CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors as many cannabinoids do, but research suggests that it supports the function of your ECS by preventing the breakdown of its processes [7]. 

Research also suggests that CBD may increase your body’s levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter [8,9]. Increases in the levels of both are associated with a reduction in pain sensations.

More research is needed before we understand the extent to which CBD acts on the body’s pain-producing mechanisms. However, the research so far indicates it has therapeutic potential to help people with discomfort.

Natural Ways CBD gummies

CBD vs. Aleve: Adverse Effects

While both Aleve and CBD both may be very beneficial, they also may cause some adverse effects. 

Side effects of Aleve may include:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Bruising
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Ringing in your ears

Side effects of CBD may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fatigue

Pros and Cons of Aleve for Pain

There are the pros and cons you’ll want to consider when using Aleve for pain.

Pros

  • FDA-approved: Aleve is an over-the-counter drug that’s FDA-approved as a treatment for pain resulting from many different conditions, and there’s quite a bit of research supporting its efficacy.
  • Science-backed: Compared to CBD, Aleve has been researched far more, so it’s a more reliable option for reducing pain. 

Cons

  • May cause relatively severe side effects: Compared to CBD, and in general, there are more side effects associated with Aleve than many drugs. Among other things, Aleve has the potential to cause heartburn, bruising, itching, and rash. That said, your doctor will only recommend Aleve if they believe you have more to gain than lose when taking it.
  • May cause drug interactions: Aleve may interact adversely with many drugs, including other NSAIDs, blood thinners, some antidepressants, and some blood pressure medications. The most common risks posed by these interactions are stomach and intestinal bleeding or kidney damage.

Pros and Cons of CBD for Pain

There are the pros and cons you’ll want to consider when using CBD for pain.

Pros

  • Research-backed: Multiple studies suggest CBD has therapeutic potential for pain and inflammation. Anecdotal evidence suggests it may promote physical comfort. However, as compared to FDA-approved medications, CBD isn’t as proven a treatment for pain, and more research is needed for us to understand how well it works.
  • Has fewer side effects than many traditional drugs: The potential side effects of CBD include dry mouth, drowsiness, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and fatigue. Compared to the side effects of Aleve, these side effects are very minor (and unlikely to be felt, with careful dosing).

Cons

  • Poorly regulated: The CBD industry isn’t regulated by the FDA as the pharmaceutical industry is, and the vast majority of products you’ll find online and in-store have not been evaluated by clinical trials. Therefore, you’ll need to employ careful shopping techniques to ensure the CBD product you’re buying is of high quality.
  • May interact with prescriptions: CBD may affect how your body metabolizes certain medications, including NSAIDs (of which Aleve is one). Using CBD together with some prescription medications may create side effects such as sleepiness and fatigue, according to Harvard Health.
  • Not legal in all states: Every form of CBD may not be legal in every state in the US, and as a result, you may have trouble legally purchasing and using it. 

CBD and Aleve Interaction: Can You Take Them Same Time?

No, CBD and Aleve should not be taken at the same time. Combining CBD and Aleve may affect your body’s metabolism of each substance, which can cause liver damage.

One study found that naproxen (Aleve) is metabolized by an enzyme that CBD is known to inhibit, which may lead to a dangerous buildup of the drug in your body [10].

CBD may supplement Aleve, but if you are going to use the two together, you’ll want to seek guidance from your doctor on when to take each – likely, you’ll be instructed to use them on separate days or not to take one or the other.

Woman enjoying natural ways CBD softgels

Conclusion: Is CBD A Viable Alternative to Aleve?

Research suggests CBD may offer some of the same benefits that Aleve does, and it tends to have fewer side effects. 

Nonetheless, there isn’t yet enough research on CBD to guarantee that it can reduce pain and inflammation or replace Aleve.

However, whether or not you decide to try a natural alternative like CBD, exercise caution and speak with your doctor beforehand about how to use it safely.

CBD vs. Aleve: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about the differences between CBD and Aleve.

Is CBD better than NSAIDs?

CBD may work better than NSAIDs for some people, while for others, NSAIDs work better. Research suggests that CBD may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Is CBD really an anti-inflammatory?

Research suggests that CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Does CBD act as a pain reliever?

Research suggests that CBD may have analgesic properties, but more research is needed to confirm the degree of relief that it renders.

What anti-inflammatory is better than naproxen?

Different drugs work differently for everyone, so NSAIDs like ibuprofen (OTC) and diclofenac (prescription only) may be more effective than naproxen for some people.

Sources

[1] Brutzkus JC, Shahrokhi M, Varacallo M. Naproxen. [Updated 2023 Aug 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.

[2] Weisman, Steven M et al. “What a pain in the … back: a review of current treatment options with a focus on naproxen sodium.” Journal of pharmacy & pharmaceutical sciences : a publication of the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Societe canadienne des sciences pharmaceutiques vol. 27 12384. 7 Feb. 2024, doi:10.3389/jpps.2024.12384

[3] Mason, L et al. “Single dose oral naproxen and naproxen sodium for acute postoperative pain.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews ,4 CD004234. 18 Oct. 2004, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004234.pub2

[4] Mlost, Jakub et al. “Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,22 8870. 23 Nov. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21228870

[5] Schilling, Jan M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Chronic Pain: A Survey of Patients’ Perspectives and Attitudes.” Journal of pain research vol. 14 1241-1250. 5 May. 2021, doi:10.2147/JPR.S278718

[6] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 4, Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

[7] Haney, Margaret. “Cannabis Use and the Endocannabinoid System: A Clinical Perspective.” The American journal of psychiatry vol. 179,1 (2022): 21-25. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.21111138

[8] Hua, Daniel Ying-Heng et al. “Effects of cannabidiol on anandamide levels in individuals with cannabis use disorder: findings from a randomised clinical trial for the treatment of cannabis use disorder.” Translational psychiatry vol. 13,1 131. 21 Apr. 2023, doi:10.1038/s41398-023-02410-9

[9] De Gregorio, Danilo et al. “Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain.” Pain vol. 160,1 (2019): 136-150. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386

[10] Wilson-Morkeh, Harold et al. “Important drug interactions exist between cannabidiol oil and commonly prescribed drugs in rheumatology practice.” Rheumatology (Oxford, England) vol. 59,1 (2020): 249-251. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kez304

Is CBD a good alternative to Aleve (naproxen)?

Research suggests CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it may render some of the  same benefits as Aleve. However, CBD isn’t as proven as Aleve and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are, so it’s best regarded as a supplement, rather than a replacement, for Aleve.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the research behind both Aleve and CBD and discuss how they work. We’ll also cover the pros and cons of each so that you can choose the best option for your situation. 

CBD gummies for sleep

What is Aleve?

Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Aleve is one of the most popular brand-name versions of naproxen (we’ll use “Aleve” from now on to simplify things).

NSAIDs work by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. Aleve is frequently used as a temporary solution for minor aches and pains due to arthritis, muscular aches, backache, menstrual cramps, headache, toothache, and common colds. 

Aleve is also used to temporarily reduce fever. 

Benefits of Aleve for Pain

Naproxen is an FDA-approved drug for conditions like acute gout, sciatica, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more [1]. 

Research suggests that naproxen effectively relieves pain, and that it may render all day relief as compared to many shorter-acting options [2]. 

A 2004 research review found that oral naproxen was an effective analgesic (pain-reducing) medication for adults with postoperative pain [3]. 

These studies are just a small sampling of the research supporting the benefits of naproxen for pain and inflammation; it’s an FDA-approved option that reliably reduces inflammation and pain. 

How Does Aleve Work?

Aleve is an NSAID. NSAIDs work by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX), an enzyme which your body uses to make prostaglandins. 

Prostaglandins can cause inflammation and pain, so by reducing the amount that are produced, NSAIDs can reduce discomfort and fever. 

NSAIDs also inhibit the activation of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell which can release other inflammation-causing bodily products.

Through these mechanisms, Aleve and other NSAIDs can reduce inflammation and pain associated with a variety of conditions. 

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in the cannabis sativa plant (hemp is cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight). 

While CBD is just one of more than 100 cannabinoids in hemp, it’s one of the most researched because of its high natural abundance and potential therapeutic benefits. 

In addition to pain and inflammation, CBD has been researched for anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, and more. 

Unlike THC, CBD is not inebriating. It is technically psychoactive, in that it affects the mind, but its effects are mild feelings of calm and relaxation, rather than the feelings you’d normally associate with a high.

Benefits of CBD for Pain

Research suggests CBD has analgesic, or pain-reducing, and anti-inflammatory effects [4]. 

A 2021 research survey of 253 CBD users sought to understand how effective it is for pain.

Overall, the results were positive: participants reported that CBD helped their pain (59.0%) and allowed them to reduce their pain medications (67.6%) [5].

A 2017 peer-reviewed book examined a number of studies and found that CBD had beneficial effects on both chronic and acute pain [6].

Generally, research has found that CBD has therapeutic benefits for people dealing with pain and inflammation. However, more studies are needed to confirm the reliability with which CBD exhibits these effects, and it’s not an FDA-approved pain treatment.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that CBD is a viable supplement to Aleve and NSAIDs, but it’s not necessarily a proven replacement.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD works by supporting your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a receptor system in your body that’s responsible for regulating your vital functions, including your inflammatory and pain responses.

There are two main types of receptors in your ECS:

  • CB1 receptors, which produce mental effects when interacted with
  • CB2 receptors, which produce physical effects when interacted with

CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors as many cannabinoids do, but research suggests that it supports the function of your ECS by preventing the breakdown of its processes [7]. 

Research also suggests that CBD may increase your body’s levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter [8,9]. Increases in the levels of both are associated with a reduction in pain sensations.

More research is needed before we understand the extent to which CBD acts on the body’s pain-producing mechanisms. However, the research so far indicates it has therapeutic potential to help people with discomfort.

Natural Ways CBD gummies

CBD vs. Aleve: Adverse Effects

While both Aleve and CBD both may be very beneficial, they also may cause some adverse effects. 

Side effects of Aleve may include:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Bruising
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Ringing in your ears

Side effects of CBD may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fatigue

Pros and Cons of Aleve for Pain

There are the pros and cons you’ll want to consider when using Aleve for pain.

Pros

  • FDA-approved: Aleve is an over-the-counter drug that’s FDA-approved as a treatment for pain resulting from many different conditions, and there’s quite a bit of research supporting its efficacy.
  • Science-backed: Compared to CBD, Aleve has been researched far more, so it’s a more reliable option for reducing pain. 

Cons

  • May cause relatively severe side effects: Compared to CBD, and in general, there are more side effects associated with Aleve than many drugs. Among other things, Aleve has the potential to cause heartburn, bruising, itching, and rash. That said, your doctor will only recommend Aleve if they believe you have more to gain than lose when taking it.
  • May cause drug interactions: Aleve may interact adversely with many drugs, including other NSAIDs, blood thinners, some antidepressants, and some blood pressure medications. The most common risks posed by these interactions are stomach and intestinal bleeding or kidney damage.

Pros and Cons of CBD for Pain

There are the pros and cons you’ll want to consider when using CBD for pain.

Pros

  • Research-backed: Multiple studies suggest CBD has therapeutic potential for pain and inflammation. Anecdotal evidence suggests it may promote physical comfort. However, as compared to FDA-approved medications, CBD isn’t as proven a treatment for pain, and more research is needed for us to understand how well it works.
  • Has fewer side effects than many traditional drugs: The potential side effects of CBD include dry mouth, drowsiness, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and fatigue. Compared to the side effects of Aleve, these side effects are very minor (and unlikely to be felt, with careful dosing).

Cons

  • Poorly regulated: The CBD industry isn’t regulated by the FDA as the pharmaceutical industry is, and the vast majority of products you’ll find online and in-store have not been evaluated by clinical trials. Therefore, you’ll need to employ careful shopping techniques to ensure the CBD product you’re buying is of high quality.
  • May interact with prescriptions: CBD may affect how your body metabolizes certain medications, including NSAIDs (of which Aleve is one). Using CBD together with some prescription medications may create side effects such as sleepiness and fatigue, according to Harvard Health.
  • Not legal in all states: Every form of CBD may not be legal in every state in the US, and as a result, you may have trouble legally purchasing and using it. 

CBD and Aleve Interaction: Can You Take Them Same Time?

No, CBD and Aleve should not be taken at the same time. Combining CBD and Aleve may affect your body’s metabolism of each substance, which can cause liver damage.

One study found that naproxen (Aleve) is metabolized by an enzyme that CBD is known to inhibit, which may lead to a dangerous buildup of the drug in your body [10].

CBD may supplement Aleve, but if you are going to use the two together, you’ll want to seek guidance from your doctor on when to take each – likely, you’ll be instructed to use them on separate days or not to take one or the other.

Woman enjoying natural ways CBD softgels

Conclusion: Is CBD A Viable Alternative to Aleve?

Research suggests CBD may offer some of the same benefits that Aleve does, and it tends to have fewer side effects. 

Nonetheless, there isn’t yet enough research on CBD to guarantee that it can reduce pain and inflammation or replace Aleve.

However, whether or not you decide to try a natural alternative like CBD, exercise caution and speak with your doctor beforehand about how to use it safely.

CBD vs. Aleve: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about the differences between CBD and Aleve.

Is CBD better than NSAIDs?

CBD may work better than NSAIDs for some people, while for others, NSAIDs work better. Research suggests that CBD may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Is CBD really an anti-inflammatory?

Research suggests that CBD may have anti-inflammatory properties, but more studies are needed to confirm this.

Does CBD act as a pain reliever?

Research suggests that CBD may have analgesic properties, but more research is needed to confirm the degree of relief that it renders.

What anti-inflammatory is better than naproxen?

Different drugs work differently for everyone, so NSAIDs like ibuprofen (OTC) and diclofenac (prescription only) may be more effective than naproxen for some people.

Sources

[1] Brutzkus JC, Shahrokhi M, Varacallo M. Naproxen. [Updated 2023 Aug 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.

[2] Weisman, Steven M et al. “What a pain in the … back: a review of current treatment options with a focus on naproxen sodium.” Journal of pharmacy & pharmaceutical sciences : a publication of the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Societe canadienne des sciences pharmaceutiques vol. 27 12384. 7 Feb. 2024, doi:10.3389/jpps.2024.12384

[3] Mason, L et al. “Single dose oral naproxen and naproxen sodium for acute postoperative pain.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews ,4 CD004234. 18 Oct. 2004, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004234.pub2

[4] Mlost, Jakub et al. “Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,22 8870. 23 Nov. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21228870

[5] Schilling, Jan M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Chronic Pain: A Survey of Patients’ Perspectives and Attitudes.” Journal of pain research vol. 14 1241-1250. 5 May. 2021, doi:10.2147/JPR.S278718

[6] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 4, Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.

[7] Haney, Margaret. “Cannabis Use and the Endocannabinoid System: A Clinical Perspective.” The American journal of psychiatry vol. 179,1 (2022): 21-25. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.21111138

[8] Hua, Daniel Ying-Heng et al. “Effects of cannabidiol on anandamide levels in individuals with cannabis use disorder: findings from a randomised clinical trial for the treatment of cannabis use disorder.” Translational psychiatry vol. 13,1 131. 21 Apr. 2023, doi:10.1038/s41398-023-02410-9

[9] De Gregorio, Danilo et al. “Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain.” Pain vol. 160,1 (2019): 136-150. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386

[10] Wilson-Morkeh, Harold et al. “Important drug interactions exist between cannabidiol oil and commonly prescribed drugs in rheumatology practice.” Rheumatology (Oxford, England) vol. 59,1 (2020): 249-251. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kez304

Related Posts