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Sickle Cell overview

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder of the red blood cells, which significantly reduces their ability to carry oxygen throughout the body. Normal red blood cells are round-shaped and move easily around the blood vessels. However, those with sickle cell anemia instead have crescent moon shaped red blood cells, which leads to a host of complications.

These misshapen cells are liable to become lodged in smaller blood vessels, rapidly building up and blocking blood flow. This, in turn, reduces oxygen in the body a great deal. Even worse, sickle cells die much faster than healthy red blood cells do, which creates a shortage of red blood cells, also known as anemia. Anemia is well-known to cause severe fatigue, as your body simply isn’t getting the oxygen it needs.

The first signs of sickle cell will usually appear very early in life. While these complications can vary over time, for most people, they tend to appear as soon as five months of age. One of the most common symptoms of sickle cell anemia is periods of pain, known as pain crises, which cause intense pain as sickle cells try to move through the small blood vessels found in our joints and chest.

The pain can vary in both intensity and length quite a bit, as some only have one or two crises a year, while for others, it can be a monthly occurrence. Even worse, some will develop chronic pain as a result of joint damage or other complications.

Other known symptoms of sickle cell anemia include swelling of the feet or hands, vision problems, and chronic infections. Some research also shows that the lack of adequate oxygen can lead to delayed growth and even puberty.

Sickle cell anemia is caused by a specific gene mutation, which affects red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen, leading to the misshapen cells. Research shows that both parents must pass on the defective gene for their child to develop the disorder. That said, if only one parent has the latent sickle gene, the child will also be a carrier of the gene. These carriers produce both normal hemoglobin and sickle cells, but generally don’t experience any symptoms.

As such, the only risk factor for developing sickle cell anemia is both parents carrying the sickle cell gene. While not true worldwide, in the US, people of African descent are more likely to be affected by the disorder.

Sickle cell anemia is the most common inherited blood disorder across the US. That said, it’s still relatively uncommon, with reports indicating between 70,000 and 80,000 Americans are currently affected. Estimates suggest around 1 in 500 African Americans, and 1 in 1200 Hispanic Americans are impacted.

Sickle cell anemia can impact the quality of life quite a lot, depending on the severity of symptoms. However, proper treatment can control pain and even reduce symptoms. If you’re worried you or a loved one may have sickle cell, be sure to talk to your parents and doctor as soon as possible. Getting the right diagnosis and on a path forward is paramount.

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Table of Contents

CBD Research For Sickle Cell

potencial impact research overview

Sickle Cell - Pain-related behaviors and neurochemical alterations in mice expressing sickle hemoglobin: Modulation by cannabinoids

  • University of Minnesota
  • 2010

related conditions:

Sickle Cell Anemia

Researchers examine pain-related behaviors, correlative neurochemical changes, and analgesic effects of both morphine and cannabinoids in transgenic mice expressing human sickle cell. Their study revealed that exogenous cannabinoids might be useful in treating chronic and acute localized pain associated with sickle cell. These observations suggest that systemically administered and locally applied cannabinoids may be beneficial in managing pain associated with sickle cell.

Sickle Cell - Cannabis use in sickle cell disease: A questionnaire study

  • Central Middlesex Hospital
  • 2005

related conditions:

Sickle Cell Anemia

The objective of this study was to determine the use of cannabis for pain relief, as well as any possible side effects for self-administering patients. Results of an anonymous questionnaire had shown that a majority of patients used cannabis to relieve pain, but users also reported seeking to induce relaxation or to relieve anxiety and depression as well. The authors conclude these results show research into the use of cannabis for pain relief would be both important and acceptable in adult patients.

Sickle Cell - Cannabinoid Receptor-Specific Mechanisms To Alleviate Pain In Sickle Cell Anemia Via Inhibition Of Mast Cell Activation And Neurogenic Inflammation

  • University of Minnesota
  • 2016

related conditions:

Sickle Cell Anemia

The authors of this study provide “proof of principle” regarding the potential of cannabinoid and cannabinoid receptor-based therapeutics to treat various forms of sickle cell anemia. Their research found that cannabinoids and cannabinoid-receptor agonists provide analgesic effects as well as anti-inflammatory benefits in a series of trials featuring rat models. These preclinical observations provide a compelling basis for further research into cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor agonists to treat pain associated with sickle cell anemia.

CBD Research That Might Be Useful for Symptoms of Sickle Cell

potencial impact research overview

Anxiety - Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, part 2: a review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidence

  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 2013

related conditions:


A comprehensive review of all the plant-based medicine which has had both preclinical and human clinical trials conducted about their anxiolytic-like effect. An analysis of over 1500 papers identified 21 plants which had been adequately tested, with one of the most successful of these plants found to be CBD enriched Cannabis species.

Inflammation - Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice

  • Tongji University School of Medicine
  • 2013

related conditions:


A study of mice concluded CBD has significant anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers also saw evidence that the expression of the GPR55 receptor was improved after starting on CBD. Treatment with CBD was shown to significantly decrease the levels of several inflammation-related chemicals in test subjects.

Pain Relief - Control of pain initiation by endogenous cannabinoids

  • University of Naples Federico II
  • 1998

related conditions:

Pain Relief

Researchers concluded CBD significantly reduces discomfort and pain, in part, due to the interaction between two substances, PEA and anandamide. According to tests, they “act synergistically, reducing pain responses 100-fold more potently than each compound alone”.

Sickle Cell & CBD Research Overview

It’s easy to forget, but it wasn’t all that long ago CBD was seen as little more than the less exciting little brother of THC. However, over the last 15-plus years, researchers around the world have been more frequently asking what impact CBD has on various conditions. As a result, we now understand a wide range of things CBD could potentially improve, including pain associated with sickle cell anemia.

Unexpected pain crises are a significant issue for those living with sickle cell, making effective acute treatments for pain paramount. Reports such as Pain-related behaviors and neurochemical alterations in mice expressing sickle hemoglobin: Modulation by cannabinoids have shown CBD may have this potential concerning sickle cell-related pain. They even found CBD administered locally to the affected area could also help improve discomfort.

Surveys of sickle cell patients, including Cannabis use in sickle cell disease: A questionnaire study, have provided valuable insight. Their questionnaire indicated patients are using cannabis, not only to help effectively control pain symptoms but also reduce stress and anxiety. The researchers believe this suggests cannabinoids, such as CBD, may be an effective addition to treatment plans and ought to be studied further.

Other researchers have started to uncover the mechanisms connecting the endocannabinoid system with improved outcomes for those with sickle cell. Cannabinoid Receptor-Specific Mechanisms To Alleviate Pain In Sickle Cell Anemia Via Inhibition Of Mast Cell Activation And Neurogenic Inflammation showed this interaction provides several anti-inflammatory benefits, which are likely responsible for the pain relief observed.

Control of pain initiation by endogenous cannabinoids suggests that a major factor in the pain-relieving effects of CBD is actually an interaction between CBD and two related cannabinoids, PEA and anandamide. The data suggests their synergy offers 100-fold stronger pain relief than they could provide alone.

Reports looking into the anti-inflammatory power of CBD, including Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice, has yielded some impressive results which may explain the impact on sickle cell patients. The team concluded CBD’s interaction with the GPR55 receptor is responsible for reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the system dramatically.

Another common issue for those living with sickle cell anemia is anxiety over persistent symptoms. However, CBD is known to be a powerful all-natural anxiolytic drug. Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, part 2: a review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidence, analyzed over 1500 peer-reviewed papers on plant-based anxiety drugs before determining CBD is the most effective.

Best CBD for Sickle Cell

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Suggested CBD Dosage for Sickle Cell

Dosage Per Day


15 mg


30 mg


60 mg

The single most common question we are ever asked here is how much CBD is needed to improve a particular condition, including sickle cell. While we would love to have the ideal answer for everyone, it simply doesn’t work that way. The only way to know for sure how much CBD is going to help is by experimenting for yourself.

However, we do have a basic starting point for those looking to reduce their chronic or acute pain with CBD. Reports have suggested between 20-40mg of CBD per day is a good starting point for many types of pain. Experts also believe in starting low and working your way up until you find what works best.

One thing we try to mention is that while CBD is very commonplace in most parts of the country these days, it’s not the case everywhere. In fact, some places still consider CBD to be the same as marijuana, making it illegal. So always make sure to do your research before traveling with CBD.

It’s also worth mentioning that while many CBD products will be THC-free, this isn’t the case for everything. In fact, some people find that a little THC included with their CBD can bolster the desired effects. So always be sure to only buy THC-free products if you’re unable to be impaired.

No matter which way you choose to take your CBD, we really hope you decide to leave your experiences here for others to learn from. We all remember what it was like to be a newcomer and have no idea what’s worth listening too. That’s where user-generated experiences can really make a difference. So let’s all work together and help build a healthier world.

Tracking CBD Effectiveness For Sickle Cell

Something lots of people trying CBD encounter is difficulty determining how well it’s working for them. It can be quite frustrating for newcomers, but it’s important to realize it happens to most people, so you’re not doing anything wrong. The impact of CBD is relatively subtle and takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to the changes. So the best thing you can do is simply pay attention to your body.

One of the best solutions we have to this problem is actually incredibly simple. By starting a journal and tracking your daily dose of CBD along with how your symptoms were that day, most people are able to start zeroing in on their ideal dosage after just a few weeks. Given how much of a difference this could potentially make, it should definitely be tried before giving up on the prospect of CBD working for you.

Reading reviews and user experience online can provide valuable insight, but at the end of the day, you need to try it for yourself and see how you react. Everyone has a different system, and what works for one person may not be nearly enough for another. The only way to know for sure is to do the dirty work for yourself.

Some people wonder if keeping a journal is a necessary part of this process. While a commitment to the process is much more important, this simple exercise can make a world of difference for those who are still struggling.

Whether or not CBD worked well for you, we hope you consider leaving those experiences here for the next person. Information is one of the most important things we have at our disposal, and working together is the best way to maximize our information. Simply provide a brief overview of your time using CBD, along with a score for how well it improved any pain, anxiety, and inflammation.

Written By
John Mace Alois is lead content creator at the Did CBD Work? project. He’s analyzed over 400 research papers related to Cannabidiol and helped publish over 55 works related to different conditions for the project. He majored in Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in English, from the University at Albany. He is an avid collector of art supplies and refurbishes old furniture in his spare time.

1 CBD Experience From Sickle Cell Suffers

    Tiffany Pappion Williams

    • May 24, 2020
    I use CBD for small low grade crisis and some of my chronic pain. It helps to relax me in these situations and does provide pain relief that allows me to get rest.


    Also effective for:

    • Anxiety
    • Inflammation
    • Pain Relief



    CBD Type:

    CBD Isolate

    How Did You Take It?:


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