CBD topical is effective for oral ulcers

This was a randomized parallel double-blind controlled trial investigating the effects of a CBD topical solution on a type of chronic ulcer found in the oral cavity, or mouth. It was published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies in February 2023.

The type of ulcers investigated are called recurrent aphthous ulcers (RAUs), and usually start showing up in childhood. They are more common in women, and it is estimated that about 20% of the general population experience them. There is no known cure.

69 RAU patients completed the trial and received one of 3 topical solutions:

  1. 0.1% CBD
  2. 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide (TA) - a commonly prescribed topical steroid medication
  3. Placebo

The solutions were applied 3 times per day for 7 days. Measurements were taken of ulcer size and pain ratings.

The authors also tested the safety and allergic properties of the CBD topical by examining its effects on normal skin. They found no allergic reactions, contact dermatitis, or other adverse reactions on normal or RAU patients. "These results indicate that topical 0.1% CBD is safe for human skin and oral mucosa application."

The ulcer size chart below demonstrates the results. 

Ulcer size reduction chart over 7 days showing reductions after CBD and TA treatment, but ulcer growth after placebo treatment. TA outperformed CBD.

(Source: Umpreecha C, Bhalang K, Charnvanich D, Luckanagul J. Efficacy and safety of topical 0.1% cannabidiol for managing recurrent aphthous ulcers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2023 Feb 20;23(1):57. doi: 10.1186/s12906-023-03886-0. PMID: 36803360; PMCID: PMC9940329.)


Placebo-treated patients experienced a growth in the size of their ulcer over 7 days. CBD and TA groups both experienced a reduction in ulcer size on days 2, 5, and 7. The TA group experienced the greatest reduction in ulcer size. However, TA (Triamcinolone acetonide) is a steroidal medicine, which can have its own adverse side effects in some patients. 

Another consideration is that the CBD topical used was made from CBD isolate, so it was NOT a full-spectrum product. They also only tested a single, low concentration product (0.1% CBD). Given they found no adverse effects, increasing the concentration of CBD might provide better results since many studies have found CBD effectiveness to be dose-dependent.

CBD and TA also reduced pain considerably more than placebo at all points.

Authors' conclusions:

Topical 0.1% CBD reduced ulcer size and accelerated ulcer healing without side effects.

CBD exerted anti-inflammatory effects in the early stage and an analgesic effect in the late RAU stage.

Thus, topical 0.1% CBD might be more appropriate for RAU patients who decline to take topical steroids


The full text article is here at PubMed Central