Quite a lot actually, we’re just beginning to understand the true science behind it!
People are touting its medicinal-like benefits: They’re using it in oral drops to relax, in lotions to calm muscles, and in concentrated form to quell out-of-balance nerves. The list of ailments it has helped is lengthy, and (of course) varies from person to person. Anxiety, pain, arthritis, drug cravings, convulsions, and inflammation are among the most notable things CBD is said to help relieve. It’s also being tested to treat chronic conditions, including epilepsy (the only ailment with the FDA stamp of approval), PTSD, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, Parkinson’s, and M.S.
Is CBD legal?
Yes! If it comes from a legal hemp plant, it’s legal. The safest bet is to stick with a hemp-sourced CBD product, because industrial hemp is legal in all 50 states.
Why is it so popular right now?
We’re all coming around to this realization that the cannabis plant is designed to work with the human body. We stress ourselves out constantly, and our bodies are trying to cope with it all. CBD can help put it back into balance. We start to feel better—calmer, a lessened inflammatory response, less neuropathic pain, and a relaxed nervous system.
What can CBD do for me?
1. Anxiety relief
CBD may be able to help you manage anxiety. Researchers think it may change the way your brain’s receptors respond to serotonin, a chemical linked to mental health. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical messages and help your cells respond to different stimuli.
- reducing stress
- decreasing physiological effects of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate
- improving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- inducing sleep in cases of insomnia
CBD has been in the news before, as a possible treatment for epilepsy. Research is still in its early days. Researchers are testing how much CBD is able to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as how safe it is. The American Epilepsy Society states that cannabidiol research offers hope for seizure disorders, and that research is currently being conducted to better understand safe use.
A study from 2016 worked with 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The study’s researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any negative side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month. However, severe adverse effects were recorded in 12 percent of the participants.
Researchers are looking at a receptor located in the brain to learn about the ways that CBD could help people with neurodegenerative disorders, which are diseases that cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time. This receptor is known as CB1.
Researchers are studying the use of CBD oil for treating:
CBD oil may also reduce the inflammation that can make neurodegenerative symptoms worse. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD oil for neurodegenerative diseases.
4. Pain relief
The effects of CBD oil on your brain’s receptors may also help you manage pain. Studies have shown that cannabis can offer some benefits when taken after chemotherapy treatments. Other pre-clinical studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health are also looking at the role of cannabis in relieving symptoms caused by:
Nabiximols (Sativex), a multiple sclerosis drug made from a combination of TCH and CBD, is approved in the United Kingdom and Canada to treat MS pain. However, researchers think the CBD in the drug may be contributing more with its anti-inflammatory properties than by acting against the pain. Clinical trials of CBD are necessary to determine whether or not it should be used for pain management.
The effects of CBD on receptors in the immune system may help reduce overall inflammation in the body. In turn, CBD oil may offer benefits for acne management. A human study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigationfound that the oil prevented activity in sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for producing sebum, a natural oily substance that hydrates the skin. Too much sebum, however, can lead to acne.
Before you consider CBD oil for acne treatment, it’s worth discussing with your dermatologist. More human studies are needed to evaluate the potential benefits of CBD for acne.
6. Cancer treatment
Some studies have investigated the role of CBD in preventing cancer cell growth, but research is still in its early stages. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that CBD may help alleviate cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects. However, the NCI doesn’t fully endorse any form of cannabis as a cancer treatment. The action of CBD that’s promising for cancer treatment is its ability to moderate inflammation and change how cell reproduce. CBD has the effect of reducing the ability of some types of tumor cells to reproduce.
How does CBD work?
The human endocannabinoid system is to thank for CBD’s impact, and that system is largely misunderstood. It is part of your neurotransmitter system, which is what allows your nerves to communicate and work efficiently. That means the endocannabinoid system has a part in making sure your brain cells are working correctly, which CBD activates.
“CBD boosts your own natural cannabinoids, which improves your mood and overall wellbeing,” says Michele Ross, a neuroscientist and cannabis activist. “Because this system regulates everything—down to your dopamine levels—if it isn’t working, nothing is working. If you don’t know why you feel run-down all the time, despite feeling healthy and exercising, you might have an endocannabinoid deficiency.”
What’s better: isolate or full spectrum?
CBD is not approved by the FDA, so knowing what your labels mean is especially important. One of the biggest differences you’ll see among CBD products is full-spectrum (also called whole flower) versus isolate. Isolate means just that—you’re taking just the CBD out of the plant. Full-spectrum means you’re extracting all of the compounds at once, including the CBD. It gets a lot of praise because it provides a reaction an isolate can’t: the “entourage effect.”
What’s the “entourage effect?”
The “entourage effect” is a big-picture, total-impact synergistic benefit from all elements of the plant working together. It creates more of an overall, balanced effect on the body—contrasted with isolated elements, which are more targeted. Using aspirin and willowbark as an example: Aspirin traditionally comes from compounds found in the bark. But instead of consuming the whole plant, you take just a single element. This creates an impactful—but static—medicinal-like effect. Using the whole bark might provide a less targeted, more balanced reaction.
Is there even a downside to CBD?
Without FDA approval for CBD products—save for Epidiolex—it can be difficult to know if what you’re getting is good. Understanding where it’s sourced from, how it’s manufactured, and how it’s meant to be consumed can help you navigate your search. In murky legal territory such as this, it’s easy for companies to promise more than the product can deliver on, so do your research.
And like anything, CBD is not meant for everyone. CBD is not the cure-all for everything, you’re not going to take a low dose of CBD and then throw all of your prescriptions in the garbage. It’s all about working with other parts of your life. People also think it’s the safest thing on earth, which isn’t true. There’s no substance on the planet that all people can take. For example, CBD might inhibit the breakdown of other medications, like ones that say ‘do not take with grapefruit.'”
Because research on CBD and its effects are so new, it cannot be said for certain what they might inhibit or prohibit.