CBD is quickly rising in popularity among many supplement and essential oil users, despite not yet having received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Several studies seem to support the idea that CBD may be able to help people with several different kinds of conditions and ailments. This brief introduction to CBD will describe some of its potential health benefits and answer common questions about it.

WHAT IS CBD?

Before diving into how CBD works, it is important to understand what it is.

Cannabidiol is the full term for CBD, one of the several cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

When in use, CBD is believed to interact with our body’s natural Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in a way which can influence mood and appetite regulation, immune responses, sleep improvement, and hormone changes. Studies suggest this could make CBD a viable method for treating a wide variety of conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, and epilepsy.

You can read more on the endocannabinoid system and CBD here.

DOES CBD GET YOU HIGH?

CBD is only legal when extracted from hemp, a plant with very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels.

THC, another cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, is the compound which causes intoxication, or the “high” associated with marijuana use. It is important to note that legal CBD products come from hemp rather than marijuana. The main difference between these two terms is their legality, which is based on the THC level. In marijuana, the THC level can rise to over 30%. In hemp, it is below 0.3% (read more about CBD’s legal status here).

Since CBD products contain THC levels below 0.3%, they are unable to produce any psychotropic effects. So, no, CBD can not get you “high.”

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF CBD

Despite what many people think, the possible therapeutic benefits of cannabis are not a modern-day discovery. We first encounter archaeological evidence of cannabis in hemp ropes from China over 12,000 years ago, where hemp was used for paper, clothing, and even in warfare as bowstrings.

Chinese emperors as far back as 2737 BC started using cannabis-infused teas as a method of improving memory and treating malaria.

In the West, Queen Victoria used cannabis to relieve menstrual cramps. However, cannabis began to be more intensely studied in the 1800s when a man named William B. O’Shaughnessy dived into its possible therapeutic effects. He studied the basic effects of the cannabis plant and found it may have anesthetic properties. Although his studies were controversial, several researchers began to follow in his steps, and soon, cannabinoids were discovered.

Recent studies have shown that there are more than 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but the first partial chemical structure to be discovered was cannabinol (CBN). A few years later, this was followed by CBD, which also led to the discovery of THC.

Because researchers only partially understood the composition and biological structure of cannabis, scientists were unable to pinpoint exactly which cannabinoids were causing what effects.

Several subsequent studies followed, and researchers found out more about CBD. In the 1970s, CBD was recognized in New Mexico to have medical or therapeutic benefits. However, it was not yet approved by any other state until medical marijuana became legalized in California and seven other states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Maine, Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada. Once medical marijuana was legalized, researchers could further explore CBD’s potential as a possible medical treatment.

At first, the use of CBD, or any product relating to cannabis, was considered, in legal terms, to be an abuse of marijuana as a recreational drug. This confusion severely limited the potential for research into its potential health benefits.

However, around 2010, people began to share their success stories involving CBD. This caused a shift in how people viewed cannabis as they became more educated on the plant and its properties, as well as its potential health benefits.

Today, CBD is still a foreign topic to many medical professionals, despite hemp finally being legalized under federal law after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. Part of the reason is that CBD products are still in a legal gray area. This is because the FDA has not yet approved CBD’s use as a medicine due to a lack of sufficient research to back claims into its health benefits. The only CBD-based drug to be legalized so far is Epidolex; a drug recently approved by the FDA as a method of treating a severe form of epilepsy in children.

With 75 studies conducted in the US alone in 2018, it is hoped that research will soon clarify CBD’s health benefits.

WHAT IS CBD USED FOR?

Several studies suggest that CBD can have beneficial effects, such as pain relief and sleep improvement. Although there are not yet enough studies to prove that CBD can be useful as a medical treatment, an increasing number of Americans are testing CBD for themselves in an attempt to relieve various ailments and conditions.

In 2017, the World Health Organization, or WHO, conducted an extensive study on CBD and its effects on humans. They found no public health risks or abuse potential for CBD and no adverse health outcomes but rather several medical applications for CBD. The WHO concluded that naturally occurring CBD was safe and well-tolerated in humans and animals, and is not associated with any negative public health effects.

One survey showed that more than 50% of CBD consumers stated that they use CBD as a method of relaxation or of dealing with anxiety, depression, or insomnia, which CBD could also have positive effects on. Many people claim to use the cannabinoid for pain relief as well, including menstrual symptoms, migraines, nausea, and chronic pain relief.

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USING CBD FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Anxiety takes place when patients experience an intense feeling of unease or worry on a regular basis.

Sometimes, certain triggers can cause a rise in anxiety. This is often the case for patients experiencing some form of PTSD. Anxiety can cause panic attacks, compulsive behavior, and self-destructive tendencies. Despite the fact that an estimated 300m worldwide suffer from depression, there has been no major breakthrough in depression medication for 30 years. Luckily, CBD is believed to be a possible tool in treating this condition.

Studies performed on rodents showed a drastic decrease in anxiety when the animals were given CBD before being placed in stressful environments, compared with those given no CBD.

While CBD has been tested mainly on animal subjects, a few studies involving people have taken place as well. Some detailed how patients suffering from PTSD-related anxiety and insomnia benefited after introducing CBD into their lives. In general, they reported better sleep patterns and improved daily living.

Prescribed anxiety medications can have positive effects on some patients. However, some people experience more disadvantages than advantages when on these kinds of medications. For example, some simultaneously suffer from depression or insomnia, leading to more issues, some of which can be worse than the anxiety itself. Conversely, studies performed using CBD have shown that it may offer positive effects to those suffering from anxiety or depression, with fewer side-effects.

You can read more about CBD and depression here.

CBD AND HOW IT CAN HELP WITH SLEEP

Millions of people around the world suffer from insomnia. This may be due to age, depression, stress, anxiety, or PTSD. It either involves a complete lack of sleep or restless sleep (ranging in duration from only a few minutes to a couple of hours at a time).

People with insomnia experience intense fatigue that can lead to decreased energy, lowered concentration, less than optimal performance, and/or disturbance in a person’s mood. While it is sometimes only temporary, occurring during certain events, insomnia is considered to be chronic if it lasts for several months on a consistent basis.

There are multiple treatments for insomnia, but many people have found that CBD may be able to help them with restlessness. It seems to do so by interacting with certain receptors found in the brain that have an effect on sleep and sleep cycles. Also, because CBD has shown to have a possible positive effect on anxiety, anxiety-related insomnia may also improve.

You can read more on using CBD to combat insomnia and improve your sleep here.

CBD TO EASE PAIN

Chronic (long-lasting) and acute (short-lasting) pain may be improved when patients use CBD for pain relief.

This kind of pain, which can be dilapidating, can stem from a variety of causes:

  • Arthritis pain
  • Pain related to cancer
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Inflammatory pain
  • Migraines
  • Menstrual pain
The two most difficult kinds of chronic pain to treat are neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain because they usually take place directly in the nervous system.

Inflammatory pain takes place when your nerves begin to swell and, therefore, become stimulated, causing an almost constant soreness and pain.

On the other hand, neuropathic pain results from damage to the nervous system; i.e., the nerves, spinal cord, and/or brain. This can cause pain throughout the body, as well as muscle weakness.

These types of pain can be a huge challenge to treat without strong medications over long periods of time. However, studies indicate that CBD may be able to provide relief, possibly through reducing inflammation.

CBD AND CHILDREN’S SEIZURES

Hundreds of thousands of children in the US suffer from a form of childhood epilepsy, some of which may progress into adulthood. Thankfully, studies have found that CBD could be able to help treat epileptic syndromes, including Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

In the past, epilepsy treatments have often failed to work effectively on children. However, according to several studies, CBD may be a useful tool in helping treat epileptic syndromes that quite a few other medications cannot. The only FDA-approved CBD epilepsy medication is Epidolex, but several people are sharing their success stories when it comes to CBD and seizures.

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CBD AND SKIN TREATMENTS

Recent research is showing that CBD may have a positive effect when applied to the skin. Because of its possible antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD could treat acne, eczema, sensitive skin, and dryness of the skin. Researchers think it works by aiding in improving the skin’s natural healing processes.

Some studies believe CBD could be effective on all skin types, but there is not enough extensive research to prove this. However, if you are struggling with a skin condition, you could give CBD a try to see if it can improve your skin.

Some even think that CBD can be the next big thing in cosmetics. Read here why!

ADDICTION

A variety of studies suggest that CBD may be able to help those dealing with addiction.

In the case of marijuana-related substance abuse, researchers believe CBD may interact with the high levels of THC found in marijuana and reduce its effects.

Also, and because of the way that CBD interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system, CBD oil can be used to treat other forms of addiction as well. In a related study, a brief 7-day period of CBD treatment not only prevented the development of previously displayed “addict-like” characteristics in animals, but it also deterred the subjects from relapsing for five months. If you are worried about CBD being present in your body for that long, you’ll be pleased to learn that the CBD cleared from the animals’ brain and body after just three days.

CBD FOR THE 65+

CBD’s healing properties can be particularly beneficial to the 65+ age group, as it can help promote bone health, improve heart health, and treat diabetic complications.

CBD has even been found to reduce the neuroinflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

CANCER AND RELATED SYMPTOMS

Many use CBD oil to treat cancer-related symptoms, such as pain, and chemotherapy-related symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

A 2018 study found that combining chemotherapy with CBD inhibited the proliferation rate of cancer cells and tripled the survival rate of mice with pancreatic cancer. Earlier studies have found that a combination of therapies which included CBD oil decreased the reproduction of cancer cells, repaired damaged cells, and maintain the balance of healthy cells in the body.

It should be stressed that there is no approved drug protocol at the moment which includes THC or CBD for cancer treatment. Neither THC nor CBD is actively used for cancer treatment by doctors, and neither is FDA-approved for cancer treatment. However, there is plenty of ongoing research on the effects of THC and CBD in actively reducing cancer tumors, with promising initial results.

If you plan to use CBD to treat cancer-related symptoms, consult your doctor first as it can lower the efficiency of your treatment.

You can read more about CBD and THC cannabinoids and their effect on cancer here.

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HOW DO I USE CBD?

CBD comes in most forms. Some people have found it works best in a balm, lotion, or self-care product that can be applied topically (directly onto the skin). Others are taking CBD orally through CBD tinctures, CBD gummies, CBD sprays, and CBD capsules, while some choose to vaporize CBD.

WHAT CBD DOSAGE SHOULD YOU USE? CAN YOU TAKE CBD EVERY DAY?

Medical professionals are still in the process of researching and studying the potential health benefits of CBD. Because of the currently limited level of investigation on this topic, scientists, doctors, and researchers have not specified a CBD dosage that could be officially recommended nationwide. As a result, you should try and base your dosage around your personal needs, condition(s), and genetics.

Calculating CBD dosage can be a challenge, but if you consider your personal requirements and preferences, it is relatively easy to figure out the amount of CBD and the method of CBD intake that works best for you.

It is important to remember that you cannot overdose on CBD; however, exceedingly large doses have been shown to cause minor side-effects, such as a dry mouth or slightly decreased blood pressure. While CBD can be consumed as often as necessary, you should take as much as you actually need to maximize its benefits. Taking too little will not be helpful, and taking too much could cause slight discomfort. Both will end up being a waste of money.

To calculate your CBD dosage, try different products in different amounts until you find what helps you the most. Remember to start low, go slow: start with a low dosage and take your time building up–up to a week between each increase in dosage. CBD products can vary in potency depending on the company producing them, so another good rule of thumb is to stick with one brand for an extended time while building up your dosage. If you switch brands, start low and increase slowly again.

You can read how to determine the right CBD dosage for you here.

WHAT ARE CBD’S SIDE-EFFECTS?

There are only a few known side-effects of CBD that have been determined by researchers. They are not considered to be severe. Indeed, in many cases, they might even be considered beneficial.

Known side-effects include:

  • Appetite changes: One of the benefits of CBD is that it may be able to help those with eating disorders. However, if you are taking CBD for a non-appetite-related issue, this could be an unwanted shift in your daily food intake.
  • Mood changes: Studies indicate that CBD may help those with depression. So, it is not surprising that it could also cause a change in mood when you don’t want it to.
  • Dizziness: Sometimes, CBD can cause a slight drop in blood pressure. This may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded until your blood pressure returns to normal or you get used to the slightly lower pressure.
  • Drowsiness: depending on the dosage, CBD may make you feel drowsy. While this can help people suffering from insomnia, it may hinder others. It should be noted that smaller doses seem to have the opposite effect, making people more alert.
  • Diarrhea: When CBD is consumed in high amounts, you may experience diarrhea. However, this does not seem to affect people who only consume normal amounts of CBD.
  • Dry mouth: When used in high amounts, CBD may have an effect on your saliva production. If it decreases the function of your salivary glands, you may experience a feeling of dryness in your mouth.
  • Vomiting: Some people have reported vomiting after taking CBD.
  • Fast heartbeat: CBD has beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors and improves recovery in animal models of heart attack and stroke. However, THC can increase heart rate by 20-50 beats per minute. This increase occurs in order to compensate for the reduction in blood pressure caused by THC. Some reports find that the heart must work 30% harder in the presence of high levels of THC. So, it is important to avoid products with high THC levels.
  • Nausea: CBD on its own may be able to help with nausea. However, certain products mix it with various ingredients. Some of these mixes could cause some people to feel nauseous after use.

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WHAT DRUGS SHOULD NOT BE COMBINED WITH CBD?

Many medically prescribed drugs are safe to take with CBD. However, some interact negatively with the Cytochrome P-450 (CYP450) system, which is found in the liver and takes care of any compounds that have the potential to be toxic by metabolizing them.

CBD can also have a similar effect on the CYP450 system, making it unable to metabolize drugs effectively. This means that there may be higher levels of certain drugs that your liver processes in your system at once, leading to negative side-effects and, theoretically (in very extreme cases), an overdose.

The drug compounds which interact with the CYP450 system include over half of any medical drugs you may use. Also, those who suffer from glaucoma should not consume CBD as it can exacerbate the ocular pressure associated with this condition.

So, and because of the possible negative interactions certain medications may have when mixed with CBD, it is important to ensure that you research the possibility and consult a doctor before you start using any CBD product. If it will cause an issue, see if the doctor can alter your current prescription dosages.

A quick list of common drug types that may be affected by CBD is shown here:

  • Anesthetics
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-epileptics or anti-seizure medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antivirals for HIV
  • Beta-blockers
  • Blood thinners
  • Channel blockers for calcium
  • Some chemotherapy drugs
  • Some sedatives
  • Steroids
A good question to ask your doctor before mixing prescribed medication and CBD is if grapefruit would interact negatively with your CYP450 system.

This is because many medications advise they shouldn’t be consumed with the fruit. Therefore, if you’re advised not to consume grapefruit while on a certain medication, the chances are the medication won’t mix well with CBD either.

Remember that more research on CBD is required in order to completely understand how it interacts with different kinds of medications. The type, quantity, purity, and quality of the CBD and medication can all cause different interactions.

CBD FAQs

HOW LONG DOES CBD REMAIN IN YOUR SYSTEM?

Because CBD is still being studied, researchers don’t have an exact timeline of how long it may take for CBD to get through your system. Some studies suggest it takes less than five days, while others suggest it could take up to three weeks or more. However, it’s highly improbable that you will experience the effects of the CBD for the entire time it is in your system.

HOW LONG DOES CBD TAKE TO WORK?

Depending on your method of use, the effects of CBD could take anything from a few minutes to two hours to set in. Vaping is one of the quickest ways to get the CBD into your body, whereas topical applications may take a bit longer. However, there are a couple more factors that determine how long it may take, such as your weight and CBD dosage.

As mentioned before, there are several ways to consume CBD. Oils, tinctures, capsules, gels, vape liquids, and gummies all provide ways to feel the possible benefits of the cannabinoid. However, the method of administration affects how it works with your body.

For example, a CBD tincture taken sublingually will kick in within 15 minutes of taking it because it has been distributed directly into your blood supply under the tongue. On the other hand, it could take over an hour to feel the effects of CBD if it is taken orally in a capsule or gummy.

Therefore, it is best to research the different methods of consumption in relation to the particular condition you’re trying to treat before starting any CBD treatment.

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You can read more CBD Facts and FAQs here.

WHAT SHOULD I CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING CBD?

Hemp is a “bioaccumulator,” meaning that it attracts and absorbs substances from the soil it’s planted in, as well as the water and air around it.

As a cleanup crop, it is used all over the world to clean heavy metals, toxins, and chemical messes from the soil in a process called phytoremediation. It’s one of the reasons hemp so beneficial to the planet — whether we consume it or not. They are even using hemp to clean up radioactive soils at Chernobyl.

However, these toxic substances don’t simply go away. They build up in the hemp plant and, consequently, can be found in its extracts, including CBD. This can include beneficial substances such as minerals, but also heavy metals, herbicides, or pesticides –- none of which are safe for human consumption.

Unless you enjoy consuming arsenic, cadmium, and lead, you should be very particular about where and how your CBD oils are produced. This is not a theoretical risk; the presence of pesticides in hemp extracts has already become an issue. Several states have issued warning letters to farmers about unauthorized pesticides, and at least one CBD product was recalled completely due to unsafe pesticide levels.

Even hemp products originating from Europe, where regulations are stricter than in the US, aren’t completely safe. One study revealed that only one-third of the European hemp products tested were free of environmental contaminants.

As a result, most reputable CBD companies are forthcoming with their cultivation practices and supply the relevant information readily on their websites.

To ensure the high quality of your CBD, follow the checklist below:

  • Find a US company which uses locally produced hemp. Companies who know their farmers can ensure no contamination has taken place.
  • Producers should test their products throughout the various production stages.
  • Ideally, a third-party lab should handle testing.
  • The best companies publish their test results online. This way, you can check each bottle’s test results for purity and potency.
  • Find a company which offers guarantees on its products.

Read here some more things to consider before buying CBD products.

CONCLUSION

For thousands of years, CBD has been used to alleviate pain and discomfort.

From anxiety to insomnia, depression, and pain management, it has the potential to help millions of people live a better life. However, research in its health benefits is still in its early stages. This means that you need to be cautious. Make sure you’re not any medication which can negatively with CBD. And, if you wish to try it for yourself, “start low, go slow”: start with a low dosage and increase it slowly (read how to determine the right CBD dosage for you).

Finally, buy your CBD from a reputable company. Ask for a Certificate of Analysis and prefer CBD produced from locally grown hemp. Don’t hesitate to ask for copies of the tests showing its potency and purity: any trustworthy company should have no problem sharing that information with you.

Have you tried CBD? Has it worked for you? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments!