By: Rita Cunha
There’s a new cannabis product in town. It’s taking the United States by storm because it has a bunch of health benefits. It can be used for relieving anxiety, managing inflammatory and neuropathic pain, treating epilepsy, and even gifts for marijuana aficionados. But the law has been slow to catch up to its positive effects. No, we’re not talking about marijuana—we’re talking about CBD.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD, as it’s better known), is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant. Scientists first isolated CBD in the 1940s and have been studying its effect on animals and humans ever since.
Now, it’s finally entering the mass-consumption market. CBD isn’t just for stoners anymore. Millions of people are experiencing first-hand the many benefits this compound can bring.
Marijuana vs CBD Oil
Marijuana is the popular name for the leaves, stems, and buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Because it contains high levels of THC, a chemical compound that triggers psychoactive symptoms (or “gets you high”), marijuana is a controlled substance.
CBD is a whole other thing. While it can be extracted from marijuana, it doesn’t have any of the psychoactive side effects that weed (or THC, to be exact) does.
Hemp Extract vs CBD Oil
Hemp extract also comes from cannabis. But whereas CBD is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stems of hemp plants, hemp extract comes straight from the seeds.
Hemp oil is commonly used in beauty products and nutritional supplements because it’s rich in healthy fatty acids. CBD oil, on the other hand, is mostly used as a relaxant and pain reliever—but we’ll get to that in a bit.
What Is CBD Used For? Top 9 Health Benefits
CBD oil is unique because of its many health-beneficial properties. Every year, scientists in experimental medicine find more and more uses for this compound. And while more research is needed, some results are in.
1. Relieves Depression and Anxiety Disorders
Human studies suggest that CBD oil can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. A reputable Brazilian study from 2018, in particular, showed that moderate doses of CBD can drastically reduce anxiety levels even in high-stress situations.
With more research, CBD could eventually replace the traditional drugs used for treating these conditions. It could even help patients cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. This is good news for the millions of people who have not had good experiences with pharmaceutical meds.
2. Helps Manage Chronic Pain
Chronic pain management is complicated. Different people experience pain for different reasons, so there is no one way of relieving it. Yet, doctors and scientists are constantly looking for ways to alleviate it. CBD is shaping up to be a good solution for some patients.
A promising 2012 study looking at how mice respond to CBD highlighted that this compound has anti-inflammatory properties. Then, a 2018 study showed that CBD could reduce nerve pain, muscle tension, and muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis, thus giving them back the mobility they had been losing.
These surprising results have spurred a lot of medical research, so we can expect a lot more hopeful news.
3. Controls Epilepsy and Seizures
CBD can also help keep epilepsy and seizures in check. Scientists now understand that both CBD and THC work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to prevent these dreaded episodes.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved one medication, Epidiolex, used to treat epilepsy that contains CBD. This FDA-approved drug treats two rare forms of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
4. Improves High Blood Pressure
Having high blood pressure can bring on many severe health issues, ranging from debilitating heart disease to fatal strokes. For that reason, it’s important to keep it at safe, normal levels.
CBD oils can help do that. According to a 2017 study, a single dose of CBD leads to lower blood pressure in adults, even in stressful situations.
5. Eases Insomnia
Getting a good night’s sleep is next to impossible for people with insomnia. But CBD could change up the game.
Unlike other medications used to treat insomnia, CBD can improve sleep quality, according to a large 2019 study. Moreover, since it doesn’t cause addiction, it may be a more sustainable choice for many.
6. Reduces and May Treat Acne
Acne is another condition that CBD may reduce or even eliminate altogether.
Studies suggest that CBD could become a natural alternative to acne medication. That’s because CBD has sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects that lower the production of sebum, thus preventing and clearing up breakouts.
Moreover, skin ointments enriched with CBD help treat other skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. The subjects involved in this 2019 study all reported increased quality of life after their CBD treatments.
7. May Help During Cancer Treatments
CBD may also be incorporated into cancer treatment regimens. More and more patients are opting to bring CBD into their lives after a cancer diagnosis.
For starters, a 2020 report recommends pairing CBD with chemotherapy drugs to improve how the immune system responds to the treatment.
Secondly, since CBD can be used to treat pain, it can improve a patient’s quality of life during the treatment. Additionally, when paired with THC, this compound can reduce the nausea that often comes as a side effect of chemo.
Lastly, there is mounting evidence that CBD could even slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. Although it’s still too soon to announce a breakthrough, there are many teams studying this effect of CBD.
8. Manages Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the potential health benefits of CBD is improving cognitive function. Adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, in particular, may see their illness’s progress delayed because of this compound, according to research done in 2019.
Even though further research is needed, the results have been promising so far. Especially since there is no current alternative to treat or manage Alzheimer’s.
9. Eases Addiction and Substance Abuse
Lastly, in an unexpected twist, CBD products can help ease withdrawal symptoms, helping people leave their drug addiction behind. Patients with opioid addictions, in particular, can really benefit from controlled doses of CBD. Smokers may also have an easier time ditching nicotine because of CBD.
This could be a breakthrough in how substance abuse is handled. It has the potential to heal individuals and communities.
Is CBD Oil Safe to Use? Main Side Effects
Cannabidiol is safe for and tolerated well by most people. Yet, it can have some side effects. These include diarrhea, dry mouth, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue.
On top of that, CBD can interact with other drugs, namely anti-inflammatory medications. If you’re taking these meds, it’s wise to seek professional medical advice.
Can I Start Taking CBD Oil?
Despite all the benefits we listed, only your doctor or healthcare provider can provide medical advice that is tailored to you. If you’re thinking of taking CBD to help with a pre-existing condition, it’s best to meet with them first.
That said, you don’t need a doctor’s note for CBD. After all, non-prescription CBD products can be found over the counter or online in most states.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies won’t foot the bill for CBD oil. However, it’s worth calling your insurer just in case.
Can You Buy CBD Legally?
Many people ask themselves, “Is CBD legal?” The short answer is yes, but almost as complicated as state medical marijuana laws.
Today, CBD is legal in most places in the United States. But there are plenty of regulations in place. For example, some states only allow hemp-derived CBD products, while others also allow CBD extracted from the marijuana plant. Additionally, in some states, only THC-free CBD oils are legal.
To add to the confusion, some states haven’t set down clear CBD laws. In Wisconsin, for instance, possession of CBD is a misdemeanor and carries a jail sentence. However, that law has been put on hold for now at the request of the state’s Attorney General and could be reversed any day now.
All in all, if you plan on using CBD, check your local state laws before purchasing any CBD products.
3 Tips for Buying CBD Products Safely
Choosing the right CBD product for you is key to reaping all the benefits this compound can bring.
1. Decide What Form of CBD You Want
CBD comes in all shapes and sizes. CBD gummies, CBD oil, CBD oral spray, CBD capsules—you name it. They all act similarly, so it’s entirely up to you how you want to take it.
2. Pick American CBD
American-grown and American-processed CBD is generally safer than foreign CBD. That’s because the U.S. has tighter regulations on how CBD must be handled by manufacturers before reaching customers. Thus, there’s a lower risk of adverse reactions, since you know exactly what went into that product.
3. Choose Reputable Sellers
Lastly, to really make sure you’re getting high-quality CBD that hasn’t been cut with any dangerous substances, it’s best to choose CBD products from well-known, well-trusted sellers. Go with one that publishes a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for each product available.
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