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In case you haven’t heard, Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cure for whatever ails you, from insomnia and inflammation to pandemic angst. Or at least that is what retailers, supermarkets, mini-marts, beauty stores, and coffee and smoothie shops across America would have you believe. There are CBD-infused creams, CBD-infused oils, CBD-infused tinctures, lollipops, lattes, and even a CBD oil–infused pillow! What’re the next, CBD-infused tampons? Actually, that already exists. Really.
1. What is Cannabidiol（CBD）?
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It originates from the Cannabis sativa L.plant, which is not psychoactive. It does not produce a high because it does not have Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in it. Aerial parts of the cannabis plant (stalk, leaves, flowers) can produce low-THC hemp, which is the source of CBD. CBD can lead to relaxation or sleepiness. And it has antioxidant (neutralizes destructive oxygen free radicals in cells) and anti-inflammatory properties. 【1】Therefore, it is widely used in clinical treatment. For example, it plays an important role in intractable epilepsy, depression, chronic intestinal inflammation and skin diseases, etc.
In a word, CBD is seemingly everywhere and in everything, from CBD-infused creams to CBD-infused oils, tinctures and lollipops.
2. What are the health benefits of CBD?
CBD can have a therapeutic effect on the brain. Meanwhile, it cannot cause hallucinations or the psychoactive effects that most people associate with the “high” from cannabis. Because of this, CBD has a lot of potential for therapeutic uses. But before the scientific and medical communities can make definitive statements about the health benefits of CBD, they need more thorough and long-term research about the compound and how it affects the body and brain.
That said, there are indications that CBD has health benefits. For example:
Degeneration or abnormalities of the nervous system can cause a variety of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease. They are called chronic neurodegenerative diseases. CBD has a certain neuroprotective effect, thus reducing the number of neuroinflammation to a large extent. What’s more, it has the effect of controlling epileptic seizures, and it also has an inhibitory effect on refractory epilepsy. Through epidemiological investigations, CBD can play a role in anticonvulsants. Besides, its drug tolerability is better, which can greatly improve the quality of life of epilepsy patients.
Anti-anxiety and anti-depression
Currently, there are few studies on the use of CBD for anti-anxiety, anti-depression, and other psychiatric illnesses. At the same time, there are few successful and effective animal models. However, CBD has complex pharmacological effects that may contribute to its broad-spectrum treatment of different psychiatric illnesses. Recent studies indicate that CBD represents a new promising molecule due to its broad-spectrum pharmacological properties, promoting monoaminergic neurotransmission. Therefore, some medical experts consider that CBD can serve as an option for the treatment of depression.
In conclusion, CBD has a positive effect on the treatment of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.
Protect the skin
CBD has the functions of soothing, moisturizing, and relieving pain. So it could have applications in the research and development of skin care products and the treatment of skin diseases. It can inhibit the production of inflammatory factors and reduce the occurrence of skin inflammation, thereby soothing and improving sensitive skin. By promoting the skin to build a protective and repairing barrier to improve the skin’s self-healing power, CBD also plays an active role in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
While the research is still very early, experts speculate that CBD may play a role in treating cancer, specifically by slowing tumor growth and inducing the death of cancer cells. CBD may also help manage unpleasant symptoms related to cancer and chemotherapy, such as pain, nausea, and vomiting.
There are a number of studies supporting CBD’s potential anti-cancer role—however, the majority are limited to in vitro and animal studies. For example, in various studies, there is evidence that CBD decreases the growth of lung and prostate tumors, provokes the cell death of colon, lung, and brain cancer cells, and reduces the spread (metastasis) of breast cancer.
While promising, large human clinical trials are indispensable to better understand whether CBD is truly effective in helping to treat cancer. Clinical trials would also allow experts to tease out issues like dosage, interaction with other cancer drugs, and CBD’s safety profile. 【2】
As of now, there are only a handful of human studies that have examined CBD’s anti-cancer role.
Protect the gastrointestinal system
In several studies, CBD can serve as a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis. Research shows that CBD may potentially help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal system caused by inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis. 【3】 Besides, CBD extracts may help alleviate symptoms of IBD and UC.
3. What is the correct dosage of CBD?
Because CBD is still a relatively new therapeutic option for managing different health conditions, including inflammatory bowel diseases, there is currently no recommended standard dosage. People have different tolerance levels. A 6-foot-tall man will respond differently to CBD than a 5-foot-tall woman.
In one study, patients with ulcerative colitis could take 50 mg of CBD oil twice a day. Some participants were able to increase to as much as 250 mg twice a day for a period of 10 weeks. Another study also recorded dose ranges of 50 mg to 250 mg CBD capsules twice daily. Many participants were able to tolerate the higher dosage and saw improvements, though the study authors suggested that more research is needed.
As with many medications, it’s best to start with a lower dose and gradually increase the amount of CBD to determine the appropriate dosage.
4. What are the side effects and safety concerns of CBD?
Because there is limited research on CBD, scientists don’t fully understand the side effects of the compound. However, experts believe that using CBD can cause:
- Decreased appetite
- Dry mouth
Research has found that, most often, the compound is generally well-tolerated. Finally, CBD can have interactions with over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs. It’s important not to underestimate the risk of CBD, especially if you’re taking other medications or supplements. 【4】
Because of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) without the regulation of CBD, there is not a thorough understanding of its benefits and risks, which is information that would come from FDA testing and approval. Therefore, there are a few important things to consider when taking CBD, which include:
- Dosage: Recommendations widely range and depend on the condition that you’re using CBD to treat.
- Quality: Since CBD is not regulated, there’s no oversight of the quality and potency of the product. If you’re considering taking CBD, talk to your healthcare provider about where and how to obtain high-quality CBD products.
Even though it is a “natural” product, CBD can still interact with other medications. In fact, research indicates that cannabis-derived products, including CBD, can interact with 139 medications, and can be dangerous for people on 57 medications, including:
- Metformin: Taking CBD along with this medication that is used to treat diabetes can increase the risk for diarrhea.
- Coumadin (warfarin): Taking CBD with this blood thinner can increase the amount of medication in your bloodstream, undermining the dosage that your healthcare provider has prescribed.
- OTC medications including Benedryl: This medication and CBD can cause drowsiness, so taking the medications together can amplify the effect.
- Tylenol and other medications that are processed in the liver: Taking CBD could increase liver enzymes. 【5】
5. How can CBD be taken?
CBD is available in many forms, and you may need to try different delivery methods before finding the one that is right for you. Some common forms of CBD are:
Oils and tinctures
CBD oil is a popular form of CBD. It mixes CBD extract into an oil like coconut oil, forming what’s known as a tincture. People can take tinctures orally or apply them to their bodies. Be sure that you know what concentration of your CBD tincture is, and whether it’s safe to be taken orally. 【6】There are numerous benefits of CBD oil:
- Relieves arthritis pain
- Relieves chronic pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces muscle spasms
- Improve sleep
- Prevents or reduces symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease
- May reduce cancer cell growth
- Reduce nausea and vomiting for cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy 【7】
Swallowing CBD oil allows it to pass through the digestive system. And the liver is able to metabolize it, sending its active compounds throughout the body over several hours. Another popular way to take CBD is to place a few drops of the oil or tincture, or a small bit of the powder, under the tongue and hold it there for several seconds. This allows the bloodstream to rapidly absorb the active ingredients through mucus membranes in the mouth. 【8】
Like cannabis, CBD can be infused into edible products, including chocolate, gummy candy, and other candies and foods. CBD oil is usually ingested in drops, tinctures, and capsules, or added to foods and beverages, such as gummy candies and coffee. 【9】
Capsules and pills
CBD can also be administered under the tongue as a pill or oral spray. CBD can also be ingested as a powder made by removing all plant matter to reveal a crystalline powder that has no taste or odor.
Creams and lotions
People’s skin can apply CBD-infused oils to relieve pain and reduce inflammation directly where needed. Topical products include creams, salves, patches, shampoos, suppositories, lip balms, bath salts, and personal lubricants.
Vaping (Inhaling a vaporized substance generated by an electronic vaporizer.)
CBD can be inhaled by vaporizing the oil or by adding the oil or powder to e-cigarettes or tobacco and smoking them. Inhaled CBD enters the bloodstream rapidly through the lungs, avoiding the digestive system. For this reason, “vaping” has been a popular way of using CBD. But, a mysterious spate of lung injuries that is in connection with inhaling products, has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to urge people to refrain from vaping while they investigate. By the end of September 2019, Most of the people in the more than 800 cases were patients who used products containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), according to the CDC. Like CBD, THC is a cannabinoid, and the two often appear together in vaping products. 【10】
6. How is Cannabidiol different from marijuana, cannabis, and hemp?
One of the four most well-known cannabinoids exists in the cannabis plant. CBD is nonpsychoactive (meaning that it does not produce the high often associated with cannabis) and self-treat various conditions, including pain, anxiety, and insomnia can also apply it.
Marijuana (a high-THC variety of cannabis plant)
Specifically the cannabis Sativa species; typically has high amounts of THC and moderate amounts of CBD, depending on the strain. Mexican Spanish word for cannabis. The use of the term in the United States in the early part of the 20th century played off of anti-immigrant political stances by exoticizing the plant and making it a dangerous “other.” Other names for marijuana include weed, herb, pot, Mary Jane, and Bob.
Stigmatized and outlawed for decades, marijuana receives a bad rap thanks to government efforts to crack down on its use. The truth is that the only potentially “negative” effect of consuming medicinal marijuana is the intoxication-but for some patients, that’s a bonus. In certain cases, the relaxing effects of THC in marijuana can alleviate anxiety as well. However, smoking marijuana could have negative implications, as with all types of smoking (this is as opposed to consuming marijuana via an edible form or tincture). If you’re interested in using CBD on its own, it can come from either a marijuana plant or a hemp plant (more on that, next).
If you want to use marijuana therapeutically, you’ll reap the benefits of the aforementioned entourage effect. Consult with your doctor (or any doctor you trust who’s versed in cannabis) to determine the right combination for your needs.
Cannabis (the umbrella term for marijuana or hemp)
Cannabis refers to a group of three varieties of marijuana plants with psychoactive properties: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. It contains more than 400 distinct compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and lipids that together and separately, produce its effects in the body.
A family (genus, if you want to get technical) of plants, comprising both marijuana plants and hemp plants, among others. You’ll often hear a doctor use the term cannabis in lieu of more casual terms like pot, weed, etc. Using the term cannabis also potentially creates a softer barrier to entry for those who have been a bit apprehensive when it comes to using marijuana or hemp as part of a wellness routine. Just know, when someone says cannabis, they could be referencing either hemp or marijuana. Keep reading for the difference between those.
Hemp (a high-CBD variety of cannabis plant)
A cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less of THC, is cultivated for industrial or medicinal uses. Commercial items made from hemp fiber include paper, textiles, clothing, and biodegradable plastic; hemp seed oil can serve as food and in shampoo and skin products, and hulled hemp seeds are eaten on their own or ground into flour.
Despite the higher CBD ratio, hemp plants don’t typically yield tons of extractable CBD, so it takes a lot of hemp plants to create a CBD oil or tincture. Keep in mind: Hemp oil doesn’t necessarily mean CBD oil. When shopping online, it’s important to know the difference. What’s even more important is to know where the hemp was grown. Dr. Solomon warns that this is imperative because CBD is not currently regulated by the FDA. If the hemp that produces CBD was grown overseas, you could be putting your body at risk.
“Hemp is a bio-accumulator,” he says.” People plant hemp to cleanse soil because it absorbs anything the soil has in its it-toxins, pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers. There is a lot of hemps that comes from overseas, and it may not be grown in a [safe or clean] way.”American-grown hemp-especially from states that produce both medically and recreationally legal cannabis-tends to be safer because there are stricter standards, according to Consumer Reports.
7. Is Cannabidiol Legal?
Although CBD is not a psychoactive substance, it isn’t legal in every state. In order for CBD to be legal in your state, it needs to be legal at both the federal and state levels. While the Farm Bill legalized the production of any part of the cannabis plant with a THC concentration of 0.3% or lower, states have the final say.
The legality of CBD is confusing. In 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka that year’s Farm Bill), legalized CBD derived from hemp — with the important caveat that it could only contain 0.3 percent of THC by dry weight, to be grown legally. This type of CBD is legal in 47 U.S. states with some restrictions, but totally illegal in Idaho, South Dakota, and Mississippi. Plants with more than 0.3 percent of THC are considered marijuana, which is legal for recreational use in 19 states, including Washington, DC, and Guam.
Despite state laws legalizing the sale of cannabis for recreational or medicinal use, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (PDF) still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug: “substances or chemicals [that] are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” So, while marijuana is illegal on a federal level, states have different laws regarding marijuana and CBD.
Only one cannabis-derived drug product has been FDA approved: cannabidiol sold under the brand name Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of high-dose CBD to treat a rare, hard-to-treat form of epilepsy in children ages 1 and up. (A CBD User’s Guide)
While CBD may be legal in some states, in other states there are restrictions on both. Before ordering or using these substances, it’s always a good idea to check the laws in your state about CBD. With all of this information in mind, you can increase your chances of finding a “CBD path” that will be the best fit for you.