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You've probably already heard of CBD (or CBD oil). And no wonder, since it's popping up everywhere, from CBD lattes to CBD-rich cosmetic products.
You've likely also heard that it's associated with the prevention and treatment of many ailments, but you don't know for sure whether it's just another buzzy supplement or a tested and proven medicine.
In this article, we'll try to clear up this confusion and explain the meaning of the term CBD, the origin of the substance, its effects and benefits, and the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
What Is CBD? ...And What is THC?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. It's a cannabinoid, more precisely a phytocannabinoid, a class of chemical compounds present in the Cannabis sativa plant or hemp plant.
Both industrial hemp and marijuana are species of the Cannabis sativa plant family. But while industrial hemp contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive substance THC, marijuana contains far more significant amounts of THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
So while they might be cousins, industrial hemp and marijuana are pretty different. And so are CBD and THC.
Industrial hemp is grown exclusively for the industrial purpose of its derivatives. It's believed that it has been around for about 8,000 years. Today, it's mostly used for making cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. CBD is extracted from the stem and seeds of the plant, while THC is derived mainly from the buds.
Will CBD Get Me High?
Long story short – It won't. CBD can be derived from both the marijuana plant and industrial hemp. But it's the plant's non-psychoactive portion, which means it won't give you euphoria, and you won't feel sedated or stoned from CBD. These altered states of being are only associated with the THC portion of the marijuana plant.
However, since not all CBD supplements are regulated by the FDA, you may stumble across a product that contains trace amounts of THC. For this reason, make sure to purchase CBD products that are third-party tested, just to be certain you're getting a quality product.
What Are the Health Benefits of CBD Oil?
The human body has an endocannabinoid system, made of endocannabinoids and their receptors (found in the brain, connective tissue, organs, glands, and immune cells) that receive and translate signals by cannabinoids [source].
This system plays a vital role in establishing and maintaining our body's health. Research shows that the endocannabinoid system, with the help of CBD, regulates various bodily functions and has beneficial effects on the immune system, sleep, and chronic pain.
Here are some of the most notable benefits of CBD oil backed by science:
#1: Reduces anxiety: Cannabinoids act on the endocannabinoid system receptors, especially in the central nervous system and the immune system. CBD doesn't bind directly to receptors in the central nervous system but acts by binding to FAAH enzymes, which are responsible for breaking down of anandamide, also known as bliss molecules [source].
This molecule is linked to feelings of good mood and happiness, but it also regulates satiety, digestion, relieves pain, etc. CBD prevents the breakdown of anandamide, so CBD is a natural mood enhancer without psychoactive effects.
#2: Relieves chronic pain: CBD is effective as a natural analgesic for treating and managing chronic pain. Among other things, the endocannabinoid system in our body is responsible for regulating pain response.
CBD impacts the cannabinoid receptors' activity in the body, thus, interacting with neurotransmitters and reducing inflammation and pain [source].
#3: Reduces blood pressure: CBD can help heart health by balancing body fats, stimulating antioxidant processes, and removing excess cholesterol. Therefore, it improves the health of the cardiovascular system and decreases the risks of heart-related diseases.
A 2017 study showed that using CBD supplements reduced stroke volume as well as resting systolic blood pressure in volunteers exposed to stress. Researchers concluded it was due to CBD's anxiety regulating properties.
#4: Improves sleep quality: CBD interacts with our brain's receptors for serotonin, regulating mood and achieving homeostasis – complete stability of all our body's processes. CBD regulates poor sleep cycles caused by various circumstances, such as depression, anxiety, certain medications, physical injuries, illnesses, or caffeine.
A 2019 study revealed that 79.2% of patients confirmed a reduction in anxiety after consuming CBD within the first month of the trial, while 66.7% confirmed their sleep improved.
#5: Helps cancer patients: CBD is a natural antiemetic and mood stabilizer, and therefore, has a variety of potential beneficial effects for people living with cancer, such as acting against chemo-induced nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite, relieving pain, and improving sleep quality [source].
Additionally, a 2012 study showed that CBD exhibits anti-cancer effects in different tumor types, inhibiting both cancer growth and spread.
#6: Relieves multiple sclerosis symptoms: Researchers believe that CBD attaches to certain receptors in the body's central nervous system, changing the way they respond to stimulation.
These neuroprotective properties, combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, show how CBD can regulate the brain's immune responses and help relieve certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as reducing neuropathic pain, muscle spasms, fatigue, and depression [source].
#7: Promotes skin health: Thanks to its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has found its way into the beauty industry as well. A 2019 study showed that topical CBD preparations could regulate the sebum production of the sebaceous gland, thus, help suppress breakouts.
Another study, also from 2019, revealed that topical administration of CBD ointment for consecutive three months had positive effects on decreasing skin lesions in patients with psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and other skin disorders.
What Are the Potential Side-Effects of Using CBD Oil?
CBD and its supplements are generally considered safe and are well-tolerated by the majority of people. However, some may be sensitive to it and experience some side effects, most commonly fatigue, diarrhea, and weight fluctuation [source].
It's also important to note that CBD can have some potentially harmful interactions with specific medications, especially medications and supplements that have a grapefruit warning. CBD and grapefruit both interfere with a group of enzymes responsible for drug metabolism. Therefore, if you're taking some medication that's advised not to be taken with grapefruit juice or supplements containing grapefruit extract, you shouldn't mix them with CBD either.
Is CBD Legal?
Growing industrial hemp, and as a result, using CBD supplements, is allowed and legal under federal law. However, it's still illegal in some states.
So, for example, both CBD and marijuana are fully legal for medicinal and recreational purposes in California, Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington. Both are illegal in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho. While some states allow only their use for medicinal purposes, others permit only the use of CBD oil specifically. To find out more about the laws in your state, you can check out this website.
If you're wondering if you can fly and travel with CBD, you can do so, but only between states where CBD products are legal.
As we can see, many studies have shown that CBD can relieve symptoms of a myriad of health issues, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, heart disease, and acne. It's a natural alternative for alleviating pain and has proven useful in helping cancer patients cope with chemotherapy side effects.
All in all, we're yet to discover all the potential therapeutic uses of CBD as research is still ongoing. If you want to try a CBD-based product, consider its potency, purity, type, potential side effects, and make sure it's tested by third-party labs. To make an informed decision, you can check out this Buyer's Guide.
What is CBD oil good for?
CBD oil has many positive health benefits, including reducing anxiety, reducing pain, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep quality, helping cancer patients with chemotherapy side effects, and supporting skin health.
Is CBD oil safe?
Generally, CBD oil is considered safe, but it can cause some side effects, such as diarrhea and fatigue. Also, you shouldn't take CBD oil with supplements that contain grapefruit extract, as these don't mesh well.
Is CBD considered a drug?
Some states consider it legal, but some don't. So ensure to check that if you're traveling somewhere with CBD oil supplements. CBD is generally legal only in skincare products.
Is CBD the same as marijuana?
No, these two are entirely different, although they come from the same plant family, the Cannabis sativa. CBD contains only a trace amount of THC, a psychoactive substance that is far more concentrated in marijuana.