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The Potential Benefits of CBD (Cannabidiol): Current Research

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, can be found in a wide range of products for humans and animals. It is popular to use for mild pain, anxiety, and nausea, and can be used as an anti-inflammatory. It comes in diverse forms, from liquid oil to an ointment. It is also sold as a supplement, which people can put into food or drinks for themselves or their pets. But what are the potential benefits of CBD, and what does current research have to say?

It might be good to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD product—a prescription drug that treats two severe forms of epilepsy. CBD is also classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule 1 substance (under marihuana), which is defined as a substance with “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use.”

Despite the federal agencies’ restrictions, it can be relatively easy to obtain a CBD product in many stores and by prescription from a doctor who supports CBD as a therapeutic.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol is one of several main active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. Unlike the other active compound in the plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not contain psychoactive properties, which can make someone feel euphoric or intoxicated.

CBD is sold in different forms: oils and tinctures, creams and ointments, capsules and pills, edibles, and vaping. It is also available in certain pet products, like ointments, oils, soft and chewy tablets, and liquid supplements.

CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana plants, although the amount of THC from a hemp plant is miniscule and produces no psychoactive effects. There are three main types available:

  • Isolate – contains only CBD
  • Full-spectrum – contains other compounds from cannabis, including THC
  • Broad-spectrum – contains other compounds but not THC

There are several ways in which you can take CBD. These are:

  • Oral: Oils, tinctures, sprays, and capsules
  • Topicals: Ointments or lotions
  • Edibles: Candies, gummies, and beverages
  • Inhalants: Vaping oil

 It is essential to know these aspects of CBD before you consider buying and consuming it. CBD might produce side effects for some people.

 CBD Side Effects

CBD, while mostly well-tolerated, can cause some side effects, such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Wakefulness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea (if vaped too much)

It can also interact with blood-thinning medication.

It’s important to note that there are no official guidelines for CBD oil dosage. Starting with a low dose of it should be tolerated well by most people. If the dose you take produces adverse effects, even if mild, consult with the doctor who prescribed it. Another key to preventing unwanted side effects is to choose a high-quality product. It is always wise to choose a product by its value and not its cost.  Less-expensive CBD products may or may not have the amount of CBD in them, and the quality of the CBD may not be up to par.

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Benefits of CBD and Current Research

There is some controversy about the use of CBD due to recreational marijuana use. Nonetheless, current research has indicated the many health benefits contributed by the substance.

It has been shown to be beneficial for some mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depressive disorders, substance use disorders (addiction), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.

Current research on the benefits of using CBD for mental health disorders includes a 2015 study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics, which found that CBD was effective for generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and PTSD. However, more research needs to be conducted.

It can also be used to treat a variety of medical conditions, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Diseases causing inflammation
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Epilepsy

Current research about CBD’s benefits for several medical conditions listed above is noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which writes, “Pre-clinical research (including both cell culture and animal models) has shown CBD to have a range of effects that may be therapeutically useful, including anti-seizure, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-tumor, antipsychotic, and anti-anxiety properties.” 

Healthline reports on studies that have found CBD useful for several physical conditions mentioned above.

Should You Take CBD?

There are several factors to consider before deciding to obtain and take CBD.

If you think that taking CBD would be beneficial, consult with your doctor. If you are taking medication, CBD may interact with it in a negative way. CBD extracted from hemp is legal to obtain and use in the United States.

Doctor discussing the benefits of CBD tincture

Proceed with Caution

We should caution you that not all CBD products are the same or contain the amount of CBD stated on the package. Some companies that made claims that their CBD product helped specific medical conditions have received warnings from the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prove their claims, as reported by NBC News.  

Keep this in your mind also before buying or taking any CBD product: the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System reported 1,988 calls to poison control centers as of Nov. 30, 2020. That is 459 more than in 2019.

If you feel that you or someone you care about is having an adverse reaction after taking CBD, you can reach your local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

It is always smart to take time and research any company, business, or organization selling CBD products to be sure you are getting what you want and know all the facts before spending any money.

Current research on the benefits of CBD is still in progress. However, if you feel CBD will be useful for you, proceed with caution.

Sources

Mayo Clinic. Consumer health. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? Bauer, B. M.D. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020, March 5) What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Controlled Substances by CSA Schedule. Page 6. Retrieved from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/orangebook/e_cs_sched.pdf

Neurotherapeutics. (2015, September 4) Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Blessing, E. et. al. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

NIDA. (2015, June 24) The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol. Volkow, N. Dir. NIDA. Retrieved from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/testimonies/2015/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol

Healthline. (2020, April 7) 6 Benefits of CBD Oil. Cherney, K. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-oil-benefits

National Conference of State Legislatures. State Medical Marijuana Laws. Table 1 (map). Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx

Medical News Today. (2020, March 19) Everything you need to know about CBD oil. Benefits. Johnson, J. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317221

Verywell Mind. (2020, June 3) 5 Mental Health Uses for CBD. Possible Side Effects. Cherry, K. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-health-uses-for-cbd-4844875

NBC News. (2019, April 2) FDA, FTC send warning letters to three CBD marketers for false medical claims. Charles, S. M.D. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-ftc-send-warning-letters-three-cbd-marketers-false-claims-n990251

American Association of Poison Control Centers. CANNABIDIOL (CBD). CBD Alert. Retrieved from https://aapcc.org/CBD-Alert

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