You may have noticed a surge in products that add CBD to their main ingredient list. It is often listed on the packaging as a beneficial additive to many common products, from sports drinks to pain cream. But what exactly is CBD, and what is it used for?
Typically, you will find CBD products as oils, supplements, and creams. People worldwide have found personal success using these products to manage ailments including chronic pain, anxiety, sleep irregularity, and to reduce the effects of cancer treatment.
There are many reviews available on CBD products, and their use is continuously studied. However, whether or not they are healthy is a matter of perspective. It is essential to weigh the possible side effects of CBD, other medications, as well as letting chronic conditions go untreated. Read on to see if CBD products could be an option for you.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and makes up part of what is known as cannabis or hemp. However, it is only one of over 100 chemicals found in both. Cannabis is most commonly known as marijuana and a host of other nicknames, including “pot”. Hemp is a specific variety of plants often grown to make use of its CBD oil and plant fibers.
The cannabidiol (CBD) found in products are either hemp-derived or cannabis-derived, depending on the classification of the plant. Generally speaking, hemp plants have more CBD.
Does CBD get you High?
CBD is related to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in that they are both present in the same plant. However, CBD does not usually affect people like its cousin, THC. THC is found in high concentrations of cannabis classified plants and is responsible for the altered state of mind or high¸ that people feel.
While THC can still be detected in hemp classified plants, its levels are deficient, usually resulting in no measurable effects. There have been some studies in which people have noticed an almost euphoric mindset after receiving CBD derived from hemp. However, it was found that this only applied to people who were also sensitive to over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol.
Is CBD Legal?
Due to the very low THC levels in hemp plants, many hemp-derived CBD products are available legally at the federal level. We make a point to distinguish federal law here because there are different levels of “legal” between state and federal laws regarding CBD and cannabis.
Here are some data points to consider when answering the question is CBD legal?
- Federally, yes as long as the source is hemp and it contains less than 0.3% THC
- States, yes if they have legalized medical marijuana
- States, maybe if they have not legalized medical marijuana but have legalized FDA approved CBD products
CBD is technically legal in all 50 states. However, the law is different from state to state. Therefore, it is the state laws that you need to check before purchasing CBD products.
How Does CBD Work in your Body?
Cannabinoids interact with receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Though still being researched, the current understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is that it works with other systems in regulating many functions, including:
When CBD enters the body, two receptors are produced, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are present throughout the brain and immune system and are involved in movement, pain, mood, appetite, and inflammation.
Even without using any cannabis or CBD, your body’s ECS is still present and at work.
Health Benefits of CBD
CBD use is still undergoing much research, but early evidence shows promising results for many people. One aspect of CBD use that attracts many is that it is not psychoactive like its cousin, THC. And because it is derived from plants, it is considered a more homeopathic method of treating ailments.
Here are just a few of the health benefits people are finding through the use of CBD:
- Improved sleep quality. According to the CDC, about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. Often, people resort to prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications to aid in regaining regular sleep cycles. These medications can lead to dependence and counteract the overall goal. CBD has been touted as a natural way to promote quality sleep habits.
- Mental health and mood disorders. Daily life and trauma can trigger or exacerbate anxiety, depression, and PTSD. CBD has been shown in studies to help with these conditions as it interacts with the part of the brain that regulates mood. Its use has helped many people improve their mindfulness and situational awareness leading to reduced stress and anxiety.
- Reduced symptoms of neurological disorders. Studies have shown that the use of CBD can have a positive effect on people living with neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, Dravet syndrome (a form of childhood epilepsy), and Parkinson’s disease. Part of the success is due to CBD’s effect on inflammation, which can worsen neurological degeneration.
- Pain management. Marijuana has been used to treat pain dating back as early as 2900 B.C. Since then, medical and technological advancements have allowed for better extraction techniques and study. We now know that CBD (without THC) has many beneficial effects for pain management. Whether chronic, such as sciatic nerve pain or temporary, such as recovery from surgery, CBD has provided many people with an alternative to other pain medications.
As with any form of treatment, individual results will vary. However, these examples are only a tiny sample of the ailments people are successfully treating with CBD.
CBD and Cancer Treatment
CBD has also had success specifically as a means of support for people undergoing cancer treatment. Most cancer treatments involve some form of chemotherapy and radiation. The side effects of such treatment include lack of appetite, nausea, sleep problems, and pain.
Because CBD interacts with the brain and produces receptors linked to pain, many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation have found CBD helpful to ease their pain and make treatment a little more bearable.
It is also important to note that CBD has been linked to the stimulation of appetite. This is meaningful to cancer patients who often suffer from significant appetite loss, resulting in lower energy and weight loss. These adverse effects not only result in poor mood and motivation, but the lack of energy also starves the body of the strength needed to recover from treatment as well as fight the cancer.
There is also early evidence to suggest that CBD may slow the growth of cancer cells. However, research still has a long way to go in collecting enough evidence on this as a possible factor in cancer treatment.
Alternative to Addictive Opioid Medications
Pain, sleeplessness, and depression are just a few reasons people seek medications to manage their conditions. Unfortunately, however, it is becoming more apparent that many people often become dependent or addicted to prescription medications. This is especially true regarding opioids.
People often favor CBD as an alternative method to alleviate their symptoms. In many cases, the side effects from CBD are generally milder or nonexistent when compared to those of prescriptions. It is also beneficial in the fact that CBD has been shown to be non-habit forming.
CBD can often be used in place of many medications providing a more natural, less dependent option.
Types of CBD Products
As with anything we put into our bodies, there can be side effects. So be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before adding CBD to your treatment plan.
If you have decided to give CBD a try, several options are available to you (depending on availability in your specific state). The type of product to use depends on the goal you are trying to achieve.
- Topical. These products treat the pain of muscles, joints, and ligaments and are found in cream or ointment form.
- Edibles. These can be found in the form of capsules, tinctures, and gummies. The effect often takes longer to start with these methods, but it usually delivers longer-lasting results on the flip side.
- Vaping. This form of delivery gets you the fastest relief but wears off much faster in comparison to other options.
Be sure to speak to your physician about what type of method and what dose to use when considering using a CBD product.
What Side Effects Can Result from Using CBD Products?
As mentioned earlier, anything we put into or onto our bodies can deliver a negative result. Did we say, “talk to your doctor first?”. Talk to your doctor first before using CBD products to manage your symptoms.
Why did we say it twice? CBD is considered by many to be a more natural means to alleviate many symptoms. However, it can have side effects including:
- Interactions with certain medications (especially ones with a grapefruit warning)
- Liver damage (found with prolonged use)
- Male reproductive toxicity
- Decreased alertness
- Gastrointestinal distress
These are just some of the reported side effects resulting from the use of CBD products. There is much still unknown as to the long-term impacts of prolonged use.
Is CBD Right for You?
There are many completed and ongoing studies as to the effectiveness of CBD on the mind and body. Generally speaking, many people have found that the benefits of CBD far outweighed the side effects they experienced.
Read product reviews, talk to friends, and talk to your doctor to see if CBD can benefit you.
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