Image: yavdat/Getty Images
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."
The bottom line on cannabidiol
CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.
Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.
Lucy Blythe, whose name has been changed for this article, has experimented with CBD to help treat her chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, and fibromyalgia — all of which are autoimmune illnesses characterized by chronic inflammation in the body.
Orr first experimented with medical marijuana with mixed results, then discovered CBD. “I’ve found more long-term success with fewer side effects from CBD oil,” Orr stated.
There is a large body of scientific literature and anecdotal evidence that supports the use of CBD for the treatment of inflammation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
A 2016 study published in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation investigated CBD as a treatment for early pancreatic inflammation in diabetic mice. Pancreatic inflammation can lead to diabetes due to an invasion of immune cells that destroy insulin-producing cells. The mice who received 10 weeks of treatment with CBD developed diabetes later than the mice that didn’t receive the treatment. CBD-treated mice also showed a significant reduction in immune-cell activity.
“I’ve had a variety of experiences with different doctors, as well as with different ingestion methods. However, I have genuinely found CBD oil to be transformational and am committed to increasing awareness for other autoimmune and IBD sufferers.”
Adam Kemp is a professional basketball player who turned to CBD products after breaking a bone in his back at the beginning of the 2017 season.
“I was able to undertake my whole recovery from the back injury by using only CBD products, and now I continue to use them to help with inflammation and other muscle pains,” Kemp said.