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Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

According to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, “The bioavailability of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the gut. Specifically, about half of the CBD you inhale makes it into the blood, but only 5% of the CBD you eat gets into your blood.” A Chemistry & Biodiversity study published in 2017 confirms this, stating that while the bioavailability can vary based on how the CBD is smoked, “smoking… provides a rapid and efficient method of drug delivery from the lungs to the brain.”

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A 2007 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and cannabis. The study found that using a vaporizer could decrease respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.

Because CBD poses minimal risks even in large quantities, you should be able to experiment with smoking CBD flower without fear of overdoing it.

The good news is there is a lot of clinical evidence that CBD is safe to consume, even in large quantities. A clinical trial published in CNS Drugs in 2019 showed that healthy individuals who received 1500 mg of CBD twice per day experienced very few adverse reactions and all were mild. For context, most CBD products on the market today contain 10 mg per serving.

An app was used to measure changes in insomnia in over 400 people taking medical cannabis. The average symptom severity was reduced by 4.5 points on a 10-point scale, a significant improvement in insomnia.

CBD is from the hemp plant and its main property is healing. THC is the main cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. It is mind-altering.

Early research suggests that 160 mg of cannabidiol before bed significantly improves sleep duration compared to a placebo in patients with insomnia. Smaller doses did not have this effect. Also, patients did not feel drowsy the next morning morning.

Does Topical CBD Help with Pain?

Topical cannabidiol oil was studied in 29 people with lower limb peripheral neuropathy. After using the oil for 4 weeks, the people had less intense and sharp pain and fewer other uncomfortable sensations.

CBD oil may be used both ways.

The takeaway about CBD is that the initial research is promising but there is still much to learn. It may help with some conditions like long-term pain and sleep.

A recent Gallup poll found 1 in 7 adults in the U.S. have used CBD. Does it help?

“If the CBD is from a reputable source and one that has been inspected by a third-party independent lab, the content of CBD is more reliable,” notes Dr. Matharu-Daley. “The CBD should be organically grown, free of pesticides and heavy metals, and not sourced in food which can affect absorption. Generally, CBD is safe and side effects are few at low doses.”

The most comment side effects of CBD include drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues, dry mouth, reduced appetite, nausea, and interaction with other medications. Those are outlined in detail below.

CBD benefits include the following:

CBD Is Still an Unregulated Substance

“Since discovering the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body in the 1990s, CBD has been researched more extensively. The ECS is a central regulatory system restoring normal balance and homeostasis in a range of human physiologic systems throughout the body and brain and has cannabinoid receptors and chemicals in its function,” explains Dr. Matharu-Daley.

CBD might interfere with the other medications you take. Dr. Matharu-Daley says it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether CBD could affect your existing prescriptions.

CBD is technically an unregulated substance in the United States and therefore it ought to be used with caution. This is especially important for those taking additional medications and/or those with ongoing medical issues. That said, preliminary research on CBD and its benefits are promising in relation to helping with mild to moderate health concerns and it is generally considered a safe substance. Health professionals do not consider CBD a cure-all for serious medical issues, including cancer.

Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.