Assuming you do not live under a rock, you have probably heard of CBD (cannabidiol.) You may be aware that CBD is extracted from cannabis plants, which include both hemp and marijuana. So what is CBD, and why are so many people beginning to use it and recommend it? Are they just trying to get a legal high?
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of several therapeutic compounds derived from the cannabis plant. CBD has a different chemical structure with different effects from another well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC.) THC is psychoactive, which means it produces a “high” that affects mood and cognition, while CBD is not. THC is most concentrated in the marijuana plant, and its therapeutic uses include reducing the perception of pain and appetite stimulation. CBD is most concentrated in the hemp plant, and its uses include reducing anxiety, reducing inflammation, lowering pain both by reducing inflammation and reducing pain signals from the nerves, and improving sleep. While the two can be used in combination, there are many reasons to distinguish the two. Because CBD can produce these therapeutic effects without causing impairment, it has recently been made legal at the federal level and its use is gaining acceptance.
How Is CBD Used?
CBD is delivered by inhalation of vapor or “vape,” ingestion in a food product or gummy, and topical delivery through the skin (or under the tongue.) CBD liquid can be purchased in a pre-loaded kit called a “vape pen,” such as those found here: https://cbdfx.com/collections/cbd-vape-pens/ It is important to know the quality of an inhalable product. While CBD oil can be safely inhaled, to adjust the dosage it must be diluted in a carrier oil that is also safe to inhale. Unfortunately, people have been seriously injured by the usage of low-quality carrier oils, particularly where a type of vitamin E was added as a preservative.
Inhalation is the fastest delivery route, used for immediate relief of symptoms like anxiety or pain, but it is also the shortest-lived. When longer-lasting relief of inflammation, pain, or insomnia is needed, topical creams or edible products can be used, alone or in combination with an inhaled CBD. Since CBD is not psychoactive, is a natural substance and does not pose any significant risk of side effects, CBD products are available to purchase over the counter in most states in the U.S.
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
CBD decreases inflammation, which may be helpful to reduce the symptoms of a wide range of chronic conditions including arthritis, acne, allergies, Crohn’s disease, eczema, and many others. Chronic inflammation is linked to a long list of diseases, some of which are extremely disabling. Making adjustments to diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation is healthy advice for everyone, and CBD can be a useful support to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Lower Anxiety and Improve Sleep
Several studies have examined the effects of CBD at treating anxiety or insomnia. One 2019 study measured the effects of CBD treatment on both anxiety and sleep, and found improvement in both. The effect on anxiety was immediate and sustained throughout the study period. Other studies have suggested that CBD improves both falling asleep and staying asleep. Incidentally, both anxiety and poor sleep tend to contribute to inflammation, and all of its associated health issues.
CBD has also been studied for its pain-relieving effects. Since many painful conditions also involve inflammation, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the source of pain. There is also evidence that CBD can reduce pain directly, by calming the nerves and reducing the pain signals they send.
In some cases, chronic pain sufferers have been able to reduce or eliminate their dependence on pain-relieving drugs, which carry a much greater risk of side effects than CBD.
What About Side Effects?
CBD is considered to be safe with no evidence of severe side effects. Though rare, mild to moderate side effects may include nausea, changes in appetite or weight, fatigue, or low blood pressure. It is also important to be aware that CBD can interfere with the liver’s processing of some prescription drugs. If you are already receiving treatment for a disorder and you’d like to try CBD, it’s best to consult with your doctor about treatment. If you are otherwise healthy and not on medication, the only precaution for trying CBD is to be sure you find a high-quality, pure CBD product.