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CBD can be taken orally or applied topically, depending on the product. There are lots of options out there, from gummies and softgels that supposedly ease anxiety to calming bath soaks, creams and oils — and even beer.

It may also be beneficial for arthritis. Last fall the Arthritis Foundation became the first major health organization to release guidelines for the use of CBD.

Here are the basics of what you need to know about CBD and health.

Arthritis Foundation offers guidelines for CBD use

Advocates say CBD, or cannabidiol, which comes from hemp and marijuana, can help with anxiety, pain relief and provide a slew of other benefits. And while many experts agree that CBD has potential, there are still a lot of unknowns.

You’re probably already familiar with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is another compound found in the cannabis plant and its main psychoactive component. But unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. In other words, it’s not what gets you stoned. It’s also different from medical marijuana, which has been shown to reduce pain.

Most of the products claim to ease pain and anxiety. But whether or not these products actually contain the amount of CBD they advertise is up for debate, since they’re not approved by the FDA.

CBD is everywhere lately — in skin care, coffee and even pet treats. But is it really all it’s hyped up to be?

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.

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?

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.

Is CBD safe?

CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.

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."

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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.

Scientific observation takes time, and the research community has only just begun to pursue scientific inquiry into the discrete effects of various cannabinoids. That said, many researchers believe the potential carried by CBD is promising.

A 2017 clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that CBD was highly effective in reducing seizures in people with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. The FDA subsequently approved an oral CBD solution, called Epidiolex, for treating the rare disease.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a trending ingredient the natural products industry and is the focus of a new area of cannabis research. CBD is one of many cannabinoids, or molecules produced uniquely by the cannabis family. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary psychoactive element in marijuana), CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t have a strong effect on cognitive brain activity and doesn’t cause the “high” associated with marijuana.

Research on CBD

Some research suggests that CBD may reduce anxiety and self-deprecating thoughts, and there’s evidence that CBD has antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia. But other studies show no significant benefit of CBD over a placebo.

According to nonscientific anecdotal evidence, CBD is good for treating discomfort and illness of all kinds. Sufferers of everything from anxiety and aches to epilepsy and cancer are evangelizing for the CBD molecule. But the largely prohibited status of cannabis has prevented many long-term, academically rigorous studies on most cannabinoids in isolation, leaving these anecdotal claims mostly uninvestigated until recently.

Atkinson emphasized that “CBD, like many other substances, probably should be avoided in pregnancy.” Additionally, since the commercial cannabis market is mostly unregulated, there is no good way to know that what you buy is actually what you get in terms of dosage or content of product. “In studies done by the state of California it appears that a good deal of product labeling is incorrect — the dose or percentage of CBD or THC is usually overstated,” he said.

Within the CMCR, there is also “much interest in the possible anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, for use in arthritis of various types, including knees and hands,” Atkinson said. Recent in vitro research with human cell lines afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis has suggested that CBD treatment may help reduce inflammation.