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.
“I do believe that cannabidiol has potential, absolutely,” Dr. Yasmin Hurd, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told TODAY. Hurd’s research suggests CBD can may have positive effects on opioid addicts.
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.
What does it do?
The FDA has tested various products and found that many didn’t have the amount of CBD they had advertised, and has often sent warning letters to companies that make unfounded health claims.
The law depends on where you live, and whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp. Marijuana is trickier because the federal government still considers it an illegal drug, although states have their own swiftly changing laws. Some states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, while others have legalized medical marijuana. Still others have introduced CBD-specific legislation.
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in marijuana and hemp.
Here are the basics of what you need to know about CBD and health.
The ECS is comprised of compounds called endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced messenger molecules similar to the cannabinoids found hemp. The similarity between endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids (from hemp) allows compounds like CBD to have a massive range of influence on the human body.
Why is that important?
That being said, CBD should never be touted as a panacea or miracle cure. In fact, CBD products derived from hemp are not designed to treat or cure any disease or medical ailment.
Why Do People Use CBD?
For those interested in trying CBD, there are numerous products available. CBD oil used to be the only option, but there are now hundreds of options to try. Whether you opt for an oral tincture, CBD capsules, CBD gummies, or a CBD topical cream, there’s truly something for everyone nowadays.
Also, remember that CBD is not the only cannabinoid in hemp. It’s often common for hemp-derived products to contain multiple cannabinoids like CBN (cannabinol) and CBG (cannabigerol). These products are usually under the label ‘full-spectrum’ or ‘broad-spectrum.’ Alternatively, a CBD isolate is a product containing almost pure cannabidiol.
There are lots of reasons why people use CBD. Research into the compound is ongoing, but already studies are showing a wealth of positive evidence on things like stress relief, pain relief, difficulty sleeping, and more.
It’s true that you can find decent amounts of CBD in some marijuana strains. However, the majority of the CBD supplements market comprise products that are made from hemp.
While Epidiolex is approved specifically for treating two forms of childhood epilepsy, Orrin Devinsky, the director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Health and the lead investigator of two clinical trials of the drug, told CNN he believed there’s a good chance it will be prescribed for “off-label” use. This practice of doctors prescribing drugs to treat conditions for which it is not officially approved is legal and common, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
More recently, 409 people with insomnia participated in a 2018 study in which they self-reported the effects of cannabis on their quality of sleep. For more than 1,000 total sessions, they used an app to record the severity of their symptoms before and after using cannabis, as well as their method of consumption and the cannabinoid content. (Again, 400 insomniacs smoking and vaping cannabis at home and self-reporting results via an app would not pass muster as a “rigorous, double-blind placebo-controlled” study, but it’s what we’ve got.) This study didn’t focus on CBD without the presence of THC, but it did find those who used strains with higher potencies of CBD were likelier to experience relief from their symptoms, and less likely to have adverse side effects.
Studies on lab animals suggest CBD could also act as an antidepressant. For example, in a 2010 study, scientists in Brazil injected mice with one of three doses of CBD, an antidepressant called imipramine (an uncommonly prescribed drug sold under the brand name Tofranil), or a placebo. Then, they dropped the mice into glass cylinders of water, forcing them to swim for their lives for six minutes. This procedure, commonly used to evaluate antidepressants, is sometimes called the “behavioral despair test,” the idea being that scientists measure how long the mouse will swim before giving up in despair. Lo and behold, the mice injected with the medium dose of CBD and the imipramine persevered for significantly longer than their compatriots given a low-dose, high-dose, and placebo.
Oh yeah, nausea. Could CBD help that?
For humans, the research is thinner. A couple of studies have shown CBD to have an anti-anxiety effect in very specific situations. In one of those, researchers gave 60 people either a placebo, the anti-anxiety drug clonazepam (sold under the brand name Klonopin), or one of three doses of CBD (100 mg, 300 mg, or 900 mg) before a public speaking test. Those who took the medium dose (300 mg) of CBD showed lower anxiety than those who took the lowest and highest doses of CBD, or the placebo. (The clonazepam worked well, too, though it also generated a more sedative effect than the medium-dose CBD.)
That said, Cooper is still optimistic about CBD’s potential to treat various symptoms, based on studies done in animals. In humans, she says, the picture is “pretty complicated”—especially when it comes to effective dosages and varying ratios of CBD to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound well-known for making users feel high. (Many of the products available in dispensaries are cannabis-derived, with varying proportions of CBD to THC, while those derived from hemp should have only a nominal, if any, portion of THC.)
In humans, Cooper emphasized that oft-cited studies regarding CBD’s pain-relieving properties looked at it in combination with THC. For example, one 2010 study of 177 patients suffering from cancer-related pain found an extract containing CBD and THC to be about twice as likely to provide relief as an extract of THC alone.
“There is very little evidence that any of the components of marijuana are effective for the treatment of migraine and headache disorders,” he said. “That does not mean they do not work, however. What it means is that they have not been studied.”