Cannabidiol (CBD): What We Know and What We Don’t
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CBD, found in cannabis along with THC, doesn’t cause a high. It may help improve mood, reduce pain, and help manage certain health conditions. However, there may be side effects and potential drug interactions, so start with a small dose.
Healthline has sole editorial control over this article. Potential uses for the products listed here are not health claims made by the manufacturers. The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. It’s not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional. Healthline encourages you to make any treatment decisions with your healthcare professional.
By now, you’ve probably heard someone mention CBD, especially if you live with a chronic condition like pain or anxiety.
If you’re looking to try CBD but aren’t sure where to start, we put together this quick, handy guide to answer your questions and help clear up some of the common misconceptions surrounding CBD and its uses.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many active compounds in cannabis. It’s non-psychoactive, unlike its counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This means that CBD does not cause a “high.”
Cannabis-derived CBD products may be more effective than those from hemp, but industrial hemp-derived CBD still provides many health benefits.
If you live in a state that hasn’t yet legalized medical cannabis or these strains are unavailable, you can still benefit from products containing industrial hemp-derived CBD.
Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.
It’s not quite clear how CBD works, but it’s thought that it may activate or block cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which regulate processes such as sleep, mood, and appetite as part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD may also interact with certain serotonin or opioid receptors and may stimulate a process that decreases cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
It may also impact PPAR gamma activity. This activity affects the release of intracellular calcium, which is responsible for certain cellular activities.
There’s not a lot of research on CBD, but the results of what has been studied are promising. Some studies have found CBD may be effective in providing relief from various mental health and physical conditions.
One study on rats found that CBD oil may treat pain associated with arthritis, while another study on human cells found that CBD cream was an effective anti-inflammatory.
Likewise, CBD has also been shown to help treat childhood epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Some evidence points to CBD’s anticancer properties and benefits in managing the side effects of cancer treatment.
More research is needed to determine the benefits of using CBD as a treatment for mental and physical health conditions.
CBD can cause some side effects. These include nausea, irritability, sleepiness, or increased thoughts or behaviors related to suicide.
It’s important not to mix CBD with alcohol or any medications that have a sedative effect. It’s also a good idea to watch for any changes in your mood or thinking patterns.
In rare cases, CBD could lead to liver problems. If you have known issues with your liver, you should consult a qualified healthcare professional before trying CBD.
In addition, several animal studies found that CBD could negatively impact male fertility or the fertility of male children of females who use CBD. However, research in humans is needed to verify these findings.
CBD is available in several different forms. This allows people to tailor their method of use to their specific needs. Here are the most common forms of CBD:
Oils and tinctures
These liquids, usually oils, are infused with CBD and placed under the tongue with a dropper. The oral mucosa is full of tiny capillaries that absorb the compounds quickly.
Oils and tinctures are a good choice for anyone who can’t take pills or capsules.
On the skin
CBD-infused topicals are used to treat muscle and joint pain. They can also treat some skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. You can find a CBD patch that works similarly to the nicotine patch.
Capsules and pills
CBD capsules and pills are used for the systemic treatment of seizure disorders and digestive issues. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Epidiolex, the first high-potency CBD drug to treat seizure disorders.
There’s one drawback with capsule forms, though. The time from ingestion to the onset of effect can take a while.
Gummies are one of the most popular ways to take CBD. They’re affordable, portable, discrete, and tasty. There’s also no guesswork involved: You know exactly what dose you’re taking.
Inhaling vaporized CBD oil, like e-cigs for CBD, is the fastest way to experience the effects. Compounds are inhaled and absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream. However, there may be a risk of damage to lung tissue, so proceed with caution.
The maximum dose people can tolerate orally, according to a 2017 study , is 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day.
In addition, since CBD is relatively new to the market and not well-regulated, there’s always a risk that a CBD product may contain more THC than indicated. There may also be variations in actual CBD content between products.
“It’s important to start with a low dose until you know how your body will react to CBD,” Lindsay Slowiczek, PharmD, explains. “A wide range of CBD dosages has been tested in clinical studies, but more evidence is needed before safe and effective dose recommendations can be made for specific uses.
“For now, use the product’s recommended dose unless your doctor gives you the go-ahead to take larger doses,” she continues. “People with certain health conditions, such as liver disease, may need lower doses to avoid serious side effects.”
Topical CBD products, such as lotions, are only absorbed by the skin and have only a local effect. Transdermal products penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, thus delivering CBD to your deeper muscle tissues. An example of a transdermal product would be a CBD patch.
Both topical and transdermal CBD is applied to the skin. Exactly how much CBD enters your system when you apply a product externally depends on whether it’s topical or transdermal and can vary greatly.
For this reason, you may want to test out a topical on a small area of skin first. Monitor your skin for any irritation or changes. Follow a similar principle when trying out a patch. Remove it if any allergy symptoms develop.
Is CBD the same as marijuana?
CBD and THC are substances found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant. They’re both cannabinoids, but they affect the body differently. CBD does not have the psychoactive effects of THC.
Is CBD considered a drug?
In 2018, the FDA removed CBD from its list of controlled substances. While it’s no longer considered a drug on its own, CBD can be found in the drug Epidiolex, which the FDA approved to treat seizure disorders.
Is CBD bad for you?
CBD can be harmful, depending on how you use it. It can interact with certain medications, may negatively affect your liver, and could impact male fertility, according to some animal studies.
Although it’s becoming more popular and has several benefits, it’s a good idea to speak with a qualified healthcare professional before trying it.
What is the difference between hemp and cannabis CBD?
Hemp and cannabis are two varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp contains higher levels of CBD and little THC, which is why most CBD is made from hemp crops.
What is the difference between CBD and CBN?
CBN is another type of cannabinoid, although not much of it is found in the cannabis plant. It’s derived from the exposure of CBD to heat and light. Like CBD, CBN doesn’t produce a high. It has similar effects on the brain as CBD, though more research is needed to understand it.