6 Health Benefits of CBD Oil — and a Look at Side Effects
Cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil derived from cannabis, is a popular natural remedy for many ailments. CBD oil benefits include pain relief and relaxation without any mind-altering effects.
People make CBD oil by extracting it from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. It’s one of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, which means it causes the sensation of getting high that’s often associated with cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
CBD can be found in various products online and in stores, including dietary supplements, bath soaks, drinks, and food.
This article covers six evidence-backed health benefits of CBD, as well as potential side effects and safety concerns related to CBD products.
Cannabis has been used to treat pain since 2900 B.C ., with use originating in Chinese medicine. Researchers believe that components like CBD may be responsible for these effects.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating functions like pain sensation. The body produces neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors.
Studies show that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by targeting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters. Preclinical evidence also suggests that it may be effective
rheumatic diseases like fibromyalgia, per research from 2021 .
CBD may be effective for reducing certain types of pain associated with conditions such as fibromyalgia. Still, more research is needed to investigate its potential use in pain management.
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for some mental health disorders leading many people who live with these conditions to become interested in this natural treatment approach.
A 2020 literature review on CBD and mood disorders found that multiple studies suggest CBD has properties that may help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even psychosis.
A small 2019 study also found that CBD was effective in reducing PTSD-related symptoms, including nightmares, in adults.
That said, the available research has not been sufficient for doctors to recommend CBD as an actual treatment for such conditions.
CBD use has been shown to improve some symptoms related to mood disorders. Researchers are currently investigating how CBD may be used in the treatment of other mental health disorders.
CBD may help reduce some cancer-related symptoms and side effects related to cancer treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, and pain, according to research published in 2022 .
However, more research is needed to determine whether CBD should be used more regularly in cancer symptom management.
Though CBD may improve certain cancer-related symptoms in some people, research findings are currently mixed. More studies are needed to assess its effectiveness and safety.
CBD may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders. A 2022 study suggests that nabiximols (Sativex) spray containing both CBD and THC may help reduce pain and muscle spasticity in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Research from 2017 indicated that CBD oil helped reduce seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, but it also caused some adverse reactions.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, for the treatment of several seizure disorders and seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). TSC is a rare genetic disease that causes benign tumors to grow in the brain and other body areas.
There’s also some limited evidence that CBD may also be effective in improving the symptoms of other neurological conditions, such as:
CBD may be effective for treating seizures related to several health conditions. The prescription CBD product Epidiolex has received FDA approval to treat seizures related to rare, seizure-causing conditions such as Dravet syndrome.
High blood pressure is linked to higher risks of several health conditions, including stroke, heart attack, and metabolic syndrome.
Research indicates that CBD may be beneficia l for people with high blood pressure because it can influence the contractions of the heart muscle and help widen blood vessels.
For example, one study from 2020 that included 26 healthy men found that treatment with 600 milligrams of CBD for 7 days led to significant reductions in blood pressure in the short term compared with a placebo group. However, the effect was lost after 7 days.
While these findings are encouraging, more research into the potential benefits of CBD treatment on heart health is needed.
Though more human studies are needed, CBD may benefit heart health in several ways, including by reducing blood pressure and improving artery function.
CBD has been studied for its role in treating a number of health issues other than those outlined above.
Though more research is needed, CBD is thought to potentially provide the following health benefits:
- Substance misuse treatment: CBD may be helpful for relieving anxiety and depression in people who have a dependence on certain drugs, including heroin, per preclinical evidence.
- Possible extension of life in those with glioblastoma: Treatment with a combination of CBD and THC may help extend the life of some people with an aggressive form of cancer called glioblastoma, yet research is limited.
- Possible improvement in sleep: CBD might help improve sleep in people with certain sleep disorders, though more research is needed.
Some research suggests that CBD may help with substance misuse disorders, sleep, and certain types of cancers. However, we need more research involving humans to find out more about these potential effects.
CBD is considered generally safe, but it may cause adverse reactions like diarrhea, changes in appetite and weight, and fatigue in some people.
Other side effects, including abnormal liver function test results, drowsiness, sedation, and pneumonia, have been reported in childhood epilepsy research.
But these effects could stem from CBD interacting with other medications, such as clobazam, as it can interact with various drugs. It’s always a good idea to speak with a qualified healthcare professional about the right dosing for you and your risk of experiencing side effects.
Low quality CBD products are common in the marketplace, so it’s important to choose products that have been third-party tested for quality and purity.
NuLeaf Naturals and are two examples of brands that sell CBD products that undergo testing by accredited third-party laboratories and offer batch reports on their websites.
Although CBD is generally considered safe, it can cause adverse effects such as diarrhea and fatigue in some people. It may also interact with certain medications, causing side effects that may be harmful.
Is CBD good for joint pain?
According to preclinical evidence from studies, CBD may benefit pain and inflammation related to arthritis, but human studies are lacking.
What is the best CBD oil?
It can be difficult to know the best CBD oil on the market. Here are Healthline’s 11 best CBD oils of 2023. You can also read more about our vetting process.
Heads up: Is CBD legal?
Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3% THC) are legal on the federal level but are still illegal under some state laws.
Cannabis-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level but are legal under some state laws.
Check your state’s laws and those anywhere you travel. And keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA approved and may be inaccurately labeled.
CBD oil may help ease symptoms of anxiety, neurological disorders, heart health issues, and certain types of pain, among other health conditions.
That said, while some study findings are available, more research is necessary to draw conclusions. Some studies are still ongoing.
Since the potential uses of CBD are still not entirely determined, it’s a good idea to speak with a qualified healthcare professional before trying it.
Last medically reviewed on June 30, 2023
How we reviewed this article:
Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
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