Posted on October 25 2019
Chances are you know at least a small handful of people who are already using CBD in some form to treat various ailments. It’s very commonly sold in oil form but is also available in various concentrations in topical creams, sprays, gummies, and lozenges, among others. Many swear by it. But what is it?
What is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of over 120 chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Very simply, cannabinoids act on the cannabinoid receptors in your body, activating or inhibiting other compounds in the endocannabinoid system. That activation is thought to help alleviate symptoms associated with your endocannabinoid system, which is the system that regulates things like mood, memory, appetite, and pain sensation.
Although CBD has been used for thousands of years, the compound was first identified in 1940, and little research has been conducted into its healing properties since then. It hasn’t yet proven to be the cure-all many claim it to be, but recent studies have shown that it may be a particularly effective tool for people who struggle with things like chronic pain, anxiety, appetite issues, and sleeplessness.
CBD and Chronic Pain
Since roughly one in five US adults suffers from chronic pain, CBD’s usefulness in this arena is of significant interest. The heroin epidemic in the US is causing people to turn to safer, more natural alternatives to opioid painkillers, and CBD is one of the hot topics.
One of the notable ways CBD is thought to relieve pain is by stopping your body’s absorption of anandamide, sometimes called the “bliss molecule”. The increased anandamide in the bloodstream may reduce the amount of pain a person feels, as it’s known to regulate pain.
CBD may also reduce inflammation. Studies have shown topical gels containing CBD to reduce inflammation and pain symptoms in arthritic rats, but more human testing needs to be done to confirm the results.
CBD and Anxiety
Affecting around 40 million adults in the US, anxiety disorders make up the nation’s most common forms of mental illness. Studies have shown CBD to reduce the number of anxiety behaviors in patients with OCD, Social Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD, at oral doses of 300 to 600 mg. However, a lack of FDA oversight may make it tough to know the exact dosage you are receiving. Research has also shown that it doesn’t build a tolerance in the system, and patients do not need to increase the dosage over time. With more studies, CBD may prove to be a very important tool in the management of anxiety disorders.
CBD and Appetite
One driver of anxiety may be appetite. There are literally thousands of weight control products on the market, and many proponents of CBD believe it may help to stimulate or suppress appetite. There is anecdotal evidence that it may help, as it affects the receptors in your brain that play roles in food intake and metabolism, but more research needs to be done to tie these claims together.
CBD and Sleep
One of the major ways CBD is thought to aid in sleep is by alleviating some symptoms that interfere with quality sleep, like pain and anxiety. It may also interact with receptors that influence sleep, but studies are limited as of today.
Is CBD Legal?
Since CBD oil is derived from either industrial hemp or marijuana plants (hemp oil is pressed from hemp seeds and is not the same as CBD), it exists in a sort of legal gray area. Although hemp-derived CBD is legal in all fifty states, marijuana-derived CBD is still against federal law and may be illegal in your state.
In a Nutshell
At the end of the day, CBD research is still in its infancy. There isn’t enough evidence to make specific claims, but it shows promise and has generally been shown to be safe. It may help with what ails you. It may not. You can learn a lot from your friends who are already taking it. If you want to give it a try, consult with your doctor and find a reputable source.