People take or apply cannabidiol to treat a variety of symptoms, but its use is controversial. There is some confusion about what it is and how it affects the human body.
Cannabidiol (CBD) may have some health benefits, and it may also pose risks.
This article will explain what CBD is, its possible health benefits, how to use it, potential risks, and issues surrounding its legality in the United States.
CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the possible therapeutic uses of CBD.
CBD oils are oils that contain concentrations of CBD. The concentrations and the uses of these oils vary.
Is CBD marijuana?
Until recently, the best-known compound in cannabis was delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the most active constituent of marijuana.
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects.
THC creates a mind-altering "high" when a person smokes it or uses it in cooking. This is because THC breaks down when we apply heat and introduce it into the body.
CBD is different. Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not change a person's state of mind when they use it.
However, CBD does appear to produce significant changes in the body, and some research suggests that it has medical benefits.
Where does CBD come from?
CBD comes from the cannabis plant. People refer to cannabis plants as either hemp or marijuana, depending on their level of THC. Hemp plants that are legal under the Farm Bill must contain less than 0.3% THC.
Over the years, marijuana farmers have selectively bred their plants to contain high levels of THC and other compounds that interested them, often because the compounds produced a smell or had another effect on the plant's flowers.
However, hemp farmers have rarely modified the plant. These hemp plants are used to create CBD oil.
How CBD works
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors.
The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own. It also has two receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are present throughout the body, but many are in the brain.
The CB1 receptors in the brain deal with coordination and movement, pain, emotions, and mood, thinking, appetite, and memories, and other functions. THC attaches to these receptors.
CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.
Researchers once believed that CBD attached to these CB2 receptors, but it now appears that CBD does not attach directly to either receptor.
Instead, it seems to direct the body to use more of its own cannabinoids.
CBD may benefit a person's health in a variety of ways.
Natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
People tend to use prescription or over-the-counter drugs to relieve stiffness and pain, including chronic pain.
Some people believe that CBD offers a more natural alternative.
Authors of a
The researchers suggested that the non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, could provide a new treatment for chronic pain.
Quitting smoking and drug withdrawals
Some promising evidence suggests that CBD use may help people to quit smoking.
More research is necessary, but these findings suggest that CBD may help to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, the FDA
In the U.S., a doctor can prescribe Epidiolex to treat:
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), a condition that appears between the ages of 3 and 5 years and involves different kinds of seizures
- Dravet syndrome (DS), a rare genetic condition that appears in the first year of life and involves frequent, fever-related seizures
The types of seizures that characterize LGS or DS are difficult to control with other types of medication.
Other neurological symptoms and disorders
Researchers are studying the effects of CBD on various neuropsychiatric disorders.
Findings suggested that CBD may also treat many complications linked to epilepsy, such as neurodegeneration, neuronal injury, and psychiatric diseases.
Some researchers have found that CBD may prove to combat cancer.
Authors of a
The researchers also noted that the compound tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote their destruction.
They pointed out that CBD has low levels of toxicity. They called for further research into its potential as an accompaniment to standard cancer treatments.
Doctors often advise people with chronic anxiety to avoid cannabis, as THC can trigger or amplify feelings of anxiousness and paranoia.
However, authors of a
According to the review, CBD may reduce anxiety-related behaviors in people with conditions such as:
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- general anxiety disorder
- panic disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
The authors noted that current treatments for these disorders can lead to additional symptoms and side effects, which can cause some people to stop taking them.
No further definitive evidence currently links CBD to adverse effects, and the authors called for further studies of the compound as a treatment for anxiety.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes results from inflammation that occurs when the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas.
A paper presented in the same year in Lisbon, Portugal, suggested that CBD may reduce inflammation and protect against or delay the development of type 1 diabetes.
Acne treatment is another promising use for CBD. The condition is caused, in part, by inflammation and overworked sebaceous glands in the body.
CBD could become a future treatment for acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne.
Initial research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that CBD was able to prevent the development of social recognition deficit in participants.
This means that CBD could help people in the early stages of Alzheimer's to keep the ability to recognize the faces of people that they know.
This is the first evidence that CBD may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
The current legality over CBD is hazy. Hemp and hemp derived products are legal under the Farm Bill, as long as their THC content is less than 0.3%.
However, there is still some confusion over the specifics.
Recent developments: CBD oil for epilepsy
In June 2018, the FDA
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, writing for the FDA on 25 June, stated:
"Today, the FDA approved a purified form of the drug cannabidiol (CBD). This is one of more than 80 active chemicals in marijuana. The new product was approved to treat seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy in patients two years of age and older."
Dr. Scott Gottlieb
Dr. Gottlieb is careful to point out that:
- The FDA have not approved the use of marijuana or all of its components.
- The association has only approved a purified version of one CBD medication, for a precise therapeutic purpose.
- The decision to approve the product was based on the results of sound clinical trials.
- Patients will receive the medication in a reliable dosage.
Many small-scale studies have looked into the safety of CBD in adults. They concluded that adults tend to tolerate a wide range of doses well.
Researchers have found no significant side effects on the central nervous system, the vital signs, or mood, even among people who used high dosages.
Nevertheless, people need to speak with their doctor before following a course of CBD. The drug may interact with some over-the-counter (OTC) aids, dietary supplements, and CBD prescription medications, especially those that warn against
CBD may also disrupt an enzyme called cytochrome P450 complex. This disruption can affect the liver's ability to break down toxins, increasing the risk of liver toxicity.
There is still a lack of available long-term safety data.
Also, to date, researchers have not performed studies involving children.
Side effects of Epidiolex
Concerning the product that the FDA approved to treat two types of epilepsy, researchers noticed following
- liver problems
- symptoms related to the central nervous system, such as irritability and lethargy
- reduced appetite
- gastrointestinal problems
- rashes and other sensitivity reactions
- reduced urination
- breathing problems
Research suggests that a person taking the product is unlikely to form a dependency.
Side effects of other uses of CBD
There is often a lack of evidence regarding the safety of new or alternative treatment options. Usually, researchers have not performed the full array of tests.
Anyone who is considering using CBD should talk to a qualified healthcare practitioner beforehand.
The FDA have only approved CBD for the treatment of two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
When drugs do not have FDA approval, it
It is important to note that researchers have linked marijuana use during pregnancy
Using CBD oil is not the same as using or smoking whole cannabis.
A person can use CBD oil in different ways to relieve various symptoms.
If a doctor prescribes it to treat LGS or DS, it is important to follow their instructions.
CBD-based products come in many forms. Some can be mixed into different foods or drinks or taken with a pipette or dropper.
Others are available in capsules or as a thick paste to be massaged into the skin. Some products are available as sprays to be administered under the tongue.
Recommended dosages vary between individuals, and depend on factors such as body weight, the concentration of the product, and the health issue.
Some people consider taking CBD oil to help treat:
Due to the lack of FDA regulation for most CBD products, seek advice from a medical professional before determining the best dosage.
As regulation in the U.S. increases, more specific dosages and prescriptions will start to emerge.
After discussing dosages and risks with a doctor, and researching regional local laws, it is important to compare different brands of CBD oil.
CBD has been tested and approved for one specific use. Does this mean it is safe and will soon have approval for other uses?
The research is emerging to support the use of CBD for numerous conditions, as well as looking closely at safety, side effects, and long-term effects.
There are some valid concerns about long-term use that must be tested before CBD can be recommended for other diseases. As one approach to pain management, it is seen as an alternative option to the addicting narcotics.
The use of CBD oil might complement a medical approach to treating physical and mental diseases. It is worth discussing with your doctor.Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.