Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, seems to be everywhere right now. A derivative of the cannabis plant, it’s found in everything from water and oils to pills, gum, beauty products, and pet treats. Here, we’re going to get clear on what it is, how it may help treat conditions like chronic pain and epilepsy, and what to look for when buying it.
What Is CBD?
CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana), but it doesn’t intoxicate you or produce the ‘high’ that is typically associated with cannabis use. It can be used in a variety of different products, including supplement capsules, lotions and bath salts, pain-relieving balms, coffee, and even chocolate and gummy bears.
To make CBD oil, the CBD is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants and then diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp. The oil is commonly sold as drops, which can be taken under the tongue like a tincture or put on the skin for more targeted use.
Medicinal Benefits of CBD
Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, though research studies into CBD and its benefits are fairly new. While it’s not a cure-all for every medical condition, it’s been shown to be effective in treating certain issues.
Chronic pain. Animal studies suggest that CBD can help relieve pain and inflammation in the body, particularly when associated with arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Some studies have been done with humans, though they’re often too small and/or lacking in quality to conclusively state the benefits.
Anxiety. In early research, CBD has shown promise for addressing anxiety, including social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In one study, 24 people with social anxiety disorder did public speaking test. In the group that took the CBD, researchers noted significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during the speech performance than in the placebo group. This is likely because CBD affects the brain’s serotonin receptors, which help regulate mood and social behavior.
Epilepsy. There is strong scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of CBD in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes that don’t generally respond to anti-seizure medication, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastraut syndrome. In studies, CBD helped reduce the number of seizures in some patients and stop them altogether in others.
CBD isn’t just for humans, either. While there aren’t any clinical trials on the effect of CBD in dogs, anecdotal evidence from owners suggests that it is helpful in controlling seizures, as well as managing pain and anxiety.
Things to Consider
There is little in the way of regulation in this market, so it’s imperative that you do your research and ensure that what you’re getting is actually CBD. Some online retailers (like Amazon) prohibit the sale of CBD, which means that any CBD products sold through the sites aren’t legitimate and may instead be made with hemp oil.
When shopping for CBD, look for the following things:
- Organic, or at least free of pesticides, fungicides, and solvents
- Certificate of analysis stating the amount of CBD in the product
- Quality — purchase the best you can afford and avoid cheap options that contain other additives
Finally, local laws governing the sale of CBD vary (and can be somewhat convoluted). Be sure to check its legality before purchasing anything.