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CBD Oil: What are 9 Proven or Possible Health Benefits?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Nov 2, 2020.

Official Answer

With a forecasted revenue of over 20 billion by 2024, the CBD market is booming. 1 But what exactly is CBD and how effective is it? We look at 9 proven or possible health benefits of CBD oil.

What is CBD?

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of over 200 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in cannabis. It is the second most prevalent active compound found in cannabis, behind THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in cannabis that has psychoactive properties and gives people a high. 2

Cannabis is a plant, and there are two main types, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Both marijuana and CBD can be derived from both types, but hemp is only derived from Cannabis Sativa. By law, hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC (the oil in marijuana that gives you a high) to be called hemp, otherwise, growers are at risk of prosecution under federal law. Hemp is a great resource for making 100% biodegradable, environmentally friendly products such as clothing, packaging, biofuel, building materials, and paper.

CBD derived from hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC and is legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws.

Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties and will not give you a “high”. There is no evidence it has any abuse or dependence potential and to date, there is no evidence that it is associated with any serious side effects, according to the World Health Organization.

Instead, CBD has been credited with relieving numerous medical conditions, such as epilepsy, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and pain. Although “credited” does not mean proven. Because of the historical regulatory landscape, there are hardly any well-conducted trials backing up those claims, although research is expected to ramp up now that laws distinguish between hemp and marijuana.

We look at nine medical conditions where CBD may be, or, has already proven to be, beneficial.

1. Epilepsy

In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex (a plant-based formulation of CBD) to treat seizures for people 2 years of age and older with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which are two rare forms of epilepsy.

CBD has also been investigated for use in other forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy, usually in addition to conventional epilepsy medications. Results varied, but several trials showed CBD significantly reduced seizure frequency by almost 44% in most people. 3

CBD can interact with other medications used for epilepsy and some serious side effects have been reported, notably, a decrease in liver function when given to people already taking valproate.

Conclusion: CBD is beneficial for treating certain types of epilepsy.

2. Pain

Animal studies have shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and works on the endocannabinoid and pain-sensing systems to relieve pain.

Unfortunately, few human trials investigating the use of CBD as a single agent to relieve pain exist, with most trials using a combination of CBD and THC to relieve pain. Notably, Health Canada has approved a combination medication that contains both THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio for the relief of central nerve-related pain in multiple sclerosis, and cancer pain that is unresponsive to optimized opioid therapy.

An observational study of CBD treatment reported an improvement in self-reported quality of life measures for people with non-cancer-related pain but there was no statistically significant improvement in those with cancer-related pain or with neurological symptoms. 8

A case series of 47 people with multiple sclerosis reported improvements in pain, walking, and muscle spasms with a combination of CBD and THC. 15

Animal studies have shown that CBD has a positive effect on serotonin levels in the brain, and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a key role in mood as well as pain. 11

Other research (both animal and human) has shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, and it may relieve pain by this mechanism.
CBD can interact with other medications used to treat heart conditions or immunosuppressants so you should always talk with your doctor before taking CBD.

Conclusion: CBD may be beneficial at relieving pain but no high-quality human studies prove this.

3. Arthritis

Animal studies showed that topical CBD applications relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis with few side effects. The topical application of CBD is beneficial because CBD is poorly absorbed when taken by mouth and can cause gastrointestinal side effects. 6

Conclusion: Topical CBD may be beneficial at relieving arthritis but no high-quality human studies prove this.

4. Anxiety

Pretreatment with 300mg CBD significantly relieved anxiety in 57 healthy males who undertook a simulated public speaking test. However, dosages of 150mg CBD and 600mg CBD did not make any difference to the men’s anxiety levels. 7

Beneficial effects on anxiety after taking CBD were reported in an observational study where 21 patients out of 400 had anxiety. 8

Anxiety scores decreased in a large case series of 72 patients, with 57 patients (79.2%) reporting decreased scores within the first month after CBD treatment. 9

Conclusion: CBD may relieve anxiety before events such as public speaking but it is not known what the optimal dose is.

5. Depression

Animal studies have shown some effect of CBD at relieving depression, possibly related to its strong anti-stress effect after either acute or repeated administration. 16

Animal studies have shown that CBD has a positive effect on serotonin levels in the brain, and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a key role in mood as well as pain. 11

Conclusion: CBD may help with depression but more trials are needed.

6. Sleep disorders

31% of people taking CBD for other conditions such as anxiety or non-cancer-related pain reported improved sleep with CBD. 8
In a large case series of 72 people, 48 patients (66.7%) reported an improvement in sleep scores within the first month, but these fluctuated over time. 9

Other trials of 300 mg of CBD in people with anxiety or depression showed that CBD appeared to preserve sleep architecture, meaning it was unlikely to have any negative effects on sleep quality. 10

Conclusion: CBD does not appear to interfere with sleep and may help people sleep better.

7. Acne

A laboratory study found that CBD prevented human sebocytes from creating too much sebum in addition to having an anti-inflammatory effect, preventing inflammatory cytokines from activating. Because excessive sebum and inflammation are characteristic of acne, topical CBD could be an effective treatment for acne and may prevent or reduce future breakouts. 12,13

Conclusion: Topical CBD may help relieve inflammation and excessive sebum production associated with acne but more trials are needed.

8. Parkinson’s Disease

Several smalls studies have investigated using CBD to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, with mostly encouraging results. For most studies, there were no differences across groups with regards to movement-related outcomes; however, groups treated with CBD 300 mg/day had a significantly improved well-being and quality of life as measured by the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire [PDQ-39]). 15

Conclusion: CBD shows promise for improving the quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease but larger trials are needed.

9. Nausea and vomiting

Most studies investigating if CBD is beneficial at relieving nausea or vomiting, have used a combination of CBD and THC, rather than just CBD alone. A 2016 review found the combination to be either more effective or as effective as a placebo. 14

More recent research points to THC being more effective at reducing nausea and vomiting than CBD.

Conclusion: CBD is unlikely to be effective by itself for nausea and vomiting. The combination of THC and CBD does seem to be effective for nausea and vomiting.

Other conditions

Many other studies, both on animals and humans, have overwhelmingly concluded that CBD has immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties which may make it a good choice for some autoimmune conditions or inflammation-related complaints. 16

In addition, more trials are needed to investigate its use for numerous other conditions, such as muscle-spasticity in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, substance-abuse treatment, and diabetes protection.

Side effects of CBD may include nausea, tiredness, and irritability, and it may interact with some medications, such as warfarin.

Official answer: With a forecasted revenue of over 20 billion by 2024, the CBD market is booming.1 But what exactly is CBD and how…

Things to know about CBD benefits and uses

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Contents

  1. 1. How does CBD oil make you feel?
  2. 2. CBD oil effects
  3. 3. Does CBD oil get you high?
  4. 4. CBD oil benefits list
  5. 5. Is CBD oil legal?

CBD can be found in salves, drinks, gummies, and even sanitary products. However, its popularity means that there is misinformation about what CBD is, how it works, and if it’s even legal. If you’re unfamiliar with CBD but keen to learn more about its uses and benefits, read on.

1. How does CBD oil make you feel?

CBD can engender feelings of calm by inhibiting anandamide absorption. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that helps to regulate homeostasis, the body’s natural state of equilibrium. It promotes feelings of well-being and helps to keep pain and emotional stress in check.

There are also many anecdotal reports that CBD promotes feelings of drowsiness, helping those with insomnia to fall asleep and stay asleep. CBD also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is an anxiolytic, which may also provide sleep aid by easing pain and anxiety.

“To generalize, most CBD extracts administered at common doses tend to promote calmness and reduce anxiety,” said Dr. J. Matthew Andry, a professor of medicine at Indiana University, and an expert on cannabis medicine.

2. CBD oil effects

The effects of CBD on the individual depends on a host of factors: the dosage, absorption, the quality, and if the oil is an isolate, containing only the CBD molecule, or a full-spectrum product.

“The feeling you get depends upon the amounts and the ratios of cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBN, and terpenes such as alpha-pinene, limonene, linalool or beta-myrcene that are present in the plant and the extracted oil,” Andry explained.

The effects of CBD on the individual depends on dosage, absorption, quality, and whether the oil is an isolate or a full-spectrum product. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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“An oil that contains higher levels of alpha-pinene and limonene might make you feel more energetic or alert, while strains higher in linalool or myrcene might be more calming or sedating.”

Andry also emphasized that dosage matters. CBD is a biphasic compound, which means that it causes distinct responses at different concentrations. At lower levels, CBD is energizing and increases wakefulness and alertness. At higher concentrations, it works as a sedative, causing the individual to feel sleepy and calm. In order to achieve the desired effects, it’s vital to talk to an expert at a dispensary or follow the dosage guidelines provided. A higher dose can be considered anywhere between 150 milligrams to 600 milligrams.

Individuals metabolize compounds such as CBD differently.

“There’s variation from person to person,” Andry said. What is useful for some may not be so effective for others.

3. Does CBD oil get you high?

CBD contrasts with THC, the cannabinoid that possesses intoxicating properties. THC produces a high because it binds directly to the body’s CB1 receptors, which mediate the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids. CBD can’t get you high because it doesn’t directly link to any of the body’s cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoids in complex ways.

What’s more, CBD has been shown to help counteract the effects of THC by modulating cannabinoid activity in the brain. In this way, CBD can tone down the paranoia that THC sometimes provokes. Full-spectrum CBD oils allow the user to enjoy the synergistic effects of CBD and THC combined without the psychoactive effects.

4. CBD oil benefits list

Studies have shown that CBD has the potential to ease symptoms of many conditions, including chronic pain and inflammation. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Specifically, some of the conditions that CBD may benefit include:

  • Chronic pain: A 2007 preclinical study performed on rats published in the European Journal of Pharmacology provided evidence that CBD can attenuate chronic neuropathic (nerve) and inflammatory pain. According to some reports, CBD provides superior pain relief when combined with some concentration of THC.
  • Insomnia or sleep conditions: Higher concentrations of CBD can promote drowsiness, and facilitate both falling asleep and staying asleep. A 2019 case study published in The Permanente Journal showed that 66.7 percent of patients with sleep-related issues experienced an improvement in their sleep patterns after using CBD oil for a month. As mentioned before, however, CBD may also cause wakefulness, so achieving the right dosage is essential.
  • Anxiety:A much-cited 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology found that pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety before a public speaking engagement. Those who received CBD also experienced reduced cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alertness levels when compared to the control and placebo groups.
  • Inflammation: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties which may alleviate conditions such as colitis and other autoimmune disorders, arthritis, neuroinflammation, and muscle or joint pain.
  • Epilepsy:There is a considerable body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of CBD in reducing seizures. CBD has been proven to reduce the frequency of both focal and generalized seizures in severe conditions such as Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.

Another general benefit of CBD is that it is safe, effective, and available without a prescription. “CBD oil can benefit health, and is an agent which is much safer than a great many over the counter and prescription medications,” Andry noted. “CBD can potentially be used for many conditions. Many scientific studies suggest that it can be helpful in a very wide array of situations, though more research is needed.”

5. Is CBD oil legal?

Hemp-derived CBD oil is now legal under federal law following a provision of the 2018 Farm Bill which removed the federal ban on hemp production. To meet federal legal criteria, CBD oil must be made from hemp, the cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3% THC.

Andry points out that although 0.3% THC or less is recognized as legal, issues may arise with drug testing. “While 0.3% is not enough to cause any significant effect in the body, it could be enough to cause one to test positive on a drug test, obviously putting someone’s employment or legal status potentially at risk.”

CBD and weed

To meet federal legal criteria, CBD oil must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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CBD and weed

Consumers should be aware that there is some inconsistency regarding CBD policies at a state level. Certain states still regard and police CBD as contraband rather than a health supplement if it contains THC. In states such as Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, individuals possessing CBD products containing even the slightest concentration of THC may be charged with a felony.

CBD boasts potential as a safe treatment for a range of symptoms. Anecdotal reports and emerging studies affirm that it can alleviate insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, and pain. Rigorous scientific studies are still lagging, however, and are needed to confirm the usefulness of this compound and provide guidelines around how to most effectively administer it.

Although hemp-derived CBD is now recognized as a legal substance at a federal level, a patchwork of policy at a state level means that in some states it is illegal. Check your state’s policy on CBD before you make a purchase.

Things to know about CBD benefits and uses Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents 1. How does CBD oil make you feel? 2. CBD oil effects 3. Does