CBD oil is everywhere right now. According to a recent survey, more than 33% of Americans have tried CBD before, but there are still some who are hesitant to take the leap for various reasons. At least 22% believe that CBD won’t help them and 8% worry that it will make them high like THC.
If you’re among the skeptics, rest assured. CBD is a completely different cannabinoid that offers its own set of benefits (that doesn’t include the munchies). For example, CBD (like THC) could be useful for conditions like epilepsy. In 2018, the FDA approved the first ever CBD prescription drug called Epidiolex for children with rare cases of epilepsy.
In addition to this breakthrough discovery, it is thought that the benefits of CBD oil include helping our bodies return to a more balanced state, regulating mood, improving sleep, and unlocking our healthiest selves in the process. Here, we’ll dive into the benefits the powerful compound is thought to have.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally-occurring compound in cannabis known as a phytocannabinoid (meaning a cannabinoid that is specifically derived from plants). It’s found in great abundance in hemp, which has traditionally been used as a source of fiber. However, in the last decade, it has experienced a cultivation comeback with the production of CBD oil.
Right now, CBD is the subject of hundreds of scientific investigations for conditions as varied as epilepsy, chronic pain, Parkinson’s, psychosis, anxiety and fibromyalgia. It has yet to be confirmed whether CBD’s benefits include addressing these conditions, due in part to the legislative restrictions placed on researching medical cannabis, though there have been promising results.
Although it doesn’t have an intoxicating effect, studies have shown that CBD may be able to bring relief to many health conditions such as anxiety, chronic discomfort, difficulties in sleeping and general stress.
How Does CBD Work?
A key element to understanding how CBD benefits our body is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a vast network of special cell receptor sites throughout the body, including in the brain, nervous system, immune system and gut that are activated by cannabis-like chemicals made by the body called endocannabinoids.
Scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system while trying to figure out how THC, the compound in cannabis responsible for the high, affects the body. They found that THC activates the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor, causing the high feeling, increase in appetite and short-term memory. Anandamide and 2-AG, the body’s endocannabinoids, work a more subtle magic. Scientists believe they create homeostasis, working a bit like a dimmer switch, turning activity in the body up or down to produce balance in our systems.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS regulates processes in the body including sleep, appetite, memory, reproduction, sexual function, discomfort regulation, inflammation and the functioning of the immune system. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system through the CB1 and CB2 receptors, along with many other receptors throughout your nervous system — including Serotonin and Vanilloid receptors (among dozens of others), which help modulate mood and pain respectively.. It has been seen to increase levels of anandamide by blocking the enzyme responsible for breaking down certain endocannabinoids. That means when you consume CBD, anandamide gets to hang out in the body for longer doing its vital bliss-making work.
The Potential Benefits of CBD Oil
In addition to CBD’s partial activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor responsible for regulating anxiety, vomiting, sleep and discomfort, CBD also binds to the TRVP1 receptors also known as the Vanilloid receptors. There’s so much more information to understand before scientists have a full picture of CBD’s mechanisms in the body. Despite many anecdotal accounts of CBD oil benefits for pain, anxiety etc., we’re still lacking the gold star, three-stage clinical trials required to claim any CBD medical benefits. However, there has been exciting preclinical research in a bid to discover other significant CBD health benefits.
Now that you understand what CBD is and how it works with the body’s natural systems, we can dive into the specific benefits of incorporating CBD into your routine.
CBD for Endocannabinoid Deficiency
Research pioneer and neuroscientist Dr. Ethan Russo coined the term “endocannabinoid deficiency” to describe what he believes is the reason behind many common conditions. He has written extensively on the subject, collating evidence showing how many of these illnesses share low endocannabinoid levels compared to healthy subjects. Russo suggests supplementing our diets with phytocannabinoids such as CBD from hemp and cannabis to help boost our endocannabinoid system.
CBD Oil for Pain
Unfortunately, in the U.S. the go-to prescription medications for chronic pain are opioids. As well as being addictive, opioids such as Vicodin, Fentanyl, and Percocet come with a host of side effects such as constipation, mood swings, drowsiness, and nausea.
Many people buy CBD oil products in hopes of relieving debilitating symptoms of various conditions.
Luckily, some studies have shown that CBD oil may be useful in reducing discomfort and can be used as a non-addictive, side effect-free alternative. Not only that, preclinical studies show CBD reduces pain perception and inflammation in rodents.
CBD For Inflammation
Inflammation often gets a bad rap in health articles. However, when it occurs after an injury or to fight off an infection, inflammation is a vital part of the healing process. The trouble starts when inflammation becomes chronic, meaning we are constantly in an inflamed state. This essentially what happens when you have an autoimmune condition. It’s as if the immune system has forgotten to switch off the attack button. Studies suggest that CBD may play a role to play in reducing inflammation.
CBD For Mood
Many of us are looking for natural solutions to handling the pressure of daily life. Unwanted feelings of stress and anxiety is a common reason many people try CBD oil for the first time. Studies show that it may activate a key serotonin receptor, as well as causing neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, so important in recovering from anxiety and mood conditions. There have been small pilot studies investigating CBD and anxiety. Subjects with social anxiety were given CBD before a simulated public speaking test. Most found both their anxiety levels and focus improved after taking CBD.
CBD For Better Sleep
A good night’s sleep is key to maintaining optimum health, yet many of us find it hard to sleep through the night. So far, most of the evidence for CBD oil and sleep is anecdotal, rather than being based on any scientific studies in humans. Still, there are some studies that suggest there may be a positive connection between sleep and CBD.
Dosing is a crucial factor in CBD’s sleep-inducing benefits. At a low dose, CBD can be energising and invigorating, while the soporific effects tend to kick in at higher doses. Either way, it’s always advisable to leave an hour or so when taking CBD before going to bed.
CBD For Women’s Health
As a woman, being able to ride the wave of changes throughout your life is important. With 90% of women experiencing discomfort related to their periods, it makes sense that they have been opting for CBD products from oil and tinctures to suppositories as a form of alternative treatment to over-the-counter pills. Because our endocannabinoid system is key to regulating our hormonal balance, CBD may be useful in relieving discomfort. While hard scientific research is lacking to prove whether CBD can target hormonal health, there are studies that suggest CBD may reduce cortisol levels associated with stress.
CBD For Skin Care
Thought CBD was only good for internal health? It’s time to think again. As a cannabinoid, CBD is considered an extremely potent antioxidant, on par with Vitamin C and E. Right now, the powerful cannabinoid is establishing a strong foothold as an innovative ingredient in skin care ranges. This makes it a great tool to fight off skin damage caused by free radicals so abundant in our stressful, polluted everyday lives. CBD is also thought to balance sebum production as well as reducing the inflammation often experienced in skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
Incorporating CBD Into Your Life
Hopefully, you now feel more informed about the potential CBD benefits to your life, even if it’s just taking CBD as a daily supplement to keep your body and mind in optimum health. Ultimately, it is best to try CBD out for yourself. It’s important to make sure that you choose a CBD oil product made from organic hemp that is also accompanied with third party lab tests. This information will show the quality of your CBD product’s content and confirm that there are no unwanted contaminants like heavy metals or mold.
Interested in learning if CBD is right for you? Take our quiz to learn how you can incorporate CBD products into your routine.