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Everything you need to know about CBD oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) may have some health benefits, and it may also pose risks. Products containing the compound are now legal in many American states where marijuana is not.
What is CBD oil?
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 ingredient in 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?
The least processed form of the cannabis plant is hemp. Hemp contains most of the CBD that people use medicinally. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa, but the two are very different.
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.
Quitting smoking and drug withdrawals
Some promising evidence suggests that CBD use may help people to quit smoking.
A pilot study published in Addictive Behaviors found that smokers who used inhalers containing CBD smoked fewer cigarettes than usual and had no further cravings for nicotine.
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, the FDA approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures in 2018.
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.
Authors of a 2014 review noted that CBD has anti-seizure properties and a low risk of side effects for people with epilepsy.
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. 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.
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
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.
Research published in 2016 by Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation found that CBD may ease this inflammation in the pancreas. This may be the first step in finding a CBD-based treatment for 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.
A 2014 study published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD helps to lower the production of sebum that leads to acne, partly because of its anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Sebum is an oily substance, and overproduction can cause acne.
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.