There’s been a lot of research about the effects and benefits of cannabidiol aka CBD. It’s a lot of information to take in but this handy article will break down everything you need to know about how CBD can affect various medical conditions in different patients. We’ll make things nice and easy for you to understand. By the end you’ll know whether it’s worth trying CBD to help treat any medical conditions you or a loved one might have. Now, let’s get started.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of the main compounds in cannabis sativa aka marijuana, the other one being delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant, meaning that it is what gives people the feeling of euphoria, or being high, when they use it.
CBD does not have any psychoactive effects but it does affect the mind and body in different, mostly beneficial, ways. This means that CBD has several medical benefits that I detail in this article, so keep reading.
How does CBD work?
CBD works by affecting the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The what??, you must be asking right now. Let me break it down for you.
The ECS is present in all animals with a spine and is one of the most important systems in maintaining and regulating the body’s health. The ECS is affected by cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. Scientists have identified two different cannabinoid receptors; CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, and various organs. CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system and structures associated with it like the spleen.
CB1 receptors affect:
- Movement and coordination
- Mood and emotions
- Cognition and memory
- Appetite, and more
CB2 receptors affect:
- The immune system
- Pain relief
How CBD affects the ECS
THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and affects them directly, producing the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana use. However, CBD does not bind to CB receptors, instead it stimulates activity in both receptors, causing the body to increase production of its own naturally occurring cannabinoids. These cannabinoids help to regulate many of the actions controlled by each receptor.
The effects of CBD on the body are mostly positive and includes many therapeutic uses such as the following:
Mental Illnesses and Disorders
- Schizophrenia treatment – CBD can function as an antipsychotic without the negative side effects of other antipsychotics
- Anxiety disorder treatment – THC can enhance paranoia and anxiety in some people but CBD has the opposite effect and can be used to treat the following anxiety disorders:
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Anti-seizure control – studies have shown that CBD can play a significant role in epileptic seizure reduction
- Alzheimer’s treatment – CBD can help people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease retain facial recognition of people they know
- Cancer treatment – CBD treatment can prevent the migration of cancer cells to unaffected parts of the body and can also suppress their growth
- Reduction of drug withdrawal symptoms – CBD can reduce the pain, insomnia, and anxiety associated with drug withdrawal
Quality of Life Improvements
- Pain relief – CBD has been proven to reduce pain and inflammation in afflicted individuals
- Acne reduction – the inflammation relieving effects of CBD can prevent the inflammation of the sebaceous glands, which is part of what causes acne to occur
CBD oil can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants. Hemp and marijuana are both derived from the cannabis plant. However, hemp tends to be high CBD, low THC in nature which makes it ideal for CBD extraction. CBD oil can also be extracted from marijuana strains that are high in CBD.
There are whole plant extracts and isolate extracts to choose from. Whole plant extract is self-explanatory and means that the CBD oil is extracted from the entire plant. This extract also includes the other cannabinoids present in the marijuana plant. Whole plant extracts are preferred because of what is called the entourage effect.
This effect is what happens when the various compounds in cannabis work together to produce beneficial physiological effects in the user. Experiments have shown that this is more effective than pure CBD oil, which is an isolate extract and has a more limited range of effectiveness. However, CBD with a low concentration of THC is better for patients who might have a negative reaction to THC.
CBD Oil Side Effects
Studies have shown that CBD oil has a few fairly mild side effects, even so, you should follow any dosing instructions closely and diligently. Any medication is bad for you if you overdose. Here are the side effects that some people might experience:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Dry mouth
- Psychomotor retardation (slowed thoughts and/or movements)
You can see that the symptoms are no more intense than a feeling of light inebriation. This means that you should be careful not to participate in any activities that require attention and concentration while medicating.
How to use CBD Oil
There are a wide variety of delivery methods for CBD and I’m here to enlighten you about all of them. Here is a list of CBD ingestion methods and their pros and cons.
Smoking – marijuana wrapped in paper and burned
- Easy to do
- Fast and convenient
- Relatively inexpensive
- Combustion can create harmful toxins
- Beneficial compounds can be burned off
- Can create a fire hazard
Dry Herb Vaping – marijuana that is heated but not burned to produce vapor
- More efficient use of marijuana than smoking
- No harmful toxins are created
- Many vaporizers are portable and convenient
- They require thorough cleaning regularly
- Mid and high level vaporizers can be expensive
- They need to be charged before they can be used
THC Concentrate Vaping – wax concentrates that that are heated to produce vapor
- Wax can contain high levels of CBD
- Vape pens are fairly inexpensive
- Effects are fast
E-cigarettes w/ high CBD e-liquid – cigarette-like devices that use liquid instead of tobacco
- E-cigs and e-liquids are very affordable
- E-cigs are very easy to use
- Fast and efficient ingestion method
- Can create voluminous, conspicuous vapor
- Refillable tanks can be tricky to fill
- E-cigs can be fragile
CBD Drinks and Edibles – food/drink infused with CBD
- Effects last a long time
- Natural ingestion method
- Wide variety of edibles available
- Effects take a while to affect user
- Dosage levels can be tricky to modulate
- Not good for users with eating or appetite problems
CBD Sprays and Tinctures – liquid in dropper/spray bottles administered under the tongue
- They have no THC
- Very easy to use
- Fast and convenient
- Lack of THC can limit effectiveness
- Bottles can be expensive
- Effects are fast but not instantaneous
CBD Capsules – small capsules ingested orally
- Precise dosage method
- Very convenient
- Anyone can use them easily
- Effects take a while to feel
- Can lead to overdosing if not careful
- Can be expensive
CBD Salves – lotions or creams applied to the skin
- Provides fast pain relief to afflicted areas
- Easy to use
- Safe method w/out high feeling
- Limited applicability compared to other methods
- Dosage methods are imprecise
- Less convenient than other methods
Despite the social stigma around marijuana that still lingers in the more conservative parts of the country, many medical experts are starting to see the benefits of CBD. Cannabis can provide beneficial effects to a large number of ailments. Cannabis can even be great for your pets!
As scientists continue to do more research into the effects of CBD on the human body, I’m sure the list of benefits will continue to grow. If you want to receive the benefits listed in this article then I urge you to consult a medical professional before trying anything. Let’s keep our use of cannabis responsible, whether we’re using it for medical or recreational reasons.