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CBD Oil (Cannabidiol): Benefits, Uses, Characteristics and Possible Side Effects

CBD oil (cannabidiol) is one of the predominant active ingredients in marijuana (cannabis). However, it doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the plant’s psychoactive substance.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that pure CBD isn’t addictive. On the contrary, it has medicinal properties.

Noted that this extract comes from the Cannabis sativa variety and its two classifications are marijuana and hemp. Generally, CBD comes from hemp, as marijuana is illegal in many places. Thus, it’s available in oil, capsules, gummies, and sprays. Below we’ll detail its main uses and possible side effects.

Uses and Health Benefits of CBD oil

In general, people use CBD in its oil form by placing drops under their tongue and holding it there for about a minute.

There are even soaps and beauty products although the only one approved by the FDA is an oil known as “Epidiolex.” Some people use it to counteract the effects of two types of epilepsy.

The exact mechanism of action of CBD isn’t yet clear. In any case, researchers observed that it has a low affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This explains its difference with THC.

They also believe it can influence the opioid receptors that regulate pain. Likewise, it also seems to intervene on glycine receptors, related to the “happy” hormones.

Ok but, what are its advantages? What do the scientific studies say? The ban on cannabis has largely hindered research into the effects of this plant. However, people have conducted relevant studies that support some of its medical uses. Read more about it below.

1. Pain relief

There’s been research about the analgesic properties of cannabidiol. A study in the Journal of Pain Research reveals that CBD can reduce chronic pain by affecting the activity of the endocannabinoid receptor. It’s the one involved in the regulation of several functions such as appetite, pain, and immune system response.

In turn, research in rats, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, reports that CBD injections reduced pain response after surgical incision. Researchers observed similar results in another study conducted on rats. They found that oral use of CBD can decrease sciatic nerve pain and inflammation.

For now, we need more comprehensive human studies to evaluate CBD as an ally for various types of pain. To date, most research involves THC and we don’t know the exact effects of CBD on its own.

2. Decrease of anxiety and depression

CBD oil is a popular adjuvant for reducing anxiety and depression. Some believe it stimulates the production of serotonin, the “happy” hormone.

In this regard, a study reported in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry made some interesting findings as well. For instance, men who received oral CBD before a simulated public speaking test experienced less anxiety.

Meanwhile, a case report in Permanente Journal reported that this oil can safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder. In turn, a study in the British Journal of Pharmacology details that this substance is an antidepressant.

3. Neuroprotective properties

A large number of studies associate the use of CBD with improvements in people with neurological disorders. Specifically, researchers suggest that the substance acts on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems. Thus, it could be useful to people with epilepsy and those with multiple sclerosis.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that CBD oil was useful in decreasing seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, an epilepsy disorder. Likewise, an article published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology details that it helps to improve the quality of life of patients with Parkinson’s disease.

4. Heart health

CBD oil seems to be good as a complementary therapy for lowering the risk of heart disease. Why?

Well, research in JCI Insight details that it helps reduce high blood pressure, especially when associated with excessive levels of stress and anxiety. Thus, it helps the heart pump more efficiently.

Other potential advantages of CBD oil

CBD continues to be the subject of a wide variety of studies. Some believe it’s relevant to the development of new drugs in the future.

Here are other possible benefits:

  • A study in Schizophrenia Research notes that cannabidiol helps reduce psychotic symptoms in people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
  • The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD helps reduce excessive sebum production and prevents the activation of inflammatory cytokines, factors associated with acne.
  • Cancer patients also seem to benefit significantly from CBD oil. In fact, there’s evidence that this substance helps relieve the pain caused by the disease. In addition, a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology details that it decreases chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
  • A review reported in Substance Abuse Research details that CBD decreases morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior. According to researchers, this substance changes the brain circuits involved in addiction.
  • Studies conducted in animals reveal CBD’s potential as an anti-diabetic. In particular, it seems to decrease the incidence of diabetes by up to 56%.

Risks and side effects of CBD

Keep in mind that the use of CBD has some side effects. In fact, according to clinical research shared in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the reactions vary from person to person.

In any case, they include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood swings

People with liver disease are particularly susceptible to bad side effects. This is because CBD oil increases liver enzymes and proves counterproductive.

Always consult a doctor before using it. Also, its use is neither appropriate for pregnant women nor for those who are breastfeeding. This is because they might cause developmental problems in the baby.

CBD Interactions

Studies suggest that CBD can interact with several medications, including those for epilepsy. Its simultaneous consumption with drugs may increase their toxicity or decrease their efficacy. This is mainly because these interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYP), enzymes that allow the metabolism of active ingredients.

Some of the identified pharmacological interactions of cannabidiol are:

  • Immunosuppressive drugs such as Sandimmune ® (cyclosporine).
  • Macrolide antibiotics such as clarithromycin and telithromycin.
  • Migraine medications.
  • Opioid analgesics.
  • Rifampicin-based medications.
  • Anticonvulsants such as Tegretol ® (carbamazepine) and Trileptal ® (oxcarbazepine).
  • Antiarrhythmic drugs.
  • Antipsychotics.
  • Atypical antidepressants such as Remeron ® (mirtazapine).
  • Sedatives with benzodiazepines.

Recommended doses of CBD oil

There’s no guideline for the appropriate use of CBD yet. People usually apply the oil sublingually. Suggested dosages usually range from five to 25 milligrams. However, a person must always consult a physician to define it according to their individual needs.

Hold the oil for 30 to 60 seconds after applying it under the tongue (one or more drops). Other presentations such as sprays, capsules, and gummies come with their own consumption instructions.

Final recommendations for the use of CBD oil

In addition to defining the CBD dosage with a doctor, find a safe place to buy it and carefully read the product label. Some presentations are listed as “full-spectrum”, which indicates they contain other compounds of the cannabis plant, such as proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll. These seemingly offer broader benefits.

Certain presentations also contain THC, such as an oral spray called Sativex®. It’s been approved in some countries as an adjunct to relieve pain related to multiple sclerosis. The choice of THC-containing combinations depends on medical judgment and availability, under local laws.

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