What Are the Health Benefits of Using CBD?

Talor Bianchini
Talor Bianchini23 Aug 2022

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of a hemp plant that is popularly used as a natural remedy for different pains and conditions. There are many benefits to using CBD, including pain relief, reducing anxiety, and even relieving epilepsy. Although there are many benefits to taking CBD, there are also associated risks and side effects if you are currently taking prescription medications. 

What CBD is

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring chemical in a cannabis plant and is the second-most abundant ingredient. CBD is closely related to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and even has some of the same effects. However, THC will provide the user with a ‘high,” while CBD does not. Some CBD items on the market may contain traces of THC, so it’s important to read the list of ingredients and make sure you are purchasing products from a reputable source. 

CBD is relatively new to the therapeutic/medical field due to Cannabis sativa being outlawed by the federal government in 1970. There has been a recent interest in the benefits it can provide. CBD works mainly by interacting with serotonin receptors in the nervous system, which controls our mood. There is still a lot of research to be done about how CBD works and what kind of effect it has on various parts of the body. Make sure to check your state’s laws about CBD. 

Health Benefits of Using CBD 

CBD products are all manufactured differently and come in different forms, including pills, oils, and lotions. Due to FDA regulations, no companies can make claims about health benefits from using their CBD products. This helps avoid health claims but also makes it difficult to determine which product is right for you. Oftentimes, people have to try a few products before they find the right one. 

Winston Peki, a cannabis and CBD expert, contributed to this article. In the past 6 years, he has analyzed over 500 cannabinoid-related scientific studies and written over 50 science-backed articles about CBD topics. Peki noted the 3 most well-researched benefits as pain relief, reducing anxiety, and treatment for epilepsy. 

Pain Relief 

Studies show that CBD does have pain-relieving properties, although it is not a cure. Because it can cross the blood-brain barrier in our bodies, CBD is able to work with the central nervous system. It interacts with neurotransmitters and endocannabinoid receptors (which regulate pain) in order to inhibit the sensation of pain. For example, kidney transplant patients have used CBD to relieve chronic pain associated with the procedure. 

Inflammation is often a side effect of pain, as it is the body’s immune response when something is wrong in the body. It can have lasting effects on organs and tissues and is associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Topically applied CBD has been shown to reduce arthritis-associated pain in rats. Sativex, an oral CBD spray, is approved in many countries as a treatment for multiple sclerosis and helps to relieve pain and improve muscle spasms. 

Reduces Anxiety 

Anxiety is another area where CBD has had positive effects. Although it can help to reduce the effects of anxiety, CBD is not a cure. It should be used to manage symptoms. Working similarly to antidepressant drugs, CBD acts on serotonin receptors which control our mood and well-being. It has frequently been shown to have fast antidepressant-like actions, although its effects on major depression have not been explored extensively. 

Besides generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), CBD has been shown to help with PTSD, public speaking-related anxiety, OCD, social anxiety, and panic disorder. Studies have shown that CBD has minimal sedative effects and itself does not cause anxiety. However, research has only been conducted in small doses with relatively healthy people. Further studies need to be done on CBD’s role in anxiety. 

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Relieving Symptoms of Epilepsy

Currently, the only FDA-approved medication is Epidiolex, which helps to relieve symptoms of epilepsy. Epilepsy is characterized by recurring seizures and affects 65 million people worldwide. This condition can severely impact one’s quality of life and cause psychological and cognitive impairments. 

Epidiolex is purified CBD in an oral liquid solution. It is approved for patients as young as 2 years old. It is typically recommended to those who haven’t seen success with other anti-seizure medications. CBD has helped to treat some of the worst epilepsy syndromes, like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Some studies have seen it lessen the number of seizures, while some have seen CBD stop them altogether. 

Better Sleep 

Getting a good night of sleep is essential to one’s overall mental and physical health. Although not mentioned by Peki, improved sleep is another widely discussed health benefit of using CBD. CBD helps to relax the nervous system, which can reduce anxiety and boost one’s sleep cycle. Preliminary research shows that CBD can help sleeping disorders like excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, and REM sleep behavior disorder. 

CBD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It’s important to get all the information about a supplement before you start using it. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about CBD. 

Is CBD addictive?

According to Peki, CBD is not addictive. “No research has found CBD to have addictive properties. In fact, some studies have seen that CBD helps to interfere with addiction-related behaviors related to substance abuse.” 

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What are some of the side effects of using CBD?

Peki also states that “CBD can interact with MANY pharmaceutical drugs, and anyone on medication should make sure to consult with their doctor before taking any CBD. Other than this major possible side effect, CBD only has minor side effects:

  • Diarrhea;
  • Pyrexia;
  • Decreased appetite, and;
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness”

Where can I buy CBD?

There are many small businesses that sell CBD products all around the U.S. Products may vary depending on your state’s regulations. You can also purchase oils, gummies, lotions, and other CBD goods online and ship it anywhere in the U.S., as long as it is manufactured from an industrial hemp plant (contains less than 0.3% THC). 

Can you take too much CBD?

There are not a lot of studies done on toxic levels of CBD, but it seems to fall somewhere around 20,000 mg. An average CBD user would not have to worry about taking this much, since a recommended starting dose is about 5-20 mg. Although this is a toxic dose, it is not considered lethal. The World Health Organization notes that at this dosage, CBD will likely cause an upset stomach and extreme drowsiness. 

Bottom Line

CBD is a safe, non-addictive alternative to many prescription medications. Although not a cure, it has been shown to improve symptoms of epilepsy, reduce anxiety, and even provide pain relief for chronic pain and autoimmune diseases. There can be potentially harmful side effects to using CBD if you are currently taking other prescription drugs. Make sure to consult with a doctor before trying CBD. 

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Talor Bianchini

Talor graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health, and minors in Spanish and Diversity & Inclusion in May of 2022. She has a passion for health equity and diversity in health. In the future, Talor hopes to work in public health policy reform to help eliminate health disparities. She enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to podcasts in her free time.