Cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, is a popular natural remedy for many ailments which is derived from cannabis. CBD oil benefits include pain relief and relaxation without any mind-altering effects.
people make CBD oil by extracting it from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. It is one of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, which means it causes the sensation of getting high that’s often associated with cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
CBD can be found in various products online and in stores, including dietary supplements, bath soaks, drinks, and food.
It continues to gain momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies finding that it may ease symptoms of conditions such as chronic pain and anxiety. But is it the right choice for you?
1. May relieve pain
Cannabis has been used to treat pain since as far back as 2900 B.C. (2Trusted Source).
More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of cannabis, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects.
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating a variety of functions, including sleep, appetite, pain sensation, and immune system response (3Trusted Source).
The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.
Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by affecting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters (4Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that CBD may be effective for certain types of pain, including nerve pain and back pain, when used on its own. However, it seems to be most effective when combined with THC (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis (MS) and arthritis.
An oral spray called Sativex (nabiximols), which is a 1:1 combination of THC and CBD, is approved in several countries to treat pain related to MS.
A study that included 47 people with MS examined the effects of taking Sativex for a month. The participants experienced improvements in pain, walking ability, and muscle spasms (7Trusted Source).
Still, the study didn’t include a control group, so placebo effects cannot be ruled out (7Trusted Source).
In one review, researchers noted that Sativex may benefit those with MS-associated neuropathic pain and chronic severe neuropathic pain. The review also found that Sativex may help relieve anxiety and stress, which are major drivers of chronic pain (8Trusted Source).
Additionally, some research suggests that CBD may relieve symptoms of rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia.
A study that included survey data from 2,701 people with fibromyalgia found that those who used CBD for pain relief generally reported slight to significant improvement in symptoms (9Trusted Source).
And according to preclinical evidence from rodent studies, CBD may have beneficial effects on pain and inflammation related to arthritis, but human studies are lacking (10Trusted Source).
Although researchers are cautiously optimistic that CBD may be helpful in the treatment of some types of pain, especially when combined with THC, more high quality studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in pain management.
2. Could reduce symptoms related to some mental health disorders
Anxiety disorders and other mental health disorders can have devastating impacts on overall health and well-being.
Mental health disorders are often treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects, including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and headaches (11Trusted Source).
What’s more, medications like benzodiazepines have the potential for dependence and may lead to substance use disorder.
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for some mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorders, leading many people who live with these conditions to become interested in this natural approach.
In a Brazilian study, 57 men received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the test (12Trusted Source).
Little to no effect was reported in those who took the placebo, a 150-mg dose of CBD, or a 600-mg dose of CBD (12Trusted Source).
CBD oil has been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a type of anxiety disorder (13Trusted Source).
A small 2019 study also found that CBD was effective for reducing PTSD-related symptoms, including nightmares, in adults (14Trusted Source).
Several other studies have found that CBD may be effective for those with social anxiety and other anxiety-related disorders (15Trusted Source).
Even though some people find that CBD improves symptoms related to depression, human evidence of CBD’s potential antidepressant abilities is currently limited (15Trusted Source).
However, results from several studies suggest that it may help reduce depressive symptoms in those with cannabis use disorders (15Trusted Source).
3. May alleviate certain cancer-related symptoms
CBD may help reduce some cancer-related symptoms and side effects related to cancer treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, and pain.
An older study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication.
Those treated with an extract containing both compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared with those who received only THC extract (16Trusted Source).
A review of five studies found some evidence that Sativex may help reduce cancer-related pain in some people (17Trusted Source).
However, findings from studies investigating the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids like CBD on cancer-related nausea, pain, and decreased appetite have been mixed (18Trusted Source).
Even though CBD may be helpful for some people with cancer, more research is needed to determine whether CBD should be used more regularly in cancer symptom management.
4. May have neuroprotective properties
Researchers believe that CBD’s ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other brain-signaling systems may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders.
In fact, one of the most studied uses for CBD is in treating neurological disorders such as epilepsy and MS. Though research in this area is still relatively new, several studies have shown promising results.
Sativex has been shown to be a safe and effective way to reduce muscle spasticity in people with MS.
It reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with MS who were experiencing muscle spasticity that was resistant to medications (19Trusted Source).
In another study, researchers gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 grams per kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5% (20Trusted Source).
One more study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared with a placebo (21Trusted Source).
However, some people in both of these studies experienced adverse reactions associated with CBD treatment, such as convulsions, fever, and fatigue.
CBD has also been researched for its potential effectiveness in treating several other neurological diseases.
For example, several studies have shown that treatment with CBD may improve quality of life and sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease (22Trusted Source).
However, researchers note that there’s currently a lack of high quality data. That means there’s not enough evidence available to support the use of CBD in the clinical treatment of Parkinson’s disease (22Trusted Source).
5. May benefit heart health
Some research has linked CBD with several benefits for the heart and circulatory system, including the ability to lower high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is linked to higher risks of a number of health conditions, including stroke, heart attack, and metabolic syndrome (24Trusted Source).
Studies indicate that CBD may be beneficial for people with high blood pressure.
In a small study, 9 healthy men were treated with 600 mg of CBD oil. The CBD treatment reduced resting blood pressure compared with a placebo (25Trusted Source).
In the same study, the men also took part in stress tests that normally increase blood pressure. Interestingly, the single dose of CBD led the men to experience a smaller blood pressure increase than normal in response to these tests (25Trusted Source).
Another study that included 26 healthy men found that treatment with 600 mg of CBD for 7 days led to significant reductions in blood pressure in the short term compared with a placebo group. However, the effect was lost after 7 days (26Trusted Source).
The CBD group maintained lower blood pressure levels in response to stress compared with the placebo group after repeated doses over time.
Overall, these findings are encouraging, but we need more studies of the potential benefits of CBD treatment on heart health.
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