CBD oil is quickly becoming one of the most popular natural products. It has amazing benefits and lots of potential to help with a wide range of health-related issues, but many people still aren't sure what it is or how it works.
It comes from the cannabis plant but is different than hemp oil (which is another outstanding oil for skin and health) and is not an equivalent to marijuana.
Here's more about what CBD is, how it works with your body, and the potential benefits of CBD oil.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD is an abbreviation of 'cannabidiol' and is one of the major active plant compounds found in the cannabis (Cannabis sativa) plant. It's just one of over 100 different compounds known as cannabinoids that are all found in cannabis.
For a long time, cannabis and marijuana have been used almost interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
Cannabis is the plant from which marijuana and hemp both come and from which CBD can be extracted. In order for it to be considered marijuana, a psychoactive cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) must be present (this is the compound that gives humans a "high").
CBD products, including the oil, are standardized to have 0.3% of THC or less, which means they won't get anyone high.
The actual CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and combining it with a carrier oil. Depending on how much CBD is added, the oil will have a lower or higher strength: 500 mg, 1000 mg, etc.
How Does CBD Work?
Researchers are still exploring the way CBD and other cannabinoids work, but their main effects seem to come from an interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is technically known as a biochemical communication system and was only discovered about 25-30 years ago. It's basically a complex system of chemical messengers known as endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids for short) and cannabinoid receptors.
The ECS affects your whole body, but it's especially important for the function of your central nervous system.
Because cannabinoids from hemp are very similar to certain endocannabinoids your body produces, they are thought to help bring the ECS back into balance and keep it functioning as it should.
Top Benefits of CBD Oil
Helps with Natural Pain Relief
Using cannabis for pain isn't a new thing. In fact, this plant may have been used as far back as 2900 BC for joint pain relief, which is quite impressive! (1)
Studies show that CBD oil specifically has pain-relieving potential and also possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It seems to be especially helpful for chronic pain conditions and for pain or inflammation that doesn't decrease with conventional treatment. (2)
Interestingly, CBD with added THC (the compound found in marijuana) has shown potential for being even more effective than CBD alone, although more quality studies are needed to confirm this. (3)
Even on its own, CBD oil may be able to help with many types of pain, including arthritis and fibromyalgia. (4)
May Improve Mental Health
One of the most promising benefits of CBD oil for many people is its potential to help relieve stress and improve symptoms of certain mental disorders.
Because it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is directly tied to your central nervous system, it can have a calming effect and may help with chronic stress.
Studies show that CBD may also be effective for more serious mental health issues. It has been shown to relieve anxiety in both healthy people and those with anxiety disorder and may also help with symptoms of depression and PTSD. (5)(6)(7)
May Help You Sleep Better
Because it can help ease stress and anxiety, it's not surprising that CBD may also help with sleep.
Many people report sleeping better and falling asleep more quickly when using CBD oil, and preliminary studies are also showing positive effects of CBD for sleep.
Although it doesn't work for everyone, one study found that it improved sleep quality in the majority (66.7%) of participants. Other research also indicates that it may become a good alternative treatment for insomnia and REM sleep behavior disorder. (8)(9)
Could Protect Brain Health
Along with supporting mental health, there also may be benefits of CBD oil for protecting the general health of your brain- keeping it sharp and functioning as you get older.
In particular, lab studies have found that CBD may be able to help prevent the type of neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's, which could be huge if this can be translated to the human body. (10)
There's also some evidence that CBD may help improve quality of life for those with other neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease. (11)
Promising for Seizures & Epilepsy
One exciting aspect of CBD is that it may be able to help treat epilepsy and other disorders that involve seizures.
In one study, CBD oil was able to reduce seizures by an average of 36.5% in participants with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy. It was also able to reduce seizures in children with drug-resistant Dravet syndrome in a separate study. (12)(13)
That being said, CBD also worsened seizures in some participants, so researchers are still trying to pinpoint how it works and who it may be most effective for.
Nevertheless, there's already one CBD-based drug that is FDA approved for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (both seizure disorders). (14)
May Fight Cancer & Ease Cancer-Related Symptoms
A few small trials have found that a combination of CBD and THC can help with cancer- or chemotherapy-related symptoms like nausea, vomiting, pain, and decreased appetite. (15)
Perhaps even more significantly, CBD has shown powerful cancer- and tumor-fighting properties in studies. It's been found to suppress the growth of specific cancer cells, help destroy them, and help prevent the spread of colon, lung, breast, prostate, and brain cancer. (16)
Of course, research has yet to discover whether this cancer-fighting power will translate to the human body, but there is evidence that CBD may also enhance chemotherapy treatments. (17)
Could Ease Acne & Other Skin Issues
There aren't just benefits of CBD oil inside your body. Its anti-inflammatory power is also proving promising for relieving certain skin issues.
A few studies have found that CBD may help prevent skin from creating excess sebum, which is one possible cause of acne breakouts. It also appears to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which could further help fight acne. (18)
Other research indicates that applying CBD oil topically can help with dryness, irritation, and itching (and possibly wrinkles!) and may help to soothe conditions like dermatitis and eczema. (19)
How to Use CBD + Different Forms
CBD oil is still the most popular way to make use of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, although you'll also find CBD in many different forms like gummies, infused chocolate, infused bath salts, topical creams, and capsules.
For the most effect, look for a CBD oil that is full spectrum, which means it contains a range of cannabinoids (not just CBD).
There are different strengths of CBD, but keep in mind that a higher strength doesn't necessarily make CBD work better. Multiple studies have found that the highest strength CBD often does not have the most benefits. It's more about figuring out how much CBD your body needs.
Also, keep in mind that you can both take CBD oil internally and use it topically. For something like sore muscles, for example, you may want to look for a topical CBD rub and combine it with an internal form of CBD.
Most people can take or apply CBD oil without any adverse effects. However, for a small amount of people, it may cause nausea, stomach upset, fatigue, and other symptoms.
CBD is also known to interact with certain medications, particularly those that have "the grapefruit warning" attached to them. Be sure to ask about potential interactions before using CBD if you are taking any medication.
Discover the Benefits of CBD Oil
There's a lot to love about the hemp/cannabis plant, and CBD oil is a great example of this. It can help with pain, stress, sleep, and much more and is easy to use or apply.
If you haven't tried CBD yet, now is a good time to get started!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.