CBD Benefits and Uses

Updated May 6, 2019

This article was scientifically reviewed by YourDNA

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If you have questions about CBD, you are not alone. We have done some research and compiled it for you so you can get your questions answered from a reliable source in plain English.

What's in this Guide?

Disclaimer: Before You Read

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Genetics is a quickly changing topic. Read More...

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in the flower of cannabis. The medicinal benefits of cannabis have been known for centuries, but only now does medical science have the means to analyze the molecular qualities of plants and investigate how they interact with the human mind and body.

As a result of considerable scientific research, we can now understand why cannabis can alleviate mental stress and ameliorate many physical disorders and diseases.

Although cannabis has more than a hundred phytocannabinoids, in recent years two, in particular, have attracted considerable scientific attention — cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — for their therapeutic benefits.

CBD and THC do not work in the same way. While both provide therapeutic benefits, they act in differently, acting on different receptors in the body and brain. One of the most noticeable differences is that CBD will make you feel calm and focused while THC will have a euphoric psychoactive effect.

While THC is consumed medicinally, it is also often consumed recreationally, as a way to get “high.” Conversely, those who prefer CBD, consume it for its potential therapeutic benefits and are often not interested in experiencing any psychoactive effects.

Forms of CBD and Extraction Methods

CBD is consumed as an oil, and there are two distinctly different types available. Some oils are manufactured from almost pure isolates or crystals while other oils are made from full-spectrum oils that contain additional active compounds.

Initially, it was believed that a pure CBD isolate was the best form of cannabis therapy, but there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a full-spectrum oil may provide additional benefits because of synergistic cannabinoids, like CBL and CBN, as well as terpenes and flavonoids. These enhanced synergetic benefits are called the “entourage effect.”

There are many ways that CBD is extracted from a cannabis plant to make CBD oil:

  • Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction: With this method, pressurized carbon dioxide gas is used to extract CBD. This is the best because there are no toxic byproducts, but it is also the most expensive method.
  • Coconut oil or olive oil extraction: Although this method is less efficient, it also does not result in toxic byproducts.
  • Butane or propane solvent extraction: This method is the cheapest but the CBD is extracted using possibly harmful solvents.

When buying CBD oil products, research the extraction method. Usually, the lower the cost of the CBD oil, the more likely the manufacturer has cut corners when it comes to extraction methods to attract more sales.

Avoid purchasing CBD oil that has been extracted using solvents, as these may contain harmful byproducts. While the best method is supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, it is expensive. If you can’t afford this type of CBD oil, then you will still derive considerable benefits from extraction that uses a natural carrier oil.

Fortunately, those manufacturers who use the best extraction methods mention it in their marketing because it is a huge selling point.

CBD Uses

Since CBD can provide relief from a number of health conditions like anxiety, chronic pain, depression, or any type of inflammation,

it is used by people who are looking for a natural solution for their health issues, seeking an alternative to pharmaceuticals that have negative side-effects.

CBD Benefits

Right now, there is considerable scientific research being done on CBD, including research sponsored by the government of the United States.

CBD appears to assist autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation; neurological problems like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease; metabolic syndrome issues like diabetes and obesity; neuropsychiatric illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, and ADHD; intestinal problems like Crohn’s disease and colitis; cardiovascular disorder like arrhythmia and atherosclerosis; and skin dysfunctions like psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis.

In addition, CBD has also been shown to have some anti-cancer effects. Still, that's not all. CBD also alleviates conditions like high blood pressure and reduces the severity of a patient’s seizures.

Is CBD Good for General Health?

What if you are healthy and just want to take it as a daily supplement? CBD works well as a supplement for general health because it provides a broad spectrum of health benefits.

Here are some reasons why it’s good for general health:

  • It has antioxidant properties: CBD interacts with the CB2 receptor, which regulates neurological cells. This interaction triggers the body to heal itself.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties: CBD slows down the uptake of adenosine into the cells. Adenosine is a chemical that causes inflammation.
  • It has pain-relieving properties: CBD opens up clogged blood-vessels, which facilitates desensitization.
  • It has antiemetic properties: CBD reduces the feeling of nausea, which leads to vomiting.
  • It has neuroprotective properties: CBD protects nerve cells and there is growing evidence that it also stimulates neurogenesis, the growth of new neurons in the brain.
  • It has anti-angiogenic properties: CBD has been shown to inhibit endothelial morphogenesis, which is the creation of hollow tubes by endothelial cells.
  • It has anxiolytic properties: CBD inhibits serotonin, which can be beneficial if you have chronic pain, feel anxious, or have insomnia.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good idea of CBD’s broad spectrum of general health benefits. CBD can improve brain health, cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and digestive health.

Of course, this does not mean that this is the only supplement you need and can toss out everything else, but it is certainly a product you can add to your other supplements and healthy diet to support your overall health.

How to Take CBD

CBD oil can be taken in a number of ways. You can take it orally or sublingually. It can also be ingested through a topical application or by vaping (an inhalant). How you take it is a matter of personal preference.

The easiest way is probably pills or capsules because it is convenient and the dosage is easy to measure. With other methods, say vaping or a topical application, it’s a little harder to estimate exactly how many milligrams you have ingested.

Still, some people who don’t mind the oily taste, even add it to their food, including putting a few drops in their daily smoothie.

Once ingested, the CBD oil will take about an hour or two before the effects become noticeable.

CBD Dosage

CBD oil comes in a variety of forms, and the easiest way to keep track of dosage is by consuming it in a dropper, a pill, or a capsule form because the dosage will be printed on the package label.

Usually, the amount is listed in milligrams. So, you might see a package that says it contains 250 mg or 500 mg or 1,000 mg.

Sometimes, too, the dosage is measured by concentration, in which case percentages are used. You might, for example, see percentages as 4 percent, 10 percent, or 20 percent.

How much you should take depends on your weight and your level of pain, as well as the health condition you are taking it for. A health care provider can furnish you with a table that helps you assess what dosage is right for your weight, pain level, and health disorder.

How Much CBD Should You Take per Day?

Usually, the best way to figure out how much CBD you should take per day is to start at a low dosage based on a dosage chart and observe the effects over a few days. You will then be able to decide whether you need to increase or decrease the dosage based on how well you react to CBD oil.

Usually, it’s not a good idea to simply settle on a dosage because it's printed on the product package. This is only a suggested dosage amount. Since your biochemistry will be different from other people, you will need to use some trial-and-error experiments, increasing or decreasing the dosage by discrete amounts to figure out what works for you.

Ideally, work with a health care provider familiar with CBD to help you monitor your efforts and help you to find your best dosage levels.

CBD Side Effects

Although most people take CBD without any side-effects at all, some people do experience a few adverse reactions.

A few of the most common side-effects are dry mouth, a small decrease in blood pressure, lightheadedness, and sleepiness. In rare cases, someone might experience nausea and vomiting, or they might experience diarrhea.

Safety Concerns

The biggest safety concerns are interactions with prescription medications. If you are taking any prescription medication, then you should work with a health care provider familiar with CBD to advise you on whether or not you should take CBD oil.

While it does not interact with all medications, it does interact with some common prescription medications.

Sometimes, a health care provider may decide that since research shows that CBD interacts adversely with your prescription medication, you should not take it. At other times, there may not be enough information to come up with a definitive answer.

In that case, the health care professional may simply decide to monitor your CBD dosage to see if there are any adverse interactions with your medications.

CBD Legality

At the present time, CBD oil is legal to use in states that have legalized medical marijuana. So, it’s legal in about 30 states.

Other states do allow CBD use, except under certain laws specific to CBD. Here is the list of these states:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The primary reason why CBD oils are not legally accepted in all states law is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved Epidiolex, a drug that contains CBD, for patient’s seizures. This does not mean that the FDA denies all other claims made about CBD; it is just that they are still evaluating scientific data before giving their unreserved approval.

Is CBD Worth It?

CBD is worth it if you have a health issue that CBD can alleviate or even eliminate.

However, it is not worth it, if (a) you happen to be one of the few people who experience negative side-effects, or (b) it adversely interacts with a prescription drug you are taking, or (c ) you take it but experience no benefits at all.

If you do decide to try CBD, here are some guidelines to help you get benefits:

  • Work with a healthcare provider who is familiar with CBD. They will be able to help you to figure out the best dosage and monitor whether CBD is helping alleviate your health condition.
  • Research the best provider. Not all CBD oils are the same. Some manufacturers extract CBD oil in the healthiest ways and provide accurate labels about all ingredients and quantities. Be suspicious of bargain prices as the best manufacturers do incur higher costs in creating a superior quality of CBD oil.
  • If you decide to take CBD as a health supplement, then continue only if you experience some noticeable benefits.

Conclusion

The enthusiasm for CBD lies in its broad range of health benefits. Not only is it a completely natural substance rather than a pharmaceutical drug, but it also provides a diverse range of effects — like anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, anti-proliferation, analgesic, antipsychotic, and anxiolytic.

As a result, there is now considerable scientific curiosity about its possible uses.

However, since the medicinal cannabis industry is growing at an explosive rate — it is estimated to be on track to become a $13 billion dollar industry — there is a risk of getting scammed by some manufacturers. Like most emerging industries, there are honorable manufacturers and sincere health care providers but also those who jump on the bandwagon because of its profitability.

Do not buy a CBD product because a friend recommended it or you read some compelling advertisements. Instead, do your own research. First, research if there are any scientific case studies to suggest that it can help your particular health condition.

If your research proves encouraging, then the next step is to research reputable manufacturers.

Remember, the quality and the purity of the CBD oil will determine its effectiveness. In addition, you need to ensure that you take the optimum dosage for your condition, so this is why it’s a good idea to work with a health care professional.

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