The Benefits and Risks of CBD: What You Need to Know

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the lesser-known son of the cannabis sativa plant; its more famous brother, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the active ingredient in marijuana that catapults users to the “high”. While THC is known for its psychoactive effects, CBD is gaining traction for its potential health benefits. In recent years, CBD has been studied for its potential role in relieving the symptoms of many common health conditions, such as anxiety and neurological disorders. It can also benefit heart health and help alleviate certain types of pain.

CBD is advertised to alleviate anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is also marketed to promote sleep. Part of CBD's popularity is due to the fact that it purports to be “non-psychoactive” and that consumers can get health benefits from the plant without the high (or the cravings for midnight pizza). CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and then diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil.

A previous study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who didn't experience relief with pain relievers. More than 60 percent of CBD users take it out of anxiety, according to a survey of 5000 people conducted by Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm. While researchers are cautiously optimistic that CBD may be useful in treating some types of pain, especially when combined with THC, more high-quality studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in treating pain. In addition, some research suggests that CBD may alleviate the symptoms of rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia.

While CBD is being studied as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and anxiety, research supporting the drug's benefits remains limited.In addition to potential health benefits, consuming CBD also comes with some risks. Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of NYU Langone's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, leads a clinical trial on the administration of CBD to children and adolescents with drug-resistant epilepsy. Joca and colleagues reported that in models of chronic exposure to stress, mice and rats treated with CBD were more resilient.Dosage varies widely in research studies.

CBD can be found in a variety of products online and in stores, including dietary supplements, baths, beverages, and foods. In a four-week trial, people who suffered nerve damage in the lower half of the body reported a significant reduction in severe and acute pain after using a topical CBD oil.CBD may help reduce some cancer-related symptoms and side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and pain. A study published in 2019 looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety. The researchers found that a 300 mg dose of CBD was the most effective in significantly reducing anxiety during the test (1).

Tonia Kilcullen
Tonia Kilcullen

Freelance social media practitioner. Lifelong writer. Typical social media specialist. Award-winning internet advocate. Devoted beer scholar.