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You may have heard of cannabidiol (CBD) and its benefits often covered in the media, especially if you have medical conditions like anxiety, general pain or joint pain, or depression.
CBD-based products are hailed as cure-alls for treating many health conditions ranging from sleep disorders such as loss of appetite, insomnia, and anxiety to chronic pain and improving quality of life.
You’ll often find many CBD products, including CBD pills, CBD drinks, CBD foods, and much more.
This article breaks down many facts about CBD, its uses and benefits backed by credible research, and much more.
Before we get into CBD, it is important that we review the plant that it comes from.
A Little About Cannabis sativa L. Plant
Cannabis sativa L. is a herbaceous flowering plant belonging to the Cannabaceae family.
Since ancient times, this dioecious plant has been used as a potential source of textile fiber, an ingredient in medicine, and a psychoactive drug.
The medicinal properties of Cannabis sativa L. or the marijuana plant make it an incredible therapeutic option for treating different conditions like depression, asthma, insomnia, spasms, and chronic pain.
What Are Different Cannabis Compounds?
The Cannabis plant contains more than 400 active compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes/terpenoids, flavonoids, and other important compounds. Let’s have a look at each one of these:
Terpenes are organic, aromatic compounds found in Cannabis, flowering plants, herbs, vegetables, citrus fruits, and essential oils.
These compounds are responsible for giving a strong aroma to the plants.
Terpenes are different from terpenoids.
Terpenoids are compounds that have been dried and broken down through oxidation, while terpenes are organic hydrocarbons that occur naturally.
Terpenes have a strong aroma because many plants use their fragrance to attract potential pollinators, while others use their stench to prevent herbivores from eating them.
Terpenes are widely used in countless fragrances, perfumes, and aftershaves.
The effects of terpene depend on its use (whether it is used orally, topically, or inhaled). Terpenes are best known for their role in aromatherapy.
Like terpenes, flavonoids are metabolites that are not just exclusive to Cannabis plants like hemp or marijuana but the whole plant kingdom.
Flavonoids found in Cannabis plants are known as cannaflavins, and each of the cannaflavin acts uniquely in the body.
The word “flavonoid” actually originates from the Latin term “flavus,” which refers to the “yellow” color.
This means that flavonoids provide yellow color to flowers, leaves, and fruits to warn off herbivores or attract pollinators.
What Do Flavonoids Do?
Besides providing pigmentation, flavonoids have also exhibited antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties.
By acting as antioxidants, flavonoids fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress in the body .
Flavonoids, as anti-inflammatory agents, reduce the inflammatory reactions to avoid uncomfortable symptoms.
Cannaflavin A is an anti-inflammatory agent found in many plants, teas, and fruits. Cannaflavin C is specifically found in the Cannabis plant .
Cannabinoids occur naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. Since they’re found “naturally” in the Cannabis plant itself, they are known as phytocannabinoids.
Other cannabinoids synthesized artificially are known as synthetic cannabinoids.
The Cannabis plant contains more than 480 compounds, but only 60-80 compounds have been identified as cannabinoids.
Originally, phytocannabinoids were soluble in fat, alcohol, and other non-polar organic solvents, but they are insoluble in water .
The most abundant phytocannabinoids identified in the Cannabis plant include delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), responsible for the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabidiol (CBD), which is non-psychoactive.
Let’s have a look at each of these:
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC)
Δ9-THC is a primary psychoactive compound found in the Cannabis plant and has long been described to make people feel “high.”
Among 60 different cannabinoid molecules, THC is the most recognized ingredient. Most often, Δ9-THC is smoked and inhaled.
It can also be taken orally in tinctures, edibles, oils, and capsules.
When a person inhales or smokes THC, it goes straight into the lungs, absorbed into the bloodstream. Within just 20 minutes, THC is present in your circulatory system.
The THC molecules then pass the blood-brain barrier, attaching to the cannabinoid receptors.
Cannabinoid receptors are naturally found in the nervous system and brain .
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
THCA, also known as Indian hemp, is an acid naturally present in the Cannabis sativa plant.
It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, which slowly converts into THC as the plant is dried and burned before consumption through decarboxylation.
Unlike Δ9-THC, THCA is not considered psychoactive because it does not make you “high” when taken.
Research studies suggest that THCA may exhibit neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties . THCA may also significantly improve nausea and vomiting .
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What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural and active compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant.
Although it is active, CBD is not a psychoactive compound, meaning that it does not make you high.
Hence, CBD use does not result in abuse or dependence, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Although CBD is present in both marijuana and hemp, CBD derived from hemp is most commonly used in CBD-based products.
CBD is consumed in the form of oils, tinctures, capsules, creams, lotions, and edibles.
Some evidence suggests that CBD has benefits in treating different health conditions by acting as an antioxidant, anticonvulsant, antipsychotic, muscle relaxant, neuroprotective, analgesic, and anti-anxiety agent.
CBD also exerts calming effects on the nervous system by interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors of the nervous system.
One of the widely used applications of CBD is in pain management. Studies are being conducted to prove the therapeutic benefits of CBD .
A Brief Overview Of The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The recently discovered endocannabinoid system is characterized by endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptor proteins, and the peripheral nervous system.
Endocannabinoids not only bind to the cannabinoids made by the body but also those derived from the Cannabis plant.
Therefore, endocannabinoids are known as naturally-occurring neurotransmitters.
According to new research, the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating cognitive function, immune function, mood, memories, pain sensations, sleep, appetite, and other physiological functions .
The endocannabinoid system contains cannabinoid receptors, including enzymes, receptors, and lipid proteins involved in vital physiological processes.
The “Entourage” Effect
Some cannabinoid compounds work individually to exert their therapeutic and medicinal benefits, but sometimes, these compounds work best when combined together.
The Entourage Effect is a phenomenon in which the effect of cannabinoids increases when multiple Cannabis compounds work together synergistically rather than working alone.
This synergistic effect produces better results in the body. CBD and THC are mostly taken together to produce the Entourage Effect .
What Does The Research Say about the Entourage Effect?
Many research studies have been conducted to study the health benefits achieved by the Entourage Effect.
In 2011, a review of different studies was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, in which terpenes, when taken together with phytocannabinoids, were proved to be beneficial for:
- Fungal infection
- Pain 
Another study found that the combination of terpenes and flavonoids provides neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory benefits.
The same study also suggested that the combination of terpenes and flavonoids improves the therapeutic potential of CBD .
However, some studies do not support this theory.
For example, researchers studied the effects of six terpenes alone and in combination in one experiment.
It was reported that the addition of terpenes did not change the effects of THC on CB1 and CB2 receptors .
How Is Cannabidiol (CBD) Broken Down In The Body?
CBD is thoroughly metabolized in the liver by the action of a wide variety of enzymes into almost 40 metabolites or by-products.
CBD is also metabolized in other body tissues other than the liver, including the brain and small intestine.
Lab studies have reported that CBD has extensive interactions with prescription medications .
Many senior citizens have chronic medical problems and are on many medications. Because of this, the real possibility of significant drug interactions exists.
It is extremely important that you consult with your medical provider before taking a CBD product, regardless of its formulation (oral, skin application, etc.).
After being metabolized, CBD is stored in fatty tissues for as long as four weeks.
After the liver metabolism, cannabidiol is primarily eliminated via the feces, with minimal clearance in the urine. Extra metabolites are also eliminated via urinary excretion.
How long CBD stays in your system depends on the form and dosage of CBD and your body composition:
CBD’s Time To Effect In The Body
|Time to Effect
|Oral/sublingual (under the tongue)
|30 min - 4 hours
|Seconds to minutes
|Up to 8 hours
CBD Drug Interactions
As mentioned earlier, many of the liver’s enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of CBD.
Because of this, CBD can interfere with the breakdown of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
It may either slow down the breakdown of some drugs, resulting in these medications rising to toxic levels in the body or conversely, it can speed up the metabolism of other drugs, resulting in subtherapeutic levels of those drugs.
Some potentially serious drug interactions of CBD include:
CBD and blood thinners – Warfarin
Warfarin levels can abnormally be increased by CBD, which increases the risk of bleeding.
Warfarin or CBD needs to be stopped, or the doctor should reduce the dose.
CBD and Sedating Medications
Common side effects associated with CBD use include slowed breathing and sleepiness.
Some sedative medications like CNS depression also cause these symptoms.
Taking both sedatives and CBD might have more adverse effects, including deep or abnormal sleep problems, extended sleep, and breathing impairment.
CBD and Caffeine
CBD interacts with the body’s ability to change and break down caffeine. When this happens, levels of caffeine start increasing in the body.
Too much caffeine can cause breathing problems, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, convulsions, and heart rhythm irregularities, among other concerns.
CBD and Anti-Seizure Medications
Even in low dosages, CBD interacts with anti-seizure medications, resulting in more aggressive seizures.
Other drugs that CBD can interact with include:
- Heart medications, including calcium channel blockers (amlodipine, etc)
- Antihistamines, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, SSRIs, opioids
- Thyroid medication, like levothyroxine
Evidence Supporting The Benefits Of Using CBD
Benefits of CBD for pain relief
- Plant source of Cannabidiol, Cannabis has been used to alleviate chronic pain since 2900 B.C. Some studies have demonstrated that CBD can reduce severe pain by interacting with neurotransmitters, affecting the receptor activity of endocannabinoids, and lowering inflammation .
- When Sativex, a CBD-based medicine, was investigated in 47 individuals for its effectiveness, the positive effects were amazing. All the subjects showed decreased muscle pain and improved body activity .
- According to a study, CBD, when used independently, appeared to be useful for chronic pains. Even severe neck and nerve pain were greatly reduced .
- Some researchers studied the effects of CBD on cancer patients suffering from chronic pain, nausea, and other serious symptoms. The results showed a reduced degree of pain among the patients .
- In addition to this, CBD may help with alleviating the discomforting symptoms of rheumatoid disorders like fibromyalgia, based on certain studies. This was proved when a survey was performed among 2701 fibromyalgia patients. Those who took CBD for pain management reported significant improvement in their symptoms .
- According to a clinical study, CBD may have therapeutic effects on patients with arthritis as it helps in alleviating pain and inflammation. This study was based on a rat, as human trials are lacking .
- A review was conducted in 2018 to evaluate the effectiveness of CBD by reviewing all the studies made between 1975 till March 2018. The results showed that CBD is capable of reducing pain caused due to arthritis .
Benefits of CBD for anxiety
- CBD had shown promising results for treating anxiety disorders when 57 men were provided with CBD orally before public speaking in a Brazilian study. It was proved that 300 mg of CBD was significant enough to calm their nerves and reduce anxiety .
- Besides, CBD oil does wonders for pediatric people suffering from PTSD and insomnia. Various other researches proved that CBD is effective in helping with social anxiety and other psychotic disorders .
- A research study evaluated the effect of CBD on depressed, anxious, and bipolar patients. Even though the study is still ongoing, the results are quite favorable .
Benefits of CBD for drug addiction
- It is shown from some relevant studies that CBD may be beneficial for treating drug addictions. Cannabidiol is also very effective in lowering drug cravings, psychosis, and other addictions linked with crack, according to research in 2019 .
- A handful of CBD studies are significantly performed on animals as it is in the stage of clinical trials. In 2016, when cannabidiol’s therapeutic effects on arthritic pain were tested on an animal, it showed promising results .
As concluded by different studies, CBD is quite beneficial for older adults, which showed its promising effects in older people aged around 60 years. Older adults have reduced pain, whether arthritis, osteoporosis, or other disorders.
Talking To Your Doctor About The Benefits Of CBD
Cannabidiol is quite effective for various conditions of chronic pain and reduces inflammation. Therefore, it can benefit patients suffering from arthritis, muscle spasms, and pain management.
- Always have a thorough and detailed conversation with your doctor as he/she knows your body the best. If you are using CBD products, let your doctor know that transparency and honesty with the doctor are the keys to good well-being. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any dosage of CBD.
- It is essential to let your caregivers know if you take CBD, whether it’s a spouse, son, or daughter, as they can provide you with immediate care in case of side effects.
- Even though CBD is a successful alternative for many diseases like arthritis, PTSD, anxiety, fibromyalgia, etc, it is still crucial to talk with your doctor about this alternative treatment option and the intake of respective medications.
- Daily blood monitoring is needed if you proceed with CBD for pain management. As for lab follow-ups, the first will be held after three months of the first CBD intake. In addition to this, a medical expert like a nurse has to monitor your health throughout the treatment to make sure there is no such occurrence of any side effects.
Where To Buy/Not to Buy CBD
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still hasn’t approved CBD. But many other quality sellers provide their customers with proper labeling and testing.
- Avoid buying CBD from gas stations, street corners, or even tacky internet sites, as it can be harmful and a waste of money.
- Start CBD at a low dose, just like any other medicine. Increase the dose slowly if you see the desired effect.
- It is mostly recommended to take CBD topical products (in the form of a patch or topical cream) than to take it orally.
- Make sure to know the ingredients of the CBD product as CBD with THC should be avoided as it comes with certain serious side effects. Use such products containing solely CBD.
- For the first intake, try to have it on a weekend or a day with your family or caregiver around you, who can closely lookout for any irregular response.
- Go for CBD products that have undergone proper testing and have an assurance certificate. CBD products that have cleared pesticides and heavy metal testing by a 3rd party are safe and secure to use.
- CBD is a little too expensive because the extraction of CBD from the Cannabis or Hemp plants requires plenty of work. The equipment, labor, and then the manufacturing all add to the cost of the product.
- In many countries, CBD is prohibited, whereas, in some, it is allowed but without THC. Be aware of the local laws about CBD use before buying the products just so you are not breaking any laws.
- Take the storage and safety of CBD very seriously, as a little mishandling can be deadly. Place the product in a place far from kids and pets.
If you are interested in trying out CBD products after discussing them with your doctor, I recommend carefully researching the companies offering these products.
The bottom line is that your health could depend on it. You should see if the company is transparent in its reporting of how and where it is sourcing its products.
Most importantly, you should see if the company provides a thorough lab report of product testing completed by an authorized independent laboratory specializing in such testing.
The company should operate with the utmost integrity and adhere to the strictest ethical standards.
I have researched several companies and have found one that does all of these things.
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They source the finest ingredients for their products and use state-of-the-art facilities to produce, test, and market them.
They have many different formulations of CBD products and offer a lot of information and teaching about their products.
For just about any need, you can find CBD products in any formulation – USDA Organic products, Gummies, Tinctures, Softgels, Topicals, and Pet Products, among others.
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- CBD is a natural, non-psychoactive compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant
- Clinical studies suggest that it may have potential benefits on depression, anxiety, asthma, poor sleep (improvement in sleep quality), spasms, social anxiety disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and chronic pain
- Some studies suggest multiple Cannabis compounds may work together synergistically to offer better relief – This is called the Entourage Effect
- CBD is broken down in the liver, and because most prescription drugs are also metabolized in the same organ, the potential for significant drug interactions exists
- Always talk to your doctor first before you start using any CBD product
- Different formulations of CBD have a different time to effect on the body, including the length of time they stay active exerting that effect
- Always buy CBD products from reputable vendors
- Always insist on information describing where the CBD ingredients are sourced if they are subjected to credible third-party testing for purity, active ingredient amount, and concentration of THC, which must be less than 0.3% to be compliant with federal law.
- Understand your local, state, and federal laws governing the possession and use of CBD products, and exercise due diligence!
- Keep children and pets safe! The slightest mishandling could be deadly to them.
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