Holistic health trends come and go. But after a major year of hype, it looks like CBD oil may be here to stay. You’ve probably heard all the buzz by now. The magic cure-all oil can help with everything from anxiety, insomnia, and acne to soreness and pain. It sounds like a miracle and definitely comes with its fair share of major benefits. However, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Here’s what you need to know.
What is CBD oil?
“CBD stands for cannabidiol, and a cannabinoid is a naturally occurring compound from the cannabis plant,” explains Jordan McCreery, founding partner of CBD Oil Solutions, an online marketplace for CBD products. “Many people are familiar with THC, the cannabinoid and psychoactive component of marijuana that gets users high, but few are as familiar with CBD. It is emerging as one of the most beneficial cannabinoids that exist.” It’s important to note that, even though it has remnants of cannabis in the name, you won’t get high off CBD oil as you would from THC.
CBD is considered a natural remedy for the body, adds Konstanze Zeller, founder of Cocorau Adaptive Elixir Snacks and producer of CBD products. “In our bodies, we have something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). [Its] purpose is to respond to internal cannabinoids produced in the body,” she says. “Research has shown that sickness, inflammation, and injuries will trigger the ECS to take action. [This] makes the ECS protective for our health and well-being. And according to research, indirectly manipulating the ECS by introducing external cannabinoids like CBD can be useful in treating medical ailments, including pain, epilepsy, inflammation, nausea, IBS, and more.”
If you’re wondering how it’s made, Zeller says CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant. It is then diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut or hempseed. You can find CBD oil in many forms these days, including tinctures, edibles, topicals, and in beauty products.
Physical and Mental Health Benefits
You probably have friends who swear by CBD oil to cure all their ailments. Plus, research about its potential benefits does look promising. It can potentially help (or not) with:
CBD oil may have a calming effect for those living with anxiety. Some studies found that CBD oil may help reduce stress and even slow down physical signs of anxiety, such as a faster heart rate. Researchers believe it can help alter serotonin levels in the brain. This influences mental health and may link CBD oil to an improved mental state.
CBD oil is now a buzzing product in many skin-care products. Researchers believe it may have a calming effect on acne and reduce inflammation. However, more studies are needed to confirm its efficacy.
Pain and Muscle Relief
If you exercise regularly, CBD oil may be able to help with muscle soreness. “Some of the biggest physical benefits that users find from CBD oil—particularly for those who are very active, including professional athletes—include its pain-relieving effects. This can include reducing inflammation throughout the body,” McCreery says. Some athletes also get CBD oil massages, as these can have a similar calming and anti-inflammatory effect.
McCreery says CBD oil can help you sleep, which busy professionals and athletes will equally appreciate. “CBD also has been very beneficial for sleep, which any active person knows is critical to recovery. Better sleep and less muscle soreness leads to quicker recovery times,” he says.
Health Conditions and Diseases
Even though research is still limited, CBD oil appears to offer promising relief from symptoms related to diseases and health conditions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, PTSD, MS, and even cancer. “The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own, and it also has two receptors for cannabinoids called CB1 and CB2,” Zeller explains. “CB1 is known for dealing with receptors in the brain, including movement, moods, thinking, and memories. CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. By triggering these receptors with CBD, it has been known to help with a number of health conditions.”
Is it safe to use?
Most people generally consider CBD oil to be safe. However, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet approved it for medicinal or recreational use. It may cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and even hallucinations. Although some people swear by it, much research on its benefits is still in the works.
“Although more research is needed on CBD oil, some studies do show probable benefits for certain conditions,” says Lisa Doggett, M.D., M.P.H., a family physician in Austin. “For example, some people with multiple sclerosis who have used CBD oil report having less pain, spasticity, and bladder issues.”
Above all, Doggett says to follow instructions and ask your doctor if it’s OK for you to try CBD oil. “Before trying CBD oil, it is important to consult with a physician to discuss risks and benefits. Your doctor may also suggest other treatments that may be more effective or beneficial, depending on your symptoms and other health issues,” she says.