7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil (Plus Side Effects)
Cannabidiol is a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments.
Better known as CBD, it is one of over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa ( 1 ).
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and causes the sensation of getting “high” that’s often associated with marijuana. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
This quality makes CBD an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of marijuana or certain pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.
It’s gaining momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies confirming it may ease symptoms of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety.
Here are seven health benefits of CBD oil that are backed by scientific evidence.
Marijuana has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. ( 2 ).
More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of marijuana, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects.
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response ( 3 ).
The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.
Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters ( 4 ).
For example, one study in rats found that CBD injections reduced pain response to surgical incision, while another rat study found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation ( 5 , 6 ).
Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
An oral spray called Sativex, which is a combination of THC and CBD, is approved in several countries to treat pain related to multiple sclerosis.
One study of 47 people with multiple sclerosis examined the effects of taking Sativex for one month. The participants experienced improvements in pain, walking, and muscle spasms. Still, the study didn’t include any control group and placebo effects cannot be ruled out ( 7 ).
Another study found that Sativex significantly improved pain during movement, pain at rest and sleep quality in 58 people with rheumatoid arthritis ( 8 ).
Summary CBD, especially in combination with THC, may be effective in reducing pain associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Anxiety and depression are common mental health disorders that can have devastating impacts on health and well-being.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the single largest contributor to disability worldwide, while anxiety disorders are ranked sixth (9).
Anxiety and depression are usually treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and headache ( 10 ).
What’s more, medications like benzodiazepines can be addictive and may lead to substance abuse ( 11 ).
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach.
In one Brazilian study, 57 men received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the test.
The placebo, a 150-mg dose of CBD, and a 600-mg dose of CBD had little to no effect on anxiety ( 12 ).
CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder ( 13 ).
CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies ( 14 , 15 ).
These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
Summary Using CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in both human and animal studies.
CBD may help reduce symptoms related to cancer and side effects related to cancer treatment, like nausea, vomiting and pain.
One study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication.
Those treated with an extract containing both compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those who received only THC extract ( 16 ).
CBD may also help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, which are among the most common chemotherapy-related side effects for those with cancer ( 17 ).
Though there are drugs that help with these distressing symptoms, they are sometimes ineffective, leading some people to seek alternatives.
A study of 16 people undergoing chemotherapy found that a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC administered via mouth spray reduced chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment alone ( 18 ).
Some test-tube and animal studies have even shown that CBD may have anticancer properties. For example, one test-tube study found that concentrated CBD induced cell death in human breast cancer cells ( 19 ).
Another study showed that CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice ( 20 ).
However, these are test-tube and animal studies, so they can only suggest what might work in people. More studies in humans are needed before conclusions can be made.
Summary Though CBD has been shown to help reduce symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatment, and may even have cancer-fighting properties, more research is needed to assess its efficacy and safety.
Acne is a common skin condition that affects more than 9% of the population ( 21 ).
It is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, bacteria, underlying inflammation and the overproduction of sebum, an oily secretion made by sebaceous glands in the skin ( 22 , 23).
Based on recent scientific studies, CBD oil may help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.
One test-tube study found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, exerted anti-inflammatory actions and prevented the activation of “pro-acne” agents like inflammatory cytokines ( 24 ).
Another study had similar findings, concluding that CBD may be an efficient and safe way to treat acne, thanks in part to its remarkable anti-inflammatory qualities ( 25 ).
Though these results are promising, human studies exploring the effects of CBD on acne are needed.
Summary CBD may have beneficial effects on acne due to its anti-inflammatory qualities and its ability to control the overproduction of sebum from the sebaceous glands.
Researchers believe that CBD’s ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders.
In fact, one of the most studied uses for CBD is in treating neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Though research in this area is still relatively new, several studies have shown promising results.
Sativex, an oral spray consisting of CBD and THC, has been proven to be a safe and effective way to reduce muscle spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis.
One study found that Sativex reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with multiple sclerosis who were experiencing muscle spasticity that was resistant to medications ( 26 ).
Another study gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 g/kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5% ( 27 ).
One more study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared to a placebo ( 28 ).
However, it’s important to note that some people in both these studies experienced adverse reactions associated with CBD treatment, such as convulsions, fever and fatigue.
CBD has also been researched for its potential effectiveness in treating several other neurological diseases.
For example, several studies have shown that treatment with CBD improved quality of life and sleep quality for people with Parkinson’s disease ( 29 , 30 ).
Additionally, animal and test-tube studies have shown that CBD may decrease inflammation and help prevent the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease ( 31 ).
In one long-term study, researchers gave CBD to mice genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, finding that it helped prevent cognitive decline ( 32 ).
Summary Though research is limited at this time, CBD has been shown to ease symptoms related to epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. CBD was also shown to reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in test-tube and animal studies.
Recent research has linked CBD with several benefits for the heart and circulatory system, including the ability to lower high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is linked to higher risks of a number of health conditions, including stroke, heart attack and metabolic syndrome ( 33 ).
Studies indicate that CBD may be able to help with high blood pressure.
One recent study treated nine healthy men with one dose of 600 mg of CBD oil and found it reduced resting blood pressure, compared to a placebo.
The same study also gave the men stress tests that normally increase blood pressure. Interestingly, the single dose of CBD led the men to experience a smaller blood pressure increase than normal in response to these tests ( 34 ).
Researchers have suggested that the stress- and anxiety-reducing properties of CBD are responsible for its ability to help lower blood pressure.
Additionally, several animal studies have demonstrated that CBD may help reduce the inflammation and cell death associated with heart disease due to its powerful antioxidant and stress-reducing properties.
For example, one study found that treatment with CBD reduced oxidative stress and prevented heart damage in diabetic mice with heart disease ( 35 ).
Summary Though more human studies are needed, CBD may benefit heart health in several ways, including by reducing blood pressure and preventing heart damage.
CBD has been studied for its role in treating a number of health issues other than those outlined above.
Though more studies are needed, CBD is thought to provide the following health benefits:
- Antipsychotic effects: Studies suggest that CBD may help people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders by reducing psychotic symptoms ( 36 ).
- Substance abuse treatment: CBD has been shown to modify circuits in the brain related to drug addiction. In rats, CBD has been shown to reduce morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior ( 37 ).
- Anti-tumor effects: In test-tube and animal studies, CBD has demonstrated anti-tumor effects. In animals, it has been shown to prevent the spread of breast, prostate, brain, colon and lung cancer ( 38 ).
- Diabetes prevention: In diabetic mice, treatment with CBD reduced the incidence of diabetes by 56% and significantly reduced inflammation ( 39 ).
Summary Some studies suggest that CBD may help with diabetes, substance abuse, mental disorders and certain types of cancers. However, more research in humans is needed.
Though CBD is generally well tolerated and considered safe, it may cause adverse reactions in some people.
Side effects noted in studies include ( 40 ):
- Changes in appetite and weight
CBD is also known to interact with several medications. Before you start using CBD oil, discuss it with your doctor to ensure your safety and avoid potentially harmful interactions ( 41 ).
This is especially important if you take medications or supplements that come with a “grapefruit warning.” Both grapefruit and CBD interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), a group of enzymes that are important to drug metabolism (42).
One study performed on mice showed that CBD-rich cannabis extracts have the potential to cause liver toxicity. However, some the mice in the study were force-fed extremely large doses of the extract (43).
Summary Although CBD is generally considered safe, it can cause adverse reactions like diarrhea and fatigue in some people. It may also interfere with certain medications.
CBD oil has been studied for its potential role in easing symptoms of many common health issues, including anxiety, depression, acne and heart disease.
For those with cancer, it may even provide a natural alternative for pain and symptom relief.
Research on the potential health benefits of CBD oil is ongoing, so new therapeutic uses for this natural remedy are sure to be discovered.
Though there is much to be learned about the efficacy and safety of CBD, results from recent studies suggest that CBD may provide a safe, powerful natural treatment for many health issues.
If you’re interested in trying CBD, you can purchase many products online, including gummies, oils, and lotions.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound in marijuana with a variety of uses. Here are 7 benefits of CBD oil.
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Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure? What the Research Says
With stress in the U.S. on the rise, it’s no wonder more than half of Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
CBD oil has been hailed as a cure-all for a variety of conditions, but what do researchers have to say about CBD oil and blood pressure?
Does CBD oil lower blood pressure, or is it an unfounded claim? Is it possible to skip the expensive doctors’ visits and burdensome trips to the pharmacy?
We wouldn’t go that far. Hypertension is a risk factor in heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Even though it’s common, it’s a serious issue.
However, there are many steps you can take to naturally reduce your blood pressure, one of which may be by using CBD oil for hypertension.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. As blood is pumped through your blood vessels, they undergo a degree of force. If you have high blood pressure, this force can damage the walls of your blood vessels, veins and arteries.
High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular complications such as heart disease, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm and heart failure. The condition is exacerbated by type 2 diabetes, stress, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, a diet high in salt, and alcohol and tobacco use.
Lowering High Blood Pressure: CBD and Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can be naturally lowered by reducing stress, salt intake, and consumption of alcohol and tobacco. You can also lower your blood pressure by exercising regularly and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Your doctor may prescribe medications that can lower blood pressure. Many of these medications, such as calcium channel blockers and ACE-inhibitors, cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, constipation and swollen ankles.
New evidence links CBD to a decrease in blood pressure. For many people, CBD oil has fewer side effects than prescription medications.
We spoke with Rebecca Park, registered nurse and founder of RemediesForMe.com, who told us that CBD oil tinctures made using hemp have very few side effects and are generally well tolerated.
If you are already on high blood pressure medications, consult your physician before using CBD oil, as there may be interactions.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, which is a cannabinoid found in the marijuana or hemp plant. CBD oil is cannabidiol extracted from the cannabis plant, often diluted in coconut or hemp oil. Unlike its marijuana-derived counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol does not get you high. Instead, most users report that CBD makes them feel relaxed and calm, among other generally positive effects.
According to federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil is classified as having less than 0.3% THC, making it legal to purchase and use. Hemp has minuscule amounts of THC content, so CBD oil from this type of cannabis plant does not cause any of the intoxicating side effects. Marijuana-derived CBD oil, on the other hand, often contains more than 0.3% THC and is only legal in states with medical or recreational marijuana legalization.
Though it comes in a wide variety of forms such as powders, lotions and beverages, cannabidiol is most popularly consumed as a sublingual oil. You simply place a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue and let it sit for 30 to 90 seconds.
CBD oil is commonly used to treat or supplement treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and more. Park added that CBD oil is commonly used by people suffering from a myriad of mental disorders.
“CBD can be effective in treating: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, anxiety related insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she said.
Additionally, emerging evidence shows that CBD may use the same mechanism to treat high blood pressure as it does to reduce anxiety.
How CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System and Body
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in your body that allows cannabinoids to bind your brain’s receptors. In fact, your body naturally produces cannabinoids every day.
This system has two main receptors, called CB1 and CB2. THC binds directly to the CB1 receptor, affecting the areas of the brain that influence memory, motor coordination, time perception, as well as the CB2 receptors, which affects the pain center in your brain and manages inflammation in the body. This interaction between THC and the endocannabinoid system is what causes the psychoactive side effects that marijuana is historically known for.
On the other hand, cannabidiol does not directly bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it causes a number of indirect actions leading to therapeutic benefits, such as activating TRPV1 receptors that regulate pain, body temperature, and inflammation.
Does CBD Oil Lower Blood Pressure?
While Park told us that high blood pressure can be caused by a number of factors, CBD oil can lower blood pressure caused by stress and anxiety.
She explained that when emotional or physical stress is high, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol can raise blood pressure.
“CBD lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, allowing more blood flow, leading to lower blood pressure,” Park said.
Park pointed to a study of 11 participants that showed CBD oil may lower the levels of cortisol produced in the body. This study showed that volunteers saw a significant reduction in cortisol production when given 300 mg and 600 mg of CBD compared to the placebo control.
In a 2017 study, a single dose of 600 mg of CBD oil or placebo was administered to nine healthy male volunteers. The resulting data showed that acute administration of CBD reduced resting blood pressure compared to the placebo.
The men were then given a series of stress tests to increase heart rate. The men who were given 600 mg of CBD had lower stress-induced blood pressure spikes than the control group.
It’s amazing, but it’s true. A single dose of 600 mg of CBD lowered the blood pressure of men who were resting or under stress.
The sample size of these studies was small and further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, but the results are promising.
How CBD Can Help With Hypertension
As Park explained, hypertension can be caused by many factors. Fortunately, there are several health benefits of CBD that could indirectly help with hypertension.
Anxiety can catalyze a rapid heart rate and palpitations, leaving you at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
CBD oil has been shown to reduce anxiety in animal studies by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). This study demonstrated that symptoms that accompany anxiety, like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, were improved by use of CBD.
Inflammation doesn’t only occur in your joints. In fact, research shows that CBD oil can reduce inflammation in the heart and blood vessels in the brain.
Called a “vasorelaxant” by researchers, CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may lower blood pressure by allowing the free flow of blood through your heart, arteries and veins.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), acute pain can lead to high blood pressure. Because CBD acts on the pain receptors in the brain, the pain-relieving properties of CBD could lead to decreased blood pressure.
CBD Improves Sleep
As CBD reduces stress, you may see an increase in your quality of sleep.
Sarah Polansky, owner and developer of the CBD brand Prismatic Plants, told Public Goods that, “The more you take CBD and help to regulate your adrenals, the less likely you’ll feel fatigued as your body returns to a state of balance rather than constant stress.”
She added, “This means your need for caffeine consumption could decrease and your quality of sleep could improve, which has a waterfall benefit for increasing overall health.”
What’s The Best CBD Dosage for High Blood Pressure?
Because the FDA has not approved over-the-counter CBD products, there is no official recommendation for a dose of CBD. The right dose depends on your weight, genetics, sex and medical history. More studies need to be conducted with humans to get an accurate dosage.
Many CBD oils come in dropperful (1 ml) doses of 10 mg/ml. Park said the effective therapeutic dose is in the range of 20 mg to 300 mg, or 2 to 30 dropperfuls.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that a dose of 300 mg was most effective for reducing anxiety in a simulated public speaking trial. Participants who took 150 mg or 600 mg did not receive the same benefit.
Meanwhile, in the aforementioned study of nine healthy male volunteers, blood pressure was effectively lowered with a single dose of 600 mg.
The best way to determine how effective a dose of CBD will be for you is to start small and frequently check your blood pressure using an electronic cuff. Write down the dose you took and the time you took it, as well as your blood pressure reading. Over time, you should be able to obtain a clearer picture of what dose will help you achieve low blood pressure.
Park noted that, “If CBD works for you, without the use of other medications, I would say it is a great and safe alternative.” CBD may not be a replacement for exercise and a healthy diet, but it is nice to know you might be able to lower your blood pressure with a few drops under the tongue.
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