What is Cannabidiol? All You Need to Know about CBD


Cannabidiol is more commonly known as CBD, a naturally occurring chemical found within the cannabis plant. With more and more research being done on the chemical, these days new discoveries on cannabidiol are continually being unearthed.

We’re going to dig into what exactly cannabidiol is and what it can (and can’t) do.

What is Cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two well-known components that make up the cannabis plant (the other being THC), but CBD is actually only one of many cannabinoids (compounds) that can be found in cannabis.

Unlike THC, CBD will not get you “high.” In fact, cannabidiol is said to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC.

Beyond this, cannabidiol is purported to have numerous health benefits, which we will discuss further below.

What are the Health Benefits of Cannabidiol?

As mentioned above, there are many reported health benefits attributed to CBD. A number of studies have been done, and are being done, into the effects of cannabidiol.

CBD Oil. Source: DepositPhotos © EdZbarzhyvetsky

CBD is most commonly attributed to helping with conditions such as anxiety, sleep disorders (insomnia specifically), and perhaps even pain and inflammation and mental conditions outside of anxiety.

Currently, the most research-backed use of cannabidiol is on severe forms of epilepsy, specifically in children.

CBD has also been linked to helping cancer patients.

CBD and Mental Health

As stated above, cannabidiol may be able to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. In a similar vein, CBD’s ability to induce calmness is one of the ways it can help with anxiety and other mental conditions.

Some studies have shown that cannabidiol is able to prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that affects mood and mental function, as well as pain.

The prevention of this particular chemical breakdown has been shown to reduce psychotic symptoms such as those linked with schizophrenia—although more research needs to be done into the link between CBD and mental conditions like this.

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CBD and Insomnia

CBD’s calming nature is also purported to help with insomnia, both allowing people to fall asleep and keeping them asleep.

One study, in particular, showed that CBD does not interfere with the sleep cycle negatively.

CBD and Pain

Various studies have looked into cannabidiol’s control of pain and inflammation. One study showed that CBD may be able to inhibit both inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are two instances of chronic pain that are extremely difficult to treat.

A study from the European Journal of Pain showed that CBD applied to the skin can lower pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. However, this study was limited to animal testing.

Despite what seem like some breakthroughs, CBD and pain is another area where there have been conflicting results concerning its effectiveness.

CBD and Cancer

Cannabidiol has been linked to shrinking cancer cells and thus slowing the growth rate of tumors.

However, the more likely benefit of CBD for cancer patients is its ability to help treat nausea and vomiting. Cannabidiol may, therefore, be able to help make chemotherapy and other courses of cancer treatment a little more tolerable for patients.

CBD and Epilepsy

So far, the strongest scientific evidence for the health benefits of CBD remains with cannabidiol’s ability to treat symptoms of some of the worst kinds of childhood epilepsy. This includes Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).

Source: DepositPhotos © agsandrew

Dravat syndrome and LGS don’t typically respond to regular antiseizure medications. However, there have been several documented cases where cannabidiol reduced the number of seizures in patients. In some cases, CBD was able to stop the seizures altogether.

The first cannabis-derived medication was Epidiolex, which was approved by the US FDA in June of 2018. Epidiolex contains CBD.

Cannabidiol as Treatment, Moving Forward

Further research still needs to be done into many of CBD’s health benefits—that’s why, at best, these benefits are simply reported, rather than fast facts. Cannabidiol is not the be all and end all cure to anything and should not be treated as such.

With more research, we can better understand how CBD affects the body and helps with certain conditions. As with anything, proceed with caution and talk to your doctor first.

With that being said, the many reported health benefits of cannabidiol are certainly encouraging.

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What are the Side Effects of Cannabidiol?

Along with its reported health benefits, there are several side effects of CBD to be aware of.

Some of the most common side effects of taking cannabidiol include

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Additionally, if taking the blood thinner Coumadin, CBD may increase the level of Coumadin in your bloodstream. Taking cannabidiol may also increase the levels of other medications in your bloodstream.

Again, it is best to speak with a doctor first before proceeding with any course of CBD treatment.

How is Cannabidiol Consumed?

CBD can be consumed in a number of different ways, and how you choose to consume your CBD is up to you. One consumption method is not necessarily better than any other consumption method.

For those who are hesitant to smoke anything, fear not, cannabidiol can easily be consumed in a different manner.

The most common way of consuming CBD is as a CBD oil. CBD oils can be vaped, applied below the tongue, or mixed into food or beverage.

Source: DepositPhotos © KostyaKlimenko

CBD has a strong earthy taste that can be hard to cover up, and many people, understandably, don’t love that taste. (A common complaint of CBD oil is that it is very hard to swallow, let alone leave on the tongue for the appropriate amount of time.)

Again, this doesn’t have to be a problem. For people who don’t like the taste of cannabidiol, there are products like CBD gummies, which offer the effects of CBD in a nice little tasty package.

Cannabidiol can also come as an ointment, the CBD absorbing into the skin. Other products include creams, gels, tinctures, capsules, sublingual sprays, vapors, and transdermal patches.

Each product will vary in concentration, dosage, and benefits. The variation mostly depends on the type of CBD and the way it was extracted and manufactured.

How you consume CBD may produce differences as well. Ingesting cannabidiol takes it through the digestive system, which means its effects may take longer to start working. However, this way is said to allow for longer lasting effects.

Inhaling CBD or applying it under your tongue brings it directly into the bloodstream, meaning its effects will be more immediate but perhaps not as long-lasting.


Featured image: DepositPhotos © techsors

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