Over the years, we’ve seen lots of hype regarding certain medical products. And, while some meet expectations, many others are not as effective as initially suggested, leaving us confused about their use. Now, cannabidiol (CBD) has been touted as an effective source of relief from certain troubling conditions. This excitement has been furthered by CBD’s recent legalization at the federal level. In fact, in the two years since CBD was removed from the controlled substance list, the market has exploded with countless CBD products. Still, despite all the publicity, we know many of you aren’t sure if using CBD will be beneficial. All of which brings us to the main question of this post, which is “does CBD work?”
Overview of CBD
Before we explore how CBD works, it helps to understand a few things about this compound. Cannabidiol is one of the many active compounds derived from the cannabis plant. Many people associate the Cannabis plant with the drug that gets you “stoned”. And one cannabis compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is well known for its psychoactive properties. But there are many other cannabis compounds, including CBD, that aren’t psychoactive but do offer potential benefits with their use. In other words, when you sample a cannabis-extract like CBD, you can enjoy many potential benefits, without altering your mental state or feeling “high”.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD is one of about 113 recognized cannabinoids. When ingested, these substances interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies. The ECS is an intricate biological part of the human body. Experts believe that it affects many body processes such as mood, sleep, and memory. However, studies are still ongoing to find out more about this system.
The endocannabinoid system has three components: enzymes, receptors, and endocannabinoids. Usually, these three will work together to create homeostasis (balance) in your body, regardless of whether you take CBD or not. Receptors are spread out all over the body, and they bind with the endocannabinoids that your body naturally produces. Enzymes come in different types, but only two types can break down the endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids complement the body by ensuring that internal functions run smoothly. Understanding how CBD works entails assessing the relationship between your ECS receptors and endocannabinoids.
The body has two types of ECS receptors, identified as CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the central nervous systems, and coordinate memory, pain, appetite, mood, and movement, among other functions. CB2 receptors are located in the peripheral nervous system and govern inflammation and pain.
When your body’s enzymes tear down cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids start to merge with the receptors. Studies show that CBD does not directly join with the receptors; rather, it affects the way your body processes endocannabinoids. It appears that ingesting cannabinoids can activate your internal receptors, allowing you to experience effects in the various areas controlled by your ECS. CBD also appears to modulate additional internal receptors, such as the 5th serotonin and TRPV1 receptors. These two receptors are involved in mental health disorders and inflammation, respectively.
Benefits of CBD
At this stage of research, we don’t have enough evidence to medically recommend certain reported CBD benefits. Most of the tests we have were conducted on animals. But these early studies have yielded positive results. Of course, we don’t have a large body of scientific human evidence, but we do have lots of anecdotal evidence: people using CBD products are reporting good results. Here are some of the suggested benefits of CBD, based on public experience and early scientific evidence:
Potential to Alleviate Pain
The interaction between CBD and the endocannabinoid system could potentially produce pain-relieving effects. Its impact on the receptors may help to reduce inflammation and pain. It also may be useful for those who are suffering from conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis, which can cause aches and swelling of the joints.
May Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are prevalent mental disorders many use prescription drugs to help alleviate symptoms, but these can come with adverse side effects such as agitation, drowsiness, and headache. CBD has shown hope for a natural way that may help to address anxiety and depression symptoms. It may also be effective against symptoms of insomnia and stress in people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Why does CBD seem promising in these areas? It appears that the benefits are connected to the effect of CBD on serotonin, which regulates mood and social traits.
Could Help with Cancer Symptoms
CBD may be useful in reducing certain cancer symptoms and side effects such as nausea and vomiting. In studies, patients who used CBD were better able to tolerate the effects of chemotherapy, making the treatment period more bearable.
May Improve Acne
Acne is a common skin condition affecting a large percentage of the population. The actual cause of this condition is not yet known, as it is attributed to many factors such as genetics, inflammation of the inner skin layers, and excess sebum production. CBD oil could effectively target acne breakouts due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that CBD can prevent sebaceous glands from producing excess sebum and inhibit the activation of agents that accelerate the formation of acne such as inflammatory cytokines.
Because CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system, it holds potential in the area of neurological disorders. Early research suggests that CBD could offer hope for patients with multiple sclerosis by reducing muscle plasticity and muscle spasms.
Good for the Heart
Studies have linked CBD to several heart and circulatory system benefits. This includes CBD’s potential for combating high blood pressure given its suggested stress-reducing properties.
How Can I Take CBD?
CBD is available in various forms. You should understand all these options as different types of CBD will yield different effects and benefits. Buying the wrong kind of CBD might delay the effects you experience and give you the illusion that CBD does not work, yet the problem might be in the way you ingested it. This is what you need to know:
Oils and tinctures are liquids infused with CBD. When taking them, you have to use a dropper and put the exact dose you need under your tongue. This part of the body contains many blood capillaries that will quickly absorb CBD into the bloodstream. This is one of the quickest ways of getting CBD into your system, so choose a tincture if you want effects that kick in fast. The downside of tinctures and oils is that they have a strong taste, and you have to carefully measure your dose every time you take it.
Capsules and pills are another way to ingest CBD. Capsules are gelatin-based cases for CBD oil. They are tasteless, and all you have to do is swallow them to enjoy the CBD benefits. This form of CBD takes longer for you to experience its effect since they have to be broken down by the liver before you can absorb CBD into the bloodstream.
Another form of CBD is infused creams and lotions; these are especially effective when addressing joint and muscle aches. They may also be used to target skin conditions like acne and eczema.
CBD edibles come in many forms, including gummies and sweets. They are a tasty and trendy way to take CBD, although this form of CBD also delivers delayed effects because the edible first goes through digestion.
Vaping entails inhaling vaporized CBD using e-cigs or any other method. This is the quickest way to experience the effects. CBD is absorbed directly from the breathing system to the bloodstream. Unfortunately, it is also the most dangerous, as vaping has been linked to serious lung injuries.
Why Is CBD Not Working?
You should never attempt to treat a condition using CBD unless instructed to do so by your doctor. If, however, your doctor has cleared your CBD use and you’re not experiencing your expected effects, discuss with your doctor and check and see if any of the following could be the problem:
Your CBD oil is not from a trusted source. CBD is sold everywhere. The market is largely unregulated. So you need to expect that there are some fake products out there. Those that do not contain high-quality CBD might not give you the benefits you expected. Read consumer reviews carefully before purchasing any CBD product, and only select products from well-established brands.
You have not nailed the correct dose. This is the tricky part of CBD use, and it takes a little work to find your perfect dose. The best way to find what works is to start with a small dose and gradually increase until you find the right amount. Once you gain control over your dosage and can adjust it to alter the effects, you will get a better picture of how CBD affects you.
Wait for Results
You’re not waiting long enough. CBD does not deliver immediate results. You need to be committed to your routine, and allow the cannabinoid to build up in your system. Still, you shouldn’t have to wait forever, so if you don’t experience any CBD effects after a few months, you may need to change your delivery method or switch to a different brand.
Choose your delivery system wisely. If you have been using edibles for some time with no success, consider switching to CBD oil. Our bodies react differently to different products, and getting the right delivery system is vital.
Many people enjoy benefits from CBD use. The advantage of using CBD is that it is natural and has minimal side effects compared to many popular over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. Just stick to a reputable source, discuss doing practices with your healthcare provider, and your CBD experience is likely to be positive.