By now, you’ve heard about CBD and its potential as a natural alternative medicine to help with various conditions. A common recurring question is whether CBD is scientifically proven to be beneficial.
Numerous studies show that CBD helps with ailments like side effects from cancer treatment, fibromyalgia, anxiety, inflammation, and much more.
So what are the science-based facts behind CBD and its effects?
CBD Science: The Proven Facts
First and foremost, CBD (which stands for cannabidiol) is a hemp-derived product. While cannabidiol is related to marijuana, CBD lacks the chemicals that cause a high.
CBD is used for a wide array of ailments, with many patients reporting relief from their symptoms. In 2015, the U.S. government loosened some restrictions for researchers to conduct CBD trials. Since then, many CBD studies with exciting results have come about.
CBD Effects on Seizures
To date, some of the most substantial evidence that CBD is scientifically proven as a natural alternative medicine lies within its use for certain childhood epilepsies (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). These conditions are often resistant to standard seizure medications.
Studies show that CBD reduced the number of seizures and even stopped them altogether in some cases. The FDA subsequently approved the first-ever legal cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions. The medicine, called Epidiolex, contains CBD.
CBD Effects on Anxiety and Insomnia
CBD is often used for anxiety, with patients reporting lessened symptoms and feeling more relaxed. It’s also sometimes used for insomnia, as studies indicate CBD can help people fall and stay asleep.
One study shows over 65% of participants had some improvement in their sleep, and over 70% reported an anxiety reduction when taking CBD before bed.
CBD Effects on Chronic Pain and Inflammation
CBD is also used to treat chronic pain and inflammation. Studies show that CBD is scientifically proven to lower pain and inflammation caused by arthritis to some degree. Another study even found out how CBD reduces inflammation on a cellular level, proving its effectiveness is real.
While these existing studies show promising science-based results, more studies need to be done to further back it.
A note on legality: In all 50 U.S. states, CBD is legal in some respect, although these laws differ by state. Federally, CBD is still a gray area with differing opinions and conflict over whether CBD technically comes from hemp or marijuana.
However, the federal stance is expected to change in the coming years.
CBD Side Effects: What Does Science Say?
Like any remedy, natural or otherwise, CBD is not without potential side effects. The main ones are:
- Conflicts with other medications (i.e., it can increase the level of certain medications in your system the way that grapefruit juice does with blood thinners)
While these side effects do exist, they can best be avoided by talking to an experienced medical cannabis doctor. They can help you figure out the proper dosage to prevent unpleasant side effects or interactions with other medications you may be taking.
CBD and the FDA
Most of the safety concern around CBD isn’t so much around the potential side effects but how it’s marketed and sold. Currently, CBD is mainly sold as a supplement rather than a medication.
Why is that a problem?
Well, the FDA doesn’t regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So at face value, there is no guarantee that a CBD product you buy contains the advertised ingredients at the dosage listed on the label. The product could also contain unknown ingredients not listed at all.
Since the FDA has no official recommendation for CBD, the other question that arises is what dosage is most effective. It might be different for everyone. This is when speaking to a medical cannabis professional can be helpful.
However, don’t let these concerns scare you off. While it’s important to exercise caution, it’s also essential to look at how the CBD industry is changing. Namely, with brand responsibility. As consumers’ interest in health and wellness increases, so does their demand for transparency.
In response, more CBD brands nowadays are looking at the true efficacy of their products. Not only that, but they are also seeking credibility. So, they’re following current regulations that are backed by research and credible industry names. And hopefully, a federal policy will be available soon to eliminate state-by-state laws and provide an official FDA recommendation.
If you need more assurance, the World Health Organization states, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
CBD Effects: Fact vs. Fiction
Without a federal CBD enforcement policy and FDA recommendation, there are some falsities out there surrounding CBD. It’s important to know what’s a fact when it comes to CBD and what’s fiction.
Fiction: CBD is a cure for cancer
Some CBD companies have claimed (without scientific proof) that their CBD is a cure for cancer. It is not.
Fact: CBD for managing chronic issues
CBD has shown positive results in helping people manage their chronic pain or other chronic issues. More studies need to be done to discover ideal dosages, but the results are there.
Fiction: CBD gets you high
CBD lacks THC, which is the chemical responsible for the high one gets from marijuana. So, CBD does not get you high.
Fact: CBD can be psychoactive
CBD is not psychoactive in the way that THC is. However, CBD can be psychoactive in the sense that people experience improved moods with CBD.
Fiction: All CBD is created equal
CBD is CBD, no matter where it comes from or who you buy it from, right? Wrong. As mentioned, without an FDA recommendation and federal enforcement policy, what you see on the label may not be the truth.
Fact: Credibility matters
Even though there is no FDA recommendation and federal enforcement policy for CBD, many companies still follow research-backed regulations with their CBD products. Failure to do so means not getting funding and not surviving in the market for long.
Fiction: CBD works immediately with no side effects because it’s natural
CBD is not an instant, one-time remedy. It works best when taken over time to reduce symptoms of chronic issues. And just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s without side effects.
Fact: CBD provides natural relief but can affect other medications
When taken regularly, people find comfort in their chronic pain management. However, as with any ingestible remedy, it’s essential to consider other medications you take, as CBD may interact with them negatively. Talk to your doctor to be sure.
Thanks to proven results and a growing focus on wellness, many are looking to CBD as a natural remedy for chronic issues. Although more research is needed to continue making a case for CBD as natural alternative medicine, current studies show a promising future for CBD. Science shows that CBD has positive effects on a multitude of conditions. That said, it’s always important to speak to a medical cannabis doctor before taking CBD to ensure it won’t affect other medications you may be taking.