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Discovered in 1940. CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is a Phytocannabinoid present in hemp and cannabis/marijuana plants. Phytocannabinoid is a naturally occurring chemical compound, but there are synthetic variations of CBD that the FDA has approved as a medicine for epilepsy. 

CBD promises users (1) Pain relief without the risk of dependence or addiction. (2) Cannabidiol can reduce or prevent some mental disorders, including psychosis. (3) CBD has shown potential in alleviating some cancer and chemotherapy symptoms. (4) CBD has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. (5) CBD may improve circulation, heart health, and athletic performance. 

Quick take: How does CBD work in the human body?

  • CBD is non psychoactive, meaning it will not cause a high. the chemical does not interact with parts of the brain responsible for pleasure. 
  • CBD is safe to apply topically or ingest. 
  • Consumables/sublingual placement are the safest way to consume CBD
  • CBD can prevent or alleviate anxiety symptoms. 

What is CBD in simple terms, and what does it do to your mind and body?

The cannabis Sativa plant or marijuana is known to contain at least 400 chemicals. Around 60 of the chemicals are classified as cannabinoids, and CBD/cannabidiol is one of them. The chemical’s ‘cousin’ THC/Tetrahydrocannabinol. Is the substance that causes a high. 

When isolated, CBD will not get you high. But it may cause minor side effects, including dry mouth and diarrhea -similar to what would happen if you consume too much oil in one sitting. 

What does CBD do to you?

CBD’s main draw is its anxiolytic properties. “Anxiolytic” means that the chemical is useful in alleviating anxiety. But the benefits do not stop there.

Medical studies, controlled tests, clinical trials, and animal studies have established that CBD is useful in the treatment of illnesses and disorders, including:

  • Epilepsy. Reports indicate that CBD can reduce seizure occurrence by over 80%. If you or your child have epilepsy, beginning CBD treatment earlier can prevent further damage to the brain. 
  • Parkinson’s disease. CBD is not a cure for Parkinson’s. but it can prevent and alleviate symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease.
  • Crohn’s disease. 
  • Stress and anxiety. 

Anecdotal evidence says that CBD may have uses in the treatment or control of conditions/symptoms, including HIV/AIDS, diabetes (anti-obesity properties), and a wide variety of conditions that cause chronic pain, including injury and migraines. 

How does CBD work in the human body, and what part of the brain does cannabidiol affect?

After reviewing neuroimaging studies and clinical evidence, we know that consumption of CBD causes significant alterations in brain and connectivity patterns when the user is performing cognitive tasks or resting. The effect is similar in patients and healthy individuals. 

Researchers believe that the chemical can do the following to the human brain and body:

  • CBD can help increase or reduce hormones, including cortisol, creating balance in your system. Cortisol secretion can cause anxiety in mammals, including humans and test rodents.
  • Cannabidiol can reduce blood flow to the part of your brain responsible for causing anxiety.
  • CBD protects your brain from aging by reducing damage caused by oxygen, thanks to its antioxidative properties. 
How does CBD affect ECS (Endocannabinoid system)

Your body’s “bridge to the brain” is known as the endocannabinoid system.  The system’s functions include pain management, sleep regulation, immune response, appetite, and other bodily functions. 

When CBD enters the body, it interacts with the ECS -producing a positive effect. That means better sleep, appetite regulation, and the chemical can help you recover or control symptoms related to a wide variety of illnesses. 

CBD may also have an impact on your mood. Anxiety, pain, and being unwell can make you irritable. By balancing dopamine and serotonin, hormones responsible for mood control, CBD can improve your mood. 

But not in a similar manner as THC. That is not to say that consuming THC does not have any benefits. There are plenty of benefits of consuming THC, including the potential to control sleep apnea. but the downside or benefit -depending on how you look at it- is that THC will get you high. 

However, just like CBD, THC’s side effects subsides if you cease consumption. Traces of the chemical may remain in your system for up to a month. 

What are the side effects of consuming CBD?

CBD and medical cannabis may be legal in the US and Canada, but consumption, sale, and distribution are highly regulated. In some states, you need a medical marijuana card. What is vital to remember is that CBD’s side effects are dose-dependent.

Take too much of it, and you may suffer side effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, and fatigue. Diarrhea may stem from the carrier oil. So, if your gut is sensitive to coconut oil, olive oil, or other carrier oils, it is in your best interest to keep the dosage low or only use pure versions of CBD.

CBD, hypotension, and heart health 

Certain medications, long-term bed rest, pregnancy, and dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure -a condition known as hypotension. Internal bleeding, blood donation, your body’s reaction to heat, and emotional stress, are other causes.

The issue is studies have shown that CBD works a little too well in regulating blood pressure. That means it can worsen low blood pressure, potentially creating a dangerous situation. 

Because of that, if you are on heart medicine/blood thinners, have a heart condition, or are experiencing the conditions described above. You should consult with a physician before you consume CBD.

You should also check drug interaction before consumption.

That said. 

The majority of consumers tolerate CBD well, and the chemical is responsible for zero deaths to date. 

Is epidiolex the same as natural CBD?

Epidiolex is a synthetic form of CBD that the FDA has approved as a medicine for epilepsy. At high doses, synthetic CBD may cause liver injury, lightheadedness, drowsiness, and fatigue. Epidiolex does not contain THC, but CBD oil, especially full spectrum versions, may contain trace amounts of THC, depending on product quality. 

Can CBD Cause liver damage?

At high doses, CBD may cause liver damage to pets, including cats and dogs.  However, more research is needed on humans. We, therefore, recommend keeping your daily dose of CBD below 200 mg or as instructed by a physician.

Is CBD safe for the skin?

For the majority, yes. CBD will not cause adverse side effects when applied topically. However, if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, you should test the product on a small patch of skin and wait an hour or two.

If you notice redness or itching, you could be allergic. 

CBD precautions and warnings

Is CBD safe for pets?

At recommended doses, CBD is safe for cats and dogs. We are unsure about pet lizards and other species. What we do know is at high doses, the chemical may cause liver damage in pets. 

Is CBD safe for breastfeeding mothers?

It depends on the quality of the product. Contaminated products may pass chemicals or contaminants to the fetus. We recommend avoiding back-alley products if you are pregnant. 

Is CBD addictive?

CBD is not psychoactive, and because of that, it does not have abuse potential. Unlike opioid-based medicines, CBD does not create the risk of dependence. 

What are the withdrawal symptoms of cannabidiol?

According to 90% of studies on CBD, the chemical does not trigger withdrawal symptoms. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, quote:

In healthy volunteers, no evidence of withdrawal syndrome was found with abrupt discontinuation of short-term treatment with CBD.”

Also, unlike THC, CBD does not interact with endocannabinoid receptors whose function is pleasure. Meaning if you are looking for a high, CBD will not cause it, and if it does, the product is likely contaminated. 

We recommend only using CBD products with less than 0.3% THC.

Does CBD interact with alcohol?

Anecdotal evidence says that CBD can help users reach euphoria faster. The tradeoff is the combination has the potential to trigger drowsiness, impaired coordination, and vomiting. 

Is Hemp CBD the same as CBD oil?

Hemp is a variety of marijuana whose predominant constituent is CBD. The average hemp plant contains less than 0.3% THC. The difference between hemp oil and CBD oil is, the former is an extract of the seeds of the hemp plant. The latter is derived from the flowers, leaves, seeds, and buds of cannabis. 

The effects and side effects of each product are relatively similar. 

What is the safest way to take CBD?

Sublingual placement and CBD pills, gummies, and other consumables are the safest ways to consume CBD. Vaping is problematic in that it introduces liquids into the lungs and other contaminants that may cause upper respiratory tract infections.

One benefit of vaping is that you experience relief from what ails you faster. The good news is that, compared to smoking, vaping is relatively safer.

Tip. Tinctures, capsules, and other consumable effects may last longer than vaping. 

What to look for in CBD products?

What does the label say?

Make it a habit to read the product label, warnings, and usage instructions. Your key worry should be dosage, you want to avoid taking too much or too little

Is the product safety tested?

Due to the abundance of CBD products, what you buy may contain heavy metals, pesticides, or other harmful chemicals. Consequently, we recommend sourcing products from a small-scale or family business you can trust. 

It also helps if the product is third-party tested. 

Product claim

The FDA is yet to approve CBD as medicine for ailments excluding epilepsy. Consequently, avoid products that claim to treat specific ailments.