How CBD Oil Affects the Mind and Body

CBD oil products have become increasingly popular, but how exactly do they work? And are they really as effective as they claim to be? 

A Briefer on CBD Oil and Derived Products

Let’s start by explaining what CBD oil is, including some of the varieties of CBD oil products you might find available for sale. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a cannabinoid—in other words, it’s one component of cannabis plants. Cannabis plants feature a variety of cannabinoids, most of which have effects on the mind and body. For example, the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s psychedelic “high” effects is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. By contrast, CBD isn’t psychoactive, but may still have a variety of benefits. 

Oftentimes, CBD oil products are created by combining CBD extract with other carrier oils, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. Some products may also incorporate a blend of other cannabinoids and compounds, increasing the positive effects. But what are these positive effects, and how confident are we in their presence? 

The Effects of CBD Oil

CBD oil is still a relatively new product, so our knowledge on its usefulness is still somewhat limited. However, we have early scientific evidence to suggest a host of benefits: 

  • Anxiety and depression reduction. One of the most powerful and noted benefits of CBD oil is its ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Traditional treatments for anxiety and depression tend to include cognitive therapy, which isn’t ideal for everyone, and prescription medications, which often carry side effects like drowsiness, headache, and sexual dysfunction. CBD oil, which seems to carry minimal (if any) negative side effects, is shown to be significantly more effective at reducing anxiety symptoms than a placebo. It has also been shown to reduce depression symptoms in many individual studies. 
  • Sleep improvement. Some people claim CBD oil allows them to enter a relaxed state more readily, allowing them to get to sleep faster and stay asleep more consistently. This may be due to CBD oil’s apparent anti-anxiety qualities. If you suffer from insomnia, it may be worth a try. 
  • Pain relief. Cannabis has been used to alleviate pain for thousands of years, and CBD oil seems to be effective for relieving pain in multiple different ways. For starters, consuming CBD oil as intended can reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters to influence endocannabinoid receptor activity. The combination of CBD and THC, like with cannabis consumption, is frequently used to treat pain that arises in response to arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic conditions. There’s also some limited evidence that the topical application of CBD oil may relieve pain. 
  • Cancer treatment symptom reduction. Cancer treatments have grown more diverse and more effective over the years, but some of our most commonly prescribed and executed cancer treatments (like chemotherapy) can still result in nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and pain. CBD appears to be capable of reducing many of these symptoms. 
  • Acne reduction. CBD oil has a handful of properties that may make it effective in treating acne. For example, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent the underlying inflammation responsible for breakouts. It also has a tendency to reduce the amount of sebum produced by an individual; sebum is the oily secretion created by sebaceous glands, and is considered to play a heavy role in influencing breakouts. 
  • Neurological effects. CBD may also serve a neuroprotective role—one of many of its neurological effects. For example, CBD has been effectively used as a way to treat neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. New medications, like Sativex, which features CBD, have emerged as a way to treat muscle spasticity in those suffering from multiple sclerosis. Because of CBD’s diverse range of effects, it’s being considered as a treatment for many different neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In at least one study, it has been shown to be effective in reducing cognitive decline. 
  • Other effects. CBD oil is claimed to have a number of other positive effects on the mind and body as well, though these have less supporting evidence currently. For example, it seems CBD oil may reduce oxidative stress, and could therefore be useful in protecting against heart damage and other free radical damage throughout the body. Some have suggested that CBD oil could be used to treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders via antipsychotic effects. And some test tube and animal studies have suggested that CBD has anti-tumor effects, making it a promising candidate for future research. 

Note that many of these benefits are suggested by a handful of early studies, and we still have much to learn about CBD. More research is needed to definitively define the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for practically all its common applications. 

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