What is CBD and how is it used?

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been extensively researched for its health effects. Right now it is considered an adjunct against pain, anxiety and some neurological disorders. Find out how it is used and what the recommendations are.

Last update: June 13, 2021

CBD or cannabidiol It is one of the predominant active ingredients in marijuana (cannabis). However, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance that is usually associated with the plant.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that pure CBD is not linked to abuse or dependence in humans. Contrary to this, medicinal benefits are attributed.

Now, it should be noted that this extract comes from the species Cannabis sativa, which in turn has two classifications, marijuana and hemp. CBD is generally derived from hemp, as marijuana is illegal in many states. Thus, it is possible to find it in oil, capsules, gummies and sprays. In the following space we detail its main uses and possible side effects.

How to use CBD and what are its benefits

In general, the presentation used for CBD is the oil. This is dropped in drops under the tongue and stays there for about a minute.

As we have mentioned, there are also other presentations, including soaps and beauty products. Still, the only product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is an oil called "Epidiolex," used against two types of epilepsy.

Till the date, the exact mechanism of action of CBD is unclear. Regardless, it has been observed to have a low affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which explains its difference from THC.

It is believed to influence opioid receptors that regulate pain. Likewise, it seems that it also intervenes on glycine receptors, related to well-being hormones.

And what are its benefits? What do scientific studies say? Cannabis prohibition has greatly hampered research on the effects of the plant. Despite this, relevant studies have been done to support some of its medical uses. We share them in detail below.

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Pain relief

Cannabidiol has been investigated for its pain relieving effects. A study through Journal of Pain Research revealed that CBD can decrease chronic pain by affecting the activity of the endocannabinoid receptor, which is involved in the regulation of various functions such as appetite, pain, and the response of the immune system.

In turn, an investigation in rats disclosed in Frontiers in Pharmacology He reported that CBD injections reduced pain response after surgical incision. Similar results were seen in another study in rats, which determined that oral use of CBD can decrease pain and inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

For now, more comprehensive human studies are needed to evaluate CBD as an ally for various types of pain. To date, most research includes THC, which makes it difficult to know exactly the effects of CBD on its own.

The analgesic use of CBD is one of the most promising, especially for powerful and chronic pains.

Decreased anxiety and depression

CBD oil has become popular as adjuvant to reduce anxiety and depression. It is believed that it affects the stimulation of serotonin or the well-being hormone.

Regarding this, a study published in Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry made interesting finds. Men who received oral CBD before a mock public speaking test experienced less anxiety.

Meanwhile, a case report in Permanent Journal He reported that this oil can safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder. In turn, a study in British Journal of Pharmacology details that this substance has shown antidepressant effects.

Neuroprotective properties

A large number of studies associate the use of CBD with benefits in patients with neurological disorders. Specifically, the researchers suggest that this substance acts on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems, which could be useful against the symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

Via The New England Journal of Medicine CBD oil was reported to be helpful in decreasing seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a disorder of epilepsy. Also, an article published in Journal of Psychopharmacology details that it helps to improve the quality of life of patients with Parkinson's disease.

Heart health

CBD oil appears to be a complementary therapy to lower the risk of heart disease. The reason? An investigation in JCI Insight detail that this product helps reduce high blood pressure, especially when it is associated with excessive levels of stress and anxiety. This allows the heart to pump more efficiently.

Other possible benefits

CBD continues to be the subject of a wide variety of studies. It is believed that in the future it will be relevant in the development of new drugs. Here are other possible benefits:

  • Antipsychotic activity: a study in Schizophrenia Research notes that cannabidiol contributes to reducing psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
  • Acne: via The Journal of Clinical Investigation CBD was found to help reduce excessive sebum production and prevent the activation of inflammatory cytokines, factors associated with acne.
  • Cancer-related symptoms: cancer patients also appear to benefit significantly from CBD oil. Evidence shows that this substance helps relieve pain caused by the disease. In addition, a study in Journal of Clinical Oncology details that it reduces nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy.
  • Substance abuse: a review disclosed in Substance Abuse Research details that CBD decreases morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior. According to the researchers, this substance changes the brain circuits involved in addiction.
  • Diabetes: Animal studies speak of CBD's potential as an antidiabetic. In particular, it appears to decrease the incidence of diabetes by up to 56%.

Risks and side effects of CBD

It is essential to take into account that using CBD carries the risk of some side effects. According to clinical research shared in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, adverse reactions may vary from person to person.

However, they cover the following:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety.
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea.
  • Humor changes.

Among other things, you have to be very careful in case of liver disease. CBD oil increases liver enzymes, which can be counterproductive. If so, you should first consult your doctor. Its use is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation, as it is feared that it will cause developmental problems in the baby.

CBD interactions

Studies suggest that CBD can interact with several medications, including those for epilepsy. Its simultaneous use with drugs can increase their toxicity or decrease their effectiveness, since they interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYP), which are enzymes that allow the metabolism of active principles.

Some of the identified drug interactions for cannabidiol include the following:

  • Immunosuppressive drugs such as Sandimmune ® (cyclosporine).
  • Macrolide antibiotics such as clarithromycin and telithromycin.
  • Medications for migraine.
  • Opioid pain relievers.
  • Rifampicin-based drugs.
  • Anticonvulsants such as Tegretol ® (carbamazepine) and Trileptal ® (oxcarbamazepine).
  • Antiarrhythmic drugs.
  • Antipsychotics
  • Atypical antidepressants such as Remeron ® (mirtazapine).
  • Sedatives with benzodiazepines.
CBD can interact with epilepsy medications, so its use in these patients involves precise regulation of doses.

Read also: Cannabis use disorders

Recommended doses of CBD

To date, no guideline has been defined for the appropriate use of CBD.. The oil is usually applied under the tongue (sublingually). Suggested dosages typically range from 5 to 25 milligrams. However, it is necessary to consult the doctor to define it according to individual needs.

Once the oil has been applied under the tongue (one or more drops) it is recommended to keep the product there for 30 or 60 seconds. Other presentations such as sprays, capsules and gummies have their own consumption recommendations.

Final recommendations for the use of CBD

In addition to defining the dose of CBD with the doctor, it is advisable to find a safe place to purchase and read the label carefully of the product. Some presentations are classified as "full spectrum", which indicates that they contain other compounds of the cannabis plant, such as proteins, flavonoids, terpenes and chlorophyll. Such a presentation is believed to offer broader benefits.

Certain forms also contain THC, such as an oral spray called Sativex ®, which is approved in some countries as a supplement to relieve pain related to multiple sclerosis. The choice of combinations with THC is based on medical judgment and availability, in accordance with state laws.

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