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CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease by alleviating hypertension (high blood pressure) in certain people, suggests a 2017 study in JCI Insight.  

Remember, because CBD oils are largely unregulated, there is no guarantee that a product is either safe or effective.

Heart Health

If you are thinking about using CBD oil to treat a health condition, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is the right option for you.

Since some CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC, you should avoid driving or using heavy machinery when taking CBD oil, particularly when first starting treatment or using a new brand.

According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, rats injected with inflammatory chemicals in their hind feet experienced less inflammation and neuropathic pain when treated with an oral dose and spinal injection of CBD.  

CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.

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The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits

Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.

CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.

CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.

Although the subject is complex, studies have shown some neuroprotective effects of CBD. Research comparing the brains of chronic marijuana smokers and the amount of THC and CBD on hair samples indicated that, while THC appears to have a neurotoxic effect—diminishing grey matter in areas of the brain—CBD appears to have a protective effect on the same areas of the brain.

Because CBD produces its biological effects without acting significantly on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, it does not cause the unwanted psychotropic effects that are characteristic of other marijuana derivatives.

Cannabidiol is available in a number of different forms and can be found in a wide variety of products. The three main types of cannabidiol that are available are:

Impact of Cannabidiol

This gives it a potentially high potential to be used in the development of various forms of medical marijuana. A study comparing THC with CBD showed that some of the unpleasant aspects of the marijuana high, such as anxiety and paranoia, appear to be caused by THC, and alleviated by CBD.

Before you decide to try cannabidiol, it is important to consider what you are trying to achieve. If your goal is to relieve symptoms of a condition such as depression or anxiety, ingested or inhaled products are more likely to have therapeutic effects than topical applications. Inhaled cannabidiol begins working quite quickly, while edible or other ingested products may take longer.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Some research suggests that taking full-spectrum cannabidiol products may be beneficial thanks to something known as the entourage effect. Essentially, taking CBD and THC together maximizes the therapeutic benefits.