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why cbd oil works

Pain: Some studies on animals have shown topical CBD oil may reduce arthritis pain and inflammation.

Often touted as a “miracle drug” to treat–or even cure–conditions ranging from anxiety to epilepsy to cancer, CBD oil proponents point to many videos on the internet that purport to show the amazing, almost instantaneous effects of the substance when given to children with epilepsy. But what is CBD oil, exactly, and is it safe to use?

CBD also causes known side effects. Some users report increased nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea and irritability when using CBD oil.

Benefits of CBD Oil

Cannabinoids, in general, have been studied for several decades. For example, clinical trials in the 1980s showed that an isomer of THC was effective at reducing nausea associated with chemotherapy. However, studies into CBD are lacking, probably due to the fact this compound has only recently reached the market.

Anxiety and insomnia: Early studies on CBD for anxiety and insomnia show promise, though this area requires further research.

The most famous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces an intoxicating effect in users. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the other main cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. The only commonality between these two compounds lies in the fact they both derive from the same plant species.

The current evidence does not support a therapeutic value for CBD oil beyond these three conditions, but that may change as the number of studies into CBD grows. The U.S. government’s clinical trials website lists 178 research studies investigating CBD for its value in treating a wide range of conditions, including bipolar depression, graft-versus-host disease, Parkinson’s tremor, inflammatory bowel disease, and many others.

Dr. Smita Das, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry’s cannabis work group, does not recommend CBD for anxiety, PTSD, sleep or depression. With patients turning to these to unproven products, she is worried that they may delay seeking appropriate mental health care: “I’m dually concerned with how exposure to CBD products can lead somebody into continuing to cannabis products.”

But he cautions that the side effects could have been because of an interaction with other medications the children were taking to control the seizures. So far, there hasn’t been a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (the gold standard) on sleep disorders and CBD.

“It’s promising in a lot of different therapeutic avenues because it’s relatively safe,” said James MacKillop, co-director of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research in Hamilton, Ontario.

Does CBD help sleep and depression?

Cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less of THC is hemp. Although last year’s Farm Bill legalized hemp under federal law, it also preserved the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of products derived from cannabis.

Recently, the F.D.A. sent a warning letter to Curaleaf Inc. about its “unsubstantiated claims” that the plant extract treats a variety of conditions from pet anxiety and depression to cancer and opioid withdrawal. (In a statement, the company said that some of the products in question had been discontinued and that it was working with the F.D.A.)

The CBD industry is flourishing, conservatively projected to hit $16 billion in the United States by 2025. Already, the plant extract is being added to cheeseburgers, toothpicks and breath sprays. More than 60 percent of CBD users have taken it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people, conducted by the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm. Chronic pain, insomnia and depression follow behind. Kim Kardashian West, for example, turned to the product when “freaking out” over the birth of her fourth baby. The professional golfer Bubba Watson drifts off to sleep with it. And Martha Stewart’s French bulldog partakes, too.

A few drops of CBD oil in a mocha or smoothie are not likely to do anything, researchers contend. Doctors say another force may also be at play in people feeling good: the placebo effect. That’s when someone believes a drug is working and symptoms seem to improve.