There is a lot of hype around CBD these days, and if you take it all at face value, you could easily become convinced that CBD can cure everything that ails you. But what does the latest research really say about CBD oil’s effects on the body?
How CBD Works
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It was discovered in 1940, and it’s one of a group of substances known as cannabinoids. These chemicals are derived from cannabis and closely resemble chemicals that the body produces naturally.
That similarity allows cannabinoids to interact with receptors found in the brain, organs, immune cells, and a variety of other places in the body.
This network of receptors and chemicals is known as the endocannabinoid system, and it plays a key role in a variety of processes, from regulating mood to determining the body’s response to injury. And with such a huge spectrum of effects, researchers are increasingly studying CBD for a variety of medical applications.
CBD Oil Effects
When discussing CBD oil’s effects, perhaps the most important thing to address is what CBD won’t do. Specifically, it won’t get you high. That’s because even though it comes from cannabis, it is not intoxicating.
The cannabinoid that is primarily responsible for the feeling of being high is THC. While THC has its own medicinal applications, CBD is an attractive option for people who want the medicinal benefits of cannabis without feeling altered.
In fact, it may even help to counteract the psychoactive impact of THC when the two cannabinoids are ingested together.
So, if that’s what it doesn’t do, what effects can you expect when you consume CBD? One review of the scientific literature on cannabinoids noted the following properties:
CBD has analgesic properties, which means that it may provide relief from pain.
Clinical trials have shown that CBD is anxiolytic. In other words, it reduces anxiety.
CBD increases blood flow to the brain and heart.
It can reduce inflammation or swelling.
CBD works to protect the body from free radicals. These harmful molecules interfere with healthy cell functions.
It protects nerve cells from damage or deterioration.
CBD Oil Side Effects
Most clinical trials of CBD note that it is well tolerated, meaning that side effects are usually mild to moderate when they occur.
In fact, the World Health Organization recently stated that CBD has a good safety profile, and that “reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.”
For example, a study that explored using CBD for schizophrenia found that the rates of adverse events were similar to those reported by a group that was given a placebo.
Researchers also looked at using CBD as an add-on treatment for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a seizure disorder. That means that the patients took CBD along with their other medications. The most common side effects were sleepiness, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. Some patients experienced changes in the levels of their liver enzymes.
Another study that followed patients who used CBD after kidney transplants recorded that the most common adverse effects were nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, and intermittent episodes of heat. These patients also used CBD along with other medications.
The side effects that these groups reported could be the result of the way that the body metabolizes CBD.
The group of liver enzymes that is responsible for breaking down the substance is called cytochrome P450, or CYP. These enzymes also metabolize many common medications. As a result, the side effects of those medications may be more or less intense than usual.
If you are interested in trying CBD, talk to your doctor—especially if you take other medications. Your physician might want to adjust your dosage to avoid adverse effects that could result from CYP enzyme interactions.