What You Need to Know About CBD

May 21, 2024 by Jesse Zucker
What You Need to Know About CBD

WASHINGTON — Over the years, many alternative products have come on the market promising to help manage pain and stress. Cannabidiol products have become widely available since Congress legalized hemp in the United States in 2018. Though initially thought to be safe and effective, recent studies suggest otherwise, mainly due to the unregulated ingredients in CBD products.

Here, we’ll explain what CBD is, how it may work and the latest information on its safety and efficacy for treating pain and anxiety.

What is CBD?

CBD is not the same as THC, the compound found in cannabis, but they come from the same plant. The cannabis sativa plant contains 400 compounds, and 80 of them are active. Of those, there is a group of 60 cannabinoids, which includes tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. 

The primary difference between THC and CBD is that CBD does not cause “intoxication or euphoria” or make you feel high. It seems to be non-addictive and a better option than THC for people who want to avoid a psychoactive substance. 

How Does CBD Work?

The way that CBD works still needs to be fully understood. One theory is that it acts on your endocannabinoid system by blocking the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, which work to regulate mood, sleep and appetite.

CBD is purported to have an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant and calming effect on your nervous system.

Is CBD Safe?

Here’s what to know.

  • The WHO Report, May 2018: In May 2018, the WHO stated that CBD does not cause abuse or dependence and that there are no significant adverse health effects associated with pure CBD use. However, they note that unregulated products, including oils, supplements and gummies, may be unsafe.
  • The FDA Statement, January 2023: In the years that followed, hundreds of unregulated products entered the market. In January 2023, the FDA released a statement calling for more CBD product regulations. They state that:
    • Long-term effects are unknown.
    • CBD may cause interactions with medications.
    • CBD may cause liver toxicity.
    • CBD may harm the male reproductive system.
    • CBD may not be safe for pregnant people.
  • The Journal of Pain Study, October 2023: CBD is often advertised to help manage chronic pain. The Journal of Pain published a study in October 2023 stating that using CBD for pain is “expensive, ineffective, and possibly harmful.” They say that there is “no good reason for thinking that CBD relieves pain, but there are good reasons for doubting the contents of CBD products in terms of CBD content and purity.”

Several studies investigated the purity of CBD products. They find that the labels are often misleading and incorrect. Products may contain more, less, or no CBD, as well as other harmful chemicals and additives. Many also contain THC, even if they say they do not.

Possible Benefits

People may use CBD to treat anxiety, pain, and insomnia, though the studies on these topics have been small and mixed. Additionally, the CBD studied in clinical trials is thought to be more pure and safe than the unregulated products available for sale to the general public. 

The primary benefit is that it is non-addictive, so it may seem safe to try pure CBD for these issues. Here is what the research says.

FDA-Approved for Seizures:

In 2018, the FDA approved the first and only drug that uses CBD. It is called Epidiolex and is used to treat two forms of epilepsy in children: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. The drug helps reduce or stop seizures.

May Decrease Anxiety and Improve Sleep:

A small study on 72 adults found that taking CBD reduced anxiety symptoms and improved sleep in people with insomnia.

Chronic Pain:

CBD for pain management has become controversial with mixed reports.

  • The International Association for the Study of Pain Statement, 2021: This association stated that they do not recommend CBD for treating pain due to the lack of high-quality, extensive studies on humans.
  • Real-World Evidence: One study proposes using “real-world evidence” to report people’s experiences with pain. A group of women in their 60s with chronic pain reported that using CBD helped reduce symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression and improved well-being. It seemed to work better in people with severe symptoms and less in those with moderate symptoms. 
  • Topical CBD: Another small study found that topical CBD applied to the skin helped reduce neuropathic pain.
  • Placebo Effect: Some research suggests that when CBD helps with pain relief, it may be a placebo effect.

The Unclear Future of CBD

While CBD is popular in wellness culture as a “natural” way of treating pain and anxiety, research has been mixed, mainly because the majority of CBD products are unregulated and may be unsafe. Always ask your doctor before trying a new substance.

Our website content, services and products are for informational purposes only. The Well News does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have medical concerns or questions, discuss with your health care professional.

You can reach us at [email protected] and follow us on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter)

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