Cannabidiol is a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments.
Better known as CBD, it is one of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, which means it causes the sensation of getting high that’s often associated with cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
This quality makes CBD an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of cannabis or other side effects related to some pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. CBD can be found in a variety of products online and in stores, including dietary supplements, bath soaks, drinks, and food.
It continues to gain momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies finding that it may ease symptoms of conditions such as chronic pain and anxiety. But is it the right choice for you?
This article covers 6 evidence-backed health benefits of CBD, as well as potential side effects and safety concerns related to CBD products.
Heads up: Is CBD legal?
Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3% THC) are legal on the federal level but are still illegal under some state laws.
Cannabis-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level but are legal under some state laws.
Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. And keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approvedTrusted Source and may be inaccurately labeled.
Cannabis has been used to treat pain since as far back as 2900 B.C.
More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of cannabis, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects.
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating a variety of functions, including sleep, appetite, pain sensation, and immune system response
The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.
Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by affecting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters
Some research suggests that CBD may be effective for certain types of pain, including nerve pain and back pain, when used on its own. However, it seems to be most effective when combined with THC (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis (MS) and arthritis.
An oral spray called Sativex (nabiximols), which is a 1:1 combination of THC and CBD, is approved in several countries to treat pain related to MS.
A study that included 47 people with MS examined the effects of taking Sativex for a month. The participants experienced improvements in pain, walking ability, and muscle spasms .
Still, the study didn’t include a control group, so placebo effects cannot be ruled out.
In one review, researchers noted that Sativex may benefit those with MS-associated neuropathic pain and chronic severe neuropathic pain. The review also found that Sativex may help relieve anxiety and stress, which are major drivers of chronic pain
Additionally, some research suggests that CBD may relieve symptoms of rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia.
A study that included survey data from 2,701 people with fibromyalgia found that those who used CBD for pain relief generally reported slight to significant improvement in symptoms .
And according to preclinical evidence from rodent studies, CBD may have beneficial effects on pain and inflammation related to arthritis, but human studies are lacking .
Although researchers are cautiously optimistic that CBD may be helpful in the treatment of some types of pain, especially when combined with THC, more high quality studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in pain management.