BY MARIE LODI
Photo courtesy of iStock
When your mom is googling terms like, “CBD oil benefits”, and asking you if she should try it, you know the cannabis-derived compound has gone mainstream. Celebs rave about it: Kim Kardashian threw a themed baby shower, Kristen Bell uses it to manage her depression, and Megan Rapinoe loves it for pain management. Even if you’re not a celeb, CBD is a signifier that you care about wellness, much like meditating in the morning or swapping green tea for coffee. Which is why it’s never been easier to find — between infused lattes, face creams, gummies, sparkling water, and more, it’s managed to invade every aspect of your life. But is CBD a miracle cure-all? How does it work? We break it down for you.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a naturally-occurring compound aka cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. You’re probably more familiar with another cannabinoid, THC, which is what gets you high. CBD is non-psychoactive but still provides numerous therapeutic benefits because of the way it interacts with our endocannabinoid system. The ECS is a network found throughout the body that helps keep a lot of things balanced like such pain, mood, and appetite. This is key in understanding all the benefits CBD can bring.
TL;DR: It’s the compound found in a cannabis plant that won’t get you high but can help with a slew of problems.
There are three kinds of CBD oils: full spectrum, CBD isolate, and broad or partial spectrum. Full spectrum contains all the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant which include small amounts of THC. Broad spectrum contains cannabinoids and other compounds without THC, while CBD isolate is just that, isolated CBD oil. Many believe full spectrum CBD oil is most promising because of the entourage effect, or the theory that the plant’s therapeutic effects are amplified due to the synergistic interaction between the CBD, THC, terpenes, and all the other components.
TL;DR: Look for full spectrum CBD, it’s the one that has the most beneficial promise.
Your mom’s likely googling CBD because she’s heard that it helps with chronic pain and inflammation. Back in 2000 scientists studying arthritis in mice found that cannabidiol could slow down the disease process significantly by telling the body to stop attacking itself — basically stopping what scientists define as “inflammation”. In 2012 another study showed that it targets receptors in the spine and brain that inhibit the pain response, making them more effective in blocking out discomfort. Various research conducted over the past few decades have shown CBD to be effective for conditions such as arthritis, cancer pain, IBS, fibromyalgia, nerve pain, and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.
TL;DR: Think of CBD as your body’s tiger mom: it’ll tell it to stop doing bad things (i.e. inflammation) and work harder at the good things (blocking the pain response).
There’s a reason why CBD is being added to skin care products — it’s been proven to be effective against a whole host of skin issues. People who struggle with inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and atopic dermatitis have successfully used CBD to treat breakouts. Remember: the compound tells your body to stop attacking itself and that includes auto-immune skin issues.
People with acne can also benefit as research shows CBD has a “trinity of cellular anti-acne actions.” It regulates the amount of sebum aka the oil on your face: too much and you get clogged pores, too little and you wind up flaky skin. CBD holds promise at eliminating bacteria, which when combined with clogged pores leads to those big, painful pimples. And speaking of large zits that lead to scars, CBD could also improve those dark marks too.
TL;DR: Suffer from acne, psoriasis, eczema, or atopic dermatitis? CBD could help clear that up.
Kim Kardashian, Kristen Bell, and countless other people turn to CBD to help manage stress and anxiety. But how does it make that nagging voice in your brain shut up? It may have to due with the way CBD directly interacts with our brain’s serotonin receptor — studies have shown it might be similar to how anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs work in the body. It may lower your stress response so you don’t feel your heart racing and the cold wash of adrenaline coursing through your body. On that note it holds promise for other disorders like PTSD and OCD.
TL;DR: Yes, it can chill you out by shutting up your racing brain.
CBD alone won’t help with your sleep issues and in fact, low doses could make you feel more alert. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful — it quiets the problems that are keeping you up like aching joints or a racing, anxious mind so you can drift off at a decent hour. And if a solid eight hours is what you need, consider combining CBD with another cannabinoid called CBN, which has been shown to have promising sedative effects.
TL;DR: Try a combo of CBD and CBN if you’re looking to sleep better.
Here’s the thing with CBD: you need to hit the sweet spot for dosage. The effects are a bell curve so too little or too much means you won’t see the proper, intended results. A 2019 study asked 57 men to give a speech, which is a very anxiety-inducing task. They consumed either a placebo or one of three different concentrations of CBD (150 mg, 300 mg, and 600 mg). Those who took 300 mg said they felt significantly less anxious compared to anyone else. As for the others? They noticed no difference whether it was placebo, 150mg or 600 mg.
And if you combine it with THC, it works even better. It all goes back to the entourage effect — the sum of the parts is greater than the individual. And you don’t need a ton of THC either, a small amount that you find in full spectrum CBD could be enough for you to reap its benefits.
TL;DR: Experiment with dosage and look for full spectrum so you can feel its effects.
Adding a CBD oil, such as Care By Design’s CBD Rich 18:1 or Chemistry’s AC/DC tincture, to your morning tea or coffee is a simple way to incorporate cannabidiol in your everyday routine. Want the effects to hit your system faster? Take a drop or two underneath your tongue and let it absorb for 30-60 seconds before swallowing.