What's So Great About Cannabidiol, or CBD?
by Chris Burton
March 01, 2018
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a powerful chemical that occurs naturally in many types of cannabis. In fact, CBD, the second most common cannabinoid, can be found in both medical cannabis and in hemp. While cannabis researchers and growers have spent a lot of time trying to understand and produce tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in recent years the focus has begun to shift towards CBD. As we learn more about this incredible substance, we’re getting a better sense of just how much CBD has to offer folks suffering from a variety of conditions and symptoms.
Why Patients Use CBD
Patients use CBD for many of same symptoms and conditions that THC is used to treat. For one thing, CBD is a potent pain reliever. Although some studies show that CBD isn’t as effective as THC when treating pain, it’s sometimes a better option for certain patients. Those who like to use CBD often prefer it because it doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects that patients can get when using THC.
While the pain relief achieved with CBD may be slightly less than the relief gained with THC, it’s still a large improvement for many. For those individuals who are sensitive to the effects of THC, CBD can be an option that results in a greater level of functionality. CBD has been used to treat pain associated with a number of issues including migraines, arthritis, musculoskeletal injuries and even cancer.
Of course, pain relief is only one of CBD’s medicinal benefits. It’s also an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Because CBD can reduce stress and tension, it’s helpful in combating anxiety. It’s also used by many to treat seizures and convulsions resulting from conditions like epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. CBD helps insomnia patients get a full night's sleep. And it has even been used effectively for hard-to-treat conditions like schizophrenia and substance addiction.
These diverse properties make the CBD found in cannabis incredibly helpful in improving a wide range of conditions. In a HelloMD CBD study, 80% of CBD users said they found CBD to be “very effective” to “extremely effective” in treating their conditions. CBD was so effective that 42% of CBD users said they were able to replace their prescribed pharmaceutical medications with CBD-based cannabis products, giving up the pharmaceuticals completely.
Some folks also use CBD to moderate the effects of THC. Many who find THC works best for their needs, still often suffer from negative side effects like memory impairment, mental confusion, psychoactivity, increased heart rate or anxiety. Luckily, CBD has been shown to reduce these side effects without reducing THC’s positive effects.
A number of patients, myself included, keep some CBD around for times when they start to feel a negative effect from THC. By adding some CBD to the mix, it’s possible to quickly eliminate the negatives without giving up the benefits that are so helpful.
What to Watch Out for When It Comes to CBD
CBD isn’t completely without its own potentially negative side effects. While CBD’s side effects are usually much less intense than those associated with THC, they still exist and should be mentioned.
Though CBD has been widely popularized as the non-psychoactive form of cannabis, it can have some effects on your mind. Studies show that CBD can have a sedative effect, making patients feel tired or slow. Some patients have also reported feeling more depressed when using CBD alone. So, if you find yourself feeling a little out of sorts when taking CBD, you aren’t the only one.
CBD can also be contraindicated for certain patients. For example, patients with HIV-1 may want to stay away from CBD as some studies have shown that it can actually worsen disease progression and aggravate symptoms.
CBD may also lower blood pressure—especially when combined with THC. So patients who already have dangerously low blood pressure should be cautious about using high-CBD cannabis before talking to a doctor.
CBD has also been shown to decrease fertility in male patients, so it may not be the best choice for men who are trying to have children in the near future.
Striking a Healthy Balance Between CBD & THC
While CBD is a powerful medicine on its own, many find that CBD is most effective when balanced with a dose of THC. This synergy between the two most common cannabinoids found in marijuana offers some unique benefits that neither can provide on their own. While CBD is incredibly effective in its own right, it doesn’t offer the same amount of pain relief as THC can. It’s also rarely as uplifting or energizing.
That said, THC’s side effects can be challenging to say the least. The potential psychoactivity, racing heart or anxiety may make it an intolerable treatment for some.
When CBD is able to blend with THC, it often accentuates or even extends the duration of THC’s positive effects. CBD does all of this while reducing or eliminating THC’s negative effects. This can be crucial when treating many conditions. If you find yourself feeling like THC is too overwhelming, or CBD doesn’t seem to do enough, you may find that blending them together can work wonders.
In the next few installments of our Cannabis for Newbies series, we’ll continue looking at other better-known cannabinoids. Our next article will look at tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), which appears to help with weight loss, depression and even diabetes.
Photo credit: pancakenap
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