Is CBD Oil Good for Your Health? Get the Answers to Your Top Questions
Cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana and hemp, has gained enormous popularity recently for treating a variety of health conditions. But is their any truth to back up these claims? We’re answering your top questions on CBD oil, from its safety and health benefits to recommendations for including it in your lifestyle.
Is CBD oil really a “miracle” cure? From reducing pain and inflammation to treating conditions like acne and anxiety, CBD oil seems to “cure” all sorts of ailments, according to the media headlines and online vendors. Indeed, researchers have investigated some of the proposed health benefits of CBD oil in both animals and humans. But does that mean the current claims are valid, or are they just hype? Read on to find out more about your top questions on this controversial oil, which has gained so much attention recently.
What is CBD?
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is a natural, non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in two kinds of Cannabis sativa plants: hemp and marijuana. CBD comes from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. Unlike THC, a compound found in marijuana, CBD does not have psychoactive effects on perception and behavior.
CBD oil consists of an oil derived mainly from hemp, or a CBD extract from hemp flowers. Hemp oil, on the other hand, contains very small amounts of CBD (about 0.0025%) since hemp oil is usually made from hemp seeds, which are low in CBD. Look for the presence of CBD on the label, if you’re looking to consume CBD oil. However, recent studies have found that many products are being mislabeled, containing little CBD. So, don’t trust the labels on all products.
Is CBD Safe?
Research has shown that CBD is generally safe and does not cause intoxication, even in high doses. A 2017 WHO report found that CBD has a good safety profile and is well tolerated. A 6-week clinical trial showed that an average daily dose of 700 mg of CBD led to a blood level of 6-11 ng/mL, which is the most realistic amount of CBD given to patients. One study also found that a single dose of 600 mg of CBD led to lower anxiety and average CBD blood concentrations of 4.7-17 ng/mL. An extensive review found that chronic use of up to 1500 mg per day of CBD has repeatedly been shown to be safe and well tolerated in humans.
What Are the Side Effects of CBD?
While research has indicated CBD is generally safe, some have reported nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, weight changes, and irritability as a result of CBD use. If you do try CBD oil and experience negative side effects, stop taking it and see your doctor. CBD oil should be used as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle that includes a well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
Some research has found serious drug interactions with CBD, such as with warfarin, a blood-thinning medication used to treat blood clots. In addition, CBD may block enzymes that metabolize many medicines, including statins, calcium channel blockers, and antidepressants. As with any supplement, it’s important to discuss it with your health care professional before you start taking it.
Is CBD Legal?
With the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill into law, industrial hemp (and its cannabinoid derivatives) is now legalized as an agricultural product and is no longer considered a federally controlled substance. Hemp is defined as any part of cannabis with a THC level less than 0.3% on a dry-weight basis. This means that farmers can now plant and grow hemp, and can even apply for insurance and federal grants, along with researchers.
Now with the Farm Bill passed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is searching for ways to legalize the sale of CBD oil and other cannabis compounds in foods and beverages, which could allow companies hoping to sell these types of products across state lines. The FDA is also devising a regulatory framework for allowing companies to lawfully market CBD-containing products and to ensure the laws are predictable and efficient. What remains in question is how the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which controls scheduling of substances, will respond to this legalization.
The sale of hemp products is expected to rise with the recent passing of the Farm Bill, especially hemp extracts high in CBD. In fact, companies have really cashed in on selling CBD products. Hemp-derived CBD products can be purchased as labeled dietary supplements online and over the counter. However, cannabis-derived CBD products can only be bought by qualifying patients in states with medial cannabis laws or by customers in states with recreational cannabis laws.
The FDA also recently approved Epidiolex®, the first cannabis-derived CBD pharmaceutical drug, to treat two serious forms of childhood epilepsy. This approval shows that the FDA may be open to a gradual introduction of other CBD-containing products.
Are there Health Benefits for CBD?
CBD in hemp has in fact been researched for its effect on a number of health conditions, including arthritis, epilepsy, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and inflammation.
Several studies have shown that CBD-based therapies may help reduce the number of seizures and improve sleep patterns, mood and alertness. One study showed that medical CBD oil given to five children with epilepsy helped to decrease their rate of seizures and improve their communication, motor skills and sleep. Additionally, the FDA recently approved a pure CBD product, Epidiolx®, to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. This is the first FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug derived from Cannabis, as well as the first FDA-approved drug for patients with Dravet syndrome.
CBD may also help reduce anxiety and depression. In a randomized controlled trial, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received either 600 mg of CBD or a placebo an hour and a half before a public speaking test. Those who were treated with CBD beforehand had significantly lower anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in speech performance than those in the placebo group.
CBD may also be a treatment option for chronic pain. In a study of 47 people with multiple sclerosis, those treated with cannabis-based medicine called Sativex had an improvement in muscle spasticity, walking, pain, and other related symptoms. Sativex contained a 1:1 fixed ratio of THC and CBD. Another study that examined the effects of Sativex found that the CBD-based therapy significantly improved pain on movement, pain at rest, and sleep quality in 58 people with rheumatoid arthritis. Cannabis, in general, has also been linked with reduced nausea, and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, reduced muscle contractions in those with multiple sclerosis, and reduced chronic pain for sufferers.
What About the Hype on CBD?
It’s important to note that, while there are some studies showing positive effects of CBD, the overall body of science on CBD is still scant. And many claims made for CBD have not been verified by science. Additionally, a common misconception is that CBD gives you the same “high” as marijuana. However, CBD is not a psychoactive compound and does not lead to the euphoric effects that THC from marijuana provides.
Nutrition Composition of CBD Oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of CBD oil from hemp contains:
- 125 calories
- 1 g saturated fat
- 9 g monounsaturated fat
- 11 g polyunsaturated fat
CBD oil contains a variety of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. It is also a source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and triglyceride levels, lowering risk of heart disease.
CBD has become increasingly popular in the media, with claims ranging from reducing pain and inflammation to treating conditions such as insomnia and cancer. Some claims have been researched, while others lack evidence documenting long-term health effects.
Where Can You Buy CBD Oil?
CBD from hemp can be found online or in health food stores. It is found as a powder, oil, cream, spray, or gel. It is also available as capsules and supplements. Certain foods, such as chocolates and gummies, can also contain CBD.
How Do You Use CBD Oil?
CBD oil can be used by adding it (see dosage on bottle) to your morning smoothie, tea, or coffee, or mixing it in with homemade energy balls, acai bowls, or oatmeal. CBD has a light, nutty flavor that can also be used in salads, dips, soups or other dishes that use vegetable oil. You can also blend it in your favorite sauce or salad dressing. However, one of the most common ways to use it is to simply drop it directly on your tongue.
What is the Bottom Line on CBD?
Although CBD oil seems to be safe, some people do report side effects. And though there are some benefits reported, the media and CBD vendors have largely over-hyped the potential benefits of this plant oil. If you choose to try it, you can incorporate into your diet in numerous ways, such as in your morning coffee or smoothie, an afternoon snack, or a cup of tea before sleep. Don’t trust labels of CBD, which are often untruthful. Remember, CBD is just a supplement for a healthy diet and lifestyle—it is not a magic bullet.
Check out some other blogs on this topic:
Written on May 8, 2019 by Mireille Najjar, Dietetic Intern, and Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN
Note: This blog does not specifically condone or disparage any CBD products. I have not profited from any of the products mentioned in this blog.
- USDA Agricultural Research Service. USDA Branded Food Products Database. Full Report (All Nutrients): 45272218, HEMP OIL, UPC: 692752100109. https://www.usda.gov
- Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
- Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, et al.Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent. Curr Drug Saf. 2011;6:237–249
- Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-36.
- Welty TE, Luebke A, Gidal BE. Cannabidiol: promise and pitfalls.Epilepsy Curr. 2014;14(5):250-2.
- Cannabidiol (CBD). Pre-Review Report Agenda Item 5.2. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, Thirty-ninth Meeting.
Geneva, 6-10 November 2017. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
- FDA News Release. FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy. US Food and Drug Administration. June 25, 2018. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm611046.htm
- Tzadok et al. CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. Seizure, Volume 35,February 2016, Pages 41-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2016.01.004
- Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients.Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-26.
- Zuardi AW. Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action.Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2008 Sep;30(3):271–80. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/s1516-44462008000300015.
- Margherita Russo, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò, Antonino Naro, et al., “Sativex in the Management of Multiple Sclerosis-Related Spasticity: Role of the Corticospinal Modulation,”Neural Plasticity, vol. 2015, Article ID 656582, 6 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/656582.
- R. Blake, P. Robson, M. Ho, R. W. Jubb, C. S. McCabe; Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis,Rheumatology, Volume 45, Issue 1, 1 January 2006, Pages 50–52, https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kei183
- Fasinu, P. S., Phillips, S. , ElSohly, M. A. and Walker, L. A. (2016), Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents. Pharmacotherapy, 36: 781-796. doi:1002/phar.1780 Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB. JAMA. 2006;296:1885-1899.
- Montserrat-de la Paz et al. Hemp( Cannabis sativa L.) seed oil: analytical and phytochemical characterization of the unsaponifiable fraction.J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Feb 5;62(5):1105-10. doi: 10.1021/jf404278q. Epub 2014 Jan 23.
- Mihoc et al. Nutritive quality of romanian hemp varieties (Cannabis sativa L.) with special focus on oil and metal contents of seeds. Chem Cent J. 2012 Oct 23;6(1):122. doi: 10.1186/1752-153X-6-122.
- Consroe et al. Controlled clinical trial of cannabidiol in Huntington’s disease. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Volume 40, Issue 3, November 1991, Pages 701-708. https://doi.org/10.1016/0091-3057(91)90386-G
- Fusar-Poli P, Crippa JA, Bhattacharyya S, et al.Distinct effects of D9-tetrahydro-cannabinoland cannabidiol on neural activation during emotional processing. Arch Gen Psychiat. 2009;66:9–5.
- Grayson L, Vines B, Nichol K, Szaflarski JP, UAB CBD Program. An interaction between warfarin and cannabidiol, a case report.Epilepsy Behav Case Rep. 2017;9:10-11. Published 2017 Oct 12. doi:10.1016/j.ebcr.2017.10.001
- Product Reviews. CBD & Hemp Extract Supplements Review. February 10, 2018. https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/cbd-oil-hemp-review/cbd-oil/
- Corroon J, Kight R. Regulatory Status of Cannabidiol in the United States: A Perspective.Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018;3(1):190-194. Published 2018 Sep 27. doi:10.1089/can.2018.0030