Updated: Jun 26
I was very skeptical of CBD when it first hit the market. I remember reading that after eating CBD chocolate people reported the same relaxed feeling as drinking a glass of wine. I obviously bought that CBD chocolate immediately and dabbled with a few other CBD products hoping for similar results. I felt nothing, and yet the CBD market continued to blow up with CBD-infused products and new CBD companies popping up everywhere. I also spoke with so many people who swore by the benefits of CBD. I decided it was time to give CBD another shot and do some research.
There is very compelling evidence supporting the benefits of CBD. Quality is crucial when choosing your CBD product and brand. I've now been consistently using a high-quality, organic CBD tincture for the past year. My favorite CBD brand is 'Clean Remedies' (discount code ABBY20 for 20% off their entire website). I use their peppermint CBD oil almost daily. They also sell CBD gummies, topical oils, tinctures for dogs, and bath salts. I found a dose that works for me, and I really do see benefits in digestion, stomach pain/nausea, relaxation and sleep quality. So I'm here to share the love! I've summarized some of the research on CBD usage, dosage, and benefits and outlined everything you need to know about CBD - what to look for in a brand, testing requirements, risks, dosage and how to use it. If you use CBD or have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. I hope this is helpful!
First, let's dive into what it is about CBD that makes it so special and enables it to have benefits such as relieving pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing anxiety and inflammation. CBD comes from the cannabis plant, which is made up of Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is a chemical and natural compound that provides several medical benefits. CBD works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by reducing the natural breakdown of the body’s endocannabinoids (1).The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating several different functions in our bodies such as sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response (2). CBD binds to the ECS which results in downstream effects related to pain, anxiety, appetite, memory and inflammation. The difference between CBD and THC is that THC is a psychoactive compound that binds with receptors in the brain, leading to feelings of being “high”, while CBD works with other elements within the body to relieve pain and inflammation.
Benefits of CBD
Mental Health and Anxiety
Research studies have shown strong correlation between CBD and decreased anxiety levels. An estimated 30% of adults in America (66 million people) currently suffer from anxiety, making it one of the most common mental health problems in the U.S.. CBD has been shown to aid in helping multiple different anxiety disorders. One study showed how CBD helped reduce anxiety in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD), with a notable lack of anxiogenic effects. Another study showed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain connected with anxiety shown in patients who took CBD.
CBD may have a beneficial effect on sleep and relaxation. One study showed that CBD improves sleep by calming the central nervous system. After 2 months of taking 25mg of CBD every morning, 78.1% (32/41) and 56.1% (23/41) of patients reported improvement in anxiety and sleep, respectively. Additionally, a study showed CBD decreasing anxiety and improving quantity and quality of sleep in a patient with post-traumatic stress disorder. CBD may block anxiety-induced [rapid eye movement] sleep alteration via its anxiolytic effect on the brain. CBD may be an effective alternative to sleep medications and may improve sleep quality when taken regularly.
Another benefit of CBD may be management of chronic pain. Several recent clinical studies have demonstrated that CBD can be an effective therapeutic option for patients with neuropathic pain and other types of chronic pain. CBD reduces inflammation, which leads to relieving pain and improving overall health. Chronic inflammation has been associated with increased risk of chronic disease. CBD has been used for centuries to successfully provide pain relief for several different conditions such as muscle aches, arthritis, joint pain, neuropathic conditions, headaches, and some skin conditions. [iv]
CBD vs. Hemp Seed Oil
When it comes to buying CBD, it’s important to understand exactly what you're buying and how to read a label. CBD and Hemp seed oil are both part of the cannabis plant family, but they come from different parts of the plant and have different usage. CBD may be a fairly new product, but hemp seed oil has been used for decades as a skincare and cooking product. The main difference between the two products is that hemp seed oil is made from hemp seeds, while CBD oil is made from the flower, bud, and leaves of the cannabis plant. Hemp seed oil is mainly used for skin health and does not have the cannabinoids that affect the ECS and neurotransmitters. There is virtually no CBD or other cannabinoids found in hemp seeds.
The best way to know if you are buying hemp seed oil or CBD is to look at the ingredient list on the packaging. CBD products must contain the ingredients “cannabidiol” or CBD, while hemp seed oils contain ingredients such as “hemp seed oil” or “cannabis seed oil”, the key differentiating word here is seed. CBD will usually be listed as cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, hemp oil, PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) or PCR hemp extracts. CBD products will typically be more expensive than hemp seed products. Look for “full spectrum” on the label, which indicates it is CBD. See below for the difference in labels for a CBD products vs. a Hemp Seed Oil product.
Dosage and Side Effects
CBD affects everyone differently. Some people report benefits while others see no effect of CBD. An ideal dosage depends on the person, their body weight, body chemistry, condition, and several other factors. An effective dosage can range from a few milligrams to hundreds of milligrams depending on the individual and their health goals. In most of the studies mentioned above, dosage ranged from 25/mg per day to 600 mg/day. Chronic use and doses up to 1500mg per day have been show to be well-tolerated. [vii]
In general, I recommend starting with a low dose of 20-30 mg a day, and gradually increasing by 5mg per day until you feel it's effectively treating your symptoms. Keep in mind, it can take consistency use over a period of time to become effective, so give it at least 1 month of regular, daily use.
CBD does not work for everyone, and there are possible side effects such as fatigue, diarrhea, changes in appetite, and changes in weight. These side effects are typically rare. Of course, if you experience any adverse reactions, please discontinue use and consult your doctor.
Quality is key!
When looking for a brand of CBD to purchase, always look for an organic ‘full-spectrum’, third party tested CBD tincture. Our go-to brand is ‘Clean Remedies’ (use discount code: ABBY20 for 20% off their entire website). I use their peppermint CBD oil almost daily. Clean Remedies is also a local Cleveland company which makes me love it that much more.
Not all CBD is created with the same standards, making it so important to read labels and know what you are getting. If it is not USDA organic certified, there are risks that it could be contaminated or falsely labeled. When looking at a CBD label or website, make sure you see these words to ensure quality:
Certificate of Analysis (COA): documents the quantity of various cannabinoids in a product. Typically, there will be a QR code on the bottom of the CBD package that will take you to their products COA.
And that sums it up! If you're looking for a natural remedy to help with sleep, anxiety, relaxation, or chronic pain, it may be worth trying out CBD. If you use CBD or have any question or comments, I'd love to hear from you! I hope this is helpful!
[ii] Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
[iv] Russo EB. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(1):245–259. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928
[v] What Does the 2018 Farm Bill Mean for the Hemp and CBD Businesses? (2018) Perkins Coie. https://www.perkinscoie.com/en/news-insights/what-does-the-2018-farm-bill-mean-for-the-hemp-and-cbd-businesses.html
[vi] Jadoon, K. A., Tan, G. D., & O'Sullivan, S. E. (2017). A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. JCI insight, 2(12), e93760. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93760
[vii] 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