CBD oil is everywhere right now. Countless stories have gone viral proclaiming the amazing ways CBD benefits our health. But what do we really know about the benefits of CBD, how it works in the body, if CBD is really the magic botanical bullet many people claim?
What is CBD?
Let’s start by understanding just what CBD really is. CBD (Cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant, known as a cannabinoid. While many of us associate cannabis or marijuana with getting high, CBD is very different. It doesn’t contain THC so it doesn’t have an intoxicating effect, but the benefits it provides include relief from many health conditions such as anxiety, discomfort, difficulties in sleeping, general stress, and reducing inflammation.
CBD is found in abundance in the hemp plant, which is the same as cannabis, just with the part that gets you high (THC) missing. Traditionally, hemp has been used as a source of fiber for rope, cloth, and other fabrics, but in the last ten years it has experienced a cultivation comeback for the production of CBD oil.
CBD oil has become the most popular method of taking CBD. This is because cannabinoids themselves are sticky and resinous substances, so suspending them in a carrier oil makes CBD easier for the body to absorb. Because it is so popular, you will often see the words “CBD” and “CBD oil” used interchangeably.
CBD provides all sorts of benefits and positive effects on the body such as relieving pain, reducing stress, boosting mood, easing inflammation, and generally helping the body get back into balance again.
Right now, CBD is the subject of hundreds of scientific investigations as a natural alternative for conditions as varied as, chronic pain, anxiety and fibromyalgia. Although CBD’s benefits as a treatment for these conditions has yet to be scientifically “proven”, researchers are learning more every day about the positive effects CBD has on disease management and overall health, and the early results are promising.
That said, just this year the World Health Organization recognized CBD’s therapeutic benefits for certain illnesses, finding it to be “well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
How Does CBD Work?
Unless you’re a science nerd, most of us never wonder how health supplements benefit our body as long as they work. But with CBD, it’s helpful to have at least a basic understanding of the compound’s mechanisms in order to appreciate the therapeutic potential it may have for your health.
The key element to understanding CBD benefits for our body is the endocannabinoid system. Before your eyes glaze over thinking back to all those biology classes, keep reading because the endocannabinoid system is perhaps one of the most important scientific discoveries of the last 20 years and has massive implications for our health.
Also known as the ECS, the endocannabinoid system refers to a vast network of special cell receptor sites in the brain, central nervous system, immune system, and gut that are activated by cannabis-like chemicals made by the body called endocannabinoids. These act a bit like keys opening a lock.
The body’s endocannabinoids, namely Anandamide, named after the Sanskrit word for bliss, and its partner, 2-AG (not such a cool name), work a subtle magic on our bodies and minds. Scientists believe they create homeostasis, working a bit like a dimmer switch, turning activity in the body up or down in order to produce balance in our systems.
Essentially every biological function in the body is modulated in some way by the endocannabinoid system: sleep, appetite, memory, reproduction, sexual function, pain regulation, inflammation, the immune system – the list goes on and on (see now why it’s important!).
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by increasing levels of Anandamide (the bliss chemical) by blocking the enzyme (Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase FAAH), responsible for breaking the endocannabinoid down. This means that by taking CBD, Anandamide gets to hang out in your body longer, doing more of its vital bliss-making work.
CBD – The Multi-tasking Molecule
CBD also activates neurotransmitters outside the endocannabinoid system.
Take, for instance, CBD’s partial activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor responsible for regulating anxiety, vomiting, sleep, and pain perception.
CBD also binds to the TRVP1 receptors also known as the Vanilloid receptors, which mediate pain, inflammation, and body temperature.
Potential CBD Health Benefits
Right now, most of the CBD oil products on the market are sold as health or dietary supplements. Despite many anecdotal accounts of CBD oil benefits for pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, inflammatory problems, and other health issues, we’re still lacking the gold star, three stage clinical trials needed to be able to claim any CBD medical benefits.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first-ever CBD prescription drug called Epidiolex for children with rare cases of epilepsy. Epidiolex is a purified form of CBD different from the majority of CBD products on the market. So, while we know the benefits CBD can have for overall health and wellness, exciting preclinical research (in petri dishes and animal models) continues to be conducted and needs further exploration in a bid to discover CBD’s medical benefits.
CBD For Inflammation
Inflammation often gets a bad rap in health articles, but inflammation is a vital part of the healing process after an injury or in fighting off infection. The trouble starts when inflammation becomes chronic, meaning our immune system has forgotten to switch off the attack button.
Chronic inflammation is also thought to be behind many life limiting conditions and research even suggests it may contribute towards clinical depression.
CBD has a beneficial role to play in reducing inflammation because it is an immunosuppressant, meaning it helps to calm the immune system’s out-of-control inflammatory response.
CBD For Anxiety And Depression
Despite all of the advances in technology we benefit from in western society, modern life is full of anxiety and depression. Today, we’re busier, and feeling more and more stressed as we attempt to balance the pressures of jobs, families, friends, and, well, life. Instead of turning to pharmaceuticals, many of us are looking for natural solutions to these almost universal problem.
Many people try CBD oil for the first time because of anxiety, and there are good reasons for this. We know that CBD activates a key serotonin receptor, as well as causing neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, so it plays a beneficial role in treating anxiety and depression.
There have been some small pilot studies investigating CBD and anxiety. Subjects with social anxiety were given CBD before a simulated public speaking test, and most found both their anxiety levels and focus improved after taking CBD.
CBD For Better Sleep
A good night’s sleep is key to maintaining optimum health, and yet many of us find it hard to stop tossing and turning and to sleep through the night. Stress and anxiety plays a large role in sleep disorders, as does an out of whack endocannabinoid system.
So far most of the evidence for CBD oil and sleep is anecdotal, but many people report improved sleep after regularly taking a CBD oil supplement.
Dosing is a crucial factor in CBD’s sleep-inducing benefits. At a low dose, CBD can be energizing and invigorating, while the soporific effects tend to kick in at higher doses. Either way, it’s always advisable to take CBD an hour or so before going to bed to maximize its benefits.
CBD For Women’s Health
No woman wants to be a slave to her hormones, but unfortunately many of us struggle every month with cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and hormonal imbalances.
Our endocannabinoid system is key to regulating our hormonal balance, and while hard scientific research is lacking to prove whether CBD can target hormonal health, we do know that in mice CBD reduces Cortisol levels – the hormone responsible for the stress response.
The pain-relieving effects of CBD do make it an all-natural alternative to over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol to relieve cramping, with some women even opting for CBD suppositories to get straight to the source of the menstrual pain.
CBD For Skin Care
Thought CBD was just good for the inside of our bodies? Well, it’s time to think again. CBD is proving to be extremely beneficial for a variety of skin care needs.
Hopefully by now you’ll feel more informed about the potential ways CBD benefits your health and your life. Ultimately, the best way to experience its benefits is to try CBD out for yourself. We think you’ll love our SHEbd™ CBD tinctures, softgels, balms, creams, and sheet masks, extracted from 100% organically sun-grown American hemp that are pesticide-free, THC-free and made with all our love, care and attention.