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Does CBD Oil Actually Work?

Or is the recent buzz about this so-called pain reliever much ado about nothing?

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Does CBD Oil Actually Work?
Claudia Weingart / EyeEm / Getty

There is plenty of press around the benefits of CBD, but for every positive news clip, there’s a doubter ready to throw cold water on this so-called miracle oil. So what’s the truth? Well, it’s a bit more complex than it seems, so we decided to put CBD on trial.

OPENING ARGUMENTS

Defense

Hemp-derived cannabidiol–CBD for short—has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects, thereby helping with pain relief. These benefits come with no known serious side effects.

Prosecution

Though CBD may demonstrate some of the said benefits, it’s structurally too similar to its chemical cousin, marijuana, which causes concern about its use. Furthermore, you can easily get CBD’s same potential benefits from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory products (NSAID) like ibuprofen.

EVIDENCE

The benefits of CBD seem to come from its effects on the endocannabinoid system, a system in the human body discovered recently (1992) that serves as a “motherboard” for most major organ system. The primary difference between marijuana and hemp-derived CBD is that CBD cannot get you high. A high-quality, high-purity CBD has just 0.3% of THC, about 400-600 times less THC than found in marijuana products. Think of CBD as decaf and marijuana as triple espresso.“There is enormous potential for all individuals looking to optimize health and human performance via balancing the endocannabinoid system,” says Hector Lopez, M.D., C.S.C.S., a consultant for professional athletes and advisor at CV Sciences. "In simple terms, ingesting hemp-derived CBD regulates a healthy inflammatory response that encourages muscle, tendon, bone, and overall connective tissue remodeling and adaptation."

A review in the FASEB Journal looked at the effects of CBD on chronic inflammation, exploring potential mechanisms and upsides of using CBD. The researchers noted that not only does CBD act on inflammation through different mechanisms than NSAIDs, but it is also free from the adverse effects of NSAIDs like stomach problems and hemorrhage.

A study published in 2018 in Cellular Immunology evaluated the effects of CBD on the inflammatory and recovery of function after spinal cord injury in mice. The CBD-treated mice showed a significant decrease in inflammation.

VERDICT

CBD provides analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety effects with no known serious side effects and without the psychotropic effects associated with marijuana. Additional research is required, but today the safety profile is high, and CBD appears to be useful for pain relief and to decrease inflammation. Hemp-derived CBD provides clear potential benefits with limited risks or drawbacks. Use it on sore muscles and joints for pain relief.

SENTENCING

If you’re looking for a way to help your body recover from intense exercise—or relieve pain, reduce anxiety, or improve sleep—a CBD balm is worth a shot. Using it won’t hurt, so trial and success is a wise idea. Consider a brand that lists actual CBD content as part of hemp oil. The science is still in its infancy, so start low on dosing (e.g., 1-3 mg), monitor the response, and increase if desired.

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