Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid, is beginning to become extremely popular in health media. New health claims like “Add CBD to your post-workout smoothie to reduce inflammation” and “Add CBD to your morning coffee to treat anxiety” are becoming increasingly more common. Conditions like arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, seizures, schizophrenia, insomnia and epilepsy are rumoured to be treatable with CBD[1],[2].

Are these grandiose claims necessarily a bad thing? No- only because there’s science to back them up.

CBD is a cannabinoid from the two kinds of cannabis sativa plants: hemp and marijuana[3]. Unlike THC, which is strictly found in marijuana, CBD is non-psychoactive- meaning that it won’t get you “high”[4].

The Endocannabinoid System

Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which contains cannabinoid receptors. The main goal of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis, meaning balanced and stable internal processes. Some parts of our ECS are related to how we experience inflammation and pain, while others are targeted towards sleep, mood, or stress[5]

While scientists aren’t completely sure about the interactions between CBD and the ECS, it is suggested that CBD prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down so they can have longer and more powerful effects on your body- aka restoring you to your “normal” faster[6].

Endocannabinoid Receptors

Humans have endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body that are active whether or not we consume CBD. However, when cannabinoids bind to these receptors, it activates the ECS.

The two principal ECS receptors are[7]:

  1. CB1: mainly found in our central nervous system (CNS)
  2. CB2: mainly found in our peripheral nervous system (PNS)

The difference in the location of the receptors explains why CBD is able to treat such a range of health conditions[8]. The CNS is made up of the brain and the spinal cord, so CB1 receptors can activate the ECS for something like spinal nerve pain, or anxiety. The PNS is made of nerves external to the brain and spinal cord, so CB2 receptors can activate the ECS for things like inflammation in your legs after a tough workout, or arthritis.

Should I try it?

Maybe- CBD is generally a very safe drug, but it is always wise to consult an expert before experimenting. It is recommended to begin with low doses (10-20 mg/day) and increasing up to 50-100 mg/day if needed[9].

How can I use it?

CBD is especially popular as an oil, as you can rub this into your skin, put it in smoothies and coffee, bake with it, or use a dropper to swallow it. Other products include creams, pills, joints, candies, tinctures, drink powders, and more. The sheer variety of products means that you can experiment with whatever method works best for you.

The next time you’re in pain- either of the mind or of the body, consider trying CBD to bring you back to normal. It may work… or it may not. That said, people are using it right now for a reason. It’s safe, natural, low-risk, and typically, extremely effective. Here’s to taking control of your health!

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476

[2] https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/cannabidiol-oil.php

[3] https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/cannabidiol-oil.php

[4] https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system-2#thc

[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system-2#thc

[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system-2#cbd

[7] https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system-2#functions

[8] https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/peripheral-nervous-system

[9] https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/cannabidiol-oil.php

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