According to a 2019 Gallup poll, one in seven people in the United States uses CBD.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a compound derived from marijuana or hemp plants. But it doesn’t come with the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, present in weed that you might smoke or ingest. As such, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive elements — and doesn’t cause a headrush.
So, then, what’s the big deal about CBD? Why are so many people trying it? It turns out that there are a slew of benefits of smoking CBD, as well as taking it in its various other forms.
Read on for seven of the benefits.
1. Alleviates Pain
People have been using marijuana for pain relief for almost 5,000 years. But recent research has revealed that THC isn’t necessary for imparting these body-bettering benefits.
Instead, with just CBD, you can experience relief from pain, whether it’s temporary or chronic.
Our bodies produce neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids, which attach to built-in cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. Although there’s much research to come in the realm of CBD, preliminary findings show that it interacts with these neurotransmitters and changes the function of the endocannabinoid system.
These changes can improve a person’s chronic pain, as they reduce inflammation.
Other studies on rats have shown that rodents given CBD had a less pronounced pain response to the area surrounding a surgical incision. And human-centric research has shown CBD to reduce pain in those who have arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
2. Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Another benefit of CBD is its anxiety- and depression-fighting effects.
CBD provides a natural alternative to pharmaceutical remedies often used for anxiety and depression. These medications are useful, but they can have side effects from insomnia to headaches to drowsiness to sexual dysfunction.
Benefits of Smoking CBD for Anxiety
Smoking CBD or ingesting it can reduce feelings of anxiety, which is good news for the 40 million Americans who deal with it each year.
In one study, researchers in Brazil gave some participants CBD and others a placebo. Then, the test subjects had to give a speech, a task that would quickly induce anxiety in many.
The researchers measured physical markers of anxiety, including a heightened heart rate and blood pressure. They found that those who took 300mg of CBD before their speech had less physical signs of anxiety than their placebo-taking counterparts.
Animal research has shown another interesting facet of CBD-based anxiety treatments. High doses of CBD had little effect on the animals, while a lighter dose had positive results.
Experts believe that too much might overwhelm the brain, triggering it to fight off CBD’s effects. Just enough, though, and anxiety dissipated.
Benefits of Smoking CBD for Depression
In a similar vein, multiple studies have shown that CBD can act similarly to an antidepressant.
Depression is linked to the brain’s serotonin receptors. It’s a complicated relationship, but, simply put, if serotonin pathways malfunction, it can cause depression.
CBD can interact with serotonin receptors in the brain. And, once they’re functioning correctly, they help regulate mood and behavior. So, research has begun to highlight CBD’s helpfulness in fighting depression in this way.
3. Helps Those Suffering From Addiction
There’s not enough research to conclusively say if CBD can help someone as they go through withdrawal from drug or alcohol addiction.
However, preliminary findings suggest it can be a helpful tool in the process. It makes sense, too, considering how taxing withdrawal can be on the body and mind. For instance, many will suffer from anxiety and depression, as well as headaches and muscle tension.
So far, CBD seems the most effective in soothing the symptoms of withdrawal from psychostimulants. This category includes cocaine and methamphetamine.
It’s not as effective during opioid withdrawal, though — cannabis-based products containing THC seem to do a better job here.
4. Fights Acne
You might wonder how CBD oil can help with acne. You wouldn’t put it on your skin — in fact, you could smoke top shelf hemp cigars that won’t get you high and soothe your breakouts.
Acne has a handful of root causes. For some, it’s a genetically based skincare issue. Others have underlying inflammation, or their skin produces too much of an oily residue called sebum.
CBD can’t help in all of these scenarios. However, if your acne comes down to inflammation or sebum production, then you might try hemp-based products to correct it.
Exploratory studies have shown that CBD can pause sebum production, which leaves skin balanced and less oil. And, because CBD already has proven inflammatory-fighting effects, it has shown promise in fighting acne from the inside out.
Again, this area is another one that will require more human research. But early findings indicate that it’s worth trying CBD to reduce your acne.
5. Boosts Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CBD might be able to help with that, though.
Studies have begun to highlight CBD’s ability to reduce hypertension, or high blood pressure. Men given 600mg of it had a diminished response to such stressful stimuli as cold temperatures or exercise.
On top of that, CBD seemed to make their hearts pump more efficiently. Researchers could tell by the subjects’ stroke volume, meaning how much blood was left in the heart after each beat. If they were pushing more blood out, that meant their hearts were beating with more strength.
As such, researchers believe that CBD has the potential to improve hypertension, especially in those whose anxiety or stress amplifies plays into their raised blood pressure.
6. Soothes the Effects of Cancer Treatment
On the same list that puts heart disease as the country’s leading cause of death, cancer comes in second place.
Nearly 2 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year. It’s not just the diagnosis that can be devastating — treatment is tough on the body.
Chemotherapy, for instance, can cause nausea and vomiting. Plus, bodily aches and pains can be taxing on cancer patients.
But researchers have pinpointed one potential way to soften these side effects — CBD. One study showed its ability to dull pain, especially when used in conjunction with a THC-inclusive formula. In another study, a CBD-based mouth spray pre-chemotherapy warded off nausea.
And, in another interesting study, CBD was used to inhibit the spread of cancer cells in rodents. However, this and other CBD-related research needs repetition in humans before experts can definitively say what it can and can’t do for us.
7. Contains Neuroprotective Elements
Those with neurological disorders may want to add CBD to their treatment regimen. It has shown promising potential in early studies for its use in soothing epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
For one thing, an oral spray containing both THC and CBD has been used to reduce muscle spasms in those with multiple sclerosis. It even worked for those whose bodies had previously resisted medication meant to calm their spasms.
In another study, people who had extreme epilepsy — which causes seizures — were given a varying amount of CBD based on their body weights. In the end, their seizures were reduced by more than one-third, at the median.
CBD has also been used to improve the quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. They have noted that the compound helps them sleep and boosts their overall quality of life.
In animals and test-tube studies, CBD has shown promising Alzheimer’s-fighting effects, to boot. Specifically, it may be able to slow down the neurological degeneration that comes with the condition.
Experts do warn that, in some preliminary studies specific to neurological disorders, CBD had adverse effects in some patients. For instance, some people suffered from fever, fatigue and convulsions after taking it.
The Other Benefits of Smoking CBD
The above seven effects have some preliminary research behind them. Experts continue to look into the possibilities of all-natural medical treatment via CBD. It has also shown promise with the following conditions:
- Diabetes, specifically preventing the condition
- Tumors, stalling the spread of breast, colon, brain and lung cancers
- Psychotic symptoms of conditions including schizophrenia
CBD could potentially soothe more symptoms than just these. It will just take time and research to confirm which ones.
Are There Any Side Effects of CBD?
As previously mentioned, CBD can cause some side effects. Of course, these vary from person to person, but the most common include:
- Mood changes
- Appetite changes
- Dry mouth
Your best bet is to speak to your doctor before embarking on a CBD-inclusive treatment plan. This step is vital if you take other medications, as CBD interacts with specific prescriptions, either amplifying or decreasing their effects.
Take Care of Yourself
You’re seeking out the benefits of smoking CBD because you want to take the best possible care of yourself. And it may be a great addition to your self-care routine — so long as a medical professional gives you the green light to try it.
Have any other health-related questions? Check out the off-topic section of our blog, where we file information meant to keep you informed on this and other fronts unrelated to our usual subject matter — music, movies, and more.