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CBD and Health

CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol. It is now widely used in new product innovations across multiple industries including the Food, Beverage, Nutraceutical and Pharmaceutical industries. Even though clinical research is scarce, people are drawn to CBD in various forms for stress and anxiety reduction, improved sleep, pain management and even more serious medical implications such as epilepsy and memory loss. In this article, we will explain CBD, its health benefits and its side effects. It is worth noting that the FDA, in June of 2018, approved the use of Epidiolex for the treatment of epilepsy.


Until recently, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was the most widely studied compound in cannabis. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the most active component of marijuana. Both CBD and THC are constituents of marijuana but their effects are different. THC is the psychoactive component that makes a person “high” when it is smoked or used ingested. CBD isn’t the same as THC because CBD is not psychoactive which means that it has no effect on a person’s mind when used.


CBD occurs in the cannabis plant. Cannabis is also referred to as either marijuana or hemp, although this depends on their level of THC. The Farm Bill legalizes hemp plants that contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Over the years, cultivators of marijuana have bred their plants to contain varying levels of THC or any other compound that interests them often because of the smell produced by the compound, or because of its effects on the plant’s flowers. The hemp plant, however, has rarely been modified by hemp cultivators mostly used for the creation of CBD oil.


All cannabinoids, CBD included, exert their effects on the body by getting attached to certain receptors. Your body can produce some cannabinoids on its own. The human body has two cannabinoid receptors – namely the CB1 and the CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors can be found in all parts of the body, but are mostly present in the brain. The brain’s CB1 receptors deal with movement and coordination, emotions, pain, thinking, mood, memories, appetite, and other functions. THC has a high affinity for these receptors. CB2 receptors are mostly present in the immune system. They affect pain and inflammation. Scientists once thought that CBD had an affinity for CB2 receptors but now, it appears that CBD has no direct affinity for either receptor. Instead, it gives the body directions on how to utilize more of its own CBD.


Anti-inflammatory properties and pain relief

People tend to use an excess of OTC or prescription medicines to relieve pain and stiffness. However, it appears CBD may be a very suitable natural alternative. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine showed that CBD caused a significant reduction in pain and chronic inflammation in some rats and mice. The researchers suggested that CBD and other non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana could be an efficient treatment for chronic pain.


After examining the effectiveness and safety of CBD oil for the treatment of epilepsy, the FDA gave approval for the use of Epidiolex in the treatment of two forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex is used in the United States for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome (DS). The seizures that characterize Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome cannot be controlled easily with other forms of medication.

Alzheimer’s disease

Studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease showed that CBD could prevent the development of social recognition deficits in people who participated in the study. The implication is that CBD can help early Alzheimer patients to maintain their ability to recognize the faces of their loved ones which is important evidence that CBD may impede the progression of Alzheimer’s.


A number of small-scale studies have examined the safety of cannabidiol in adults. It was concluded that adults had tolerance for a wide range of CBD dosages. No significant side effects were found on the central nervous system, mood, the vital signs where the major side effect is tiredness. It is important that users seek the advice of their doctor before starting any course of cannabidiol. Cannabidiol could interact with dietary supplements, OTC aids, or even CBD prescription drugs, and can also disrupt the function of cytochrome P450 complex, an enzyme. This disruption can impact the ability of the liver to degrade toxins, thus raising the risk of liver toxicity.


Overall, even though there is limited research available, CBD seems to have a positive effect on overall human health. Many food, beverage, and dietary supplement companies are already including CBD as their main ingredient in several of their new products. The CBD industry is currently thriving with product development ranging from edibles to vape pens and even CBD hemp flower with zero THC content. It is a time of uncertainty but also of great innovation which will eventually lead to more understanding of how CBD is involved in human health.


· Gottlieb, S. (2018). Statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the importance of conducting proper research to prove safe and effective medical uses for the active chemicals in marijuana and its components [Press release].

· Hudak, J. (2018). The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer.

· Xiong, W., et al. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.

· U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy [Press release].


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