Everywhere you look, three letters seem be plastered across store fronts and menus: CBD. Cannabidiol oil, more commonly referred to as CBD oil, is being offered as an additive in everything from coffee to baked goods.
A cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, CBD oil has been cited as giving you a variety of benefits without the “high” feeling traditionally associated with smoking or consuming cannabis.
Is there any merit to these so-called health benefits or is CBD oil just hype that will soon be out the window and replaced by the next fitness fad?
CBD oil holds a lot of promise for a variety of health and fitness causes. Let’s look at the scientifically proven benefits of CBD oil and how it can help you.
Benefits of CBD Oil
Given its meteoric rise in popularity, cannabidiol oil has been the subject of many recent studies. Admittedly, some of the supposed benefits of CBD oil are anecdotal, but there are many more that have plenty of scientific merit.
In this article, I’m only going to focus on the benefits that most experts agree upon. Here’s what science says about the benefits of CBD oil:
CBD Oil, Proper Sleep and the Ripple Effect for Your Health
While melatonin is still the king of the sleep game, CBD oil has been shown to be an excellent alternative or complement to these types of relaxation and sleep supplements.
One study focused on the effects of CBD on people who were suffering from anxiety-fueled insomnia. Researchers found that CBD was able to alleviate anxiety and promote healthy sleeping patterns in the majority of subjects.
To be precise, more than 79% of the subjects reported a decrease in their anxiety levels. As far as sleep quality, over 66% said they noticed an improvement in their sleep.
Both benefits were seen within the first month of taking the CBD supplement. (1)
It’s easy to be a bit skeptical of the first study when you realize that it was a small sample size of 72 people.
Another sleep study had 400 subjects and focused on self-reported updates as people tried a variety of conventional and unconventional sleep aids including over-the-counter medication, alcohol, marijuana, and CBD oil.
Not surprisingly, the subjects reported that over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and sativa-based cannabis were not effective.
Some even worsened sleep quality. CBD oil had the opposite effect with users reporting that the high-dosage CBD products significantly improved sleep duration and quality. (2)
Healthy sleep is one of the easiest ways to ensure optimal wellness so it should come as no surprise other areas of health and fitness improve once you are sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours each night.
A few ways that a proper sleep schedule can help your health include the following:
Studies show that for athletes or fitness fanatics, proper sleep is essential. It is during sleep that the body gets to work to repair and rebuild damaged cells, muscle tissue, and connective tissue.
The highest levels of growth hormone, which is necessary for repair, are released during deep sleep.
If you aren’t able to sleep through the night, you could increase your risk for injury or symptoms of under-recovery, which include extreme fatigue and increased risk of illness.
One study found that the best way to increase athletic recovery and subsequent performance was to get as much extra sleep as possible. CBD can help to ensure you get to sleep and stay asleep. (3)
There is a direct correlation between the amount of sleep you get each night and your risk for developing certain diseases.
Several studies have found that simply by increasing the duration and quality of sleep, the risk for many diseases or illnesses such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and Alzheimer’s is drastically reduced.
I’ll dive more into several conditions and how sleep can help them below.
Regardless of your lifestyle, getting plenty of sleep is the foundation for optimal wellness. You’ll get sick less, be in a better mood, and live longer.
Might Alleviate Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are some of the leading causes of disability for adults in the United States.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a commonly prescribed medication for those suffering from these conditions, but they come with a list of side effects that can be as bad if not worse than the original condition.
For example, SSRIs have been shown to increase the thoughts and the attempts of suicide. (4)(5)
During the last decade, there has been a more aggressive push by physicians and patients alike to try more natural means to treat anxiety and depression.
Exercise and a healthy diet, for example, are pillars of a healthy mood and mindset in most people.
Natural supplements such as St. John’s Wart have also experienced a boost in popularity as an alternative to prescription medications in treating anxiety.
This is especially true in the case of CBD. Not only have studies shown that CBD oil is a safe and effective way to treat anxiety, but CBD contains none of the side effects that have been commonly reported in SSRIs.
As I mentioned above, in one sleep study, subjects were experiencing anxiety-based insomnia. Not only did the CBD improve the quality and duration of sleep, but it also reduced the anxiety of the subjects. (1)
In another study, researchers confirmed that CBD can be used as a natural treatment for anxiety. For severe cases of anxiety, CBD is a safe complement to other forms of treatment. (6)
Might Decrease Inflammation
While it can be uncomfortable, inflammation is a healthy part of the healing process for strains and injuries. It is also necessary in the body’s fight against harmful bacterial invaders.
For athletes and the fitness-focused, inflammation, soreness, and post-workout pain are a part of the process.
However, inflammation and soreness can prevent optimal performance. While menthol-based creams and over-the-counter painkillers can offer a degree of relief, they aren’t helping the real issue: inflammation.
What’s more, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, better known as NSAIDs, are common pain medications that have a high risk of side effects including damaging the stomach lining.
Is it any wonder that athletes are looking for a natural way to alleviate inflammation and get back to their training faster?
CBD has become incredibly popular with the athletic crowd due to its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Studies show that CBD can suppress the inflammatory response, alleviating the soreness and pain commonly reported after a workout.
You can take CBD as an oil, but you can also complement this with a CBD-based cream that is rubbed directly on to the muscle. (7)
What I’ve discussed above is called short-term inflammation. Again, it’s a natural part of the body’s healing process.
When inflammation continues long after it should – typically defined as three months or more – this is what is known as chronic inflammation.
Long-term inflammation correlates with an increased risk of certain diseases and illnesses. For example, type-2 diabetes is an inflammation-based disease.
While lifestyle changes such as proper nutrition and responsible exercise choices are at the center of naturally reducing and avoiding chronic inflammation, supplements such as CBD can also help.
As I’ll discuss more below, CBD can inhibit the body’s inflammatory response and provides a safe way to decrease both inflammation and the risk of illness.
May Reduce Blood Pressure
You probably hear the term high blood pressure on a regular basis, but have you ever given much thought to what it is?
Blood pressure refers to the amount of force that is placed against your arteries as blood is pumped throughout the body.
Blood pressure naturally rises and falls through the day. For example, when you exercise, your blood pressure will increase.
As you sleep, your blood pressure will fall. When your blood pressure is elevated throughout the day, regardless of the activity you’re doing, this is called hypertension or high blood pressure.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three Americans have high blood pressure, which dramatically increases the risk for a stroke and heart disease.
As I’ve mentioned above, two of the best ways to improve your health, including blood pressure levels, is by changing your dietary habits and exercising more.
With that said, CBD oil can complement these lifestyle changes.
Studies show that CBD effectively reduces your resting blood pressure and it also decreases the blood pressure response when you get stressed out.
While it’s not a cure-all, this has important implications as an important part of a successful course of treatment for high blood pressure. (8)
May Help Improve Some Neurological Disorders
A neurological disorder is when you have a disease in one of the following areas:
- Autonomic nervous system (Controls your heart rate, digestion, sexual arousal, etc.)
- Muscle tissue
- Nerve roots
- Peripheral nerves
- Neuromuscular junction or where a motor neuron and a muscle fiber meet
- Spinal cord
When one of these areas is affected, a number of symptoms and conditions can manifest including seizures and multiple sclerosis.
Studies show that CBD supplementation, in conjunction with prescribed treatments can decrease the symptoms associated with the following ailments and diseases:
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.3 million Americans are living with the disease, and deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s have increased 145% in the last decade.
Aside from diet, exercise, and medical intervention, CBD might help to prevent further cognitive decline.
CBD is in no way a substitute for expert medical care, but one animal-based study found that CBD supplementation helped to prevent social withdraw and improve facial recognition in rats with Alzheimer’s. (9)
One of the unfortunate symptoms of multiple sclerosis are the painful muscle spasms that the person suffers through.
While prescription treatments are available, they are not always effective. One study focused on those with MS who were not responsive to traditional prescription medications.
The subjects were all given a nasal spray with CBD. Researchers confirmed that the CBD spray alleviated muscle spasms and recommended it as “an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for resistant MSS in clinical practice.” (10)
Studies show that CBD was effective in improving the sleep patterns of those with the disease. As I mentioned above, by improving the quality of the sleep you’re getting, you will also improve other health factors such as perceived pain and mood. (11)
When someone has a seizure, it is not always because they have the condition known as epilepsy. What’s more, seizure activity can be triggered by a number of things such as flashing lights, loud music, and stress.
Whether a seizure is a symptom of a larger issue or not, you might be able to reduce seizure activity with CBD. One study found that CBD effectively reduced convulsive-seizure frequency when compared to a placebo. (12)
May Improve Reaction to Cancer Treatment
While chemotherapy is a life-saving treatment it does cause a number of side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and fever. A natural way to alleviate many of these side effects is with CBD oil.
Studies show that subjects given CBD reported reduced symptoms related to the chemotherapy treatment. These people were able to return to a relatively normal dietary schedule without the fear of getting sick. (13)
What’s more, some researchers are suggesting that CBD could be a powerful complement to chemotherapy.
One study found that CBD supplementation helped to prevent the spreading of cancer cells, although more studies are needed to confirm this. (14)
Best Types of CBD Oil
There are three types of CBD oil that you’ll commonly find in stores and online: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate.
Every cannabis plant contains a variety of beneficial compounds including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. One thing that full-spectrum CBD contains that the other two types are missing is tetrahydrocannabinol.
THC is best known as the compound that gets you “high” when smoking or consuming marijuana.
Don’t worry though, full-spectrum CBD that is produced within the United States must meet a federal requirement of no more than 0.3% of THC.
That’s a miniscule amount and not enough to promote that high feeling or show up on a drug test.
This is the type of CBD oil that I would recommend since nothing has been removed from the plant.
Broad-Spectrum CBD Isolate
A broad-spectrum means that the majority of the beneficial compounds within CBD have been retained, but one thing is missing: the THC.
A broad-spectrum will have all of the benefits of the full-spectrum but without the worry of the THC.
Again, the amount of THC is federally regulated CBD is so low that it won’t cause any psychoactive effects, but some people would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to surprise drug tests at work.
As the name implies, CBD isolate will only contain CBD. All of the other compounds – flavonoids, terpenes, and THC – have been removed.
This type of CBD might be a good starting point if you’ve never tried CBD before, but keep in mind that it does not include the same level of benefits as a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum.
For example, without the flavonoids, you won’t get the same antioxidant benefits.
What is the Best Dosage of CBD Oil?
The average amount of cannabinoids per serving of CBD oil will vary depending on the quality of the brand.
I can’t stress enough that you’ll want to find a CBD oil that will allow you to take in a dosage close to that of the clinical trials and studies mentioned above.
After all, if you want to capture the same benefits that CBD was found to have, you’ll want to look to the studies as a dosage guide.
With that said, many of the studies above used a variety of dosages so it can be difficult to pin down an exact universal dosage. I’d recommend starting with a typical 30 mg dosage of cannabinoids and slowly increase the dosage each week.
Many people can easily tolerate up to 150 mg of CBD oil and this is where some experts say the real benefits are. Again, start low and work your way up.
What to Look for When Buying a CBD Oil
Like any supplement on the market, not all CBD oil is created equal. Here are the most common points to check when buying a CBD oil online or in-store.
This is the gold standard when it comes to the packaging of the CBD oil. It is made with phospholipids, water soluble vitamins, and minerals to ensure the highest level of bioavailability.
Liposomal encapsulation uses a gradual release technology, ensuring the CBD oil passes through the digestive system for optimal benefits.
Most low-quality CBD oil brands have a lower potency because the CBD never makes it to where it’s supposed to. When buying a CBD oil, check the label to make sure it’s been made with liposomal encapsulation.
While the federal government does mandate that certain potency and purity requirements must be met, it’s worthwhile to look for brands that go the extra mile.
When a company or brand uses third-party testing, you can ensure that the CBD oil has been reviewed for product purity, ingredients, potency, and overall quality.
Continuing with the point above, the brand of CBD you buy should have an open label or a link to get more information about their product on their website.
The highest quality and most trustworthy brands of CBD oil will disclose all information regarding where you sourced it from, the results of their containment report, and third-party testing quality, to name a few things.
Speaking of the source of the CBD, I cannot stress enough: buy American. Here’s why: Hemp that is grown and used in the production of CBD oil in the United States is subject to strict regulations and guidelines.
U.S. based CBD oil must comply with government standards regarding things like pesticide use, THC content, etc.
Not only does this ensure consistent quality product, but you can rest assured that there won’t be the risk of contamination. The same cannot be said for products grown and produced outside the U.S.
Several reports have found that international CBD and hemp-based products – mainly those coming from China – are more likely to be contaminated or be of a lesser quality.
Side Effects of CBD Oil
We’ve been through the benefits of CBD oil and what to look for when buying your own, but what about the downside to CBD? What are the side effects of CBD?
Perhaps not surprisingly, no serious side effects have been found in domestically sourced CBD oil and CBD products. The only commonly reported “side effect” of CBD is fatigue. (15)
With that said, if you are using a prescription medication, I would highly recommend that you talk with your doctor before using a CBD product.
CBD Oil: A Simple Way to Improve Your Health
CBD should not be looked at as a miracle cure for all ailments or conditions; however, the research makes a strong case that it is a complement to all lifestyles and a promising supplement for longevity.
From disease prevention to improving our mental health, CBD is a safe and effective way to raise the bar on our day-to-day health and wellness.
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