How Does CBD Oil Work

CBD oil might seem like the latest craze that’s sure to pass soon, but there is some real science behind the effectiveness of CBD oil. Part of the popularity of CBD oil and other hemp products, no doubt has much do to with its connection to its close cousin and its psychoactive effects. But CBD oil’s THC containing recreational cousin, marijuana, has been known to possess medicinal properties not just for years or decades, but for millennia.

The earliest recorded uses of medicinal cannabis date back to ancient times. The Chinese emperor Fu Hsi made references to cannabis, noting its uses for medicinal purposes and that cannabis possessed both the yin and yang. That was all the way back in 2900 BC1. CBD oil, and other medicinal uses for marijuana might seem like something new to us today, or even something recently rediscovered, but that’s just not the case. Medicinal uses for cannabis and hemp have been around at least 4900 years.

What is CBD oil and what is it used to treat?

The CBD oil that you can buy is extracted from hemp, and not the marijuana (THC containing) plant. Although hemp and marijuana plants are very similar and many botanists even argue that they are one and the same plant, there are some important differences2:

  • Legally, hemp plants have to contain 0.3% THC or less, meaning that there is not enough of the psychoactive chemical to alter a person’s state of mind, or get them high. Marijuana grown for recreational uses contains much higher amounts of THC
  • Hemp is grown for its fibres, seeds and oils that are used for textiles, fabrics and medicinal and personal care products. Marijuana is only grown for recreational and medicinal purposes
  • CBD oil can be extracted from both plants, but CBD oil you can legally buy in most places contains less than 0.3% THC meaning that there isn’t enough of the chemical to use for recreational purposes

CBD oil from hemp may be found in a myriad of products. CBD is a popular ingredient in creams, toothpastes and even laundry detergents. Companies are adding CBD to improve their products, and in many cases just to help boost sales. Since CBD oil is used in so many products it’s important to determine what we know about CBD oil and how it works. That way you can avoid paying extra for products containing CBD oil that don’t necessarily benefit from it.

CBD oil is used to treat3:

  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • Drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia

How does CBD oil actually work?

There is a lot of information out there when it comes to how CBD oil works, and it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. The most credible sources will always underline that the way CBD oil works is not yet fully understood. Even though there may be some mystery when it comes to how CBD oil helps with so many ailments, a lot is understood.

Here is what we know4:

  • CBD is thought to influence different receptors, including the opioid receptors that are responsible for the regulation of pain, and glycine receptors that work to regulate the feel good hormone, serotonin
  • CBD is known to activate and inhibit compounds in the endocannabinoid system, this is what is thought to give CBD the ability to regulate pain
  • CBD oil doesn’t exhibit any addictive properties or any signs of dependency
  • CBD oil is also known to reduce inflammation in the brain. This can lead to many of the health improvements people experience after using CBD oil, such as pain relief, reduced or eliminated insomnia, and some immune system responses

What is CBD oil best at treating?

While many benefits that people praise CBD oil for are largely based on anecdotal evidence, there are some very serious health conditions that CBD oil has been proven to help with. There have even been some pharmaceuticals developed on the basis of CBD to help with certain conditions, the most recent being an epilepsy medicine called Epidiolex5.

  • CBD is very well known for helping with childhood epilepsy syndromes, especially Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). These two types of epilepsy are known not to respond to anti-seizure medications, but there have been several studies that show that CBD was able to reduce the number of these types of seizures in individuals and in some cases eliminate them completely6.
  • Anxiety is thought to effect over 40 million adults in the USA alone7. CBD has been used successfully to help lower or eliminate anxiety in people suffering from it8. It’s also very effective in treating insomnia, helping people fall asleep and stay asleep without waking up multiple times
  • CBD oil is also an alternative for treating many types of pain. There have been studies showing that CBD oil helps lower inflammation and reduce pain as a result of arthritis when applied on to the skin. It has also been shown to help reduce and stop inflammatory and neuropathic pain, these are the two most difficult types of pain to treat.

Can CBD oil do harm?

So we know that CBD oil can help with many ailments, but what about the side effects? Is it completely safe? CBD oil is generally very well tolerated by most people, but it’s known to have some side effects. These are the most common10:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Bad interaction with some medications (check with your doctor if the medication you’re taking is safe with CBD), especially blood thinners
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea

Although CBD oil itself is considered fairly safe, it’s important to remember that the CBD industry is not very well regulated at the moment. This means that the CBD products you buy may not be exactly as advertised. One study that looked at 84 CBD products found that:

  • More than 25% of the products contained less CBD than stated on the product label
  • Higher levels of THC were found in 18 out of the 84 products tested
  • These discrepancies mean that regulation and quality control isn’t where it needs to be when it comes to CBD products. At the moment it’s best to rely on consumer reviews of products and vendors when it comes to choosing CBD products for personal use

CBD oil helps with many health issues, although it’s important to know that the science behind it isn’t completely understood yet, even though we’re getting close. It’s a good idea to take precautions when it comes to dosing, and choosing CBD products.

  1. Pro
  2. Medium:
  3. Very Well Health:
  4. Harvard Health:
  5. FDA:
  6. Harvard Health:
  7. Anxiety and Depression Association of America:,of%20those%20suffering%20receive%20treatment.
  8. National institute of Drug Abuse:
  9. Harvard Health:
  10. Mayo Clinic:’s%20often%20well%2Dtolerated,dosage%20of%20CBD%20in%20products.

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