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What is CBD and how is it used?

March 13, 2022 - Reading time: 12 minutes

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been extensively researched for its health effects. Right now it is considered an adjuvant against pain, anxiety, and some neurological disorders. Find out how it is used and what the recommendations are.

What is CBD and how is it used?

CBD or cannabidiol is one of the predominant active ingredients in marijuana (cannabis). However, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance often associated with the plant.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that pure CBD is not associated with abuse or dependence in humans. Contrary to this, medicinal benefits are attributed to it.

Now, it should be noted that this extract comes from the Cannabis sativa species, which in turn has two classifications, marijuana, and hemp. CBD is usually obtained from hemp since marijuana is illegal in many states. Thus, it is possible to find it in oil, capsules, gummies, and aerosols. In the following space, we detail its main uses and possible side effects.

How is CBD used and what are its benefits?

In general, the presentation used for CBD is oil. This is dropped in drops under the tongue and held there for about a minute.

As we have mentioned, there are also other presentations, including soaps and beauty products. Still, the only product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is an oil called Epidiolex, used against two types of epilepsy.

To date, the exact mechanism of action of CBD is unclear. However, it has been found to have a low affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which explains its difference from THC.

It is believed to influence the opioid receptors that regulate pain. Likewise, it seems that it also intervenes on glycine receptors, related to hormones of well-being.

And what are its benefits? What do the scientific studies say? Cannabis prohibition has greatly hampered research into the effects of the plant. Despite this, there have been relevant studies that support some of its medical uses. We share them in detail below.

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CBD Pain Relief

Cannabidiol has been investigated for its analgesic effects. A study through the Journal of Pain Research revealed that CBD can decrease chronic pain by affecting the activity of the endocannabinoid receptor, which is involved in the regulation of various functions such as appetite, pain, and immune system response.


In turn, research in rats published in Frontiers in Pharmacology reported that CBD injections reduced the response to pain after a surgical incision. Similar results were seen in another study on rats, which found that oral use of CBD can decrease sciatic nerve pain and inflammation.

For now, more complete studies in humans are necessary to evaluate CBD as an ally for various types of pain. To date, most research includes THC, which makes it difficult to know exactly the effects of CBD on its own.

Chronic pain that can be calmed with CBD.

The analgesic use of CBD is one of the most promising, especially for powerful and chronic pain.

Decreased anxiety and depression

CBD oil has become popular as an adjuvant to reduce anxiety and depression. It is believed that it affects the stimulation of serotonin or the hormone of well-being.

Regarding this, a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry made interesting findings. Men who received oral CBD before a simulated public speaking test experienced less anxiety.

Meanwhile, a case report in the Permanent Journal reported that this oil can safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress. In turn, a study in the British Journal of Pharmacology details that this substance has shown antidepressant effects.

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CBD Neuroprotective Properties

A large number of studies associate the use of CBD with benefits in patients with neurological disorders. Specifically, the researchers suggest that this substance acts on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems, which could be useful against the symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

Through The New England Journal of Medicine, it was reported that CBD oil helped decrease seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, an epilepsy disorder. Likewise, an article published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology details that it helps to improve the quality of life of patients with Parkinson's disease.

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Heart Health

CBD oil appears to be a complementary therapy to lower the risk of heart disease. The reason? An investigation in JCI Insight details that this product helps reduce high blood pressure, especially when associated with excessive levels of stress and anxiety. This allows the heart to pump more efficiently.

Other possible benefits of CBD

CBD continues to be the subject of a wide variety of studies. It is believed that in the future it will be relevant in the development of new drugs. Here are some other potential benefits:

Antipsychotic activity: a study in Schizophrenia Research indicates that cannabidiol helps reduce psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Acne: Through The Journal of Clinical Investigation it was determined that CBD helps reduce excessive sebum production and prevents the activation of inflammatory cytokines, factors associated with acne.

Cancer-related symptoms: Cancer patients also seem to benefit significantly from CBD oil. The evidence shows that this substance favors the relief of pain caused by the disease. In addition, a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology details that it reduces nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy.

Substance abuse: A review published in Substance Abuse Research details that CBD decreases morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior. According to the researchers, this substance changes the brain circuits involved in addiction.

Diabetes: animal studies speak of the potential of CBD as an antidiabetic. In particular, it appears to decrease the incidence of diabetes by up to 56%.


Risks and side effects of CBD

It is essential to note that the use of CBD carries the risk of some side effects. According to clinical research shared on Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research,  adverse reactions can vary from person to person.

However, they cover the following:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Sickness.
  • vomiting.
  • Anxiety.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • dizziness
  • Diarrhea.
  • Humor changes.

Among other things, you have to be very careful in case of liver disease. CBD oil increases liver enzymes, which can be counterproductive. If so, you should first consult your doctor. Its use is not advised during pregnancy and lactation, as it is feared that it may cause developmental problems in the baby. 

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CBD Interactions

Studies suggest that CBD can interact with various medications, including those for epilepsy. Its simultaneous consumption with drugs can increase their toxicity or decrease their effectiveness since they interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYP), which are enzymes that allow the metabolism of active ingredients.

Some of the identified pharmacological interactions of cannabidiol are the following:

  • Immunosuppressive drugs such as Sandimmune ® (cyclosporine).
  • Macrolide antibiotics such as clarithromycin and telithromycin.
  • Migraine medications.
  • Opioid analgesics.
  • Rifampicin-based drugs. 
  • Anticonvulsants such as Tegretol ® (carbamazepine) and Trileptal ® (oxcarbamazepine).
  • Antiarrhythmic drugs. 
  • Antipsychotics.
  • Atypical antidepressants such as Remeron ® (mirtazapine).
  • Sedatives with benzodiazepines.
  • epileptic seizures.
  • CBD can interact with epilepsy medications, so its use in these patients requires precise dose regulation.

Recommended doses of CBD

To date, no guideline for the appropriate use of CBD has been defined. The oil is usually applied under the tongue (sublingual route). Suggested doses typically range from 5 to 25 milligrams. However, you should consult your doctor to define it according to individual needs.

Once the oil has been applied under the tongue (one or more drops), it is recommended to keep the product there for 30 to 60 seconds. Other presentations such as aerosols, capsules, and gummies have their own consumption recommendations.

Final recommendations for the use of CBD

In addition to defining the dose of CBD with your doctor, it is a good idea to find a safe place to buy it and read the product label carefully. Some formulations are labeled "full spectrum," indicating that they contain other compounds from the cannabis plant, such as proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll. Such presentation is believed to offer broader benefits.

Certain forms also contain THC, such as an oral spray called Sativex ®, which is approved in some countries as an adjunct for pain relief associated with multiple sclerosis. The choice of combinations with THC depends on medical criteria and their availability, according to state laws.

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