It wasn’t all that long ago that CBD was known as THC’s younger, less glamorous sibling. But those days are long gone. CBD’s It-Girl status has amassed a global following of devoted groupies who swear by it’s ability to curb insomnia, ease pain, treat seizures, and reduce anxiety, among other star qualities.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants. But unlike THC, CBD won’t give you bloodshot eyes and make you fall in love with a jar of peanut butter. Nope, whether you eat it, drink it, smoke it, drop it under your tongue, or rub it in as a cream, CBD won’t get you high at all.
While much of the research into what CBD actually does to your body is preclinical and more testing is needed, the early studies point to therapeutic benefits after using it daily for a while (usually around a month).
To help you decide if CBD is something you should consider, here’s what the existing research says. But if you’re serious about treating a condition with CBD, we recommend you speak with a doctor. CBD’s not cheap, and a professional can help you determine if it’s the route you should take.
You’ve probably wondered if the seemingly never-ending stream of anxiety-related CBD products actually do anything. While research is short a definitive yes, a review of 49 small and preclinical studies done on humans found overall that CBD did help manage anxiety.
So, how much should you take and for how long? The answer to that question is still debated but many studies show CBD needs to be taken daily for weeks at a time to take effect. For example, a small 2019 study found 25 milligrams per day over the course of a month did the trick for the majority of participants.
Interested? Take a look at this CBD tonic designed to curb anxiety.
When we talk about CBD as a treatment for pain relief, we’re generally talking about chronic pain, meaning you’ve felt it on a daily basis for at least 3 months. While this is more common in older people, common conditions like endometriosis, IBD, and muscular injuries often cause chronic pain in younger folks.
Though in its early stages, research shows taking around 25 milligrams of CBD daily for at least 2 weeks helped many participants ease body and nerve pain. It’s important to note, though, that it was shown to be most effective when taken with 27 milligrams of THC.
The study also showed that same dose remained effective over the long term, so no need to keep increasing the dosage (aka paying more money) to feel the effects.
We don’t need to remind you how important sleep is for living your best life. And CBD has gotten a lot of attention for helping in that realm. Research has been mixed but studies have shown it can help REM sleep in particular, may decrease nightmares in people with PTSD, and help people with chronic pain sleep better.
Once again, don’t expect effects to set in right away. In these studies, taking between 25 and 175 milligrams a day for around 3 months was the golden ticket for most participants. (Since this is a rather wide range, start with 25 a day and gradually increase after a week or so if you haven’t felt a change.)
If you’re a DIY enthusiast (or just looking for a new cooking project), check our this CBD recipe specifically for sleep.
What happens when you combine overzealous skin care marketing with an hyped ingredient like CBD? A lot of promises without a whole lot of proof. Which isn’t to say CBD doesn’t have potential to help skin, but you may want to look into other less pricey skin care ingredients before you go all in with trendy CBD.
The skin care area with the best CBD research is for acne. In a 2014 study, researchers applied CBD to tissue and cell samples and found that CBD decreased oil production and had anti-inflammatory effects (a major factor in how acne forms). Another study from 2016 backed up this claim that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties could help your skin.
However, it’s important to note neither of these studies applied CBD directly to human skin. Be on the lookout for more relevant studies in the future.
In test tube and animal studies, yes. The potential ability of CBD to eradicate tumor cells is definitely an exciting realm of this field. But it’s far too soon to claim cannabis’ star compound as a cure for cancer. The research that has been done — like this 2011 study and this 2007 study on CBD and breast cancer — is in its infancy. Much more research is needed.
You may be wondering if we’ve found anything definitive about CBD and the answer is yes. CBD — specifically the medication Epidiolex, a nasal spray with nearly equal parts CBD and THC — is FDA-approved to treat seizures. A 2019 study found Epidiolex significantly reduced seizures in the majority of people.
If you’re interested in treating seizures with CBD (or know someone who is), it’s important to talk to a doctor. Many regimens include pairing CBD with other medications for the best result.
For every CBD story out there, there’s a looming question thanks to CBD’s connection to cannabis: Is it legal? The answer, it turns out, is complicated.
Long story short: CBD, defined as having less than 0.3 percent THC, is legal federally, but many states still prohibit it. So if you happen to live in one of the 12 states (we’re counting Washington D.C. in that) where recreational cannabis is legal, you’ll be able to buy CBD from any store that sells it no problem.
If you’re not sure what your states laws are, we recommend checking out this website which details each state’s specific CBD laws.
And on the subject of legality, keep in mind that though rare, it’s possible taking CBD will cause you to test positive for THC on a drug test. That’s because cross contamination is common and due to shotty regulation, you can’t always trust the dosage or potency listed on the label.
Based on the research that’s been done, it’s very difficult to overdo it with CBD. For example, this study found 1500 milligrams a day was the safe limit for humans, far above any recommended dosage in this article.
There are possible negative side effects, like fatigue, diarrhea, and a shift in appetite. And the FDA recommends staying away from CBD altogether if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, since there isn’t enough research to determine it’s safe.
If you’re concerned about how much CBD to take, check out our article all about dosage.
Nickolaus Hines is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor who covers cannabis, food, and travel.