CBD: Benefits, Types, & Side Effects
CBD, or cannabidiol, is recommended for everything from anxiety and stress to indigestion and depression. And, a lot of people are using it. A recent Gallup poll found 1 in 7 adults in the U.S. has used CBD.
So, does it help? Studies of CBD are ongoing, but some benefits have been found.
What is CBD?
There are two types of cannabis sativa: hemp and marijuana. The hemp plant is the source of CBD used in most products.
Hemp and marijuana plants
CBD is one of a group of substances called cannabinoids derived from the cannabis sativa plant.
There are dozens of cannabinoids, as well as other substances, in cannabis sativa.
CBD is the primary cannabinoid in hemp. It has various healing properties. For example, it seems to lessen inflammation, the body’s response to illness or injury. In this way, it may help treat many different diseases.
CBD is not psychoactive; it does not have a mind-altering effect.
CBD vs. THC
Marijuana contains more THC than CBD. Hemp has a very small amount of THC, less than 0.3 percent, and not enough to cause a high. As of 2018, CBD from hemp became legal in the U.S. with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintaining control.
CBD’s main property is healing and it’s derived from the hemp plant. On the other hand, THC’s main property is mind-altering and it’s derived from the marijuana plant.
Excessive and continued use of CBD may lead to side effects, including memory loss, slow reaction time, and changes in mood such as irritability.
How CBD Works
As stated above, CBD is in a class of chemicals called cannabinoids. Because it comes from a plant, it is further classified as a phytocannabinoid.
The human body also produces natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids.
Both variations of cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are part of the complex endocannabinoid system (ECS). The system regulates the release of neurotransmitters (chemicals that communicate between nerve cells) in the brain, as well as in other parts of the nervous system. The ECS responds to both types of cannabinoids, phyto- and endo-.
By acting on the ECS, CBD may have many different effects on the body. Examples include: balancing the body’s overall physical functions (homeostasis), reducing pain sensation, and lessening the body’s reaction to injury or inflammation.
Medical Uses of CBD
Studies are ongoing, but some results show that CBD may be effective in reducing anxiety/stress and chronic (long-term) pain like back pain. It may also be effective for insomnia, or trouble sleeping.
There are studies of oral, topical, and inhaled CBD products for use in many other conditions, including dystonia (movement disorder), Fragile X syndrome (rare genetic disorder), graft-versus-host disease (bone marrow transplant rejection), multiple sclerosis (MS), opioid withdrawal, schizophrenia, and smoking cessation. CBD is also used to alleviate symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, but some study results advise against it.
Types of CBD Products
CBD oil may be used both ways.
Other oral products include edible gummies and capsules. Topical CBD products may also be found in lotions, creams, or balms. Again, they are available in various concentrations.
CBD should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you read and follow the label carefully. Only use the amount instructed. Using more may increase the chance of side effects, interactions, or other problems.
The dose of a CBD product depends on the form and strength, as well as the concentration of CBD in it. It’s also based on whether or not it has other active ingredients.
Side Effects of CBD
The most common side effects are tiredness or drowsiness and diarrhea. Other side effects are dry mouth, vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, and abnormal liver function blood tests.
CAUTION: Since CBD may cause tiredness or drowsiness, be very careful when driving, using tools or other equipment, or performing other activities involving risks.
CBD and Medical Conditions
(name=interactions)CAUTION: CBD should not be taken by people with liver disease or Parkinson's disease.
CBD and Medicines/Drugs
CAUTION: CBD should not be used with medicines that are prescribed to control seizures or epilepsy.
There are also other medicines you should not take with CBD. Doing so may increase the effects of those medicines. As an example, taking CBD with drugs that cause drowsiness may cause the person to become even more sleepy.
CBD may also increase side effect risks if certain medicines are used together. There may be interactions with some commonly prescribed drugs, including warfarin, lithium, sertraline, tramadol, codeine, valproic acid, carbamazepine, and captopril. To avoid interactions, speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking CBD with other medications.
CBD, Foods, and Herbs
CAUTION: Fatty foods may increase how CBD is absorbed by the body.
CAUTION: Taking CBD with other herbs that cause drowsiness or sleepiness may increase this effect.
Oral CBD for Pain
The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) found significant evidence that cannabis was an effective treatment for long-term (chronic) pain. However, much of the research was done outside of the U.S. And the forms of cannabis studied in the U.S. were not the same as those commonly used.
Reviews and meta-analyses of cannabinoids found the following:
Studies looked at the use of cannabinoids (THC alone and CBD combined with THC) in people with chronic pain. In general, results showed improvements in pain measures, but they were not statistically significant.
Studies found evidence, although not high-quality, that cannabis-based medicines reduced long-term nerve (chronic neuropathic) pain. All but two studies used plant-based THC/CBD mouth spray products (the other two used synthetic oral THC products).
Results of observational studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the effectiveness of cannabinoids in chronic non-cancer pain showed a 30% reduction in pain in 1 out of 3 of those using cannabinoids. These results were considered significant.
Topical CBD for Pain
There is also continuing research on the safety and effectiveness of topical CBD. Some of the research includes the following:
Although not in humans, an animal study found transdermal CBD had the ability to lessen the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Topical cannabidiol oil was studied in 29 people with lower limb peripheral neuropathy. After using the oil for 4 weeks, results showed less intense and sharp pain and fewer other uncomfortable sensations.
Applications of transdermal cannabidiol were studied in people with temporomandibular (joint of the jaw) disorders (TMD) that caused myofascial (coverings of muscle) pain. Those studied had less muscle tension and pain after applying the topical CBD for 2 weeks.
Oral CBD to Help with Sleep
Oral CBD products may be used to help with sleep. This research includes the following:
Early results of research suggest that a 160mg dose of cannabidiol before bed significantly improves sleep duration compared to a placebo in patients with insomnia. Smaller doses did not have this effect. Also, patients did not feel drowsy the next morning.
Early research on CBD for the treatment of insomnia suggests that it may be effective. Additional studies are needed.
Animal studies of CBD found increased total sleep and improved sleep quality when sleep issues were associated with anxiety/stress.
Medical cannabis users reported they used cannabis with higher CBD and lower THC concentrations for their insomnia. They also reported a decrease in the time required to fall asleep.
A review and meta-analysis of 8 studies with low-quality evidence of cannabis-based medicines found that they were better at reducing sleep problems compared to inactive medicines (placebo).
A review of clinical trials of the effect of cannabinoids on sleep suggested that cannabinoids could improve sleep quality, decrease sleep disturbances, and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. However, there were limiting factors, such as the small size of the studies.
An app was used to measure changes in insomnia in over 400 people taking medical cannabis. Results showed an average symptom severity reduction of 4.5 points on a 10-point scale, a significant improvement in insomnia.
Another review with meta-analysis of 104 studies evaluated cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain. Within this review and analysis, the effect of cannabinoids on sleep was also examined. There was low-quality evidence of improved sleep.
Because it is so widely available and recommended for so many problems, it must be used carefully and purchased from reliable sources.
CBD is just one of many supplements that can alleviate back pain or insomnia. Take a Goodpath assessment for an integrative program that incorporates supplements, nutrition, mind-body therapies, and exercise.
Shelled Hemp Seed Side Effects
Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts in their hulled form, are a trendy health food that's actually been around for centuries. Whether you sprinkle, stir or eat them straight, these tiny, nutty-flavored seeds have powerful properties. Contrary to what you might think, though, instead of getting you high, hemp seeds can help get you healthy. Like other plant foods, they have many nutritional benefits, but there are also a few hemp seed side effects.
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What Are Hemp Seeds?
Shelled hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, come from the Cannabis sativa L. plant. While it's related to the marijuana plant, this variety is grown for industrial and nutritional uses. The seeds of the Cannabis sativa L. plant have extremely low levels of THC, so they don't have the psychoactive effects of recreational marijuana.
According to a March 2018 review published in the journal Phytochemistry Reviews, hemp seeds were one of the five grains of ancient China. They were an important part of Chinese diets until about the 10th century. Other old-world cultures also recognized hemp seeds' nutritional benefits. In Europe, whole hemp seeds (including the hulls), were eaten during times of famine. Today, they've been rediscovered as a powerful source of nutrients and phytochemicals that have health-promoting benefits.
Hemp Seeds Nutrition
It's no wonder that hemp seeds were a staple food back in the day. These tiny seeds are packed with protein, healthy fats, fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals. In fact, the National Hemp Association touts them as being more nutritious than any other edible plant food grown on earth.
Technically a nut, hemp seeds' nutrition content surpasses that of many other nuts and seeds. According to the USDA, a 3-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds provides about 10 grams of protein, 15 grams of healthy omega-rich fats and 3 grams of carbs. Hemp seeds' nutrition profile also includes magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, calcium and fiber. In addition, they have been identified as a source of various antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonoids and flavanols.
The Protein in Hemp Seeds
Hulled hemp seeds are rich in protein, and they're especially high in the amino acid arginine, according to a still often-cited 2010 study in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Unlike many other plant foods, the protein in hemp seeds provides all nine of the essential amino acids, so they're considered a nutritionally complete protein source. In addition to their excellent amino acid profile, another bonus is that the protein in hemp seeds is easy for most people to digest.
The 10 grams of protein in a 3-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds is about the same amount you'd get from 1 1/2 ounces of peanuts, 2 small eggs or a little over a half cup of lentils. Hemp seeds are an especially easy way to boost the protein content of your meal if you're trying to cut back on meat, because they pack a lot of protein into a small serving. Try sprinkling them on cereal, yogurt or a salad as a delicious and nutty-tasting garnish.
The Fats in Hemp Seeds
Most of the calories in hemp seeds come from fat, but it's the good-for-you unsaturated kind. Hemp seed oil is rich in essential fatty acids — fats that you must eat because your body can't make them. These include linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Hemp seeds also contain a more rare type of omega-6 fat called gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Because they are high in fat, hemp seeds can also be high in calories. According to the USDA, a 3-tablespoon serving of shelled hemp seeds contains 166 calories. Even though they're healthy calories, they can add up quickly if you overdo them.
Hemp Seed Side Effects
According to Michigan Medicine, most people tolerate hemp seeds without negative side effects. In fact, because of their nutrients, hemp seed side effects may be positive rather than harmful. The healthy fats in hemp seeds may be helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing platelets from becoming too sticky and forming plaques.
Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of their GLA, hemp seeds may also improve symptoms associated with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Sometimes foods can interact with medications, but according to Michigan Medicine, there are no known interactions between hemp seeds and medications. However, because the fats in hemp seeds have anti-platelet activity, eating large amounts may increase the risk of bleeding if you take blood-thinning medications.
Another potential hemp seeds side effect, especially if you eat them in large amounts, is loose stools or diarrhea. One additional rare, but possible, hemp seeds side effect is the small risk that they contain higher than expected amounts of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana.
Risk of Hemp Seed Allergy
It's not very common to have a hemp seeds allergy, but it certainly is possible, and it may be one of the more serious hemp seeds side effects. An article in the February 2016 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology detailed a case series of five patients who had a hemp seeds allergy that resulted in anaphylaxis after eating the seeds. If you have a hemp seeds allergy, be aware that they may be used in commercially baked products like bread, cereals, crackers and snack bars, so always read food labels carefully.
Who Should Eat Hemp Seeds?
Anyone without a hemp seed allergy should be able to eat them and enjoy various health benefits. Research published in October 2018 in the journal Food Chemistry showed that the antioxidants in hemp seeds have the ability to fight oxidative stress and protect cells from damage — something everyone can benefit from. The authors suggest that hemp seeds should be considered a functional food because of their wide range of health benefits.
Sprinkling some hemp seeds into a meal is an easy way to bump up your beneficial fats, protein and fiber. Their omega-3 and essential fats may also reduce the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, help keep your brain sharp and your weight in check.