Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil: How It Works, Benefits & Side Effects

Cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD oil, is a substance that comes from the plant Cannabis sativa, popularly known as marijuana. It can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, help treat insomnia and it has benefits in the treatment of epilepsy.

Unlike other marijuana-based medications, CBD oil does not contain THC, which is the substance in marijuana responsible for the psychotropic effects, such as loss of conscience, and time or space distortions. Therefore, there is a higher probability of CBD oil being used in clinical practice.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil: How It Works, Benefits & Side Effects

How does CBD oil work

The effect of CBD oil is due mainly to its action on two receptors of the body, known as CB1 and CB2. CB1 is in the brain and it’s linked to regulating the release of neurotransmitters and neural activity, while CB2 is in the lymphoid organs, which are responsible for the body’s inflammatory and infectious response.

Due to its action on the CB1 receptor, cannabidiol is capable of stopping excessive neural activity, helping the body to relax and reducing symptoms linked to anxiety. It is also able to regulate pain perception, memory, coordination and cognitive function.

Due to its action on the CB2 receptor, cannabidiol helps in the process of the immune cells releasing cytokines, which means it helps to decrease pain and inflammation.

Possible health benefits  

Due to the effects of CBD oil in the body, its use can have health benefits and even be considered for the treatment of some diseases, such as:

  • Epilepsy: some studies show that cannabidiol oil is capable of decreasing the frequency of convulsions due to the interaction of the substance on the CB1 receptors in the brain, as well as other receptors that are not specific to cannabidiol;
  • Post-traumatic stress (PTS): a study carried out in people diagnosed with PTS proved that the use of cannabidiol caused an improvement in relation to symptoms of anxiety and improved cognitive engagement, in comparison to the group treated with a placebo, in which a worsening of symptoms was observed;
  • Insomnia: due to acting on neural regulation and release of neurotransmitters, cannabidiol oil can promote relaxation and help in the treatment of insomnia. There was also a case study that showed that taking 25 mg of cannabidiol oil was capable of improving sleep quality;
  • Inflammation: a study carried out on mice, indicated that cannabidiol was effective in relieving the pain related to inflammation, as it seems to interact with the receptors related to the feeling of pain.

Despite the indications, action mechanism, properties and absence of THC concentrations, which could make cannabidiol oil more acceptable in the medical and scientific community, the long-term effects of this oil have not been proven. In addition, more studies that prove the effects of CBD oil in a bigger number of people are needed.

Possible side effects

Some studies verified that the side effects of CBD oil are linked to the misuse of the product, mainly when it is not prescribed by a doctor or is being taken in too high concentrations. The side effects may include tiredness and fatigue, diarrhea, changes in weight and appetite, irritability, vomiting and breathing problems. In addition, if children take above 200 mg of cannabidiol it can worsen symptoms of anxiety, as well as causing an increase in heart rate and mood changes.

It was also verified that cannabidiol can interfere in the activity of an enzyme produced by the liver, cytochrome P450, which is responsible for deactivating some medications and toxins. In that way, CBD can affect the side effects of some medications, as well as decrease the ability of the liver in decomposing and eliminating toxins, which can increase the risk of liver toxicity.

In addition, using CBD oil is not indicated for expectant mothers, those who are planning to get pregnant, or mothers who are breastfeeding. This is because CBD can be released into breast milk, and it can also be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy.

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