CBD Oil: How It Works, Benefits & Side Effects

Clinical review: Manuel Reis
Registered Nurse
  1. How is works
  2. Health benefits  
  3. Side effects

CBD oil is a substance that is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, 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, Cannabidiol oil does not contain THC, which is the substance in marijuana responsible for the psychotropic effects like decreased awareness, space distortions and a "high". Therefore, CBD oil has a higher potential for application in clinical practice.

More studies are necessary to understand the benefits and appropriate dosing of CBD oil for the treatment of each type of health problem.

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How does CBD oil work

CBD oil mainly acts 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. This may help with symptoms associated with anxiety and can positive influence the body’s ability to regulate pain perception, memory, coordination and cognitive function.

Due to its action on the CB2 receptor, cannabidiol aids with the release of cytokines from immune cells. This can help 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 disorder (PTSD): a study done on people diagnosed with PTSD proved that the use of cannabidiol was positively associated with an improvement in symptoms of anxiety and cognitive engagement compared to the group treated with a placebo, in which a worsening of symptoms was observed;
  • Insomnia: due to its action 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 larger population 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 if it being taken in excessively 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 cause an increase in heart rate and mood changes.

It was also confirmed that cannabidiol can interfere with 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 intended action of some medications, as well as decrease the ability of the liver ito breakdown and eliminate toxins. Both of these factors can increase the risk of liver toxicity.

CBD oil use is not advised 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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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in May 2022. Clinical review completed by Manuel Reis - Registered Nurse in May 2022.

References

  • BERGAMASCHI, Mateus M.; QUEIROZ, Regina Helena C.; CHAGAS, Marcos H. et al. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naı¨ve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. Vol 36. 1219–1226, 2011
  • ANVISA. Nota Técnica nº 01/2017/GMESP/GGMED/ANVISA - Esclarecimentos a respeito do registro do medicamento Mevatyl. 2017. Available on: <http://portal.anvisa.gov.br/documents/33836/351923/NT++01+-+2017+-+Mevatyl.pdf/4e02e67a-34b6-48d6-9c34-d0aa4a5dd1fd>. Access in 23 Jun 2020
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  • Revista do Farmacêutico. 2018. Available on: <https://www.crfsp.org.br/images/stories/revista/rf135/rf135.pdf>. Access in 23 Jun 2020
  • SAMANTA, Debopam. Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Efficacy and Safety in Epilepsy. Pediatr Neurol. 24-29, 2019
  • FASINU, Pius S.; PHILLIPS, Sarah; ELSOHLY, Mahmoud; WALKER, Larry A. Current Status and Prospects for CannabidiolPreparations as New Therapeutic Agents. Pharmacotherapy. Vol 36. 7 ed; 781-796, 2016
  • VANDOLAH, Harrison J.; BAUER, Brent A.; MAUCK, Karen F. Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils. Mayo Clin Proc. Vol 94. 9 ed; 1840-1851, 2019
  • SHANNON, Scott; OPILA-LEHMAN, Janet. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. The Permanente Journal. Vol 20. 4 ed; 108-111, 2016
  • WOLFF, Djoeke; REIJNEVELD, Sijmen A. Use of Cannabidiol Oil in Children. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2019
  • NAZARENUS, Christine. Medical Cannabis Handbook for Healthcare Professionals. Springer Publishing Company, 2019. 79-81.
Clinical review:
Manuel Reis
Registered Nurse
Manuel graduated in 2013 and is licensed to practice under the Ordem dos Enfermeiros de Portugal, with license #79026. He specializes in Advanced Clinical Phytotherapy.