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CBD: Benefits and Uses

By Matt Sage

CBD is the abbreviation for Cannabidiol which derives from the hemp plant, along with medical marijuana. Unlike medical marijuana, which includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not result in the “high” feeling. According to the World Health Organization, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependency. Given there is no evidence of health related problems associated with using CBD, it tends to be a good alternative to use for a variety of diseases related to physical, emotional, and mental pain. 

Is CBD healthy and what can it be used for?

It is hard to say categorically whether CBD is “healthy”. There is still a lot of research being done to understand its “healthiness” and effectiveness. It can, however, be used for a wide variety of diseases. The most common reasons we see our patients using CBD is to have more restful sleep, and reduce their physical, emotional and mental chronic pain. This includes diseases and ailments like: migraines, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases, inflammation related to chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. 

From my personal experience, 60-70% patients have seen an increase in their quality of life from using CBD. About 30-40% of our other patients don’t see a lot, or any benefit from using CBD. But, I would suggest testing the dosage of CBD to see if that can make a difference. When first starting out, start with a smaller dosage; otherwise, you can pay a lot of money for a product that doesn’t necessarily work for you. 

CBD also comes in a variety of dosage forms, including: topicals, sublingual drops, capsules, food, and gummies. For chronic physical pain, topicals may be an effective remedy that can be placed on the area of your body that you feel pain. They can also be great for decreasing inflammation in that area, which will contribute to your pain relief.  

What dosage is appropriate to take?

CBD products can have wide ranges of dosages. Dosages can range from 1 milligram per day to hundreds of milligrams a day in some cases. However, you may want to consider certain factors when choosing the amount that would be right for you; such as: your weight, the condition you are using the CBD for, the concentration of CBD in the product, and your individual body chemistry. 

Start with a small amount first and then increase the dosage gradually, every week. It may also be helpful to track your symptoms, if any, while using CBD. That way you can see any physiological changes, whether positive or negative, with each dosage and see what works best for you. Most products will be clear as to the dosage of each gummy, oil, drop, etc. 
It is worth noting that even if you take a higher dosage, you will likely be able to tolerate it. Studies have shown that even 1500 mg a day for prolonged periods did not have any adverse effects on humans. However, a study done in mice did show that high doses of CBD over prolonged periods may cause liver damage. Your best bet is to speak to your doctor before taking high doses of CBD, especially if you are taking other medications.

Does CBD have to be used over prolonged periods or does it work instantly?

Most patients who start taking CBD see results pretty quickly. There are some studies though that say CBD takes up to a week to be effective, particularly in oral dosage forms. For sleep,  most of the CBD options we dispense, we see them working rather quickly, as well as the topicals for acute pain.  

It is important to note that for patients that suffer from chronic physical pain, inflammation, migraines, they may have to wait a bit longer to see lasting results, especially if they are taking oral dosage forms. They may also have to adjust their dosage to see what works best for them.

What are the risks, if any, to prolonged uses of CBD?

There is still a lot of research being done on CBD; which means that we may not understand all the potential risks.  It is usually well-tolerated but there can be some side effects. You may experience dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue.  If you are taking any other medications, such as blood thinners, you may want to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking CBD. 

Some studies have shown that CBD may have a negative effect on the liver. It may also affect male fertility, particularly lowering a male’s sperm count. There is not much research supporting these findings.  But these are things to be mindful of. The best way to combat these effects is by consulting your doctor before using any CBD products. 

You also want to be careful where you purchase your CBD products. CBD is highly unregulated. It may be best to purchase CBD products from a pharmacy or at least, a reputable manufacturer. We have seen patients that picked up CBD products from less trustworthy suppliers and had issues with drug testing. 

What is the future for CBD in the medical community?

CBD has gained a lot of traction in the medical community, in certain areas, in recent years. Personally, it has been most frequently embraced for chronic pain patients and I have seen great results with those patients. The most important piece is to be reasonable with your expectations when you start taking CBD. For some patients, they get life-changing results, and for others, they see no difference to their quality of life at all. 

The more research that is being done on CBD, and the more patients report that they can see overall benefits, the more it will be embraced. Interest in CBD and CBD products have definitely increased and I don’t expect it to slow down. How the medical community will normalize and prescribe CBD, only time will tell.