One of the most celebrated health benefits of CBD oil is its analgesic (pain relieving) effects. It’s thought that CBD interacts with receptors in the brain and immune system to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Some studies, such as this investigation published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, found that CBD significantly reduces inflammation in mice and rats – but it’s not only rodents that experience these effects. A 2008 review identified that CBD offered effective pain relief without inducing adverse side effects in patients.
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and typically, a plant has much more THC than CBD. Strains higher in CBD are being bred and cultivated for smoking, but the primary use of CBD is to extract it into an oil for medical use. While CBD is derived from marijuana, it is unlike THC in that it is not psychoactive. That is to say that it does not give a person the mind-altering “high” that THC is well-known for providing.
Yet the DEA has stated unequivocally that it considers CBD to be illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. “CBD derived from the cannabis plant is controlled under Schedule I of the CSA because it is a naturally occurring constituent of marijuana,” Joseph Rannazzisi, the deputy assistant administrator of the DEA, told a congressional panel in June. “While there is ongoing research into a potential medical use of CBD, at this time, CBD has no currently accepted medical use in the USA.” Moreover, DEA spokesman Eduardo Chavez told the New Republic that Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s in-house opinion with regards to CBD has no merit. “The bottom line,” Chavez said, “is the oil is part of the marijuana plant, and the marijuana plant is currently a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.”
Typically, pharmaceutical companies making cannabis-based medicines have sought to isolate individual compounds from the plant. But Mechoulam strongly suspects that in some cases those chemicals would work much better in concert with other compounds found in marijuana. He calls this the entourage effect, and it’s just one of the many cannabis mysteries that he says require further study.
CBD’s potential usefulness in treating certain conditions is yet another argument in favor of legalizing the entire cannabis plant. Removing cannabis from the federal list of Schedule I narcotics that are illegal under the Controlled Substances Act would allow scientists to research its full medical potential and pharmaceutical companies in the United States to develop marijuana-based drugs and submit them for FDA approval. Government-regulated labs could test products like CBD oil to ensure safety and quality. Doctors could prescribe marijuana- based medicines with full knowledge of potential side effects and drug interactions, and without fear of losing their medical licenses or being thrown in jail.
We also rated the product based on the type of CBD they used: isolate, full-spectrum decarb, broad-spectrum, or distillate. There’s a lot of debate around what is actually best, but our first decision was to give points to CBD oil that contains a range of cannabinoids. While there are certainly people with good reasons for choosing an isolate, there’s a lot of good evidence that CBD works better in combination with other cannabinoids (this is called the “entourage effect”).
CBD also encourages the body to convert white fat to brown fat. White fat is the kind of fat we typically think of when we think about body fat. Brown fat is fat that is in small deposits that behaves differently than white fat. Brown fat is said to improve health by enhancing the bodies ability to burn white fat, create heat, and even regulate blood sugar.
Low concentrations of CBD aren’t the only concern, either. Cannabis plants are hardy and tough, and their thick stalks possess a special property: bioremediation. When grown in contaminated soil, hemp plants absorb heavy metals and other chemical waste, effectively cleansing the terrain. While all plants absorb some chemicals from the soil, the structure, size, and genetic makeup of hemp make it especially adept at this task. Cannabis is so effective that crops of industrial hemp were planted in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster to help purify heavily irradiated soil. When hemp stalks are used for fiber, paper, and other nonconsumptive industrial purposes, the contaminants absorbed into the plants pose no threat to humans.
Cannabinoids affect the transmission of pain signals from the affected region to the brain (ascending) and from the brain to the affected region (descending). A 2011 study showed that CBD and CBC stimulated descending pain-blocking pathways in the nervous system and caused analgesia by interacting with several target proteins involved in nociceptive control. Authors concluded that the cannabinoids “might represent useful therapeutic agents with multiple mechanisms of action.”  The following year, researchers reported that CBD significantly suppressed chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing apparent analgesic tolerance in animals.  And then in 2013, researchers concluded that chronic pain patients prescribed hydrocodone were less likely to take the painkiller if they used cannabis. 
What is clear though, is that with research on CBD and cannabis showing indisputably positive results, legalization has been picking up pace around the globe. And with CBD hemp oil already legal throughout much of the US, Australia and the EU, millions of people are already experiencing the benefits of CBD, with numbers only increasing exponentially.
The cannabis plant is filled with hundreds of different compounds, several of which have been studied for decades for their therapeutic benefits. The cannabis compounds that have captured the most scientific interest are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are now used in treatment for a broad—and growing—range of conditions and symptoms, from sleep and pain, to anxiety and inflammation, to Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
“It is important to remember that CBD benefits and improves the activity in the endocannabinoid system by increasing the time anandamide works on the CB1 and CB2 receptors,” writes Dr. Michael Moskowitz. “Anandamide works on the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine systems. It also works on the GABA-glutamate system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Its main role is restoring balance through inhibition when levels are too high and enhancement when they are too low. This is the most likely reason phytocannabinoids in general and CBD specifically are able to regulate depression and anxiety.”
While researchers are calling for more robust studies on the role of CBD on mood disorders, there is promising research that points to CBD’s role as an anxiolytic – which means it has anti-anxiety effects. Another study showed CBD to have antidepressant effects comparable to those of the prescription antidepressant Imipramine. We noted above that CBD increases levels of glutamate and serotonin – and it’s these same neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in mood regulation.
The following medications and other supplements may interact with CBD. Effects may include increasing or decreasing sleepiness and drowsiness, interfering with the effectiveness of the medications or supplements, and interfering with the condition that is being treated by the medication or supplement. These are lists of commonly used medications and supplements that have scientifically identified interactions with CBD. People who take these or any other medications and supplements should consult with a physician before beginning to use CBD.
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