What did I experience? As was the case for Talansky, my sleep improved almost immediately. It wasn’t that I slept more; I felt like I slept better—more soundly, less waking during the night, more often getting out of bed feeling refreshed. By the second week I noticed less overall creakiness while going about daily activities; CBD advocates would say the products had lowered systemic inflammation. Those two changes made me feel like I was recovering better from training, which led to being more eager to train, and feeling better while doing so.
Although most states restrict the use of CBD products to certain medical conditions, manufacturers of CBD claim their products are derived from industrial hemp, and therefore legal for anyone to use. A number of these manufacturers ship CBD products to all 50 states, which the federal government has so far not intervened in. CBD is also openly sold in head shops, health food stores, chiropractor clinics, optometrist offices, doctors offices and pharmacies in some states where such sales have not been explicitly legalized.
And the products on the shelf aren't all the same, Ward said. "There can be many, many different varieties, and if you're thinking about doing this for medical reasons, you want to find a trusted source and do your research," she said. "Where does that oil come from, and how confident can you be that you know the exact percentages of the different cannabinoids in the product?"
All this means that scientists can still only obtain marijuana-derived CBD from farms licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (which until this year meant only one farm owned by the University of Mississippi). As for whether you should have a preference for CBD that comes from hemp, marijuana, or a pure synthetically produced version, there are some theories that THC—and even the smell and taste of cannabis—might make CBD more effective, but Bonn-Miller says these ideas have yet to be proven.
Kimberly is the reference editor for Live Science and Space.com. She has a bachelor's degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in biology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her favorite stories include animals and obscurities. A Texas native, Kim now lives in a California redwood forest. You can follow her on Twitter @kimdhickok.
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBD helps treat a variety of ailments. People are turning to oils, gummies, and other CBD food and drink products to relax at the end of a long day. Retired NFL players are using CBD to manage physical pain, debilitating headaches, and sleeplessness. Spa clients are even using CBD skin products to fight signs of aging.
Further testing found what the world now knows: This compound is the plant’s principal active ingredient, its mind-altering essence—the stuff that makes you high. Mechoulam, along with a colleague, had discovered tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). He and his team also elucidated the chemical structure of cannabidiol (CBD), another key ingredient in marijuana, one that has many potential medical uses but no psychoactive effect on humans.
Devinsky puts more weight behind the scientific advancements: In June, the FDA approved an epilepsy drug called Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD oil. In controlled clinical trials, the drug was proven to reduce seizures in people with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome — and it didn't produce as many of the unpleasant side-effects that come with other epilepsy medications.
Can’t sleep? Cannabis oil also works for people with insomnia. The calming effects of the oil help people to sleep calmly, relieving issues of anxiety and restlessness. A 2015 scientific review published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy found that cannabis treatment is effective for military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research suggests that cannabinoids, the psychoactive components of unrefined cannabis, regulates neurotransmitter release and produces a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes.
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