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Why Is Everyone Talking About the Health Benefits of CBD?

Ask Keri: How is CBD different from marijuana, and is it actually good for me?

Keri Says: Yup, let’s just say CBD’s popularity in wellness circles has been getting higher and higher. Goop recommends spiking your cocktails with CBD, Sakara once sold CBD-infused chocolates, and the New York Times is writing about celebrities using it in skin-care products.

Of course, along with the hype comes a sense that this compound is bound to cure everything that ails you. The truth is that CBD does have a lot of potential as an oil that could help relieve pain, anxiety, and more—but a lot of additional research is needed.

Wait, so What Is CBD?

The most important thing to clear up first: Cannabis (AKA marijuana) is made up of two main components, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the compound you know about, because it’s the one that produces the drug’s famous high. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive, AKA no high.

And while the law is still not entirely clear cut, most sources say unlike marijuana, which is only legal in the states that have legalized it, CBD products are legal in all 50 states as long as they’re made from hemp (cannabis’ less controversial fraternal twin) and contain less than 0.3 percent of THC.

What Are the Health Benefits of CBD?

Now, the science, and this is pretty cool: kind of like the microbiome, the endocannabinoid system is a system within the body that’s getting increased attention in terms of how it affects your health. It consists of receptors in the brain and throughout the body, which endocannabinoids—compounds that are involved in regulating pleasure, memory, concentration, appetite, pain, and much more—bind to. And, you guessed it, CBD is one of them, so it’s potential effects on what’s going on in your body are vast. (Fun fact: the compound that produces the “runner’s high” when you’re logging miles is also an endocannabinoid.)

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The most promising research so far shows CBD may be an excellent treatment for seizure disorders like epilepsy, which is great news but is not exactly what we’re talking about here.

Many people who use it as a wellness remedy swear by its power to relieve pain, and many lab studies back up this benefit, but few clinical trials exist. Treatment for anxiety is another huge area with promise: many people swear it helps. Animal studies suggest it might, and experts are excited about its potential in this area.

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That’s the key: For a very long time, research on CBD has been limited because of marijuana’s classification as an illegal drug. Now, studies are ramping up and there are researchers looking more deeply at how it may help with chronic pain, insomnia, and even Alzheimer’s.

Eating CBD chocolates is a little ahead of the science in terms of what it may do for you, but if a drop of the oil once in a while helps with your anxiety, there’s no downside. And experts say research is just beginning to scratch the surface, so hopefully within the next few years there will be much more conclusive evidence.

 

(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)