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What is the Most Efficient CBD? Why the Way You Take CBD Matters

CBD, or cannabidiol, is continuing its seemingly unstoppable march into the mainstream. When CBD first began to circulate in major retailers, it was most commonly available as CBD oil or edibles. However, it is now common to see CBD in other products such as balms, creams, vape liquids, and even soft drinks.

Which begs the question: what is the best way to take CBD? There’s not a lot of research on this, and there’s no clear and straightforward response, but here’s what we know so far.

Image credits: Elsa Olofsson.

CBD is taken for a variety of reasons, including for its supposed mental and physical health benefits. Early studies have shown that CBD has the potential to mitigate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even arthritis and joint pain. Although these claims are based on limited scientific research so far, the popularity of CBD seems to speak for itself.

Because of CBD’s broad range of alleged applications, it is taken in many different ways for different goals. Below, we will briefly explore how CBD works and how efficient the most popular ways to take CBD are.

How CBD Works

CBD interacts with a part of the human body known as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. Early research shows that the ECS affects a multitude of body functions across many major organs.

CBD works by binding to receptors in the ECS to promote homeostasis, a term that refers to the chemical balance within the body. In short, this has the potential to regulate mood, sleep, and even pain — which explains the broad effects that proponents of CBD claim to have.

CBD Bioavailability

Bioavailability is a common term used to describe the percentage of a nutrient that actually enters your bloodstream. For example, many vitamin supplements claim to contain 100% of your recommended intake, but it’s rare the full amount is actually used by the body.

The same concept applies to CBD products. Just because you take a 50mg dose, does not mean 50mg of CBD will be used by your body. CBD for example has around 6-19% bioavailability, which means you absorb 19% of it at most.

Every type of CBD product interacts with the body in a different way, resulting in different levels of CBD bioavailability. Keeping this in mind is crucial to determining the most efficient way of taking CBD. Outlined below are the most common ways to take CBD and how quickly they integrate with the human body.

CBD Oils

CBD oil in either drop or spray format continues to be one of the most common ways to regularly take CBD. This also appears to be one of the more efficient ways of absorbing CBD. The most efficient way to take CBD oil is sublingual, which means holding the oil under your tongue for a minute or longer or until fully absorbed; this allows the thin membranes under your tongue to absorb the CBD oil.

Studies have shown that taking CBD oils sublingually results in peak blood levels in under 2 hours or less. This is because it avoids the less efficient digestive tract which is used by CBD edibles.

CBD Edibles

CBD edibles such as tablets, gummies or drinks are another favored way to take CBD. These products are seen as the peak of convenience and just need to be consumed to receive the benefits of CBD.

However, eating CBD is one of the least efficient ways to dose. Peak blood levels are reached at around 3 hours and do not rise as high when compared to other delivery methods such as CBD oils.

CBD E-liquids (Vaping)

Vaping and CBD are two quite recent phenomena and have grown in prevalence at broadly the same rate. While vaping is used mainly as a smoking cessation method via nicotine e-liquids, it is also a popular CBD delivery method.

In fact, vaping CBD is one of the most efficient ways to take it. It will take only around 3 minutes to reach peak CBD levels in the bloodstream and offers an unparalleled bioavailability of around 30%.

The main drawback to vaping is hesitancy to adopt the intake method itself. Some still view vaping unfavorably, often seeing it as equivalent to smoking. While health studies are ongoing, many findings have shown vaping to be significantly less risky than smoking, up to 95% less harmful according to research by NHS England.

CBD Topicals

CBD creams and balms are becoming popular products in both cosmetics and fitness industries. However, in terms of bioavailability, CBD topicals won’t actually enter the bloodstream and so do not serve the same purpose as other CBD products.

Instead, CBD topicals work in a similar way to other ingredients found in balms and creams. By interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the skin, CBD can act as a surprisingly effective anti-inflammatory product, with potential benefits for muscle recovery.

Furthermore, because of CBD’s effect on lowering inflammation, it has the potential to be used as a treatment for common skin conditions such as acne.

Best type of CBD for you

For those looking to regularly dose CBD for its therapeutic benefits, it is probably best to go with a high-strength CBD oil or vape liquid, if you want to maximize absorption. This will ensure faster integration into the bloodstream and improved bioavailability.

CBD topicals, on the other hand, should not be used as a way to dose CBD, rather as a possible treatment for dermatological ailments.

CBD edibles may be popular but do not provide a particularly efficient way to take CBD. The effect the digestive tract has on CBD absorption lowers bioavailability, but may still be suitable as a CBD top-up method.

Ultimately, while we still don’t know just how many of the benefits of CBD are actually true, CBD products don’t appear to be harmful and they are (and will likely continue to be) very popular. If you decide to take any CBD products, consult a doctor beforehand and only buy from a safe, certified source.

CBD for pets: does it work and is it safe?

The popularity of CBD is skyrocketing, with people especially in the US and Europe using it for various conditions. Increasingly, people are starting to wonder whether it’s also safe (and effective) for pets. We took a look at what the existing science says on the matter.

Image credits: Krista Mangulsone.

Cannabidiol, (commonly known as CBD), has taken the world by storm. It’s a kind of chemical naturally found in cannabis, but unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn’t give you a “high”. There’s also some therapeutic potential to CBD. We’ve looked at various aspects in previous articles, and although everyone loves clear and simple answers, things are not entirely clear when it comes to CBD.

For starters, there is definite therapeutic potential when it comes to some forms of epilepsy — which is why doctors in the UK have already approved the use of CBD for people suffering from these conditions. There is also some evidence suggesting that CBD can relieve pain and anxiety, without the potentially deleterious side effects of the THC, but most of the studies are small-scale and/or based on animal models rather than human populations. At the same time, the benefits of CBD are often exaggerated, with people promoting its use for a number of conditions for which there’s just no reliable evidence.

The bottom line is, we know CBD is good for a few things, we suspect it could be good for more, but it’s probably not good for everything it’s advertised. But that’s for humans, where the use of CBD for anxiety, stress, and other problems is already surging. What about pets?

Is CBD for pets safe?

Even in states where the consumption of medicinal cannabis (or derived products) is legal, the laws only allow human healthcare providers to prescribe it to people. As a result, vets are often reluctant to talk about whether and how they recommend the use of CBD for pets. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t do it.

A recent survey of 2,131 vets in the US found that 63% of them were asked about CBD oil for pets at least once a month. However, in most states, vets can’t technically provide professional advice — they may give you some advice nonetheless, but be aware that they may be in an uncomfortable situation.

A study assessing the safety of CBD on cats and dogs found that over 12-week administration using a hemp-based product in healthy dogs and cats (with two doses a day), there were 15 vomiting events, 29 gagging events, and 16 events that involved salivating, drooling, or foaming.

Cats appear to absorb and eliminate CBD differently than dogs. They are more likely to show adverse effects such as excessive licking and head-shaking during oil administration.

Overall though, data is still scarce. We don’t know if there are any long-term effects, and short-term effects on cats and dogs are also insufficiently studied.

Data for other pets are even scarcer than for cats and dogs (and often non-existent).

Is CBD for pets effective?

There is, unfortunately, very little scientific information about the therapeutic potential of CBD for pets. There are however a few studies that raised interest.

In a small clinical trial, 9 dogs suffering from epilepsy were administered CBD, and 8 of them suffered from fewer seizures, with no reported negative side effects. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist and researcher at Colorado State University’s (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital believes cannabinoids may be a potential treatment for epilepsy in dogs.

“I think overall, it definitely shows promise,” McGrath said. “However I’m not sure we’re quite at the point where we can say we can have a drug we can put widely out there [to treat] epilepsy. We have a lot more work to do. I think there are still a whole lot of unanswered questions.”

The way it’s administered also seems to matter. A 2018 Colorado State University study on dogs with epilepsy found that CBD oil given orally is more effective than a cream or a gel capsule.

Another small study administered CBD oil to dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. The researchers tested two different dosages: 2 or 8 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight. The study (funded by a CBD producer) found that the most effective dose was 2 mg per kg of body weight, and 80% of dogs showed improvements in movement and a reduction in pain. But far more research is needed to ensure that CBD is safe for dogs (and in what dose).

The bottom line

CBD research is in its early days. We have virtually no information about the long-term effects of CBD consumption for pets (be them positive or negative), and even short-term information is scarce. The FDA discourages its use for pets, due to concerns about appropriate dosing and long-term effects.

If you do decide to administer CBD to your pet, it’s essential that you consult a veterinarian first — it’s even better if you can get a second opinion. Don’t fall for advertising, look at the existing evidence. If you do end up administering, start with a very small dose and closely monitor your pet’s reactions for several days. If there are any negative effects (panting, lethargy, vomiting, foaming) it’s advisable to stop the treatment. But, for instance, if your dog is suffering from arthritis, and after the administration of CBD, it suddenly seems to be better and there are no negative effects, there’s a good chance CBD is actually helping them.

An advisable practice if you do decide to do this is to select products that have some sort of third-party certification of authenticity. Avoid products that have pesticides and heavy metals and ensure the quality is verifiable.

How good is CBD for stress and anxiety? What the science says so far

There are plenty of anecdotal reports that cannabidiol (CBD) has therapeutic effects that can help relieve anxiety and stress. But do such reports hold when scrutinized by science?

What’s CBD anyway?

Image credits: Elsa Olofsson.

CBD is a supplement derived from the cannabis plant. Like its cousin THC, it has a variety of touted health and wellness benefits that make it popular among millions of consumers. However, unlike THC, it has no psychoactive properties. In other words, CBD can’t make you high.

CBD is sold in a variety of forms, including oils, incense, bath bombs, vapor rubs, vape juice, candles, and even CBD gummies. CBD dispensaries are located all over the United States but are most commonly found in states where marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use. CBD may or may not be legal in your state or country, which is it’s in your best interest to verify the supplement’s legal status before making an online purchase.

Is CBD good for anxiety?

Cannabinoids trigger effects in the body by mimicking the effect of endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the body), which play a crucial role in both brain and bodily functions. These substances attach themselves to cannabinoid receptors that are present throughout the body and are associated with detecting pain, appetite, immune function, mood, and more.

The human body has two types of receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. Whether it’s an annoying itch or a prick of pain, these two receptors on your skin cells will immediately start firing signals to dampen these unpleasant sensations.

CBD oils and lotions seem to bypass CB1 and CB2 receptors and directly stimulate the production of anandamide and 2-AG, neurotransmitters that block signals for pain and itch.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise to find that studies on mice suggest that CBD can help with pain and inflammation, with other avenues of therapy still in exploration. There is even evidence that CBD can boost productivity. But what about anxiety and stress?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), research shows that CBD can reduce stress in rats, which would make the cannabinoid appropriate for treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Accumulating evidence now also suggests that CBD is beneficial in the cardiovascular system, where it affects white blood cell migration and platelet aggregation, both linked to the stress response. During a double-blind randomized controlled study, healthy male volunteers who were given CBD had lower resting blood pressure as well as lower than expected blood pressure increases in response to stress.

Concerning other types of anxiety, in a 2011 study researchers have a group of people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) an oral dose of 400 milligrams of CBD, while a second group that acted as the control received a placebo. Those that received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety compared to the control when speaking in public.

More recently, CBD has been shown effective at reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects approximately 10% of people at some point in life. The efficacy of CBD for PTSD has been shown in both animals and humans.

“Human and animal studies suggest that CBD may offer therapeutic benefits for disorders related to inappropriate responses to traumatic memories. The effects of CBD on the different stages of aversive memory processing make this compound a candidate pharmacological adjunct to psychological therapies for PTSD. CBD also shows an action profile with fewer side effects than the pharmacological therapy currently used to treat this type of disorder,” researchers wrote in a study published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Finally, another study published in 2019 investigated the therapeutic effects of CBD for participants who came into a psychiatric clinic complaining of both anxiety and sleep problems. Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in about 80% of patients while sleep scores improved in 66% of patients.

 The bottom line is that there is some evidence that CBD can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, and perhaps can help with other disorders. However, many of the studies that we reviewed were limited, in that they either only included animal models or used a rather small sample size when assessing human patients.

Given the scale and scope of CBD use, with millions of new users buying CBD products yearly, more research is warranted so that we might have a more accurate picture of the cannabinoid’s influence on the human body.

Synthetic CBD kills gonorrhea, may provide first new antibiotic to resistant bacteria in 60 years

Credit: Pixabay.

Since Alexander Fleming first purified penicillin in 1928, literally hundreds of millions of lives have been saved from potentially deadly infections. Could you imagine a world without antibiotics? That’s what keeps many doctors up at night, for it is a genuine prospect. Not because antibiotics will vanish overnight but rather because they’ve become increasingly ineffective as microbes have become more resistant.

Bacteria that are ‘resistant’ can multiply in the presence of various therapeutic levels of an antibiotic. In time such strains can become so widespread that new classes of antibiotics need to be used. But what happens if nothing at your disposal works?

The war against antibiotic-resistant bacteria has often been likened to an arms race, and scientists may have found an unlikely novel weapon: a cannabis compound.

According to new research published by scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia, synthetic cannabidiol, also known as CBD, can kill the bacteria responsible for gonorrhea, meningitis, and legionnaires disease.

“This is the first time CBD has been shown to kill some types of Gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria have an extra outer membrane, an additional line of defense that makes it harder for antibiotics to penetrate,” Dr. Mark Blaskovich, Director of the Centre of Superbug Solutions at the University of Queensland, said in a statement.

Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, but thanks to antibiotics it has always been easy to get rid of — until recently. Millions of people were prescribed antibiotics to cure their gonorrhea infection, but not everyone used the drugs as instructed. Some didn’t go through the full course of antibiotics, training a new generation of drug-resistant bacteria.

Already, older treatments such as penicillin are ineffective. In developed countries, for some cases doctors have reported that no available treatment options are effective. According to the World Health Organization, there are only three potential drug treatments in various stages of trials, but it’s not clear if they will prove effective against novel strains of gonorrhea that are becoming more widespread across the world.

This is where synthetic CBD may lend a helping hand. The second most abundant cannabidiol found in the plant Cannabis sativa has become increasingly popular in recent years. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t make you ‘high’. People who have used it, however, claim that it is relaxing and can ease anxiety.

Now, Blaskovich and colleagues have shown it may also act as an antibiotic in some situations. Besides gonorrhea, synthetic CBD was widely effective against a much larger number of Gram-positive bacteria than previously known, including antibiotic-resistant pathogens such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) or ‘golden staph’.

CBD was particularly effective at breaking down biofilms, such as dental plaque on the surface of teeth.

The scientists still aren’t exactly sure how CBD destroys bacteria. For now, they just know it works well. What’s more, it also seems less likely to contribute to bacterial resistance.

“Cannabidiol showed a low tendency to cause resistance in bacteria even when we sped up potential development by increasing concentrations of the antibiotic during ‘treatment’,” the researchers in Australia said.

“We think that cannabidiol kills bacteria by bursting their outer cell membranes, but we don’t know yet exactly how it does that, and need to do further research.”

The research is exciting considering we haven’t seen a new class of antibiotics for gram-negative infections since the 1960s. In the future, Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited, a company that contributed formulation expertise to the research, is planning to test a topical CBD formulation in clinical trials for decolonization of MRSA before surgery. Phase 2 clinical trials are expected to commence early this year.

The findings appeared in the journal Communications Biology.

CBD cream and lotion could relieve pain, but scientists are still figuring out how it works

Back, foot, and knee aches are among the most common ailments people suffer from, especially once old age sets in. To manage chronic pain, patients have been historically limited to opioids and standard anti-inflammatory meds, each with their own downsides and side effects, including addiction.

Most recently, research suggests that creams and lotions containing cannabidiol (CBD) — one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis, which doesn’t make you high and could relieve limb pain without the harmful side effects of traditional treatments.

CBD topicals on the rise

Cannabinoids trigger effects in the body by mimicking the endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the body), which play a crucial role in both brain and bodily functions. These substances attach themselves to cannabinoid receptors that are present throughout the body and are associated with detecting pain, appetite, immune function, mood, and more.

The human body has two types of receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. Whether it’s an annoying itch or a prick of pain, these two receptors on your skin cells will immediately start firing signals to dampen these unpleasant sensations.

CBD lotion and creams bypass CB1 and CB2 receptors and directly stimulate the production of anandamide and 2-AG, neurotransmitters that block signals for pain and itch. What’s more, CBD mutes any signal sent to CB1, which is why researchers find the cannabidiol so appealing –this means that they could develop safer pain treatment that won’t spark addiction and trigger euphoria like THC does (the other, more famous psychoactive ingredient produced by Cannabis sativa plants).

What’s more, CBD interacts with an enzyme called fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is responsible for flushing out excess anandamide (a factor in homeostasis) out of circulation. FAAH is known to break down and remove natural endocannabinoids, and CBD stops this breakdown, thereby increasing the endocannabinoids available in the body. Due to endocannabinoids’ balancing and healing effects on the body, consuming CBD may produce therapeutic benefits.

Studies on mice suggest that CBD may indeed have therapeutic value against pain and inflammation, with other avenues of therapy still in exploration. For instance, a 2017 study published in the journal Pain found that CBD relieved pain and hindered the development of more pain in rats with osteoarthritis.

Concerning topicals, however, scientists are still working to nail down the proper dose. For instance, the same quantity of CBD topical that brings relief to achy joints may be ineffective for treating nerve damage in the feet.

Nevertheless, the high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the skin makes CBD topicals highly appealing. Previously, studies found that CBD-infused creams can help manage pain in patients with arthritis and rheumatism. And, in 2019, a study published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics found that CBD ointments improved clinical outcomes for patients with psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and scarring thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Patients, in turn, seem to be enthralled with CBD. According to a 2019 report from the Arthritis Foundation, 79% of 2,600 respodents who suffer from arthritis said they had considered using CBD or had already used it. What’s more, among those who used CBD in the past to treat their arthritis symptoms, 55% said they applied a topical product to their joints.

 “I’ll put it on and walk away and think, ‘I don’t have any pain,’” said Eileen Donovan of Ayer, Massachusetts, speaking to U.S. News about how she uses CBD for her arthritis.

However, it’s important to note that the effects of CBD on the body may vary from person to person.

The gap between science and anecdotal evidence

Besides dosage, scientists are looking to figure out how much coverage is most effective for rubbing CBD on the skin.

Meanwhile, consumers are purchasing CBD products in increasing numbers and volumes, attract by the prospect of pain and anxiety relief with little symptoms. The problem is that science hasn’t had time to catch up to the hype as most studies on CBD haven’t actually been carried on humans. Studies on animal models are famous for not always translating to humans, so this is another thing you should consider — especially if you’re taking other medications.

“There’s a lot of studies that have been done in animals and those tend to show that it’s anti-inflammatory and that it does have some analgesic effect,” Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, told CNET. “Unfortunately they haven’t been well translated in humans.”

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals performed the only phase two clinical trial that we know of, using a CBD transdermal gel that the company developed in-house. The study involved 320 patients with knee osteoarthritis who received either 250 mg of ZYN002 4.2% CBD gel daily, 500 mg of ZYN002 daily, or a placebo, over 12 weeks. Although the study found some evidence of a reduction in pain and improvements in physical function, scores for measures of pain were not statistically different from placebos. 

While the effects of edibles and topical CBD on animals look positive, more scientific research is needed before definitive conclusions can be reached about its effects on humans. 

According to Yasmin Hurd, an addiction specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, CBD creams get absorbed into the skin, and from there the product ends up in the bloodstream.

“These are sometimes things people don’t appreciate when they are putting cream ‘only on my knee,’” says Hurd. “We also have a lot of seniors using CBD creams for arthritic pain and we need to know sooner rather than later whether this chemical cream used by so many people can indeed be effective.”

In order to find out more about how effective CBD and other cannabis-derived products are for various ailments, more research definitely needs to be done. For now, CBD is unregulated by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the only CBD-containing product approved by the FDA is a drug for epileptic seizures for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.

CBD may help boost athletic performance

Credit: Pixabay.

Athletes go through tremendous amounts of stress during physical training that can put a lot of strain on both body and mind. A potential therapeutic agent may be CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabidiol found in cannabis. According to a recent review of the scientific literature published thus far, CBD “may exert a number of physiological, biochemical, and psychological effects with the potential to benefit athletes.”

Limited but promising evidence of CBD boosting athletic performance

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds found in Cannabaceae plants. It can be extracted from both the marijuana and hemp plants; however, most US states require that CBD oil products come from hemp and do not contain more than 0.03% THC. CBD oil does not produce a high, but it does interact with brain chemistry, so saying it is completely non-psychoactive would be inaccurate. 

CBD products, whether oil, eatables, or topicals, have soared in popularity in recent years, as many consumers have become enchanted by its therapeutic properties.

While there is a lot of marketing and hype surrounding CBD products, there is scientific evidence supporting cannabidiol therapeutic value, particularly for relieving pain and anxiety.

In 2019, researchers at McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University, Canada found that CBD binds to specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

Rat experiments administered with 5 mg/kg/day of CBD as an intravenous dose showed this dose increased 5-HT firing through desensitization of 5-HT1A receptors. Treatment with CBD for seven days reduced mechanical allodynia (when pain is experienced despite there being no obvious cause for pain), normalized 5-HT activity, and decreased behavior which was anxiety-like.

In a new study published in Sports Medicine, researchers led by Danielle McCartney of the University of Sydney reviewed more than 200 previously published studies on the physiological, biochemical, and psychological effects of CBD that may be relevant to sport and/or exercise performance.

McCartney and colleagues were inspired to go on this route after they noticed an increasing number of high-profile professional atheletes overtly sharing their CBD use.

Around 15 years ago, cannabis use was prohibited from all sports during competitions by the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, in 2018, CBD was removed from the prohibited list following mounting scientific evidence that CBD is safe, well-tolerated by humans, and it doesn’t produce psychoactive effects.

Unfortunately, the benefits of CBD for athletes’ health and performance are challenging to determine because there no studies that have focused on athletes and CBD specifically, although there are some positive results reported for THC and CBD in combination. So, the researchers investigated CBD in the context of sports performance drawing primarily from preclinical studies involving laboratory animals and a limited number of clinical trials involving non-athlete populations.

According to the findings, CBD seems to play an active role in modulating inflammatory processes, attenuating immune cell accumulation and stimulating the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.

This effect may be important in the context of athletic performance since strenuous exercise is known to cause ultrastructural damage to skeletal muscles and the surrounding extracellular matrix. Consequently, this leads to inflammation, and excessive inflammation may contribute to prolonged muscle soreness and delayed functional recovery.

CBD also seems to have neuroprotective effects, perhaps aiding in concussion and subconcussive recovery. However, the precise mechanisms that underpin these neuroprotective effects are not completely understood.

CBD also seems to have neuroprotective effects, perhaps aiding in concussion and subconcussive recovery. However, the precise mechanisms that underpin these neuroprotective effects aren’t understood completely.

Preclinical studies have shown beneficial CBD effects in neurodegeneration animal models (e.g. the Alzheimer’s disease transgenic model and brain iron-overload), the authors stated in their review. This data, when taken collectively, would then suggest that it may be necessary to investigate the use of CBD in the long-term effects of harmful repeated sports concussions.

Although there are only a few studies that have investigated the therapeutic effect of CBD administered alone for pain-relief,  most preclinical studies appear to have observed a significant analgesic effect, the authors concluded.

The researchers emphasized that it’s important to recognise that the analgesic effects of CBD depend on several factors, including the pain type involved and the treatment dose. Indeed, low doses of CBD (e.g. ≤ 1 mg·kg−1, i.p.) do not consistently attenuate pain; while higher doses are found occasionally to be more, and other times, less, efficacious than moderate doses in preclinical studies.

Strenuous exercise is known to pump blood in the muscle, cardiopulmonary system, and skin. Meanwhile, other tissues and organs experience oxygen and nutrient delivery deficiencies, including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

According to the researchers, impaired nutritional uptake and GI distress such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal angina, and bloody diarrhoea may negatively influence performance and post-recovery of those exercising.

Based on the review, there is evidence that CBD can manage some of the exercise-induced gastrointestinal damage. However, this evidence is limited and only involved animal studies.

The researchers then noted that there have been reports wherein other inflammatory-agents, such as the NSAID, ibuprofen exacerbated exercise-induced GI damage and impaired gut barrier function.

Many professional athletes experience pre-competition stress and sports performance anxiety, which can ultimately affect their athletic performance. This impairment can be the result of both direct (anxiety) and indirect (loss of sleep, increased energy expenditure) effects.

Overall, studies suggest that CBD has little influence on anxiety under “low stress” conditions. However, relatively high doses of CBD (300-600mg) was found to relieve anxiety in individuals under “stress-inducing” conditions (i.e. public speaking) in both healthy individuals and those suffering from social anxiety disorder.

At the same time, other studies have found no evidence of anxiety-relieving effects for CBD. As such, further research is warranted.

Better sleep was not supported by the evidence discovered by the researchers, although this property is marketed heavily by many CBD brands. The authors also added that: “Cognitive function and thermoregulation appear to be unaffected by CBD while effects on food intake, metabolic function, cardiovascular function, and infection require further study.”

CBD oil seems to reduce the frequency of seizures in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. Credit: Phyto.

What are the benefits of using CBD topicals

CBD (cannabidiol) products are all the rage right now, with countless companies and merchandisers offering a wide variety of options. While edibles are usually the products of choice, some prefer topical CBD products to avoid gastrointestinal problems or to reap potential pain reduction effects from local application to specific body parts, such as a sore shoulder or ankle. It is, however, extremely probable that there are significant differences in outcomes between oral and topical administration of CBD products. 

What’s CBD and what is it good for?

CBD oil seems to reduce the frequency of seizures in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. Credit: Phyto.
Credit: Phyto.

CBD is one of the many compounds found in Cannabaceae plants, or, as most people call them, cannabis plants. It can be extracted from both the marijuana and hemp plants; however, most US states require that CBD oil products come from hemp and do not contain more than 0.03% THC. CBD oil does not produce a high, but it does interact with brain chemistry, so saying it is completely non-psychoactive would be inaccurate. 

The effects of CBD on the body can be pinned to the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates numerous processes such as appetite, pain, and mood. The body produces its own cannabinoids, but introducing CBD into the body amplifies the endocannabinoid system. 

There is evidence that CBD may be effective in treating some very dangerous childhood epilepsy syndromes, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome. CBD seems able to reduce the number of seizures or stop their incidence altogether, even in some patients who don’t respond to typical antiseizure medication. In 2018, the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived, medically certified drug for these conditions, Epidiolex, which is formulated with CBD. 

Regarding its health benefits, there is evidence to suggests CBD can relieve pain and anxiety. In 2017, researchers at the National Center for PTSD-Dissemination & Training Division in Palo Alto, California, concluded that some CBD products may help patients sleep better. 

“Cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia,” researchers wrote in their study. “THC may decrease sleep latency but could impair sleep quality long-term,” they said. 

Edibles vs topicals 

CBD is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water molecules and therefore cannot be water-soluble—not on its own at least. It is also lipophilic, meaning it is attracted to oils and fats. For this reason, CBD applied on the skin tends to stay on the outer layers and doesn’t cross into the bloodstream.

Few studies focus on CBD alone for managing pain, and all are on animals. Most studies to find pain relief properties involve the whole cannabis plant, and contain THC and CBD, along with dozens of other cannabidiols. A 2017 study published in the journal Pain, gave rats a dose of CBD or saline directly into their knee joints through an intra-arterial injection, after previously injecting them with a substance that caused osteoarthritis. According to the results, the rats that received a high dose of CBD exhibited less inflammation in the joint area and a reduction in pain-related behavior, such as shaking or withdrawing the affected paw, when compared to controls that received the saline solution. 

Another similar study, which was published in the European Journal of Pain, also investigated arthritis in rats, but this time using a topical formulation of CBD instead of an injection. The rats received either a 10% CBD formulation or a 1% CBD compound for four consecutive days. The rats that received the highest dose of topical CBD showed significantly lower levels of inflammation and lower pain-related behaviors. 

However, while those results are encouraging, rat studies don’t always translate to humans, so such findings should be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, although many people anecdotally claim that topical CBD products help them manage their pain after a workout or injury, they might be experiencing reduced anxiety, which is known to interfere with how we manage pain. CBD topical products could also act like placebos. There is really no way to tell unless clinical trials are performed on humans, which are expensive and ethically challenging. 

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals performed the only phase two clinical trial that we know of, using a CBD transdermal gel that the company developed in-house. The study involved 320 patients with knee osteoarthritis who received either 250 mg of ZYN002 4.2% CBD gel daily, 500 mg of ZYN002 daily, or a placebo, over 12 weeks. Although the study found some evidence of a reduction in pain and improvements in physical function, scores for measures of pain were not statistically different from placebos. 

While the effects of edibles and topical CBD on animals looks positive and are good to read, more scientific research is needed before definitive conclusions can be reached about its effects on humans. 

Is topical CBD safe? 

The bottom line is that there is insufficient evidence demonstrating that topical CBD products are effective for managing pain, which is the main reason people buy them. We simply cannot come to definite conclusions until more clinical trials are performed. But are there any downsides to using CBD? CBD oil taken orally is known to cause side effects such as nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD may also interact with blood thinner medication. 

The main problem with CBD right now, however, is that oftentimes customers do not buy products for their advertised uses. CBD is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. By US law, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. If you do decide to purchase topical CBD products, only buy from vendors that can supply a certificate of analysis that attests that the products contain the correct amount of CBD, as advertised. 

Can CBD oil help you sleep better?

Although the evidence is still not conclusive, studies suggest that CBD (also known as cannabidiol) can help ease symptoms of anxiety and pain. While CBD oil doesn’t cause drowsiness—as is the case for many sleep aids such as melatonin or Benadryl—it might help you fall asleep if you experience regular symptoms of anxiety and pain.

Credit: Pixabay.

How CBD interacts with the body

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the dozens of cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil can be made from both marijuana or hemp cannabis plant, and can be extracted in a number of ways. However, in order for CBD products to be considered legal, they must come from a hemp plant with extremely low (0.03%) or no THC levels. For this reason, CBD doesn’t produce a ‘high’, but research nevertheless shows that it can have some positive effects on the body.

CBD’s effects all come down to the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a network of 5-HT receptors that are activated and play a role in maintaining homeostasis in the body. Homeostasis affects pain, mood, and appetite among others other factors. It’s a complex mechanism with far-reaching effects, and oftentimes, it’s difficult to separate the influence of individual factors. While the body already has its own set of cannabinoids, introducing CBD to the body enhances the efficacy of the endocannabinoid system.

Until not long ago, scientists used to think that CBD oil acts solely on CB1 and CB2 receptors, but new research showed that’s not really the case. Instead, the cannabinoid affects the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

Although more robust clinical data is needed, there is evidence that suggests CBD can relieve pain and anxiety, without the potentially dangerous side effects of the THC.

For this reason, those who have such symptoms — which are known to interfere with sleep patterns — might sleep better after using CBD oil.

A survey by Consumer Research suggests that 10% of Americans who tried CBD reported sleeping better. However, this is rather anecdotal evidence and could be explained by a psychological effect rather than a biological one.

In 2019, researchers studied the clinical application of CBD of anxiety and sleep complaints in 103 adult patients at a psychiatric clinic. The researchers found that 80% of the patients had decreased anxiety scores and 66% of patients improved their sleep.

“The results of our clinical report support the existing scientific evidence. In our study, we saw no evidence of a safety issue that would limit future studies. In this evaluation, CBD appears to be better tolerated than routine psychiatric medications. Furthermore, CBD displays promise as a tool for reducing anxiety in clinical populations, but given the open-label and nonrandomized nature of this large case series, all results must be interpreted very cautiously. Randomized and controlled trials are needed to provide definitive clinical guidance, the authors of the study wrote in The Permanente Journal.

In 2017, researchers at the National Center for PTSD-Dissemination & Training Division in Palo Alto, California investigated the association between cannabis and sleep, finding that “cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia,” while “THC may decrease sleep latency but could impair sleep quality long-term.”

Specifically, this new study found that CBD could be especially helpful for people with REM sleep behavior disorder. It has been suggested that CBD could relax the airways during sleep, but this is not yet proven.

Several studies also hint at the benefits of CBD in ways that could improve sleep quality indirectly. For instance, CBD has been linked with reducing pain and tackling anxiety, with CBD behaving better than a placebo in preliminary studies. CBD has also been shown to have an antidepressant effect in animal studies, though this has not yet been confirmed on humans. However, as it’s so often the case, the studies aren’t conclusive yet, and sometimes, they can be even contradictory. The claims often go far ahead of the actual demonstrated benefits, and CBD is being promoted for many things it hasn’t even been studied for.

CBD doesn’t appear to be harmful, and there are clear, demonstrated benefits. For instance, CBD has been shown to ease the symptoms associated with some cases of epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and a few other rare disorders. When it comes to sleep, the evidence is encouraging, but more research is needed before any clear conclusions can be drawn.

These studies suggest that CBD might work as a sleep aid for people who are struggling with sleep-related problems. However, CBD oil shouldn’t make you sleepy as over-counter sleep aids do. This means that people ought to be able to take CBD during the daytime and not feel drowsy. However, the studies are few and far between and are limited in the scope. The link between CBD and improved sleep remains far from settled, however, studies so far suggest no safety issues.

The being said, the FDA says that they have “only limited data about CBD safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered before taking CBD for any reason.” They also state on their website that CBD can cause liver injury, affect the metabolism of other drugs, and that the use of CBD with alcohol or other depressants increases the risk of sedation and drowsiness. You should always consult with a health professional. Don’t self-medicate and follow scientific and medical advice.

Where should you start with CBD?

CBD is here to stay, and there’s a lot of potential — as well as disinformation. Here’s what you need to know if you want to get started.

From the social media endorsements of A-listers to the promising scientific research, it seems that CBD is getting a vote of approval. CBD is not a wonder drug, as some would make it out to be, but it has definite medicinal potential, particularly in dealing with some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, as well as issues such as anxiety or some types of chronic pain.

Although more research is needed to confirm exactly what CBD can do, there is definite potential.

But if you’re considering placing your first order for CBD products, things can get a bit confusing. You might probably want to do some research first (checking verifiable science and reliable sources). As beneficial as it might be, CBD is not a cure-all and not everyone responds the same to it. To get the best results, you should first figure out the right dosage and, most importantly, the right format for your needs.

Oral: ingested vs. sublingual 

Oral supplements are perhaps the most common form of CBD and they come in two subcategories: ingested and sublingual. 

Ingested (swallowed) supplements such as CBD oil, edibles, capsules, powder, or tincture, are swallowed directly, then they pass through the digestive tract and are absorbed into the bloodstream. This form of consumption is recommended for sustained, long-term effects. Even if it takes a while to see the results (anywhere from one to six hours), this is the recommended intake method for health concerns like anxiety, pain, and insomnia. According to a 2016 study, CBD molecules that had been added in cookies stayed in the system for 4.2 hours, compared to just 3.3 hours for ingested CBD. 

The bioavailability of CBD is between 6-19% and some of it is broken down by digestive acid before it can be absorbed. Consuming CBD with fats can speed up the effects because CBD is fat-soluble. 

If you prefer oral application but want to see faster results, you can try sublingual application: applying CBD oils, sprays, or tinctures directly under the tongue. By doing so, the absorption time is decreased considerably because the active ingredients don’t have to pass through your digestive system and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the capillaries under your tongue. To maximize the surface contact, try to keep the substance in your mouth for a minute before swallowing. 

Inhalation 

Inhaling CBD via vape pens and dabs provides short term relief and is recommended when you want to achieve instant results. Because it bypasses first-rate metabolism, CBD delivered this way produces peak blood levels in about three minutes. This is the preferred consumption method for people who are struggling with anxiety and it can be used alone or as needed, in addition to oral supplements. However, keep in mind that you should only use high-quality vape pens and premium organic CBD nugs. Otherwise, you could be dealing with adverse effects. As always, remember that CBD is not psychoactive so smoking/inhaling it will not give that same “high” as THC. 

Topical treatments 

In addition to oils, spray, tinctures, and nugs, CBD can also be found in a plethora of creams, lotions, and serums. Although it’s currently not clear whether these topical treatments are highly effective, several studies have found that CBD-infused creams can help with pain management in patients with arthritis and rheumatism. Applied directly, CBD can reduce inflammation thanks to the high concentration of cannabinoid receptors on the skin. Some doctors say that this method isn’t as effective as using over-the-counter pain relief lotions but results vary from case to case. 

According to a small 2019 study published in Clinical Therapeutics, CBD ointments were also effective for participants with psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and scarring. Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, topical CBD could also help treat acne but researchers point out that there have been no human trials so far. CBD creams for acne are safe to try, but keep in mind that their effectiveness will vary depending on genetics, diet, lifestyle, stress levels, hormone levels, and any medication that you may be taking. 

You don’t have to choose only one form of CBD. To maximize results, you can combine several products. In the case of pain management, for instance, it’s even recommended to take oral supplements daily and combine them with topical treatments as needed. When taking CBD for anxiety, you can combine oral supplements with vape pens.  

What dosage should you start with?

After you’ve found the right CBD format, it’s time to move on to the next most important thing: dosage. Things can be a bit more complicated here because everyone is different and some factors can influence the way your body responds. For example, some medications can delay CBD absorption, which is why you should always consult with your healthcare provider before self-treating. 

As a rule, no matter the CBD formulation you’re considering, always start with the lowest possible dose. If you’re vaping, take just a small puff. If you’re using oil, take just a couple of drops. It’s below the minimum recommended dosage on the packaging but it’s better to be safe than sorry. CBD has been classified as safe by most medical experts and there are no serious side effects so far but each person reacts differently to the ingredients. 

Another important thing is to wait for the active ingredient to reach peak levels before upping the dosage. That’s about one hour for vaporizers and 6+ hours for oils, tinctures, and other oral formulations. Avoid taking more sooner because the effects will cumulate. 

If you can’t seem to get the desired results from a small dose, you may also consider trying several consumption techniques to enhance absorption. For example, you can try various inhalation techniques for vaping, or swishing the product around before swallowing. 

Which CBD Gummies Are the Best for Pain Management?

Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

CBD is touted as a wonder drug by some, being hailed as a solution for anxiety, lack of sleep, and chronic pain. While the claims about CBD are sometimes exaggerated, there is scientific evidence suggesting it can be used to manage pain — which is why many people choose to buy various CBD products. Most CBD products are sold as oils, but there are also other edible options, including quirky things like CBD gummies.

CBD gummies are a great way to introduce CBD into your daily life. This easy to ingest format makes the amazing pain-relieving power of CBD palatable for many.

What is CBD?

For those who don’t already know, let’s answer tackle the elephant in the room: What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the dozens of cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil can be made from both marijuana or hemp cannabis plant, and can be extracted in a number of ways. However, in order for CBD products to be considered legal, it must come from a hemp plant and have low (0.03%) or no THC levels.

CBD is stimulating a lot of interest among scientists in recent years, and while a lot has been discovered about this compound, research continues. Many companies are using CBD to help people achieve pain relief since the chemical is known for reducing chronic pain and anxiety.

Which CBD Gummies Are the Best for Pain?

If you are interested in taking CBD gummies for pain relief, you might be wondering: which product(s) should I choose? Which ones are right for me? At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference; however, these are 5 of our favorite CBD gummies for pain:

Verma Farms

Starting off the list is Verma Farms and their amazing CBD gummies. If the taste is your biggest concern, these are the gummies for you. They come in a variety of flavors, and all of them taste really good. Their gummies range from 250mg dosages to 500mg dosage per pack of gummies.

These are a great starting point if you are looking for CBD gummies that help relieve pain.

Hemp Bombs

Next up is Hemp Bombs. These gummies are a bit stronger than the Verma Farms options. Hemp Bombs offers their gummies in 450mg per 30 and 750mg per 30 packages. Their high-potency line is a great gummy for those looking for a bit more without going overboard. An all-around option if you will.

Fab CBD

Speaking of amazing all-around CBD gummies, Fab CBD is definitely worth considering. Just like the high-potency line from Hemp Bombs, Fab CBD’s gummies are dosed at 750mg per 30 packages. On top of their potency level, they are made with all-natural products like tapioca and grape juice–this makes them very tasty, yet, powerful!

Eden’s Herbals

Eden’s Herbals have amazing choices for you to control your pain with. Their CBD gummies come in a variety of levels, like 500mg, 1000mg, and even 1200mg. Their Eden’s Apple flavor is especially strong and is dosed at the 1200mg! Check them out if you are looking for high dosage medicine.

Happy Hemp

If you really need a large dosage to manage your pain, you want to check out Happy Hemp’s CBD gummies. These come in really high doses, like 1500mg and 3000mg. However, they also make entry-level gummies with 250mg and 750mg levels.

If you are looking for more about CBD gummies and how they can impact your pain symptoms, check out this informational piece on Entrepreneur. If you are looking to manage chronic pain or medical conditions of any sort, please consult with a doctor.

THC and CBD during early pregnancy might cause alcohol-like fetal defects

Scientists have shown in a new study that one-time exposure during early pregnancy to cannabinoids (CBs) like THC or CBD can trigger growth abnormalities in the developing embryo. This was the first time that such a connection has been highlighted in the mammalian womb.

Scott Parnell, an assistant professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of North Carolina, administered either cannabinoids or cannabinoids with alcohol in varying amounts to female mice in their eight-day of pregnancy, which corresponds to 3-4 weeks of pregnancy in humans. This early pregnancy period is the most vulnerable for a developing embryo and is especially dangerous due to the fact that many women are not aware they are pregnant during this stage.

The study went on to show that the one-time use of CBD and THC, which are the primary ingredients in marijuana, caused brain and facial development effects similar to those experienced during fetal alcohol syndrome. When alcohol was administered together with either CBD or THC, the birth defects doubled.

“The development of the embryo in this time period is very similar across all vertebrates,” said Parnell in a statement. “In this study we also test a synthetic cannabinoid in zebrafish that yielded similar growth deformations as the natural CBs. Having the same results across animal models reinforces our findings.”

Parnell says that CBD and THC may be causing defects as a result of interactions at the cellular level that disrupt signaling between molecules and cells that control growth and development.

Left: brain of control mouse. Right: brain of a mouse exposed to alcohol and cannabinoids on the 8th day of pregnancy.

The CBD concentration was equivalent to what is considered a therapeutic range for humans, while the THC concentration was similar to that reached by a person smoking cannabis.

“The interaction between alcohol and CBs we witnessed is very concerning,” said the study’s first author, Eric Fish, PhD, research associate in the UNC School of Medicine Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies. “Previous studies have shown that CBs and alcohol are frequently used together, and for pregnant women we’re learning that could be very dangerous to a developing child.”

In the future, the researchers would like to run more tests but for now, the findings are worrisome.

According to previous research, marijuana use has not been associated with birth defects, stillbirth or preterm birth. This, in itself, is good news for pregnant women who have decided to take CBD oil, but this is by no means an endorsement. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. For instance, because cannabinoid receptors are involved in brain development, some fear that CBD oil might trigger growth abnormalities in the developing brain — which is exactly what he new study showed. However, others believe the opposite effect could be true — that is promoting healthy fetal brain development — since CBD can promote neurogenesis.

“We know that there is no safe period to drink alcohol during a pregnancy, and I think this research shows the same is likely true of marijuana use,” Parnell said.

The study appeared in the journal Nature Research.

Is CBD oil safe for pregnant women?

Credit: Pixabay.

Following a wave of legalization all around the world, including the United States, cannabidiol (CBD) has been all the rage lately. Unlike THC, ingesting CBD won’t get you high, but it does have some science-backed medical benefits. For instance, one study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that “CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety.” Another study found that topical CBD application reduced pain and inflammation symptoms without any side effects.

These sort of findings might prompt many pregnant women to try CBD oil, especially those who had already been suffering from some chronic pain before their pregnancy. But just because something is safe for adults that doesn’t make it good for kids or a developing fetus.

CBD research is lacking

Cannabidiol is one of the dozens of cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil can be made from both marijuana or hemp cannabis plant and can be extracted in a number of ways. However, in order for CBD products to be considered legal, it must come from a hemp plant and have low (0.03%) or no THC levels.

Cannabinoids trigger effects in the body by mimicking the endocannabinoids which play a crucial role in both brain and bodily functions. The human body has two types of receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptors are involved in coordination and movement, pain, emotions, and mood, thinking, appetite, and memories, and other functions. THC attaches to these receptors. Meanwhile, CBD2 receptors interact with the immune system, affecting inflammation and pain.

Until not long ago, scientists used to think that CBD oil acts on CB1 and CB2 receptors, but new research showed that’s not the case. Instead, the cannabinoid affects the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

However, while such progress is encouraging, research CBD is lagging far behind the stupendous rise of the product’s popularity. Even marijuana-related research is woefully lacking, let alone CBD.

For instance, there is no study, peer-reviewed or otherwise, that has investigated the effects CBD oil might have on pregnant women or offspring.

“We know cannabidiol works on the same class of receptors as THC, but in different ways,” said Dr. James Lozada, Obstetric Anesthesiologist with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“These receptors help our brains develop normally. Otherwise, we don’t have a lot of information about the effects CBD has on pregnant women and their babies. Because of the uncertainty, I recommend not using these products during pregnancy — because we just don’t have enough information to say whether it could harm your growing baby.”

According to research, marijuana use has not been associated with birth defects, stillbirth or preterm birth. This, in itself, is good news for pregnant women who have decided to take CBD oil, but this is by no means an endorsement. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. For instance, because cannabinoid receptors are involved in brain development, some fear that CBD oil might disrupt fetal brain development. However, others believe the opposite effect could be true — that is promoting healthy fetal brain development — since CBD can promote neurogenesis.

So, there’s still significant uncertainty regarding CBD for pregnant women at this point. Perhaps the biggest safety concern at the moment is the fact that CBD is primarily sold as a supplement, not a medication. This means that, in the United States, it is not regulated by the FDA. In other words, the safety and purity of the CBD oil product can be questionable, to say the least.

Bottom line: it’s better for pregnant women to avoid CBD oils or related marijuana products until clinical trials deem such products safe. As always, speak to your doctor before making any important decision that might influence the wellbeing and development of your baby.

Credit: Phyto.

Scientists pinpoint CBD dose for safe pain and anxiety relief without the cannabis high

One of the main chemical compounds found in cannabis, known as cannabidiol (CBD), may provide pain relief and anti-anxiety effects to consumers. What makes CBD extract particularly appealing is the fact that it provides medical properties without the high typically associated with using cannabis. While there is still much to be learned, a new study has now pinpointed the effective dose of CBD for safe pain relief.

Credit: Phyto.

Credit: Phyto.

Cannabis has over 100 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids, that act on certain receptors in cells and alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. The most famous cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is responsible for the psychoactive effects of the drug.

Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, the two chemical compounds can have opposite effects on the body due to slight differences in how atoms are arranged. For instance, THC is known to strongly stimulate the CB1 receptor, leading to altered sensory perception, impaired motor skills, and anxiety — in other words, it’s psychoactive. Until recently, it was thought that CBD also stimulates CB1, but only slightly, causing conflicting effects with THC, such as relief from anxiety, stress, and hyper-excitability. Simply put, CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound, whereas THC produces a ‘high’.

Researchers at the Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University, Canada, wanted to find out at what dose CBD becomes effective. In doing so, they learned that CBD doesn’t act on CB1 cannabinoid receptors like THC but through the mechanism that binds specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

The team found that rats that were given an intravenous dose of 5 mg/kg/day of CBD increased 5-HT firing through desensitization of 5-HT1A receptors. Seven days of treatment with CBD reduced mechanical allodynia (when pain is experienced despite there being no obvious cause for pain), decreased anxiety-like behavior, and normalized 5-HT activity, the researchers found.

“We found in animal models of chronic pain that low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated in neuropathic or chronic pain,” first author of the study Danilo De Gregorio, a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University, said in a statement.

The findings are important in today’s context of marijuana legalization and the boom of marijuana-related supplements, such as CBD oil. The extract has become so popular that you can now find it everywhere and in all sorts of formats. There are CBD tinctures, cookies, topical creams, and even CBD-infused lattes. However, the market has grown far faster than the science can keep up with, especially since marijuana is illegal at the federal level in the United States, making cannabis research extremely cumbersome. For instance, we don’t know if it is safe to give CBD oil to children and CBD supplements are unregulated, which means that products can vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

“There is some data showing that CBD provides pain relief for humans but more robust clinical trials are needed,” said  Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, who led the new research published in The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

“Our findings elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC,” she added. “This research is a new advancement for an evidence-based application of cannabis in medicine.”

Cannabis oil improves Crohn’s disease symptoms

A new study found that cannabis oil significantly improves Crohn’s disease symptoms. Surprisingly, the effect doesn’t seem to be due to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties.

Credit: Pixabay.

Anecdotal reports suggested to Dr. Timna Naftali, a gastroenterologist and a professor at Tel Aviv University,  that cannabis seems to help people with Crohn’s disease. Naftali thought that the effect may be related to cannabinoid action that reduces inflammation in the gut, so she and colleagues set out to investigate this connection.

[panel style=”panel-success” title=”What is Crohn’s disease? ” footer=””]Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In fact, Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus, but it is more commonly found at the end of the small intestine (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the large intestine (or colon).

It’s important to note that one shouldn’t confuse an IBD disease, such as Crohn’s, with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a different type of disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the bowel. IBS is not characterized by intestinal inflammation, nor is it a chronic disease. [/panel]

The Israeli researchers performed a randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 50 participants with severe forms of the disease. Each participant was given a dose of cannabis oil containing a 4:1 CBD to THC ratio.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the dozens of cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, predominantly the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found mainly in the brain and immune cells. Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active substance found in marijuana, which is responsible for its psychoactive effect. Unlike THC, CBD is not only non-psychoactive, but it actually blocks the high one typically experiences when ingesting cannabis.

The researchers found that 65% of the participants who were given CBD products entered clinical remission. This group also reported significant improvements in their quality of life. Only 35% of the placebo group met remission criteria at the end of the study.


In 2011, Naftali performed a small observational study involving 30 Crohn’s disease patients in Israel, which found that those who smoked 1-3 joints daily reported a positive effect on their disease severity. Patients don’t actually have to smoke to get the benefits, however. As the new study shows, ingesting oil can be just as effective and today there are a lot of options on the market, although choosing the best CBD oil can be challenging.

But despite the symptomatic improvements, the researchers found that the CBD oil didn’t have any effect on the gut inflammation that is responsible for the disease — surprising, as cannabis is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Perhaps cannabinoids interact with a person’s biology in such a way that it treats Crohn’s disease symptoms without actually interfering with inflammation.

“We have previously demonstrated that cannabis can produce measurable improvements in Crohn’s disease symptoms but, to our surprise, we saw no statistically significant improvements in endoscopic scores or in the inflammatory markers we measured in the cannabis oil group compared with the placebo group,” Naftali said in a statement.

“We know that cannabinoids can have profound anti-inflammatory effects but this study indicates that the improvement in symptoms may not be related to these anti-inflammatory properties,” the researcher added.

In the future, Naftali and colleagues plan to investigate cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties on other IBDs.

“There are very good grounds to believe that the endocannabinoid system is a potential therapeutic target in Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal diseases,” Dr. Naftali said. “For now, however, we can only consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative or additional intervention that provides temporary symptom relief for some people with Crohn’s disease.”

The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal. Researchers presented their conclusions recently at the UEG Week Vienna, 2018.

Interview with Bluebird Director of Science Lex Pelger on CBD

Recently, I was able to call Lex Pelger, Director of Science for Bluebird Botanicals. We also hooked up digitally so I could send him some further questions via email. The company provides CBD (cannabidiol) products to consumers. The CBD extract allows for some of the benefits of marijuana but without the intoxicating high. Pelger is quite passionate about the use of CBD and the science behind it.

Lex Pelger on His Interest in CBD and the Science of It

Lex Pelger.

(Slight edits have been made to the following interview dialogue for clarity and accuracy.)

Me: As a Science Director at Bluebird Botanicals, what are a few of the most common tasks you’re faced with on a daily basis?

Lex: One of the main parts of my job is education. I teach our customer care team about what’s known about the cannabinoids and human health as well as talk to customers about what might work for them. I also go to conferences and working on research questions to make sure that we have the most accurate science available. I also do a good bit of writing articles, lecturing and answering questions from journalists about the cannabinoid world.

Me: In your experience, how have you seen CBD help people affected by the THC in ordinary cannabis?

Lex: For people who do not enjoy the psychoactivity of THC or who are very sensitive to even small amounts of it, full plant extract CBD can be a great way to harness the healing powers of the cannabis without getting any kind of high.

Me: What are the most notable benefits CBD can produce in people?

Lex: CBD supports health and wellness in people via the endocannabinoid system and its interactions with the neuronal, immune and hormonal systems of the body. In general, CBD can be seen as a balancing agent for the body.

Me: Bluebird offers CBD health products in a variety of forms, such as liquid extracts and capsules. To what varying ailments do these differently-applied products pertain? Is one compound better than the others in some circumstances?

Lex: The main difference in the ingestion method is the personal preference of the person and the amount of time until onset. For people with acute needs, there are vape pens to get the cannabinoids into your system within a few seconds. For effectiveness that lasts for most of the day, people like to take the oils orally. We’ll also soon have topicals and that’s a great way to get cannabinoids into the system through the skin.

Me: What was the educational process like to get into this field of science?

Lex: For me, I spent five years reading the peer-reviewed literature and traveling the continent interviewing experts and listening to cannabis users. That was the best education.

Me: Bluebird’s website displays a growing line of “pet products.” Could you explain a few of these how they can improve the lives of domesticated animals?

Lex: The cannabinoids tend to work on mammals in the same ways. Since anything with a spinal column has an endocannabinoid system, we like having pet products to help our animal friends feel better too.

Me: Have CBD products been tested a lot on animals?

Lex: A lot of CBD has been given to animals in this country and we certainly hear good stories about the results but the scientific literature is quite scant on the topic.

Me: How do the effects of low-THC hemp differ between humans and other mammals?

Lex: There does not seem to be much difference aside from the smaller weights that necessitate giving less to smaller animals.

Me: Could you go over the relationship between CBD and someone’s endocannabinoid system?

Lex: There’s two main known receptors in the endocannabinoid system: CB1 & CB2. It’s funny but CBD doesn’t activate either of those. But it does modulate how other molecules bind to those receptors and that’s why the presence of CBD can lessen the negative psychoactive effects from THC.

CBD is actually a very wide-ranging compound with at least 80 different targets at the biochemical level of the human body. That’s why it can do so many different things for different people. Molecularly, you might compare [it] to a Swiss Army knife.
Me: The endocannabinoid system has far-reaching effects in several areas of the human body, but which other system do you think relies most heavily on it?
Lex: It is especially tied up with the neuronal system, the immune system, and the hormonal system. However, since those are still some of the most mysterious areas of science, the complete picture of these interactions is not yet formed.

Pelger Talks on the Culture and Media Behind the CBD Business

Me: Obviously, our culture has produced many notions which throw a negative light on marijuana and items associated with it. How do you think this effect can be reversed?
Lex: Storytelling and education. People believe the stories of others and as more and more people share about what the cannabinoids have done for them, more people will have the courage to give them a try.
Me: You run the Greener Grass Podcast; so you’re already working to spread the facts about hemp and its medicinal uses. As the host, what have been some of the highlights of the podcast in your opinion?
Lex: I especially loved sitting down with Dr. Julie Holland. She’s a NYC psychiatrist who doesn’t hold back and she’s great about giving the nuts and the bolts about what works.

Me: You’re the author of two novels rooted in science (The Elephant Folio and The Queer Chapter) which cover a bit of marijuana’s past as well as the endocannabinoid system. What do you think your favorite element of these novels is?
Lex: I liked watching them come together. Of course, I have outlines when I start writing but the end product grows and transforms so much that you’re utterly surprised by how it turns out. In fact, I can still sit down and read them with enjoyment because I forget exactly what happens next.
Me: How many hemp-related graphic novels do you think you’ll end up writing? Do you think you would ever stop?
Lex: If I keep following my captain Herman Melville and use the structure of Moby Dick, I just have 133 more books left to write. Luckily, I have them all sketched out and outlined on my wall so now it’s just a matter of taking the next decade or two to fill them in.
Me: Lastly, where do you see laws regulating marijuana and CBD products going in the future?
Lex: I hope that the laws around cannabis will continue to liberalize while still keeping consumer safety at the forefront. But I’ve studied too much about the history of the War on Drugs to not think that a horrible backslide will occur that continues to use the War on Marijuana as a tool of racist oppression against ‘those people’ just as Nixon originally designed it.
Credit: Public Domain.

The Science and Sourcing Behind CBD

Credit: Public Domain.

Credit: Public Domain.

CBD has been a phenomenon in the world of health and medicine recently with more studies linking this cannabinoid to several health benefits.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the dozens of cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil can be made from both marijuana or hemp cannabis plant, and can be extracted in a number of ways. However, in order for CBD products to be considered legal, it must come from a hemp plant and have low (0.03%) or no THC levels.

CBD is stimulating a lot of interest among scientists in recent years, and while a lot has been discovered about this compound, research continues.

Research has uncovered a myriad of benefits that CBD has on the mind and the body including alleviating pain, inflammation, anxiety, and seizures. It is also linked with improving sleep, mental clarity, heart health, muscle recovery, regulated blood pressure and helping to decrease the risk of developing cancer.

Clearly, there are a number of advantages that CBD brings to the table, but what’s the science behind it?

CBD and The Endocannabinoid System

CBD’s effects all come down to the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a network of 5-HT receptors that are activated and play a role in maintaining homeostasis in the body. Homeostasis affects pain, mood, and appetite among others other factors. CBD interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, predominantly the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found mainly in the brain and immune cells. While the body already has its own set of cannabinoids, introducing CBD to the body enhances the efficacy of the endocannabinoid system.

While CBD does not actually bind directly with these receptors, it interacts with them indirectly and modulates many non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels. The endocannabinoid system determines how the body processes and utilizes cannabinoids.

How Does CBD Take Effect in The Body?

CBD’s therapeutic effect on the body occurs in several ways including the following:

5-HT1A Serotonin: CBD has been shown to activate 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in the body, which can help alleviate anxiety, reduce nausea and vomiting, regulate appetite and improve sleep. They’re found in the central and peripheral nervous systems and stimulate many different chemical messages, which can either produce an excitatory or inhibitory response.

TRPV1 Receptors: CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which helps to reduce pain and inflammation, and regulate body temperature.

GPR55 Protein Receptors: cannabidiol acts as an antagonist to GPR55 protein receptors. By blocking it, CBD can help to hinder bone reabsorption associated with osteoporosis and modulate blood pressure. It can also help to reduce the spread of cancerous cells throughout the body as GPR55 has been associated with the proliferation of cancer cells.

PPARs: CBD plays a role in activating PPARs, which have been associated with reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and even have anti-cancer effects. PPARs are located on the surface of the cell’s nucleus. By activating the PPAR-gamma receptor, CBD has an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells. The activation of PPAR-gamma also diminishes amyloid-beta plaque, which is associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is why CBD can be an effective agent for Alzheimer’s patients. Further, diabetics can find much use for CBD and its activation of PPAR receptors because they regulate genes involved in insulin sensitivity.

CBD Formulas

The types of CBD formulas typically fall under one of two categories: full spectrum and isolate.

Full spectrum CBD formulas: these products include all the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Every cannabinoid found in the plant offers different health benefits for a wide range of ailments. CBD certainly offers plenty of health benefits on its own, but all other cannabinoids also have something to offer. Many people debate whether CBD products that contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids are more effective.

Isolate CBD formulas: these products contain CBD that has been isolated from other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Because of this, these formulas may not provide the same amount of relief as full spectrum formulas. That said, CBD isolates can be used to effectively treat several different ailments, and, in many cases, CBD isolate is the preferred formula type. For some, it may not always be necessary to take advantage of full spectrum CBD and sometimes, other cannabinoids can even cause negative reactions.

Both full spectrum and isolate CBD formulas have their place in the world of medicine and can provide the precise effects that users want.

CBD Oil Sources

As mentioned earlier, CBD that’s extracted from marijuana plants contains THC, while CBD that’s derived from the hemp plant contains very little to no THC. It’s the latter of the two that is legal in the US at the federal level, though this is still the topic of much debate.

Generally speaking, hemp-derived CBD formulas are more easily accessible because of their legal status. They’re also more highly favored among those who prefer not to experience the mind-altering effects of cannabis while still taking advantage of its medicinal and therapeutic effects.

Hemp-derived CBD is considered safer for certain people to take, such as children, the elderly, and even pets because of its low THC content. CBD oil that is extracted from hemp is just as potent as marijuana-derived CBD on a molecular level after it has been extracted.

Knowing exactly where the CBD comes from is very important for users, especially those who wish to avoid THC and its psychoactive effects as well as those who want to remain compliant with the law.

It’s also important to conduct some research on the manufacturers who produce CBD. Some products that are marketed as hemp-derived CBD can still contain higher levels of THC than the legal limit. There are some manufacturers who produce CBD products that contain more THC and less CBD than what they claim. Once you’re satisfied with a certain manufacturer, you might want to order bulk CBD oil in order to offset costs associated with long-term treatment. 

This is why it’s vital that consumers research the manufacturers that they’re buying their CBD oil from, read product labels and review third-party lab reports.

There is plenty of research out there to back up the efficacy of CBD on the mind and body. And as cannabis products become more widely accepted, more studies investigating CBD’s properties on human health will be carried out. Understanding how CBD works in the body and doing some research into the manufacturers who source and produce CBD products are important factors for consumers to consider before making a purchase

Pot twist: Cannabis component helps fight addiction in new study

A new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology has revealed that a non-psychoactive and non-addictive ingredient of the Cannabis sativa plant can help reduce the risk of relapse among cocaine and alcohol addicts. According to lead author Friedbert Weiss, non-psychoactive cannabinoids could have important medical benefits in the fight against substance addiction.

Image via Pixabay/futurefilmworks

Addiction is a powerful, vicious monster that lives inside yourself. The battle is an extremely hard one and it often carries stretches out over years and years — potentially for an entire life. Many abstinent addicts find it even harder to control themselves in drug-related settings or when they experience stress or higher levels of anxiousness. For them, it’s a true struggle to dismiss their impulses when offered an addictive drug like alcohol or cocaine.

Researchers wanted to study the effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on drug relapse in a rat model. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the plant Cannabis sativa (I suppose you already know that’s weed). CBD has been considered as a treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders, and more recently also as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

“The efficacy of the cannabinoid [CBD] to reduce reinstatement in rats with both alcohol and cocaine – and, as previously reported, heroin – histories predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment across several classes of abused drugs,” says Weiss.

Scientists applied a gel containing CBD once per day for a week to the skin of lab rats. The rodents had a history of deliberate daily alcohol or cocaine self-administration, leading to addiction-like behavior.

Next, they performed a number of tests to observe the rats’ reaction to stressful and anxiety-provoking situations, as well as behavior tests that measured impulsivity — a psychological trait associated with drug addiction. The research team reported that CBD reduced relapse provoked by stress and drug cues. CBD also reduced anxiety and impulsivity in the rats.

The authors wrote: “CBD attenuated context-induced and stress-induced drug seeking without tolerance, sedative effects, or interference with normal motivated behavior. Following treatment termination, reinstatement remained attenuated up to ≈5 months although plasma and brain CBD levels remained detectable only for 3 days. CBD also reduced experimental anxiety and prevented the development of high impulsivity in rats with an alcohol dependence history.”

Authors hope that insight into the mechanisms by which CBD exerts these effects will be investigated in future research. They believe that the findings are proof of CBD’s potential in relapse prevention, CBD’s major benefits being its actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment.

“Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons. Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state,” Weiss concludes.

CBD oil seems to reduce the frequency of seizures in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. Credit: Phyto.

CBD oil made from cannabis cuts rare epileptic seizures in half

CBD oil seems to reduce the frequency of seizures in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. Credit: Phyto.

CBD oil seems to reduce the frequency of seizures in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy. Credit: Phyto.

Scientists gave children with a severe form of epilepsy a non-psychoactive form of medical cannabis and found the number of seizures dropped. What’s more, some of the children don’t have any seizures at all now. This is the first time scientists document a form of medical cannabis treating severe epilepsy despite the numerous anecdotal evidence presented on the TV or the internet.

43% of epileptic children had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency with cannabidiol (CBD)

For their study, the team of researchers enlisted 120 children and young adults across the US and Europe who are suffering from Dravet syndrome. This is a genetic dysfunction of the brain that begins in the first year of life with frequent and/or prolonged seizures. Current treatment options are limited, and the constant care required for someone suffering from Dravet syndrome can severely impact the patient’s and the family’s quality of life. The mortality rate is also very high, up to 20%. It’s an incredibly devasting disease with no cure in sight.

During the course of the randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial, the researchers measured seizure frequency over a 14-week treatment period with cannabidiol or CBD, as it’s also known. Cannabidiol is one of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. CBD is the second most abundant compound in hemp, typically representing up to 40% of its extracts. Because CBD is an extract, it doesn’t contain THC which is the intoxicating and (in most parts of the world) illegal substance that is responsible for causing marijuana users to get “high”. But both CBD and THC interact with cells within our bodies by activating the cannabinoid receptors which transmit signals within our bodies, causing different physiological effects.

At the end of the trial, the frequency of convulsive seizures per month decreased considerably from 12.4 to 5.9 for the children who were given CBD compared to an insignificant 14.8 to 14.1 among the placebo control group. Overall 43 percent of children with the syndrome had a 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency with cannabidiol. Even more remarkably, 5 percent of the participants report seizures had stopped altogether.

“This is a major scientific breakthrough”, said  Professor Ingrid Scheffer from the University of Melbourne in a statement.

“If you can render any child or adult seizure free, that’s huge. It could contribute to stopping any further deterioration, or help development in a positive sense.”

For 1 in 20 children, the seizures stopped altogether

The participants also reported feeling better overall. When the children’s caregivers were asked to fill in the Global Impression of Change questionnaire — a scale which rates change in a patient — the patient’s overall condition improved by at least one category in 62 percent of the cannabidiol group, compared with only 34 percent of the placebo group.

If you use social media and you’re a Millennial, chances have it you’ve already seen various videos and memes of unidentified people who had their epilepsy seizures reduced by smoking cannabis or ingesting CBD oil. Some of these videos may be true nevertheless this is the first time science has proven this may be true.

“It’s the first scientific evidence that cannabidiol works. There have been anecdotal reports in the past, and people with firm beliefs that it works in epilepsy, but this is the first time it’s been proven,” Scheffer said.

While the results are very promising, the researchers caution that CBD isn’t a cure for this dreadful disease. Even so, for the estimated 1 percent of the population that has epilepsy or 65 million people globally, CBD could drastically change their lives for the better. Dravet syndrome is a rare condition though affecting around 1 in 16,000 people, so the next challenge will be investing whether or not the finding translate to other forms of epilepsy.

“But it does give cause to be optimistic about further research for its use. It also raises a lot of questions, not just in terms of the treatment of epilepsy, but where else it could be applied medicinally,” Professor Scheffer said.

“Cannabidiol is likely to be an important addition to our group of anti-epileptic tools,” he concluded.

The findings appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.