CBD: What We Know So Far

Until recently, pain sufferers had little choice other than turning to opioids, with their addictive properties and unpleasant side effects, for pain relief. But the country’s changing stance on medical marijuana and states’ moves to legalize it for therapeutic uses have led to a new and promising alternative for those living with pain: cannabidiol, or CBD.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol is one of the key chemical components of the cannabis plant. It belongs to a class of substances called cannabinoids, which includes not just CBD, THC (the chemical primarily responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects) and some 60 other chemical compounds, many of which also appear to have therapeutic properties. CBD and THC are the most well-studied of these.

Unlike THC, cannabidiol does not induce feelings of intoxication or euphoria associated with recreational marijuana use…but it does have a profound effect on pain.

How does CBD work?

CBD acts on a specialized system in the body called the endocannabinoid system. This is a network of receptors designed to accept cannabinoid molecules such as CBD and THC; these receptors are present in nearly every part of the body but are especially numerous in the brain and the immune system. When cannabinoid receptors are activated by CBD molecules, it both reduces inflammation and modulates or blocks pain signals.

In clinical testing, CBD has been shown to be as effective as opioids for managing chronic pain. But unlike opioids, CBD is non-habit forming and does not appear to have any major side-effects. Nor does accidental overdose appear to be a problem.

What about sleep?

Some people report that CBD intake has anti-inflammatory benefits, especially when combined and made a part of a plant-based diet and balanced, sustainable exercise routine. Reducing inflammation in the body often leads to pain-relief – the reduction of inflammation in the  joints, muscles, and organs means you can be more active and recover faster.

For some, CBD intake is just one part of a more comprehensive strategy to eliminate inflammatory foods and increase habits and activity that promote your healthiest self. Some report that CBD intake has calming effects – because of a lack of research on CBD, it’s unclear whether CBD intake can promote more healthy sleep, but some report that potential calming effects of CBD intake improves their sleep and rest routine. A small but growing number of athletes are experimenting with CBD and THC as part of their routines – some anecdotal reports from training routines that include CBD some athletes report feeling like CBD may be promoting faster recovery after training sessions.

There is still a great deal of research to be done into how CBD and THC interact in the human body and how the body’s endocannabinoid system and its network of receptors communicate with the rest of our body’s systems and at this time the seemingly incredible benefits of CBD intake are not conclusively proven.

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