By Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG)
Currently, the most talked about natural ingredient is probably CBD. It seems to be selling virtually everywhere, and the opinions about it range the spectrum of “savior of mankind” to “nasty, addictive drug.” But, what is CBD, what are CBD benefits, and what are CBD side effects (if any)? This article will help answer these and other questions about CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD , or cannabidiol, is a naturally-occurring compound found primarily in Cannabis sativa, a very well-known plant species with two major varieties: marijuana and hemp. Both plants contain CBD and THC, but hemp contains far more CBD than THC, while the reverse is true for marijuana. What is THC? THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that makes you high. Does CBD get you high? No, it is not psychoactive and will not make you high – although there are other CBD benefits. Legally, hemp should provide less than 0.3% THC. If it contains more, than it will be considered to be an illegal drug.
What does CBD do?
There has been a substantial body of research on CBD, showing it to be effective for a variety of purposes – but the most popular uses for this cannabinoid are for stress-induced anxiety, sleep and pain/inflammation.
CBD and Anxiety
In a large, retrospective series of case studies,1 103 adults subjects with stress/anxiety and sleep complaints were given CBD daily in capsule form. If stress/anxiety complaints predominated, most were given 25mg in the morning after breakfast. If sleep complaints predominated, 25mg were given in the evening after dinner. The average results were that stress/anxiety improved in 79.2% of patients and sleep improved in 66.7% of subjects.
CBD and Sleep
Other published case studies found improvements in sleep with 24-25mg of CBD.2 3 More significantly, a new double-blind, placebo-controlled study on CBD was presented at the 16th Annual Conference of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) in Las Vegas, June 13-15. The 6-week study found that 15 mg of hemp-derived CBD for six weeks led to significant decreases in appetite, along with improvements in sleep quality and duration, and enhancements in “quality of life” scores in healthy humans. This study is significant because, heretofore, there was no research demonstrating CBD’s efficacy in doses below 25 mg. Now we have evidence that 15 mg is an effective dose.
CBD for Pain
Inflammation and pain are emerging areas of CBD research. It should be noted that inflammation commonly occurs in a non-disease state. Higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, desserts, French fries, and refined grains are associated with experiencing more inflammation.4 Colder temperatures are associated with experiencing more inflammation.5 Physical overexertion – like exercising extra hard at the gym – may result in temporary inflammation and pain.6 7 So, when talking about pain and inflammation, these are the type of applications we’re considering.
Research 8 9 has demonstrated that CBD was able to successfully reduce inflammatory markers and may also have application for pain.10 11 Human clinical research 12 has shown that 50-100mg/day of CBD resulted in pain reduction in most subjects tested.
CBD Side Effects
Does CBD have side effects? The short answer to this question is generally, no. While anything can be bad in excess, the amount of CBD that most people would consume in dietary supplements doesn’t tend to be a problem. In research, when hundreds of milligrams daily have been used, gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea and nausea have occurred. Much lower doses—in the 15 to 50 mg range used in dietary supplements—are not typically associated with side effects and have a good safety profile.
 Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol (CBD) in Anxiety and Sleep: A large case series. Unpublished. n.d. 10 pgs.
 Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016 Fall;20(4):108-111.
 Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Cannabidiol Oil for Decreasing Addictive Use of Marijuana: A Case Report. Integrative Medicine. 2015;14(6):31-5.
 Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Fung TT, Meigs JB, Rifai N, Manson JE, Hu FB. Major dietary patterns are related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):1029-35.
 Halonen JI, Zanobetti A, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz J. Associations between outdoor temperature and markers of inflammation: a cohort study. Environ Health. 2010 Jul 23;9:42.
 Suzuki K, Peake J, Nosaka K, et al. Changes in markers of muscle damage, inflammation and HSP70 after an Ironman Triathlon race. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Dec;98(6):525-34.
 Rowlands DS, Pearce E, Aboud A, et al. Oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle soreness in an 894-km relay trail run. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 May;112(5):1839-48.
 Couch DG, Tasker C, Theophilidou E, Lund JN, O’Sullivan SE. Cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide are anti-inflammatory in the acutely inflamed human colon. Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Oct 25;131(21):2611-2626.
 De Filippis D, Esposito G, Cirillo C, Cipriano M, De Winter BY, Scuderi C, Sarnelli G, Cuomo R, Steardo L, De Man JG, Iuvone T. Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28159.
 Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Sep 1;51(5):1054-61.
 Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, Yang F, Chen SR, Willenbring D, Guan Y, Pan HL, Ren K, Xu Y, Zhang L. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012 Jun 4;209(6):1121-34.
 Cuñetti L, Manzo L, Peyraube R, Arnaiz J, Curi L, Orihuela S. Chronic Pain Treatment With Cannabidiol in Kidney Transplant Patients in Uruguay. Transplant Proc. 2018 Mar;50(2):461-464.