I think we can all agree that it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether CBD actually works. There seem to be mixed reviews floating around the internet, and a somewhat lack of clear facts.
At Honest Hemp, we aim to bring some clarity to the minds of those discovering CBD. We believe in having a completely honest approach; we educate our audience on the facts about CBD, with scientific research to back up our points.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding this mysterious cannabinoid. We will explain exactly what CBD does inside your body, and both the positive and negative effects this could have.
Does CBD Get You High?
“Does CBD oil get you high?” – a common question asked by people with a curiosity about CBD. The simple answer to this is… no!
CBD will not make you feel high, as it does not have any psychoactive properties. The cannabis plant is often associated with recreational use for the purpose of getting high, but this is only because of its containment of THC.
There are actually 2 different types of the cannabis plant: hemp and marijuana. Hemp is classified as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC, whilst marijuana contains more than this.
As a result, marijuana is smoked recreationally with the intent of causing a high, whilst hemp is used for various products in multiple industries and is completely legal in the UK.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. The way it interacts with the body is very different from that of other cannabinoids.
THC activates CB1 receptors in the brain, which is believed to be a critical component for producing intoxication. This can affect a person’s prefrontal cortex; a region of the brain responsible for decision making, attention, motor skills, and much more.
Additionally, THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain’s reward system. This can cause the brain to release neurotransmitters – such as serotonin and dopamine – that will create pleasurable sensations and emotions.
In contrast to this, CBD and other cannabinoids are very unsuccessful in activating CB1 receptors. In fact, research shows that CBD actually interferes with this receptor. This could ultimately reduce the psychoactive effects of THC when these compounds are taken together.
What Does CBD Do?
The reason CBD is thought to have such a wide array of effects is that it interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).
We mentioned above that THC activates CB1 receptors – these cannabinoid receptors are a part of this system. In addition, CB2 receptors and naturally occurring cannabinoids also make up this system.
Yes, the human body already produces cannabinoids! So what does CBD oil do? Why would we want to ingest extra CBD? Well, it’s thought that taking CBD products will essentially help the ECS to function even better.
The ECS is responsible for regulating many human functions, including sleep, mood (anxiety, depression), pain, appetite, and much more. If the ECS is thrown out of balance, or is not working properly, then using CBD may help it to function more normally.
Many researchers believe that this is because CBD can help to enhance the natural levels of cannabinoids in the body by preventing their breakdown. When we have a healthy abundance of these cannabinoids and they are firing from receptors in the way they are supposed to, it may improve the body’s overall functioning.
Does CBD do anything specific for our health?
It is not possible to make factual claims about CBD effects on our health, but it is thought that it could potentially have a positive impact on chronic pain, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, insomnia, and more.
We will cover these points in more detail below, under ‘What Are The Effects of CBD?’.
Do different CBD products have different effects?
There are various types of CBD products on the market today: CBD oils, gummies & other food products, capsules, topicals, e-liquids, and more.
The way that these products interact with our bodies can be slightly different, and the bioavailability can vary. Bioavailability refers to the amount of a substance that can be absorbed by the body.
So, for example, if a CBD product has a bioavailability of 10%, then 10% of the CBD that you take will reach the bloodstream and have an effect.
When you use a CBD oil or tincture, you drop the product under the tongue, and the CBD absorbs into the bloodstream via the sublingual glands.
CBD oils tend to have a bioavailability between 9-16% – this means that this percentage of CBD does absorb into the bloodstream, and can indeed have an effect.
The bioavailability is lower than that of CBD e-liquids for 2 main reasons: CBD is hydrophobic, meaning it does not like to stay in your bloodstream and will, therefore, diffuse out. Secondly, when we ingest CBD orally it must pass through the liver before it enters our circulation. This process reduces the amount of CBD; this is called the ‘first-pass effect’.
CBD oils are usually made with either hemp seed oil, or MCT oil:
What is hemp oil good for?
Hemp oil is good for keeping the heart and immune system healthy, due to its containment of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
What is MCT oil good for?
MCT is great for boosting metabolism and keeping the immune system healthy. Plus it provides a more tasteless alternative to hemp seed oil.
CBD edibles are very similar to CBD oils in terms of bioavailability. The main difference with edibles is that they are much easier to take, and the dosage is easier to measure. Additionally, they can be more enjoyable to use if you opt for CBD gummies or sweets!
When you vape CBD, you are bypassing this ‘first-pass’ effect that you get with oils or edibles. The CBD e-liquid enters your lungs and diffuses directly into your bloodstream. It does not need to be digested or pass through the liver.
This can allow nearly 4x as much CBD to enter your bloodstream; the bioavailability here can reach 50-60%.
So, vaping CBD could mean you can reap the same benefits as you would with an oil, but by using much less product. Also, you could potentially feel the effects 30 to 60 minutes faster when you vape CBD.
Using CBD topically (on the skin) is very different from ingesting CBD oils or edibles, or vaping CBD.
The CBD from cosmetics does not enter your bloodstream. Instead, the product absorbs deeply into the skin, where there are many cannabinoid receptors. As the body’s largest organ, our skin has the highest amount and concentration of these cannabinoid receptors.
CBD topicals interact with these sensory receptors, which can effectively help to diminish our pain sensation. In addition to this, CBD is known to be an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and regulate oil production.
Studies indicate that it may, therefore, be an effective way to calm irritated skin, reduce redness, and lessen signs of ageing.
What Are The Effects of CBD?
Due to the lack of concrete research into CBD, it is not possible to make factual claims about the effects it may have. Certain laws prohibit companies from telling consumers that CBD will definitely have certain effects, and CBD can not yet be classified as a pharmaceutical health supplement.
This can lead many consumers to feel confused – does CBD really do anything? Does CBD oil work? Fortunately, it is pretty much a risk-free product, meaning it’s completely safe to try out. Pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand, can often have various side effects. For example, anxiety medications can often cause drowsiness, insomnia, headaches, etc.
Therefore, CBD has the potential to be an excellent choice for individuals who don’t want to deal with these adverse effects. Scientists have conducted research into CBD oil effects on various areas of health, including:
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Parkinson’s disease
Research into the effects of CBD
CBD for Pain
Researchers conducted an animal study into the use of CBD for pain, whereby they injected rats with CBD. They found that this reduced their pain response to a surgical incision. (1)
A separate study found that, when rats were given an oral dose of CBD, it reduced their sciatic nerve pain and inflammation. (2)
Multiple human studies have found that CBD and THC seem to be effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis (MS), and arthritis.
47 patients who suffered from MS were given Sativex – a CBD and THC drug now used by the NHS – for 1 month. The researchers found that this reduced pain and reduced muscle spasms. (3)
A separate study into the use of Sativex found that it reduced pain in 58 people suffering from arthritis. (4)
CBD for Mood Disorders (Anxiety/ Depression)
One study gave a group of 57 men suffering from anxiety either a dose of CBD or a placebo. They found that a 300mg dose of CBD was the most effective at reducing anxiety. However, it is not recommended to administer a dose this large if it has not been prescribed by a medical professional. (5)
A separate study found that CBD reduced symptoms of anxiety and insomnia in children who suffered from PTSD. (6)
CBD for Cancer
One study into the effects of CBD and THC on 177 cancer patients found that there was a significant amount of pain reduction compared to using THC alone. (7)
CBD may also be used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea. A study looked at 16 people suffering from this symptom and found that giving them a CBD and THC drug was more effective at reducing their nausea compared to standard treatments. (8)
Test tube studies have also been conducted to see if CBD has anti-cancer properties. One study found that CBD actually induced cell death in human breast cancer cells.
CBD for Acne
Research into the use of CBD for acne has found that it prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum. This essentially means it helps to control oil production in the skin; excessive oil can be a cause of acne. They also found it to be an effective anti-inflammatory, and that it prevented inflammatory cytokines (these induce inflammation). Reduced inflammation can mean there is less redness, swelling, and discomfort on the skin.
CBD for the Heart
One study found that when 9 men were given CBD, it reduced their blood pressure significantly compared to a placebo. The researchers thought that this could link to a reduction in anxiety and stress, caused by CBD.
Several animal studies have found that CBD reduced inflammation and cell death associated with heart disease. It is thought this could be due to CBD’s antioxidant properties.
CBD for Epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
One study looked into the use of Sativex, which is a CBD and THC drug now used by the NHS. They gave doses to 276 patients with MS and found that the drug reduced spasms in 75% of the group.
A separate study looked at giving a CBD drug to 214 people with epilepsy and found that it reduced their seizures by an average of 36.5%.
A study of children suffering from epilepsy found that giving them a CBD drug reduced their seizures considerably compared to a placebo.
CBD for Other Diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzeihmer’s)
Several studies have looked into the use of CBD for Parkinson’s disease. They have found CBD could potentially improve the quality of life, as it can help to dissipate the symptoms of REM sleep disorder; a common symptom of Parkinson’s.
Additionally, several studies have suggested CBD could help prevent the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
How Does CBD Oil Make You Feel?
CBD can have different effects for different people, depending on a whole array of factors. Some people may notice effects immediately, some people may notice effects gradually over time, and some people may notice no effects at all.
The most commonly reported effect of CBD is feeling more relaxed and calm. People may notice their stress or anxiety levels begin to reduce, and they may find that their mind is not racing so much.
This can help to induce feelings of improved focus or concentration. Additionally, these feelings may help to induce sleep; you may fall asleep more easily, and stay asleep throughout the night with fewer disturbances. As a result of this, you may feel more alert and well-rested during the day.
Are There Any Side Effects of CBD?
Is CBD oil safe? First and foremost, we should mention that CBD is completely safe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that CBD is a promising treatment, is well-tolerated by all individuals, and has no risk for abuse or dependency.
It is difficult to find any evidence for dangerous CBD effects, however, some small CBD side effects have been reported. This includes anxiety, appetite changes, negative mood changes, diarrhoea, dizziness, dry mouth, or nausea.
These CBD side effects are often found when patients are given very high doses of CBD; much higher than any reputable brand would recommend to their consumers.
We would always recommend that you avoid using CBD if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. In this case, a mother shares everything that she consumes with her baby; scientists are unsure of how CBD could affect a baby, so it is best to steer clear just in case.
Additionally, scientists say that natural cannabinoids in the body can affect a person’s fertility, so it is difficult to know what extra cannabinoids might do to your fertility. If you are trying to conceive, you may want to avoid using CBD.
If you are currently taking other medications, we would always advise that you speak to your doctor before using CBD. This is because different drugs and compounds can interact with one another in the body, which has the potential to cause adverse effects.
Additionally, you should speak to your doctor if you suffer from liver problems or low blood pressure before using CBD.
Fortunately, CBD is a completely natural compound which the human body produces anyway. This means the chance of experiencing any CBD oil side effects is very low, and the chance of developing an addiction is zero.
Research Into CBD Oil Side Effects
High CBD Dosages
In one study, researchers gave children high doses of Epidiolex – a CBD drug used by the NHS – daily for 14 weeks. These doses were equivalent to giving 1360mg of CBD to an adult.
When looking at the side effects of CBD oil, they found that the patients experienced tiredness, decreased appetite, altered liver enzymes, and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, acid reflux, and indigestion. They found these symptoms lessened when the dose was stabilised.
It’s important to note here that the recommended daily dose for an adult is about 20mg to 130mg – the dosages given in this study were extremely high!
Some researchers think that when people experience side effects of CBD oil, it could be due to the manufacturer using ‘bad’ ingredients, or lying about the contents of their products.
Scientists conducted a study into this and found that only 31% of CBD products were accurately labelled. This could mean they contain pesticides and heavy metals from farming, more THC than is advertised, or other synthetic cannabinoids. This could cause a whole range of adverse effects; THC often causes dry mouth, a change in appetite, and an altered mood.
At Honest Hemp, we grow our hemp plants in Colorado without any use of herbicides, pesticides, or GMOs. We produce all of our products at our manufacturing facility here in the UK, and we consistently undergo internal and third-party cannabinoid testing and quality assurance testing.
We provide third-party lab reports on our website under each product listing so that our customers can be assured that our products are labelled correctly.
Research has shown that CBD can occupy enzymes (cytochrome p450) that your body uses to process other drugs. This could potentially pose a risk, as it could increase or decrease the levels of another drug in your system. This is why it’s so important to speak to your doctor before taking CBD if you are currently on other medications.
Researchers conducted a drug trial whereby they gave children Epidiolex – an NHS approved CBD drug. The researchers found that CBD potentially elevates liver enzymes, however, they gave the patients a maximum dose of CBD.
It is unclear if CBD directly affects the liver, but if you do currently have problems with your liver health, you may want to avoid CBD just in case. Alternatively, you can stick to a low dose.
Low Blood Pressure
One study showed that when patients took CBD, it lowered their blood pressure. They found that this was most effective when the participants were experiencing stress.
This may suggest that the CBD simply helped to decrease stress, which in turn would decrease the blood pressure. However, if you already suffer from low blood pressure, you may decide CBD isn’t right for you.