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Scott Shannon, M.D., assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”
Another concern is about medications with which CBD might interact. This won’t be an issue with most drugs, says Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., a palliative medicine physician and scientist who studies cannabis and integrates it into his Seattle medical practice. The exceptions are blood thinners, IV antibiotics, and other drugs whose exact dosing is crucial and must be monitored closely, he says. (Of course, if you have a health problem, talk to your doctor before using CBD, and never take it instead of seeing your physician for a serious condition.)
There is a significant amount of scientific research on CBD and the ECS system as well as journal entries from pilot studies done by doctors from around the world over the past four decades. However, as this is still a novel area of medicine, do your own research on CBD. There are many online sources of information, but note the internet has a mix of both valid and misleading data. Vet your sources to ensure that they are reputable.
THC is the most well-known cannabinoid because of its psychotropic properties—it gets you high, and that’s because of the way that it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Although high THC levels are often huge draws for pot consumers, too much THC can have negative effects including paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks. Additionally, there is a huge market purely interested in the therapeutic aspects of cannabis, not the psychoactive ones.
The increased popularity of CBD has led many users to raise questions about the methods of extracting and administering CBD. The main question is which form provides the most effective range of medical benefits for the user. The two most common forms of extracted CBD found in stores are full-spectrum (whole-plant extract) and pure CBD isolate. Most users prefer the full-spectrum option. As CBD's usefulness for medical purposes has become more accepted over the years, new methods of administering it have continued to evolve.
The theoretical logic is there, Gerdeman says. What exactly is that thinking? Well, there are a few different ways CBD could help regulate pain—by increasing your natural endocannabinoids, decreasing your inflammatory response, and desensitizing your pain receptors (although it’s still unclear whether this stands when absorbed topically compared to orally).
The extract known as CBD oil sold in the U.S. falls into one of two categories. Crystalline isolate exclusively contains CBD, as other cannabinoids have been removed; full spectrum oil, on the other hand, retains THC and other cannabinoids, and is only sold in states where marijuana use has been legalized. CBD oil can be consumed several different ways, including ingested capsules and food products, vaporizing, tinctures, and topical creams. The soporific effects of CBD oil are linked to its concentration; low-concentration oils will produce minimal effects, while high-concentration oils will produce strong effects.