Cannabidiol, known as CBD, originates from the cannabis plant and is one of more than 100 identified cannabinoids. Unlike its relative, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not trigger the psychoactive high typically associated with cannabis. Its potential health benefits have been acknowledged in traditional medicine for centuries, and CBD has begun to draw more mainstream attention recently. 

CBD’s popularity can be attributed to its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex system in our bodies regulating a range of physiological functions, including pain sensation, mood, appetite, and sleep. Through binding with specific receptors within the ECS, CBD may effectively reduce inflammation and promote a sense of calm. 

How does CBD work in the body? 

Understanding how CBD interacts within the human body is still the subject of ongoing research. Current studies highlight that CBD appears to interact with our body’s ECS, potentially preventing the breakdown of a neurotransmitter called anandamide. This bliss molecule, as it is often referred to, plays a crucial role in producing feelings of happiness and wellbeing. 

CBD seems to interact with other key receptors, such as serotonin and vanilloid. These receptors are important for mood regulation and pain perception. CBD might play a role in mood regulation, pain reduction, and improved sleep quality. 

CBD health benefits 

CBD has been studied for a variety of potential health benefits, including:  

Types of CBD products  

CBD products come in many different forms, including oils, capsules, and topicals. Different types of CBD extract – CBD isolate, full spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD – can affect its potential benefits and risks. Here’s what you need to know about each type.  

CBD isolate  

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD available. All other plant matter is removed during extraction, leaving only the CBD compound. CBD isolate is typically sold as a white, crystalline powder and can be used in various ways. Many people prefer CBD isolate because it contains no THC, making it a good option for those who want to avoid any potential psychoactive effects.  

Because CBD isolate contains only one compound, it may not be as effective as other types of CBD products. Some research suggests that CBD works best when combined with other cannabinoids and plant compounds such as terpenes. 

Full-spectrum CBD  

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC. While THC in full-spectrum CBD products is typically very low, it can still be enough to trigger a positive drug test. Full-spectrum CBD is popular among those who want to experience the full range of potential benefits the cannabis plant has to offer.  

One of the main benefits of full-spectrum CBD is the entourage effect. When all the compounds in the cannabis plant work together, they can have a synergistic effect that enhances the overall therapeutic potential of the plant. Full-spectrum CBD may be more effective than CBD isolate for specific conditions. 

Broad-spectrum CBD  

Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD, but it’s been processed to remove all traces of THC. This makes it a good option for those who want to avoid THC but still want to experience the potential benefits of other cannabinoids and plant compounds. Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD may also offer the entourage effect, although the effect may be less pronounced without THC. 

CBD side effects and risks  

While CBD is generally considered safe, it’s essential to consult with a doctor before taking it, especially if you are taking other medications or have any underlying health conditions. For example, CBD may interact with blood thinners and increase the risk of bleeding. CBD may also interact with alcohol and increase its effects, which could be dangerous.  

Another potential risk associated with CBD is the quality of the product. It’s essential to use prescribed medicinal cannabis in the correct dosage amounts rather than sourcing CBD yourself to make sure you’re using a reputable brand with high-quality ingredients.  

Like any medication, CBD can cause side effects. While CBD is generally considered safe, some people may experience side effects such as:  

  • Drowsiness  
  • Dry mouth  
  • Nausea  
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Changes in appetite and weight. 

Using the right CBD product  

When looking for the right CBD consumption method, there are a few things to keep in mind. Certain CBD products may be better suited for various conditions, and a doctor can help you find the right product for you. For example, a topical CBD product may be a good option for a patient looking for relief from localised pain. A CBD oil or capsule may better suit a patient looking for more generalised relief.  

Also consider the potency of the product. CBD products come in a range of strengths. The amount of CBD needed may vary depending on an individual’s needs, so it’s important to start low and go slow. Lastly, consider the quality and reputation of the brand, as well as factors such as extraction methods and third-party testing to ensure a safe and effective CBD product.  

Connect with an authorised prescriber to see how easy exploring plant-powered medicine can be. 

This article is intended as general information and is not a substitute for medical advice from your treating doctor.  You must always speak with your doctor about the appropriate treatment for you based on your individual health circumstances.

Further Reading