CBD, the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, has exploded in popularity and availability recently. But, despite being the foundation of a billion-dollar industry, there’s still a lot of uncertainty as to whether it’s actually beneficial to your health.
The question a lot of us are asking right now, “Does CBD work and is it really worth the time and money?”
And when it comes to fitness, there are many questions about whether it can help reduce pain, helps with soreness, or be a valuable workout recovery tool.
There’s still so much we don’t know about the effects, short- or long-term, but there is some important research that leaves clues as to what we know right now, how you might want to experiment, the right dose, and what science is discovering with each passing day.
In this episode of That’s Healthy, Right?, we break down the CBD research and focus on the fascinating link to reducing the frequency of seizures, and whether or not the dose you get in the average CBD product will help your anxiety, sleeplessness, or if it can actually help with workout recovery and reducing your pain.
Have a question you want to be considered for the show? To submit a question, email a voice recording that you can do here to email@example.com.
A Review of Human Studies Assessing Cannabidiol’s (CBD) Therapeutic Actions and Potential — The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
CBD Oil: Should You Take It? – Born Fitness
Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain – Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders – The Journal of the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics
Cannabidiol Presents an Inverted U-shaped Dose-Response Curve in a Simulated Public Speaking Test — Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry
Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series — The Permanente Journal
CBD: What we know, what we don’t — Harvard Health
Does CBD Work? Upcoming Clinical Trials — Policy Lab
FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy — US Food and Drug Administration
Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age — Frontiers in Immunology
Cannabinoids for Neuropathic Pain — Neuropathic Pain
Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report — Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research
Adam Bornstein: I feel like I’m taking on mission impossible here, because I need to cover everything you need to know about CBD in less than five minutes. So let’s get right into it…
For those of you who are not familiar with CBD, it is one of the compounds that you find in cannabis. You can also find it in hemp. And what makes CBD so interesting is that both CBD and THC, two of these compounds, are typically connected with boosting or mimicking the levels of something known as endocannabinoids.
That is a mouthful, but these are compounds that are naturally produced in your body, and they have a lot of important roles in things that you and I care about, everything from your immune system, to dealing with pain, your appetite, your stress levels, sleep, metabolism, memory, mood.
Oh, it’s a lot. And it’s a lot of good stuff, which is why the CBD market is absolutely blowing up. You see it in every type of product, and people are estimating that the CBD market will be worth more than 16 billion by the year 2025.
But what makes all of this so interesting is that the evidence is rather lacking. So the benefits of CBD are really tied to the fact that you don’t see a lot of the negative side effects that you would associate with THC.
I mean, some people might consider them positive side effects if you love being high, but the high, the appetite, the munchies, you don’t get any of that from CBD. All you’re supposed to get are the benefits of these endocannabinoids.
But the question is, does it play out in real life or just in the hypothetical model? If there’s one thing we know about CBD right now, it’s this, it is very good at helping reduce the frequency of seizures, so much so that in 2018 the FDA actually approved a drug called Epidiolex, or at least I think that’s how it’s pronounced, to help reduce the frequency and the intensity of seizures.
And getting a drug FDA approved is like breaking into Fort Knox. That is no easy task. So you have to have a lot of certainty with that, which is exciting news, because it means that there are a lot of preliminary trials now going on to see if CBD will have other benefits on things like schizophrenia or addiction or Parkinson’s. And I’m fascinated to see what happens.
But what does this mean for the things that you care about, such as stress reduction or sleep? Well, let me explain.
For starters, know that the benefits that we are seeing with CBD start with the dose, and the dose is a lot higher than what you’re going to find in a lot of products. Most products are going to be dosed anywhere from five milligrams to 25 milligrams of CBD per serving.
But as we start seeing where the benefits are, it’s not really in line with what you need to take or what we know right now you need to take.
Let’s start with anxiety. There are several studies out there that are showing that CBD might actually help with anxiety. In one study where they compared to a placebo, you definitely saw a drop in generalized anxiety. In another one, when people took CBD before a four minute talk, their nervousness and their cognitive impairment was improved.
So these are great things, but in both of these studies, you were looking at doses anywhere from 150 to 300 milligrams, which is several times more than what you’re finding in those products.
Now, this does not mean that lower doses don’t work or couldn’t work for you, because several factors go into finding the right dose for you, including your body weight and size. But it does mean that you need to be aware that higher doses is where we’re seeing that certainty, and there’s not necessarily that direct transference with a lower dose.
When it comes then to sleep, you’re not going to even see as much certainty already. So anxiety, some promise. Sleep, the studies right now aren’t showing any direct benefits of sleep. They’re showing indirect benefits by reducing anxiety.
So again, if anxiety is a reason why you’re having trouble sleeping, taking the CBD has shown in these sleep studies to reduce anxiety before going to bed. But in terms of actually improving the benefits or restfulness or duration of sleep, we’re not seeing that, or at least not yet.
With pain, well, it depends how much you think you’re like an animal. Animal studies are very, very promising. One in the European Journal of Pain showed that using an animal model, CBD put right on the skin really did a great job of helping lower pain and inflammation, helped with arthritis, but these are animals, and we need more research to know how that applies to humans.
And that’s kind of the main take away that you’re going to see with a lot of the research right now.
In terms of where limitations exist, time is the big one. This is just so new to market that it’s an exciting field, but we need more time because there’s been no longitudinal studies. That means we haven’t looked at what happens when people take CBD for a year, for three years, for five years.
And I like a little bit more certainty, personally, when I deal with my own body, knowing how to project longer term ramifications. If you decide to experiment, know this, if you are on a prescription drug, please talk with your doctor. And this is because CBD will impact how your liver breaks down drugs, which means if those drugs have side effects, they could be amplified or intensified because they’re just going to be broken down differently.
And if you are a woman, we do not know how CBD affects a fetus. So if you’re pregnant, please keep that in mind.
Where do I stand on this? I find CBD to be fascinating. I am always checking out that research. I’ve got an eye on it. I’m curious to see what will happen. But for me, it is pretty early to say with certainty that it has a lot of benefits, but it’s definitely one that’s worth keeping an eye on.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.