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September 29, 2022 4 min read
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical in the cannabis Sativa plant. The cannabis plant produces flowers and leaves containing several compounds with various effects on the body. Herein, we discuss the health benefits of CBD and some potential risks of the cannabis plant.
There are two categories of the cannabis plant, namely hemp and marijuana. The two compounds produce tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a major psychoactive ingredient, and cannabidiol (CBD). Marijuana contains huge amounts of THC but low levels of CBD. In contrast, the hemp plant contains higher levels of CBD. Hence, many countries have legalized CBD for its medical and therapeutic purposes without causing psychoactive effects. However, its legality is still under discussion in some countries.
CBD was approved in 2018 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the agency does not regulate many CBD products in the market due to the limited scientific research on their medical application. Epidiolex, a cannabis derivative used to treat seizure disorders in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy, is approved for medical consumption.
The FDA established that CBD is a safe and effective drug for epilepsy. Besides treating seizures, CBD is currently used for relieving pain, treating sleeplessness, and improving appetite, which results in weight loss.
Pain caused by arthritis and damage to the nerves is treatable using CBD. The cannabis derivative is also effective for neuropathic pain and pain related to cancer treatment (Evans, 2020).
Epilepsy is caused by a group of neurons that show abnormalities. It does not result from mental illness or the retardation of the brain. Some of the forms of epilepsy in children include Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. CBD treats these disorders due to the failure of other pharmacological drugs.
According to Anderson et al. (2017), CBD treats epilepsy by interfering with the brain's serotonin receptors, releasing chemicals that boost mood. An improvement in mood results in a reduction of seizures' frequency. However, research is still ongoing on how CBD acts as an anti-seizure and whether other diseases can benefit from similar properties.
Insomnia is a disorder that results in difficulties in falling or staying asleep. Some people may easily fall asleep, though they wake up soon after getting to bed. Some may have difficulty falling asleep but remain asleep beyond the conventional duration.
CBD helps people with insomnia by assisting them in falling asleep quickly and staying asleep for seven to nine hours.
There is a strong link between CBD and blood pressure. Blood pressure is mainly caused by heart muscles' (cardiac) contraction. According to Nasri et al. (2015), CBD oil can lower blood pressure while improving the efficiency of the cardiac muscles, especially in elderly users.
CBD may result in negative side effects like fatigue, nausea, irritability, liver destruction, diarrhea, and change in weight and appetite. Equally, individuals under medication should seek medical advice before using CBD. For instance, CBD may negatively interact with blood thinners, raising the risk of a blood clot.
According to Cohen et al. (2019), CBD is sold as a dietary supplement but not as medicine; the cannabis derivative is not regulated and approved by FDA for purity and safety.
The lapse in regulation makes some brands misrepresent the full details of additives on CBD labels. Therefore, there is no guarantee for the safety and effectiveness of CBD.
Pregnant women should not use CBD. There is limited information on the impact of CBD on children and breastfeeding women. Hence, users should not risk the health of their fetuses by using the cannabis derivative.
For breastfeeding mothers, CB D may have negative effects on the breast milk resulting in negative effects on the baby. Notably, the effects of CBD on the fetus remain unclear; the impacts may not be negative, although the uncertainty in the scientific research shows that pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers would be gambling with the health of their children or the unborn.
CBD has numerous health and therapeutic benefits for users. The cannabis derivative is relatively safe and well-tolerated in the body. However, it may result in negative health effects when overdosed or used with other prescription drugs. Research on the impacts of CBD on pregnant women remains inconclusive; a fair amount of research shows that CBD may result in o developmental challenges among fetuses, interact with the baby's breast milk and penetrate the placenta. Therefore, lactating mothers should avoid CBD or take it under strict medical instructions.
Anderson, C. L., Evans, V. F., DeMarse, T. B., Febo, M., Johnson, C. R., & Carney, P. R. (2017). Cannabidiol for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy in children: current state of research. Journal of Pediatric Neurology, 15(04), 143-150.
Cohen, P. A., & Sharfstein, J. (2019). The opportunity of CBD—reforming the law. N Engl J Med, 381(4), 297-9.
Evans, J. (2020). The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol. Fair Winds Press.
Nasri, H., Bahmani, M., Shahinfard, N., Nafchi, A. M., Saberianpour, S., & Kopaei, M. R. (2015). Medicinal plants for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a review of recent evidence. Jundishapur journal of microbiology, 8(11).
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