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Cannabidiol (CBD): A Comprehensive Overview

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid discovered in 1940. It is one of some 120 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract (in hemp, less so in the THC dominant cultivars) . As of 2018, preliminary clinical research on CBD included anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain studies. CBD is a cannabinoid that does not have the same psychoactive effects as THC but has shown great promise as a beneficial nutraceutical. This article will review The history of CBD, its potential benefits, and possible adverse effects. Cannabidiol Comprehensive overview for consumers

A Brief History of Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol was first isolated from hemp in 1940 by Roger Adams and his team at the University of Illinois. This cannabis compound was initially thought to be ineffective. It was largely ignored by scientists until the early 1960s when Raphael Mechoulam and his team at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel identified its structure and synthesized it for the first time. Since then, CBD has been the subject of numerous medical studies exploring its potential therapeutic applications. 

What Does Cannabidiol Do?

CBD binds to receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate various physiological functions, including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory. The ECS is a network of cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. CBD has been shown to interact with receptors in the ECS to potentially provide relief from various conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, nausea, and seizures. 


Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning it will not get you high. This makes CBD appealing to those seeking relief from conditions without the associated cognitive impairment. It should be noted that while CBD does not produce psychoactive effects, it can produce sedative effects when taken in large doses. 

Have Medical Studies Been Done? 

Several small clinical trials have been conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of CBD in humans. In one trial, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received 600 mg of CBD or a placebo before completing a public speaking test. The participants who received CBD had significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during their speech than the placebo group.  This study suggests that CBD may effectively treat social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, more research is needed to confirm these findings. 

What Are the Potential Medical Benefits of Cannabinol? 

CBD has been shown to have potential medical benefits for various conditions. Below we will explore some of the potential medical benefits of CBD. 

CBD for Pain Relief

One of CBD’s most well-known medical benefits is its ability to relieve pain. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps to regulate pain perception. A 2017 study found that CBD effectively reduced chronic neuropathic pain in rats. A 2019 study also found that CBD effectively treated osteoarthritic joint pain. CBD could be used as an alternative to opioids for pain relief, as it does not have the same risk of addiction and overdose as opioids. 

CBD for Anxiety Relief

CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders. A 2018 review found that CBD effectively treated various types of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, and PTSD. A 2019 study found that CBD effectively reduced anxiety in people with SAD. 

CBD for Inflammation Relief

CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that effectively treat various inflammatory conditions. A 2017 study found that CBD effectively treats arthritis by reducing inflammation and pain. A 2018 study also found that CBD effectively treated Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation in the gut

CBD and Cancer-Related Symptoms

Cancer patients often suffer from various symptoms, including pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety. Unfortunately, traditional treatments for these symptoms can often be ineffective or even make them worse. This is where CBD comes in. Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can help manage cancer-related symptoms like pain, fatigue, and nausea. Some studies have even found that it can help reduce chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea. CBD might be worth considering if you’re looking for an alternative way to manage your cancer-related symptoms. 

What are the Risks associated with CBD?

CBD and Liver Damage: What the Research Says 

A 2019 study found that chronic administration of CBD increased markers of liver injury in mice. The study also found that CBD reduced the ability of the mice’s liver to process other drugs and toxins. This suggests that CBD may reduce the effectiveness of other medications you’re taking and increase the risk of liver damage.  Another study from 2020 looked at the effects of CBD on people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study found that people who took CBD had an increased risk of developing NAFLD, which was especially true for people who took high doses of CBD or had a history of NAFLD.  CBD may also increase the risk of liver damage when it’s used with other drugs. A 2017 case report describes a woman who developed severe liver damage after taking a product that contained both CBD and Tylenol. The woman needed a transplant as a result of the damage. While this is just one case report, it suggests that using CBD with other medications may increase your risk of liver damage. 


Cannabidiol is a compound found in Cannabis sativa plants that have been gaining popularity lately as a natural treatment for anxiety, pain, and other medical conditions. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a psychoactive effect; in other words, it won’t get you “high.” Some research suggests that CBD may help to treat various medical conditions by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors in the body; however, more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made. CBD oil is typically taken orally in drops or capsules; however, it can also be added to food or drink, inhaled using a vaporizer, or applied topically as a cream or ointment. Before taking CBD oil or other supplements, always speak with your healthcare provider first. They can help you determine if CBD oil is right for you and advise you on potential risks and side effects.

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