CBD (cannabidiol) is widely used as a natural remedy to treat a variety of conditions, but there’s not enough evidence about how well it works. People use it to relieve anxiety, reduce pain from a chronic condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia, treat a seizure disorder called epilepsy and to boost the effects of some drugs such as psychiatric medications or antidepressants. The federal government only approves a prescription drug that contains CBD, known as Epidiolex, to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. Researchers are studying whether CBD may also help with other conditions, including PTSD, autism and chronic pain.
CBD is available in many different forms, including oils, capsules, creams and patches that are applied directly to the skin. It can also be added to food or drinks. The tincture form is most popular among consumers, with 55% of respondents to a Forbes Health survey reporting that they have used CBD in the past year. In the US, you can buy CBD products in stores and online.
There is some scientific evidence about how CBD might work, but there are also many myths and misinformation about it. It is important to understand these issues before trying a CBD product.
Studies are most commonly looking at CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety, sleep problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. There’s also some promising research about its effectiveness in reducing the frequency of seizures in people with epilepsy.
It’s also being studied for its role in treating a painful muscle condition called dystonia, Parkinson disease and gastrointestinal disorders. But, a shortage of funding and an inadequate regulatory framework means it could be a while before we know more about how effective it is.
CBD can interfere with how other medicines work, so you should always tell your doctor if you’re taking any other medication. It also affects the levels of certain liver enzymes, which can affect how the body breaks down other medicines such as blood thinners and some antidepressants.
Although further human studies are needed, a study of patients who took a CBD-rich cannabis product called Sativex showed that it improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms more than a placebo. It also helped improve quality of life and a measure of physical function called the WOMAC score.
Other studies are investigating whether CBD might decrease the cravings for tobacco and other addictive substances. In a small study, CBD reduced cue-induced cravings in people with substance use disorder, and it reduced heart rate and salivary cortisol levels in people who had been addicted to heroin. The researchers also found that CBD didn’t make people more impulsive.