What’s the deal with CBD?
If you’ve been anywhere near social media over the past year, you’ve probably heard of CBD. This health trend seems to have just popped up overnight, and something that was once thought to be taboo (aka taking a derivative of the marijuana plant) is now becoming known for its health benefits. But, it seems CBD is here to stay….and for good reason. Let’s dig into it.
If you’re new to CBD, let’s start at the beginning.
In the Cannabis sativa plant, there are many active constituents. You may be familiar with THC, which is the most active constituent and when heated and consumed, will give you the psychoactive and appetite enhancement properties. The other main constituent is CBD or cannabidiol, which has zero psychoactive properties and boasts all the anti-inflammatory, immune system controlling, anxiety-busting and pain-reducing properties.
CBD works by influencing the piece of your nervous system called the endocannabinoid system whose main objective is to be the on/off switch for our cellular functions. How vague right? That’s because the benefits that can be found with CBD are so widespread we’re still studying all of them. Here’s what we know CBD is really good at right now.
- Pain-reducing. All across the country people are searching for an alternative to NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) and opioids to control their chronic pain conditions and inflammation. CBD, when it reaches the affected area, can turn off the pain-signaling pathway to the brain and reduce substances in our bodies that cause our brain to perceive pain. It can also decrease inflammation, which ultimately stops the issue at its core as one of inflammation’s main jobs is to call attention to a hurt area and allow our body to send resources to that area to heal it.
- Lowers anxiety. Whether your anxiety is situational or happens every day, CBD can help. Your brain is the center of your nervous system, and is one of the most dense organs for CBD receptors. Effective doses of CBD can help to promote a sense of calmness in the brain and even promote feelings of euphoria (similar to a “runner’s high”). A side note, I always recommend reaching out to an integrative doctor and getting a thorough workup of your anxiety. CBD is a great natural alternative to medications in controlling anxiety, but in most instances doesn’t treat the root-cause.
- Can aid in gut-healing. When you’re working through a gut-healing protocol, you’re probably looking to decrease inflammation of the gut lining and restore the tight junctions that contribute to intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut). CBD oil that has been ingested, can be a great way to lower inflammation levels found in patients with gut-issues and has been studied to decrease the intestinal spasms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
So now you’re probably wondering, is CBD right for me? While the benefits of CBD have been clearly outlined in the literature, this area of research is still relatively new and a complete list of its interactions and effects are still unknown. Consulting with your health care practitioner is always the best way to ensure safety on this journey.
After you’ve consulted with your health care professional and it’s deemed that CBD would be safe for you, there are several ways you can get started on your CBD experimentation. That’s right, I said experimentation because the way CBD affects each person is so different and we can’t reliably predict which dose is going to be the best to achieve the outcome you desire. You’ll want to take some time and figure out how CBD affects you before utilizing it and performing important daily functions, such as driving a car.
CBD comes in many different forms, suspensions, and dosages so it can be a toss-up with which product to try first. Here are some of my best recommendations to finding a quality product:
- Pick the right form for the job. You can find CBD in just about anything including capsules, patches, inhalants, sprays, edible foods, topicals, and ingestible oils. Depending on where you want the CBD to work, make sure you get the right delivery mechanism for the job!
- Read the ingredient label. Like all natural products, there is going to be a spectrum of high-quality to low-quality ingredients and you’re going to have act like a detective! You’ll want to find a company who is transparent in their manufacturing practices, and doesn’t add a bunch of junk to their product. If you’re looking for an oil, make sure the CBD is suspended in a clean oil such as MCT, grapeseed, or extra virgin olive oil and has natural sweeteners (or no sweeteners at all!) such as stevia, or monk fruit. Steer clear of products that use food dye additives, hydrogenated oils, and processed sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup).
Unlike some other health trends, I’m ecstatic that CBD is here to stay. This derivative of the marijuana plant has many amazing health benefits, and can be a great therapy to either treat the root cause of your concerns, or provide symptomatic relief while you’re working on healing. In my practice, we’re constantly thinking outside of the box when it comes to personalizing our treatment approaches for patients and I love that CBD is yet another natural remedy in our therapeutic toolbox.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a functional medicine doctor and founder of Minneapolis Integrative Medicine Center located in Northeast Minneapolis. She's an expert in helping men and women look and feel their best by taking the time to listen to them and uncover the root cause of their concerns.