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Beginner’s Guide to CBD Oil: Uses, health benefits, and risks

Beginner’s Guide to CBD Oil: Benefits, Side Effects, and the TL;DR of the Science

Getting curious about this whole CBD thing? Here’s your quick no-nonsense guide to what CBD oil is, how it can help you, and whether it’s too good to be true. 

In recent years, the health and wellness world has gone crazy over an interesting little compound called CBD. Some say it’s a miracle, some say it’s a scam, while studies show it may ease the symptoms of health conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. So what is CBD oil, what does it actually do—and is there a catch? 

What is CBD? I’m a busy person, so really dumb it down for me.

CBD is a natural remedy with a confusing name.

It’s short for cannabidiol, which, like the name suggests, is found in the cannabis (hemp) plant. For many people, this is the concerning part. But no—CBD just happens to share a common source with another confusingly named compound: THC, the thing in marijuana that gets you high.

CBD, which does not get you high, is sort of like THC’s distant, more mellow cousin. And even though they come from the same place, they have very different life and career goals.

CBD helps the functioning of the endocannabinoid system, which regulates things like your mood, sleep cycle, inflammation, and immune response. One of the easiest and most popular ways to use CBD is in oil form.

What does CBD oil do?


Let’s get this out of the way first: CBD does not

  • Have psychoactive effects;
  • Cure everything;
  • Do nothing.

If you’ve heard of CBD oil before and had the impression that it does any of the above, the truth is more nuanced. As CBD has gained popularity across the planet, there’s been a lot of hype, some backlash, and plenty of unnecessary gimmicks (CBD toilet paper or workout clothes, anyone?) that distract us—the overwhelmed and slightly confused consumers—from the facts.

It’s important to note that research into CBD is ongoing, which is why there are lots of vague claims about what it may or may not do. Add into the mix some shady marketing tactics, mislabeled products, and irresponsibly lofty claims, and you can see how the CBD market has become cluttered with conflicting information. It’s no wonder people don’t understand what the stuff actually does.

To put it simply: CBD may help you with pain and other health concerns without the mind-altering effects of weed. It’s also not addictive and has relatively mild side effects compared to many powerful pharmaceuticals.

Recent studies suggest that CBD could provide relief for health issues like chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and acne. CBD is used in the treatment of epilepsy and may be effective in treating drug addiction. There is also evidence that CBD may help with falling and staying asleep.

So… does that mean CBD oil just a fancy placebo?

Nope. So far, the evidence suggests that CBD has much more than just a placebo effect. 

Although it’s absolutely not a magical cure for every disease under the sun, a growing body of scientific research and evidence from clinical trials are showing that CBD has real effects and benefits.

Just like with any other medication or supplement, make sure you get a quality product, use it correctly, and give it time to do its job.

What’s the catch? Does CBD oil have any side effects?

CBD is generally safe. But like any other substance you put in your body, it may cause some side effects. Those can include:

  • Diarrhea;
  • Changes in appetite and weight;
  • Fatigue;
  • Irritability.

CBD can interact with some medications, so talk to your doctor to make sure CBD is safe to take with any medication you may be on. This is particularly important if you take medications or supplements that come with a “grapefruit warning.” Grapefruit and CBD can both interfere with enzymes important to drug metabolism.

Should I be using CBD oil?

That is, ultimately, up to you. CBD oil isn’t a cure-all or a scam. It won’t do your laundry or make all your problems disappear. But if you’re dealing with pain, anxiety, or sleeplessness, it’s worth checking out as an alternative to strong, possibly addictive medication that may have serious side effects. Curious if there are signs that you might need CBD? Read our blog post: 4 Signs You Might Need CBD Oil in Your Life to learn more.

If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor about it—especially if you’re taking medication that CBD oil may interfere with.

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