If you've watched the news lately, you've probably heard the buzz surrounding cannabidiol, more commonly called CBD. We sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Livovich, Aetna's Medical Director, to discuss CBD, its uses, and how it may be able to help with certain medical conditions.
Q: What is CBD and how does it work?
A: Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis (marijuana or hemp) plant. The therapeutic properties of CBD are currently being tested in studies by doctors and scientists around the world. CBD affects the endocannabinoid system. This system in the human body plays a crucial role in regulating physiological processes, such as mood, energy levels, immune activity, blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and more. This system is only now being studied, as nationwide attitudes and laws regarding marijuana and CBD have changed fairly recently. There are two types of CBD receptors in the body, CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are essential for a healthy, functioning brain and are one of the most common receptors in the entire nervous system. Depending on what region of the brain they are located in, they can be moderators of your memory, mood, motor function, or your perception of pain. These brain receptors are also responsible for the psychoactive properties of cannabis when THC binds to them.
CB2 receptors are most often found on the cells of our immune system. They help moderate inflammation and our immune response to pathogens. If you use cannabis products to combat conditions of an overactive immune system (e.g. arthritis, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders, or digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease), you can thank your CB2 receptors.
Interestingly, CBD decreases the psychoactive effects of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.
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Q: What are the benefits of CBD?
A: CBD can provide relief from chronic pain, anxiety and depression, sleeping disorders, arthritis, PTSD, inflammation, and many other conditions. CBD also has neuroprotective qualities, which means that it can help protect nerve cells against damage and degeneration. This can be particularly useful for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Also, CBD is being studied for its cancer-fighting properties and its apparent ability to make cancer treatments more effective in selected conditions.
CBD is perhaps best known for its use as an effective anti-seizure drug. It's the active component of a new FDA-approved anti-seizure medication called Epidiolex®.
There are many studies underway to evaluate CBD's full potential when it comes to aiding certain health conditions. If you're interested in reading more, pubmedcbd.com is a great resource.
Q: Are there any side effects or risks when taking CBD?
A: Taking CBD can cause nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It's currently being marketed as a supplement, not a medication. Since the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements, it's hard to know if a particular product contains only CBD. CBD can also affect medications you may be taking. Therefore, you should always talk to your doctor before taking CBD. It's best to buy CBD from a reliable source.
Potential negative side effects of using CBD
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Drop in blood pressure
Diarrhea and change in appetite and weight
Effect on patients with movement disorders
Interaction with pharmaceutical drugs
Additionally, the FDA-approved anti-seizure medication Epidiolex comes with its own side effects. You should talk to your doctor for more information.
Symptoms related to the central nervous system, such as irritability and lethargy
Rashes and other sensitivity reactions
Q: Are there studies on CBD?
A: Yes. Currently, CBD is undergoing a lot of research. The preliminary research suggests that CBD has no addictive effects and has shown powerful therapeutic potential in several areas of health. Although the research has been promising, more clinical studies need to be done to explore CBD's full potential.
Q: How do I take CBD?
A: It's important to talk to your doctor to find out if CBD is right for you. They can advise you on the proper amount and the duration of time you should be taking CBD. It comes in the forms of oils, edibles, tinctures, gel caps, and lotions. It's also important to know that there are a lot of CBD products out there. And some may contain other ingredients besides CBD. Be sure to do your research and talk to your doctor.
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