Best CBD for Inflammation

Trista Best
Written by Trista Best, Registered Dietitian
Last Updated
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Table of Contents

Cannabidiol, most widely known as CBD, is a chemical naturally occurring in the cannabis plant. CBD is one of approximately 113 cannabinoids, a classification of natural chemicals found in cannabis.

The two cannabinoids in cannabis that have the most therapeutic effects are CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the cannabinoid known to produce the psychoactive effect associated with marijuana while CBD does not produce this effect.

CBD seems to have good effects on inflammation. By working with an existing body system, discussed at length, CBD is able to achieve what many pharmaceuticals and over the counter products are unable to achieve.

In this article we will address what CBD is and how people may be able to benefit from it with a focus on inflammation. In addition, we will help you understand how to choose the right CBD product for your needs.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

These cannabinoids work in the body to produce therapeutic effects by interacting with a system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This system is a component of the nervous system. The endocannabinoid system may be activated by the body’s natural occurring cannabinoids and by those taken in through outside sources. These are known as endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids.

When CBD is taken in, whether orally, topically, or inhaled, it interacts two receptors in the ECS; CB1 and CB2. These interactions activate certain processes in the body such as the release of messengers that reduce inflammation and the release of serotonin that can improve sleep quality and duration.

CBD VS. Marijuana

Cannabidiol should not be confused with THC. While both are compounds found in the marijuana plant, CBD has been extracted from the plant and may be used for its therapeutic benefits. Cannabidiol is primarily sourced from industrial hemp which has been modified so that the plant produces little to no THC. The THC production of the hemp plant has been modified for the purpose of providing a pure product for consumers.

Due to its very low, nearly zero, THC content, CBD products do not produce the high generally associated with marijuana. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD does not produce effects likely to lead to abuse or addiction.1

CBD Legality

Because CBD is sourced from industrial Hemp with only traces of THC, less than 0.3 percent, it does not produce a psychoactive effect and is therefore legal in the U.S. Cannabidiol sourced from marijuana, on the other hand, is not legal as it almost always contains THC at a level greater than 0.3 percent.

CBD’s legality is in a state of flux, however. It can be obtained and used in all 50 states, but restrictions placed upon it vary from state to state. The federal government views CBD in the same manner as they view marijuana, but federal agencies do not actively enforce any restrictions. Because of this, the laws surrounding CBD can be quite confusing.

Why Use CBD?

With the growth of the CBD industry the question has to be asked; why? Why are so many people turning to CBD products? What started out as a fad has quickly become a major component of the alternative medicine field.

We are seeing more and more people turn to cannabidiol products to treat and prevent a host of health concerns. The ECS was discovered in the early 1990’s and through the past two decades research has continued to uncover information concerning just how far the health benefits of CBD can reach.

CBD Benefits

Credible sources are continuing to discover and affirm the therapeutic benefits of
CBD. Cannabidiol products are being used to treat and prevent conditions ranging from anxiety, inflammation, sleeplessness, chronic pain, and seizures among others.

The studies pointing to the benefits of CBD for treating anxiety are vast.2 CBD
has been shown to improve symptoms of a variety of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).3
A 2011 study looked at the effect of CBD on sufferers of social anxiety disorder.4 Participants were given either 400mg of CBD orally or a placebo. CBD recipients in the study experienced an overall significant reduction in anxiety.

Anyone suffering from insomnia or just general poor sleep knows the devastating impact it can have on your overall health. Much more than that, pharmaceutical interventions are often either ineffective or pose threats of addiction and negative side effects. Studies have shown, and consumers are becoming aware that CBD is highly effective in treating sleeplessness and insomnia.5

CBD is proven to be a much more effective sleep aid when compared to traditional cannabis usage due to the lack of THC content in CBD products. THC has been shown to impact sleep quality in a negative way when used long-term.5

As with any alternative treatment, advice from your healthcare provider should be sought before beginning a new treatment or ending any prescribed treatment. CBD is not intended to replace current interventions without the clearance of a healthcare provider.

CBD Safety

Not only is CBD generally recognized as a safe compound, but it is also becoming a popular treatment alternative for other drug addictions. One study looking at 42 men and women, all with a history of heroin addiction, showed that CBD substantially reduced their potential for relapse.6 Participants who were given CBD and subsequently exposed to drug related cues had less cue-induced anxiety and fewer episodes of drug craving when compared to those who were given a placebo.

A point of concern with CBD products marketed to the public is their potency and rate of absorption. While concerns related to product strength can be avoided by purchasing CBD products from a reputable supplier, there are many CBD product manufacturers that are more than willing to cut corners on quality in an attempt to make a larger profit. Because CBD is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unfortunately these companies are able to continue to falsely market their products. In 2017, a Bonn-Miller study looking at CBD quality found 7 out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of cannabidiol it claimed to provide.7

Side effects from CBD may include nausea, irritability, and fatigue.1 When taking blood thinners or medications that require you to avoid grapefruit, you should consult your physician first as CBD can cause these medications to reach unsafe levels in your blood.

How CBD oil can help Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural immune response the body produces when it is threatened through illness or injury.8 This is known as acute inflammation and it is normal and actually desired since acute inflammation represents an attack upon disease causing organisms. Chronic inflammation is defined as a condition where issues arise that interfere with our health and overall wellness. For a variety of reasons, ranging from diet to disease, chronic inflammation is reaching near epidemic proportions in today’s society.

Chronic inflammation will lead to cellular damage and oxidative stress that is known to result in diseases and conditions such as cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, and obesity among others.

A major benefit associated with CBD is its active and effective role in reducing chronic inflammation in the body. It is helpful to understand the science behind how CBD reduces inflammation. When CBD is applied, consumed, or ingested, it interacts with the ECS via the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are responsible for mediating the immune response in the body. When they are activated the inflammatory immune response is moderated.

Once these receptors are activated, the body begins to produce added endogenous cannabinoids which act in concert with the exogenous cannabinoids that have been taken in. With extra endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids flowing through the body, their anti-inflammatory properties are fully expressed.
A second, and important, way by which CBD reduces inflammation is through its Omega Fatty Acid content. This group of essential fatty acids are known for their joint lubricating properties and for their ability to reduce inflammation.

A 2018 review of studies and publications points to the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of pain and inflammation.9 A study published in the European Journal of Pain used animal models to study CBD’s impact on pain. The study showed a significant reduction of pain associated with inflammation from arthritis.

Finding The Right Form

As previously mentioned, the FDA does not regulate CBD, or any supplement for that matter. Product efficacy is not monitored and product purity is not regulated or controlled during the manufacturing of CBD products. Because of this lack of regulation it is impossible to know if the CBD product you are taking has the dose stated on the label.

There are five primary methods for consuming CBD; oils, capsules & isolates, edibles, vapes, and topical.

Oils (tinctures)

This type of CBD formulation is popular due to its versatility. It may be used in a number of different ways. Oils can be ingested or applied to the skin. This is beneficial because when applied to the skin it is able to bypass first-pass metabolism while also getting directly to the site of pain.

Tinctures are made by soaked the Hemp leaf in a solution which extracts the CBD from the plant. It is then added to a carrier oil and bottled for easy use. Tinctures are commonly added to both drinks and food so they can be ingested quickly.

Capsules & Isolate

Capsules represent an easy way to consume CBD in the form of CBD isolate powder. CBD isolate is CBD which has been extracted from Hemp. It has been isolated from the other Hemp compounds. This ensures a pure product free of additives and THC.

Edible

CBD is available in gummy form and in other edible options. Many CBD users
prefer to experience the therapeutic benefits of CBD through edible forms. The primary reasons behind this preference are easy dosing and the ability to exercise discretion in consuming them. There is no need to measure drops or weight out a powder in order to determine the amount of CBD that is being consumed as CBD edibles are pre-measured.

Taking an edible CBD product is discreet and the act appears similar to just eating a snack. This may be convenient for those who travel often or need to access CBD’s benefits in an area where vaping or lotions aren’t convenient.

Vaping

Inhaling CBD through vapes or ingesting it through tinctures is a popular method of consumption among every-day CBD users. This method allows the consumer to experiment with a variety of flavors and dosing levels.

Topicals

This category of CBD products offers the user almost complete discretion. There is always a trade off between discretion and not being able to dose effectively. Topicals are great options for those seeking to use CBD for its pain relief effects, especially as it relates to arthritis and joint pain.

Dosing CBD

Because we are all unique with different genetic make-ups, sensitivities, and conditions, it is best to begin dosing CBD at a low level. You can work up to what appears to be an effective dose for you and the condition being addressed.
As with any supplement, it is important to obtain clearance and guidance from your healthcare provider before beginning to use any dose of CBD. Dosing will vary from person to person depending on weight and severity of symptoms. The average CBD dose is between 10mg and 75mg daily.

Choosing a Product

The growth of the CBD industry is promising and points to the cannabinoid’s efficacy and the benefits experienced by CBD users. However, because of this high rate of growth there are an innumerable CBD manufacturers that have flooded the market. The process of selecting a reputable supplier can be overwhelming. When the market proves to be too much, you can turn to us for unbiased information and guidance on selecting the product that will meet your needs and desires.

When it comes to choosing the right product for you there are a few important factors to consider. Extraction method, hemp source, THC level, and third party lab results are four of the top considerations when selecting a CBD product. It can be tempting to only look at a product’s dose amount and price, but these two elements of a product won’t give you the information you need to ensure you are getting a quality product.

Extraction

Safe extraction processes should be a top consideration when selecting a CBD product. Ethanol is a safe extraction agent. It works by cleaning the hemp plant of toxins and additives that are unwanted and potentially harmful.

Supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) is another extraction agent that works by stripping potentially harmful materials from the hemp plant. The process works through temperature and pressure.

Hemp Source / THC Level

Industrial hemp is used to make commercial CBD products. This hemp has been engineered to contain 0.3 percent or less THC content, making the CBD products derived from it legal. Poor vendors of CBD products either do not have this level checked or permit more THC content than the law allows. This can be dangerous for consumers.

Organically grown industrial hemp is the optimum source of hemp-derived CBD. Organic hemp gives the consumer the assurance that their product is safe and the manufacturer cared enough about product quality to use organic hemp.

Third-Party Lab Results

A CBD company that uses third-party lab testing and makes the results available
to their consumers is one to be trusted. This company shows their consumers they have nothing to hide from them. They trust their manufacturing process enough to subject their products to testing above and beyond what is required.

Because the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products these types of testing are not required. A company that voluntarily chooses to use a third-party testing lsb is communicating their faith in their products and processes. Purchasing from a company that offers third-party testing will give you peace of mind when using your product.

The Bottom Line

CBD’s therapeutic benefits have been studied and affirmed over the last two decades and interest in the topic doesn’t seem to be moderating. It’s role in treating inflammation, anxiety, pain and other conditions is impressive and should give hope to those suffering without relief who have been treated using traditional means.

However, consuming CBD might cause side effects and possible interactions with other medicines. This needs to be considered before starting to use CBD regularly.

If you think you may benefit from including a CBD product in your health regimen, speak to your healthcare provider and let us help you decide which product is best for you.

References

  1. Grinspoon, P. Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018.
  2. Ameringen, MV. Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: An 8-Week Pilot Study. McMaster University. 2018.
  3. Blessing, EM., Steenkamp MM., Manzanares, J., Marmar, CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015; 12(4):825-836
  4. Crippa, JA. et. al. Neural Basis of Anxiolytic Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Generalized Social Anxiety DIsorder: A Preliminary Report. J. Psychopharmacol. 2011;25(1):121-130.
  5. Babson, KA., Sottile, J., Marabito, D. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: A Review of the Literature. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017; 19:23
  6. CBD Reduces Craving and Anxiety in People with Heroin Use Disorder. Mount Sinai. 2019.
  7. Bonn-Miller, MO., Loflin, MJE., Thomas, BF,. et. al. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts OSld online. 2017; 318(17):1708-1709.
  8. Booz, GW. Cannabidiol as an Emergent Therapeutic Strategy for Lessening the Impact of Inflammation on Oxidative Stress. Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 2011;52(5):1054-61.
  9. Bruni, N., Pepa, CD., Oliaro-Bosso, S., Pessione, E., et. al. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. 2018; 23(10): 2478
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About The Authors
Trista Best
Trista Best
Registered Dietitian
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian, Public Health Dietitian, and former college Nutrition Professor. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2009, Masters of Public Health Nutrition from Liberty University in 2014, and Bachelors of Science in Food and Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama in 2018. Her dietetic background is in Public Health, Medical Grade Supplements, and Childhood Nutrition.
Leonard Haberman
Leonard Haberman
Physician & Chemist
Dr. Leonard Haberman is a physician and chemist who has been involved in solving chemical and medical problems for 43 years. He graduated from New York University as a dual major in chemistry and biology and went on to obtain a PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota where his focus was synthetic methods. He returned to the university in 2005, graduating with an MD degree in 2009. He has published in the open literature. He holds two patents and currently works as a consultant, assisting clients with projects within the disciplines of medicine and chemistry that have potential business applications.
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