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Patients, in turn, seem to be enthralled with CBD. According to a 2019 report from the Arthritis Foundation, 79% of 2,600 respodents who suffer from arthritis said they had considered using CBD or had already used it. What’s more, among those who used CBD in the past to treat their arthritis symptoms, 55% said they applied a topical product to their joints.

However, it’s important to note that the effects of CBD on the body may vary from person to person.

There is still much to learn about CBD topicals but evidence so far is positive.

What’s more, CBD interacts with an enzyme called fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is responsible for flushing out excess anandamide (a factor in homeostasis) out of circulation. FAAH is known to break down and remove natural endocannabinoids, and CBD stops this breakdown, thereby increasing the endocannabinoids available in the body. Due to endocannabinoids’ balancing and healing effects on the body, consuming CBD may produce therapeutic benefits.

“There’s a lot of studies that have been done in animals and those tend to show that it’s anti-inflammatory and that it does have some analgesic effect,” Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, told CNET. “Unfortunately they haven’t been well translated in humans.”

While the effects of edibles and topical CBD on animals look positive, more scientific research is needed before definitive conclusions can be reached about its effects on humans.

Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.

CBD is readily obtainable in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in flux. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn’t habitually enforce against it. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government’s position on CBD is confusing, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.

CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.

The bottom line on cannabidiol

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."

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CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.