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CBD Benefits: How CBD Can Improve Your Health – Naturally

Though not yet fully understood, CBD and its therapeutic properties have been researched and tested by scientists and doctors around the world, and findings suggest major health benefits—achieving mental clarity, relieving joint and muscle pain, improving sleep, alleviating chronic skin conditions, decreasing anxiety and feelings of self-doubt, and so much more. Here, we break down big questions surrounding CBD: what it is, how it impacts our bodies, and what are believed to be its main health benefits.

What Is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a chemical found in the cannabis sativa plant. CBD and marijuana are both species of the cannabis sativa plant, but using a CBD product is NOT the same as smoking a joint. Marijuana contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the chemical responsible for making you feel high. CBD does not contain THC and is non-psychoactive; it will not disrupt your thinking or memory. Instead, CBD has been shown to reduce stress, relieve tension and stiffness, and provide numerous other health benefits.

CBD and The Body’s ECS (Endocannabinoid System)

CBD impacts the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex system of lipids and corresponding cell receptors that is involved with many key physiological functions, such as our cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems. When our ECS is in balance we experience homeostasis, however, there are many, many things that can throw it out of whack: stress, anxiety, inflammation, immunity, pain, mood, and illness, to name a few. When these stressors come into the picture, the ECS may not produce enough endocannabinoids and can become unbalanced and deficient. Studies are still underway, but scientists believe that CBD can provide a natural supplement to the ECS when it is off-kilter. (Think of how a daily vitamin can provide a boost for the body’s lack of a specific vitamin.) By stimulating the ECS, CBD promotes balance, lessens the sensation of pain, and reduces inflammation. 

What Are the Benefits of CBD?

CBD users report that it has a range of health benefits, including helping with pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Here’s a closer look at many of the benefits of CBD oil. 

CBD Benefit #1: Supports the Immune System

Humans are constantly under the threat of assault from bacteria, viruses, illnesses, and infections, and it’s up to an optimally functioning immune system to keep these intruders away. The ECS maintains balance and regulates cell function for the body’s systems, including its immune system. Multiple studies have found cannabinoids—including phytocannabinoid cannabidiol, aka CBD—to act as powerful anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agents. 

CBD Benefit #2: Aids in Recovery

CBD has potent anti-inflammatory attributes, meaning it can help you recover from strenuous workouts faster than you would on your own. The reason we can often feel sore for days after a workout is because exercise causes “micro tears” in the muscles—damage to the muscle tissue at a microscopic level. Inflammation kicks in at this point, signaling the body to enter repair mode and causing the muscles to feel sore or stiff. Since CBD is found to reduce inflammation, it is a useful treatment for decreasing muscle soreness and promoting muscle recovery. Case in point: soccer star Megan Rapinoe uses CBD for pain and injury management. 

CBD Benefit #3: Aids in Easing Discomfort

As you can see, CBD has lots of potential for pain relief, with anecdotal and some scientific evidence to back those claims. Research indicates that CBD might be effective for alleviating the symptoms of such conditions as arthritis, IBS, fibromyalgia, nerve pain, and multiple sclerosis.

CBD Benefit #4: Balances Mood

In a human study published in 2011, researchers found that CBD reduced anxiety in a test group of people before public speaking. Moreover, they discovered that the “increase of negative self-evaluation during public speaking was almost abolished by CBD.” These findings show that CBD very well may help those suffering from social anxiety and a nagging sense of self-doubt, as well as control or eliminate the self-criticism that so often follows a social performance or interaction. This is because CBD allows more serotonin to flow to the brain, soothing the receptors regulating mood, anxiety, and social behavior. It is thought that CBD may have a positive effect on depression as well, but this needs more conclusive studies. Overall, though, CBD has been shown to encourage relaxation and improve mood and emotional balance.

CBD Benefit #5: Nourishes Skin

Remember that CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory? This extends to our skin, as well. Findings show that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the appearance and occurrence of acne. CBD may also reduce sebum production, which can be a contributing factor for acne-prone skin, and tone down symptoms of chronic skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. In a scholarly report by Kerstin Iffland and Franjo Grotenhermen, the authors state that low doses of CBD can “ameliorate skin conditions such as acne.” Another report in the National Center for Biotechnology Information finds that “cannabinoid signaling is deeply involved in the maintenance of skin homeostasis, barrier formation, and regeneration”—all important functions for healthy skin. 

CBD Benefit #6: Reduces Stress

Most CBD users turn to it for its ability to help manage stress, with many reporting successful treatment. There are even reports of CBD allowing users to eliminate prescription drugs (though you should always discuss treatment plans with your doctor). Such anecdotal evidence supports studies on both humans and animals that have concluded that CBD use can calm nerves and reduce stress. 

CBD Benefit #7: Relieves Tension and Stiffness

The ECS regulates and maintains a range of physiological functions, including the sensation of pain. Research shows that CBD’s effect on endocannabinoid receptor activity might reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Studies on humans have found that CBD may even effectively lessen the pain connected to diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

CBD Benefit #8: Enhances Clarity and Focus

In addition to lowering anxiety and feelings of self-doubt, CBD can also clear away brain fog. In its place: a sense of clarity, calm, consciousness, and the ability to concentrate with ease. This may seem counterintuitive, as cannabis is so closely associated with “getting high.” While it’s true that both hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis plant, it’s important to know that hemp and marijuana are two separate species. CBD comes from hemp and is non-intoxicating and non-psychoactive, unlike the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana. CBD will not get you high or make you feel euphoric or sedated in any way, and can actually improve cognitive function and focus.

CBD Benefit #9: Assists In a Better Night’s Sleep

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that taking CBD around bedtime can help users drift off to sleep (in fact, many devoted users report that CBD has enabled them to phase out prescription sleep medication; again—always work out a plan with your doctor). That’s because it addresses many of the things that often keep us up at night, be it achy muscles or joints or an unquiet mind (CBD affects the brain’s serotonin receptors associated with sleep and anxiety).