Let's start by answering the most common question: no, CBD will not get you high. The part of cannabis that gets you high is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is completely different to CBD (cannabidiol). THC is psychoactive, whereas CBD is not psychoactive. ‘Psychoactive’ substances affect the way you think and feel, which can affect the way you behave. Common legal psychoactive drugs are alcohol, tobacco and various prescription medications. While marijuana contains both THC and CBD – among other cannabinoids – when we talk about CBD products, we are talking about an extraction of only CBD or one that has less than 2% THC.
So if CBD does NOT affect the way you think, feel and behave, what does it do? CBD, like THC, interacts with your endocannabinoid system (more on that later!) in a way that helps to regulate neural-nervous reactions and signals, helping to ease and alleviate signals of pain, anxiety and inflammation (to name a few).
So What Actually Is CBD Oil?
The most common CBD product that you will hear about or be able to find to purchase is CBD oil that you drop under your tongue to administer sublingually. This form of CBD is preferable for on-the-go use as it can be taken anywhere & is usually flavoured with natural flavours to make it very palatable. You might also come across CBD products in the form of edibles/gummies, drinks, creams & balms & vape oils.
Still a little confused about why you might want to take CBD oil? We will take you through all of the possible uses for CBD products later in this article, but for now, you can think of CBD like a Panadol or Ibuprofen. While high-dose, specifically formulated CBD products are proving beneficial for those suffering epilepsy, depression & cancer, low-dose CBD products (which will soon be available on Australian pharmacy shelves) are a great option for treating a niggly headache, a funny tummy, sore muscles in training, calming the mind in nervous situations & other mild pain. And because CBD is not psychoactive, it really is like popping a Panadol - you will still be able to operate machinery, drive & all of your usual daily activities.
How CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system
First, here’s a quick crash-course on the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Our bodies produce ‘endocannabinoids’ which bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout your nervous system. Note: there are two types of these receptors (cb1 and cb2), one type found largely in the central nervous system and the other found in inflammatory cells. Understanding where and how cannabinoids and in particular CBD interacts with the ECS is key to making sense of why CBD is so effective for treating certain disorders, diseases and symptoms.
Now that you know how it works once it’s in your system,let’s talk about the different ways of getting it there!
How to take CBD
CBD can be taken in a few different ways, but the most common and effective way is to smoke cannabis flower. This may sound like a good idea and it is if you need a quick onset, as cannabis will have an effect on your body in around 2 seconds. This is great if you need quick relief from pain and sleeping disorders for example, but as a medical patient a number of risks are associated with inhaling smoke from cannabis leaves and when smoking cannabis flower, you will still get a dose of THC along with the CBD. We always recommend not to consume cannabis via inhalation as there are a number of other delivery methods that are much safer and easier to consume. Such As:
- CBD Capsules: Swallowed, gives a slow release.
- CBD Oil Tincture: Held under the tongue or mixed into drinks. Provides quick relief.
- CBD Vape: Provides quick relief, but presents possible danger to lung health.
- CBD Edibles: Ingested, has a slow release and only 20-30% of CBD molecules absorbed.
- CBD Transdermal patches: Active ingredients flow through skin into the bloodstream.
- Topically applied creams, lotions & oils: Targets areas it is applied to & works well on skin & muscle relief.
What are the effects of CBD Oil?
The effects felt by taking CBD differ greatly between different products, different methods of administration and different humas taking it! Overall, CBD is a real ‘chillout’ substance. That is why you’ll read further on that there are so many benefits for those suffering anxiety, high blood pressure, inflammation-related diseases and insomnia. This makes CBD an attractive option over other pain-relieving and antidepressant pharmaceuticals which can lead to excessive side effects and addiction. There are some possible side effects from CBD to be aware of, including: changes in appetite, changes in mood, drowsiness – but most patients agree that the benefits of CBD far outweigh the minimal side effects.
Without further ado, let’s crack into the most common & effective uses of CBD.
Common & Effective Uses of CBD
CBD is used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, cancer, nausea, vomiting, eating disorders, pain, arthritis, inflammation, epilepsy and seizures
According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the most common uses of CBD are in the treatment of anxiety, schizophrenia, nausea, vomiting, inflammation and epilepsy. The most common proven benefits of CBD include:
Pain, Inflammation & Arthritis
Natural pain relief is perhaps the most common use for CBD. With an opioid epidemic currently taking place in Australia, many chronic pain sufferers are turning to a safer option: cannabis.
According to this 2012 study published by the Journal of Experimental Medicine, CBD may represent a significant step forward in the treatment of chronic pain, especially in those suffering from MS (multiple sclerosis). This is because CBD inhibits the neuronal transmission in pain pathways, which is a fancy way of saying ‘it stops the message getting through’, as this is what pain is: a message from your brain to your body that something’s wrong. Those messages are useful in everyday life (when you cut or burn yourself, it’s a message to STOP!), but when the pain becomes chronic and requires constant treatment, alleviating it through CBD can be a life-changing experience. Tens of thousands of Aussies have already experienced this, and yet our government continues to insist on criminalising these innocent people. A further inflammation-related ailment which almost 4 million Australians suffer from is arthritis. As this article demonstrates, CBD helps arthritis in many ways – targeting inflammation and stopping chronic pain signals.
If you know someone suffering from pain and requires immediate access to CBD, please contact us on 1300 420 420. Our company has helped hundreds of patients gain access to CBD & other medical cannabis products.
Anxiety & Depression
Beyond Blue reports that 1-in-5 Australians experience mental health challenges in any given year, while almost 1-in-2 will deal with a mental health condition during their lifetime. Since three million Aussies currently live with depression or anxiety, it’s no wonder that many of them are turning away from expensive and debilitating pharmaceutical products to find a natural solution. The side effects of pharmaceuticals include sexual dysfunction, agitation, headaches, drowsiness and insomnia, while common medications such as benzodiazepine are highly addictive and often introduce users to a whole new set of worries.
CBD represents a whole new approach to mental health challenges, from mild anxiety all the way up to crippling depression. This 2011 study had a fascinating outcome; it set up a scenario in which 24 people who had never tried CBD were studied in a public speaking test. An hour and a half before the test commenced, people were given either CBD or a placebo. Those who received the placebo demonstrated high levels of anxiety, stress and cognitive impairment, while those who had received CBD saw all of those symptoms significantly reduced. In short, they simply relaxed and calmed down.
According to this research published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, people suffering from social anxiety disorder strongly benefit from CBD. The researchers suggest that CBD may be an effective treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder too.
Responsible for 3-in-10 deaths, cancer is the second most common cause of death in Australia. Sufferers are increasingly turning to CBD – not just for its treatment of cancer itself, but for relief from the crippling effects of chemotherapy. There are a number of studies which demonstrate CBD’s considerable strength in the treatment of cancer; in both this study and this one, CBD attacked only the cancerous cells and inhibited their growth, while leaving the non-cancer cells alone – a far better solution than chemo, which ravages the body of those who undergo it.
Nausea, Vomiting & Eating Disorders
In this 2012 study the British Journal of Pharmacology proved that CBD helps to eliminate nausea and vomiting, something which folk medicine practitioners have known for millennia. The effects are often quite dramatic, leading to long-lasting and sustained relief. This is another way in which CBD helps cancer patients, as chemotherapy often results in nausea and lack of appetite. This is why it’s likewise helpful in cases of bulimia and anorexia nervosa too.
Epilepsy & Seizures
With between 3% and 3.5% of Australians experiencing epilepsy at some point in their lives, over 250,000 Australians currently live with epilepsy. Often, the most heartbreaking cases are those which involve children, who represent approximately 40% of the population suffering from epilepsy.
In 2014 Stanford University conducted a survey that demonstrated dramatic results in children affected by seizures. Before using CBD, 63% of the children had been treated with anti-epileptic pharmaceutical medication. 84% of the children saw a reduction in their seizure frequency while taking CBD. 11% completely stopped seizing, 42% saw massive benefits (a reduction in seizure frequency of over 80%), and 32% saw a reduction in seizures of 25-60%. Although side-effects included drowsiness and fatigue, there were other reported benefits in terms of mood, alertness and sleep.
An estimated 5.1% of Australians are diagnosed with diabetes – that’s 1.2 million Aussies over the age of 2. Many suffer needlessly, and CBD is providing many with new hope.
Between 2005 and 2010, a study published in the American Journal of Medicine examined almost 5,000 adults. The results were impressive: marijuana use was associated with 16% lower insulin levels. Additionally, smaller waist circumferences were linked to marijuana use, which is a crucial factor in preventing the onset of diabetes.
New & Emerging Applications for CBD
These last few remain unproven but show promise of being proven with further studies.
CBD & Substance Abuse Treatment
In studies using rats, CBD has shown to modify circuits in the brain related to drug addiction. One study showed that CBD induced a dependence reduction for both morphine and heroin in rats.
CBD & Preventing Cognitive Decline
According to researchers at California’s Salk Institute, their 2017 study found evidence that cannabinoids such as CBD could help remove dementia from, and increase connections between, brain cells. Those results were validated by other laboratories – although the research is still not robust enough to make conclusions.
The Challenges Around CBD
The main issue with CBD is that much of the scientific research which has been done on it is through analysis of its effects on mice, instead of humans. Quite aside from ethical issues around animal testing, the fact is that humans are different, and our bodies don’t always react the same as other animals. This is why responsible testing needs to occur in order to find out everything we can about its uses, benefits and side-effects.
More widely speaking, a number of studies have shown that long-term recreational use of cannabis can have negative effects on mental health. Frontiers in Psychiatry published a report in 2013 which claims that permanent psychological disorders can be linked with cannabis, depending on the frequency of use, the potency of the cannabis used, the age someone begins using and the sensitivity of the individual in question.
The vast majority of recreational cannabis users never have to worry about such things, but in some rare cases, there can be undesirable effects such as anxiety and paranoia. Encouragingly, studies are beginning to show that CBD counteracts these adverse effects, but more research is needed.
How to access legal, therapeutic CBD in Australia
So what’s the deal? Is CBD legal in Australia? Yes! In Feb 2021, low-dose CBD products delivering up to 150mg of CBD per day are now legal for purchase over the counter in Australian pharmacies. There are a couple of things to be mindful of with this law change:
- You won’t be able to actually access these legal CBD products in Australia until late 2022 at the earliest. This is because the law change made it finally possible for Australian cannabis companies to start developing, trialling & registering their appropriate low-dose CBD products. That process is a marathon, not a sprint, with the ARTG registration alone taking up to 12 months.
- These low-dose CBD products are only suitable for mild conditions - like broken sleep, headaches, stress management, mild pain. If you are suffering epilepsy, cancer, severe depression, insomnia or acute arthritis, you will likely still need stronger and more specific medicinal cannabis products that are only available through the Special Access Scheme.
How do you get access to medicinal CBD?
Australia has one program which can help you get access to high-dose CBD.
- Special Access Scheme (SAS)
This scheme has a 3 step process:
- Consult your doctor or an advocacy clinic like Alternaleaf or Medropharm to see whether medicinal cannabis is clinically appropriate for your condition.
- Choose a product with guidance from your doctor or pharmacist once approved for a script.
- Pick up your CBD product from a pharmacy
Reviewed by Dr. Les Baxter.
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