CBD Ultimate Beginners Guide - Everything you need to know about legal CBD in the USA with a list of health benefits, the law, what CBD is and where to source safe and legal CBD in the USA.
Since the change in the law in 2018, people in the USA have shown a big increase in interest for the wide range of health benefits for CBD (Cannabidiol). This can be a confusing subject for lots of reasons, so this blog will give you everything you need to understand what CBD is, the law regarding its safe use, and the health benefits.
What is CBD?CBD is short for Cannabidiol, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound that you get from the Cannabis sativa plant. This is also known as Hemp or Marijuana. Due to recent changes in the law it is now possible to buy CBD in shops and online.
The chemical CBD is responsible for the feeling of calm and relaxation that people report when using Marijuana, so by using just CBD, you get all of the calm feeling without any of the psychoactive and negative effects of marijuana caused by a different chemical called THC. CBD is also being used in a a lot of other ways to help people with their health, and we cover many of them here in this blog.
CBD v THC - Whats the Difference
It's confusing, but one of the chemicals found in marijuana (CBD) has mainly positive effects, whilst the similar but different chemical THC is mainly responsible for the negative side effects such as 'getting high'.
Looked at up close, the two molecules are actually surprisingly similar, both have the same numbers of different atoms that make them up, but the atoms are arranged in two different shapes. It's the shape difference that makes all the difference to how they effect natural chemical receptors in your body.
Whilst the THC shape causes the high that marijuana smokers experience, the CBD shape gives the positive medical effects with none of the high. The THC shape has many of the same health benefits as CBD, but the negative other effects make taking it not an option for many. We like to think of CBD as the good brother and THC as the 'bad boy' wayward brother of the two molecules. They look similar but act in very different ways. This is why it's so important to be confident of the purity of any product you buy and be able to buy confidently from a reputable source knowing that what you get is 100% CBD, with none of its badly behaved brother mixed in.
Is CBD Dangerous?
Some people report some side effects, but in the amounts generally used by people in the USA, there is very little health risk. Some side effects can include fatigue or irritability, and in some cases CBD could increase the level of a blood thinner called coumadin. If you take any medication that is known to be interfered with by grapefruit juice, you may also find that CBD can have a similar effect.
In this recent 2017 paper, researchers showed that the side effects of CBD were lower than existing medications used for epilepsy or psychotic disorders.
CBD - Is it Legal in the USA?
We get asked this question a lot and the short answer is a resounding YES! We even wrote a more in depth blog here to cover every state in the USA.
The 2018 Farm Bill brought about the legalization of hemp — a form of the cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In addition to changing how hemp farming is managed, the passing of the Farm Bill also removed hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act. This was a significant compliance milestone for hemp-derived CBD products. The bill states that any cannabinoid that is derived from legally cultivated hemp material, in accordance with guidance given in Section 12619 of the Bill, would also be considered legal by extension for use and sale.
In short, CBD in the form that we sell it is legal in the USA.
Regulation of CBD in the USA
The FDA does not approve foods, supplements, beverages, nutraceuticals, and many other retail product categories. FDA approval is reserved for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other categories. CBD is considered to be a supplement not a pharmaceutical.
TruBrain is manufactured in FDA-certified facilities that adhere to the requirements of the FDA and uses Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), ensuring its safety. We maintain a relationship with a leading law firm in food and beverage, to manage our compliance relationship with various federal agencies, including the FDA, the FTC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the USDA, and EPA.
CBD - List of Health Benefits
CBD Pain Relief and Anti Inflammatory Properties
Usually people manage pain through prescription and over-the-counter drugs. There are an increasing number of people and supporting science research to suggest that CBD can act as a more natural alternative to pain management for some people.
An in-depth study looked at a wide range of research papers and concluded
‘the future for cannabinoid therapeutics appears very bright, indeed’
This recent paper also discussed the importance of using isolated CBD and how it was more effective than when used with cannabis as a whole.
There is also research to suggest that CBD has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits.
This topic is so important we wrote a separate post about just this topic here.
CBD and Quitting Smoking
There are a lot of cases online of people reporting using CBD to help them quit smoking. We even noticed a recent article in VICE magazine talking about the reported benefits of using CBD to help reduce the amount people smoke or even quit as well.
An article in MedicalNewsToday also points towards CBD as a useful aid for people looking to quit smoking.
We also noticed a recent pilot study published here that found that smokers that used an inhaler with CBD had a decrease in nicotine cravings and helped them reduce or give up smoking cigarettes
CBD Helping to Quit Drug Addiction
A very recent article in New Scientist Magazine discusses the use of CBD to help people addicted to Marijuana.
We also saw CNN discussing how effective CBD has been with treating people with heroin addiction. Not only did the CBD reduce the cravings, it also helped reduce the pressure of anxiety on the need for an addict to take drugs.
A recent study also showed how CBD can be a useful support to help prevent previous drug addicts from relapses and using drugs again in the future.
CBD Treating Epilepsy
A more recent paper also shows how effective CBD is as a potential management method for epileptic seizures.
CBD and Cancer
There is a lot of talk online on forums about CBD as a treatment for cancer, but as with all topics on health, we start with what the research says. We took a look online and found that there are almost no researchers currently studying the use of CBD as a cancer treatment nor any papers in the last few years that point in any way towards a benefit. We did find a paper from 2019that showed CBD seemed to inhibit some tumors but this was in 'test tube' conditions, not real patients.
There is clearly more studying to be done and the paper concluded that initial studies looked promising, but more specific studies were needed. On the other hand, although CBD has no basis in solid research to fight cancer, it is supported as an effective pain and nausea relief for some of the symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments.
Can CBD Treat Anxiety Disorders?
We have a much more in depth blog about CBD and Anxiety here.
Firstly, it's important to differentiate between what a panic attack is and what an anxiety attack is, as they are actually different. A Panic Attack is generally a more intense issue and comes with little or no warning, whereas Anxiety Attacks usually have a trigger like a past stressful memory, situation or situation.
The symptoms of both Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks can mostly be managed with a few different measures, including avoiding the situations that can cause the triggers, meditating, exercising, and people report CBD helping with the symptoms too. The research conducted by scientists certainly seems to help support this, with papers going back a few decades reporting the benefits of CBD in helping anxiety and panic.
We found a 2017 study that reported positive effects on panic symptoms when used on human patients. Another study, published on PMC in December 2018, analyzed a group of rats and observed that CBD was able to successfully reduce anxiety in the test subjects. We also found a recent paper from 2015 that showed the positive effects for CBD to treat anxiety disorders.
CBD and Diabetes
There is certainly research being published in credible journals that CBD may eventually be used to treat diabetes, but for now the research results are promising.... even if it has only been tested on mice and rats. We found a 2016 paper that showed CBD made a significant impact on type 1 diabetes. We also found a six page summary paper that showed the early results were promising, again mainly due to the anti inflammatory effects of CBD. Another study here also concluded that CBD could be a potentially effective treatment for diabetes. We've summarized what most research is saying CBD does to help diabetes below:
- Cut down hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Lowered cholesterol and “bad fat” levels
- Upped insulin production
- Eases swelling and pain from nerve damage. One study showed CBD kept chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain at bay, which tends to affect the hands and feet of people with diabetes.
- Lowers the risk of diabetes. Another study found CBD might ward off the disease.
- Promotes “good fat.” CBD oil can help the body turn white fat into slimming brown fat. This can boost your body's ability to use glucose.
Can CBD Cure Acne?
Many of us remember those tormented teenage years when our skin literally seemed to explode before our very eyes, and although mainly associated with teenagers, it's actually more common than you think for adults to suffer from acne as well.
A credible and well cited paper from 2016 showed the positive effects of CBD as a treatment for acne and this well written 'update' on current cutting edge treatments for acne explains that CBD seems to be effective both as a topical treatment applied directly to skin AND when ingested.
With so many papers and articles from credible sources talking about the benefits of CBD oil for acne we are expecting to see CBD being used in more and more acne treatment creams and new customers using our CBD drink to help with skin issues.
Can CBD Treat Alzheimers Disease?
Generally speaking, there is no current evidence to suggest CBD can help with Dementia or Alzheimers. The Alzheimers Society makes this stark point on their website and a search online reveals no legitimate articles with research data to show CBD can in anyway treat or cure dementia.
We did find research from 2014 that showed CBD can help with some of the symptoms of dementia, and a further study from 2017 was very optimistic about the potential preventative effects that CBD seemed to have, as well as various avenues for helping treat dementia in the future.
What Dose CBD Should I Take ?
With a number of different products out there for CBD, if you do decide to start taking it we advise that you consult with your doctor to get advice that makes sure that the dose you try is suitable for your circumstances. We have worked hard to use genuine research to find the optimum dosage for a wide range of people without any risk that the amounts being used would come anywhere near a level that would be considered a problem. A review from 2017 looked at various doses and explained that there is no universal dose that works for everyone. It showed that depending on the person, and the reason for taking CBD, a dose somewhere between 20 and 1500 milligrams per day was effective without significant side effects. The range of factors that makes us all different include the following:
- your body weight
- the condition you’re treating
- your individual body chemistry
- the concentration of CBD in each pill, capsule or liquid.
After speaking with your doctor it’s best to start with a smaller dosage and gradually increase it. This could mean starting with 20 to 40 mg a day. After a week, increase this amount by 5 mg. Continue this until you feel that it’s effectively treating your symptoms.
CBD to Treat ADHD?
This is a much more in-depth blog about CBD and ADHD we wrote here.
- A recent paper last year described the positive benefits for people with ADHD who used cannabis as a treatment to alleviate hyperactivity and impulsivity.
- A 2019 study published in “Frontiers in Pharmacology” looked at the effects of CBD on
- mice. The paper found that CBD infused into the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for spatial learning and adaptation, reduced displays of hyperactivity in a new environment. It was also suggested that CBD may dampen hyperactive circuitry in the hippocampus and other parts of the brain.
- A Swiss study in 2018 looked specifically at treating 53 children with ADHD with CBD oil. The results found that self-injury and rage improved in 67.6% of the participants but worsened in 8.8%. Symptoms of hyperactivity reduced in 68.4% of participants. Anxiety reduced in 47.1% of children but increased among 23.5%.
- A 2017 review published in the peer-reviewed “Global Drugs and Therapeutics” looked at CBD as a treatment for patients with autism spectrum disorder, such as anxiety and behavioral problems. The paper suggested that CBD could help to normalize social deficits and cognitive impairments, protect against hippocampal cell death, and improve cognition. The paper also pointed out that CBD reduced anxiety in both animal and human models when administered at moderate doses of about 300 milligrams.
The results for everyone vary, but the online testimonies of people working with a physician to assist, or in some cases even replace, some ADHD medication should not be ignored. It's an exciting time for CBD research and treatment.
CBD and Alcohol
Many people use or want to use CBD as a way to help with anxiety and mood disorders. It's very important to keep in mind that alcohol often has a negative effect on mood for many people and may be the root or significant cause of issues for people struggling with anxiety and mood problems. We were sad to see a number of companies producing alcoholic drinks infused with CBD because this gives a very mixed message to your body. If you are struggling with mental health issues, we would always remind people to consider giving up alcohol as one of the most effective remedies and this research paper from 2012 supports the idea that giving up alcohol should always be considered one of the most effective starts to boosting your mental health.
Although taking alcohol and CBD together may amplify the 'good feelings' associated with both chemicals, you must remember that some of the original anxiety may have been caused from drinking alcohol in the first place. It's interesting to note that CBD is often used as a useful aid to people with drug and alcohol addiction as a way to help people wean themselves off of substances they are addicted to and we cover that topic in this blog too.
CBD and Parkinsons Disease
Let's be clear here. Although there is some tantalizing research happening, there is no link to CBD curing or preventing Parkinson's Disease. What we have seen is a large amount of information detailing how effective CBD is at assisting with some of the effects of Parkinson's to help improve the quality of life for people that suffer from this disease. TheDementiaCareCentral website lists a number of cases and research papers where the positive effects of CBD have been noted with Parkinson's patients.
A 2018 study certainly looked into CBD helping with a number of movement disorders and found the initial results encouraging. Like many of the topics covered in this blog, we are at the cutting edge of the potential uses for CBD, and as research continues, we will see more direct uses for not just Parkinson's Disease, but also Huntington's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
CBD and Drug Interactions
CPY450 sounds like a Star Wars droid, but in fact it's a very particular body chemical pathway that is affected by CBD. Although this blog shows you the wide range of benefits that research and genuine anecdotes from people online have, it's very important to look at and understand a list of drugs that do not mix well with CBD. Anyone looking to take CBD should always consult their doctor to make sure that doing so doesn't interact with anything they are taking already, but as a quick guide we've listed a number of drug types that if you are taking, you should avoid taking CBD as they can either cancel out the effects or, worse still, have negative effects on your body.
The University of Indiana Medicine created a useful list of drugs you should not take CBD:
- HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- HIV antivirals
- Immune modulators
- Beta blockers
- Angiotension II blockers
- Oral hypoglycemic agents
This list isn't everything, but a good start so you can hopefully see why it's important to consult your doctor if you are taking any medications that are listed here or think might be.
CBD and Melatonin
We are seeing an increasing number of companies offering a combination of Melatonin and CBD to help people with restful sleep. The research and evidence that melatonin aids natural body sleep and wake rhythms is well documented. We also found a survey where a large amount of Americans taking CBD for sleep disorders found it helpful. We also found a recent 2019 scientific report that supported the idea that CBD helps with restful sleep.
Whilst we know that CBD and Melatonin seem to have no negative interactions when taken together, we actually couldn't find any scientific research papers that looked at the effects of them being used together. Obviously more needs to be done here by companies selling a combination sleep remedy, but for now, we would urge anyone to be cautious when taking a combination melatonin and CBD sleep remedy in case you are also taking CBD elsewhere and effecting the dose levels in your body.
CBD and Adderall
Adderall is taken by a large number of people in the USA every day. There are anecdotal reports from people that taking CBD can help make Adderall less 'jumpy' or harsh, but we've searched the scientific literature and found very few reports or studies that looked at the effects of CBD when taken with Adderall. This paper describes the possible effects and suggests that in fact CBD may counteract some of the actions of Adderall rather than work in conjunction with it.
Anecdotally people are reporting that CBD helps with the anxiety associated with Adderall, but we would urge people to consider that the Adderall may be helping people to stay focused and that the side effect of Adderall is the anxiety, and that the CBD is stopping the Adderall from causing the anxiety. In fact we've found cases where CBD has been used to help drug and alcohol addictions including helping people kick addictions to Adderall. We found an interesting article last year about a man that kicked his Adderall use by using CBD.
CBD - A Treatment for Schizophrenia
There is a significant amount of evidence that CBD can be effective against some psychiatric disorders including schizophreniaThere is an interesting dynamic here, because studies show that people that smoke marijuana have an increased chance of having psychotic symptoms (this is mainly thought to be caused by CBDs 'bad brother' THC, whereas different studies also suggest that CBD on its own actually helps treat psychotic disorders).
More recently, we've seen aresearch report looking at the effects of CBD on psychosis in two double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials. Their findings suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia and that CBD may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.
CBD - A Treatment for Seizures
The potential use of CBD to treat seizures, and as a consequence epilepsy, has been studied for a long time and research papers like this oneare typical of the current scientific view for CBD's benefits. It's important to note that many of the successful clinical trials showed the benefits occurred while patients continued to use their existing medication as well.
CBD - A Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Researchers cannot fully explain why the compound appears to reduce some fibromyalgia symptoms but not others, but there are some strong theories that are still being tested in research.
The pain-relieving effects of CBD may be explained by the ways that this substance affects the brain. It may interrupt the nerve pathways that send signals of pain between the brain and the body and explain why people with fibromyalgia have pain.
We also found a 2016 study that suggested that a lack of endocannabinoids — neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors — may be at the root of chronic pain syndromes, including migraines and fibromyalgia. Taking CBD may correct this deficiency, explaining the compound's success in alleviating chronic pain.
CBD - A Treatment for Hair
There is data to suggest that using CBD oil on your scalp may help people that suffer from hair loss. Although hair loss is often hereditary for men as they get older, there are also a significant number of people that report hair loss due to stress or other factors. Inflammation of the scalp plays a part in hair loss so it's reasonable to think that CBDs anti-inflammatory properties may help with this.
We aren't suggesting that using CBD will magically make your hair grow back, but we do think that applying CBD oil to your head could play a part in a healthier scalp and reduce the amount of hair loss seen. Given that anxiety and stress are also considered factors in some peoples hair loss it may also be that the anxiety reducing effects of CBD when digested will also help play a role in a healthier scalp.
CBD - A Treatment for Shingles
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Many people report that CBD aids in relieving the symptoms of a shingles outbreak, especially the pain that is associated with it. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory, calms overactive nerves and pain signaling and helps reduce stress that can lead to an outbreak.
We took a deep look through the scientific research and couldn't find any research at all to support this so at this stage the evidence is anecdotal from actual patients rather than backed up by scientific research.
CBD - A Treatment for Nausea
CBD interacts with serotonin releasing receptors, and when given in relatively small doses has been shown to help alleviate both nausea and vomiting. CBD can also be effective in easing anxiety, which can help patients manage the angst of chronic nausea. We found a research paper from 2011 and another from 2015 here that discussed how low doses of CBD helped patients with nausea and vomiting. Given that CBD is known to also aid anxiety symptoms for some patients, it may also play a role in reducing anxiety that causes nausea as well.
Can CBD Lower Blood Pressure?
There are studies that support that CBD helps lower blood pressure in patients with elevated levels in two ways. First, CBD is known as a 'vasodilator' which means it helps widens and dilate blood vessels which gives more space for the blood to flow through your veins and reduces the blood pressure. Secondly we know from research that CBD reduces anxiety and stress symptoms, and the responses from stress often elevate heart rate and blood pressure, so this also plays a role in reducing blood pressure. We found some strong evidence to support this in a scientific paper published in 2017.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few more questions around the topic of CBD that people are asking.
What is the Best Way to Take CBD?
If you look online there are actually a wide range of ways to take CBD. We have spent a considerable amount of time and research to find the most effective way to deliver CBD to your body and have found that taking CBD in a liquid drink form is the most effective for the largest number of people. It's also possible to get CBD as a 'tincture' liquid that you drink or put into a drink, and we have also seen companies sell gummies with CBD in them. We aren't keen on gummies or anything that looks appealing like candy due to the risk that a child might accidentally eat a load of them if they were left carelessly around by accident sometime. We've also seen CBD in the form of a lotion or cream for application to the skin which makes sense if you are using CBD to treat localized pain or acne.
Is CBD Safe?
There may be some side effects of CBD including nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the levels in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does.
Is CBD Addictive?
CBD is not addictive and not habit forming. In fact it's basically the opposite because it has been used to help people get off addictions to other drugs, alcohol, and smoking. A large and wide ranging scientific review from 2015 actually showed that CBD is being used in a wide range of clinical cases to help beat addiction.
Is CBD Weed?
Cannabis is a term that encompasses hemp, marijuana, and various chemical compounds, and people sometimes mistake them for one another. Marijuana, aka “weed,” and CBD are, in fact, two very different things. CBD is usually extracted from hemp. Whereas what most people refer to as 'weed' is usually the cannabis as a whole.
Can CBD Make You Paranoid?
We have talked in this blog about the 'bad brother' of CBD that is found in marijuana called THC. It's THC that causes the 'high' effects of smoking marijuana, as well as scientific links to THC being the main cause of paranoid symptoms for people that smoke it. CBD isolated on its own does not cause paranoia, and in fact helps counter the effects of THC as well.
This useful article fromScience Daily shows how CBD not only doesn't make you paranoid, but in fact can help combat feelings caused by smoking marijuana.
Can CBD Make You Tired?
We get a few questions from people about this because they rightly point out that we talk about how effective CBD is for anxiety relief and restful sleep, so surely CBD should make you drowsy and tired? In fact CBD can make you both energized and awake AND sleepy and it all comes down to the amount you take. According to a study by Zuardi A.W., published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in September 2008 "it depends on the dose." He found that low doses of the cannabinoid help you feel alert and energized. In contrast, a higher dosage is ideal for relaxing and encourages drowsiness. Suddenly, CBD for better sleep sounds like a viable option.
Can CBD Cause Insomnia?
CBD is not known to cause Insomnia, in fact it can help alleviate the symptoms. We found a survey where a large amount of Americans taking CBD for sleep disorders found it helpful. We also found a recent 2019 scientific report that supported the idea that CBD helps with restful sleep.
Can CBD Show Up in a Drug Test ?
The simple answer is no. CBD will not show up or be a problem in any standard drug test. There is something to be aware of here though, and that's the need to purchase CBD from a reputable source with a quality product. There are some less reputable suppliers online that supply less pure CBD that could have contaminants in it, including the THC found in marijuana that could give you a false positive result if you use a less pure product. We always recommend buying from a reputable source online.
CBD I Give My Dog CBD?
There seems to be a lot of people talking online about the use of CBD to reduce anxiety in their pets. Their thinking is that if it works for humans it should work for other animals too. The problem here is that dogs vary in size and metabolism when compared to humans so any treatment you might choose to give them would be guesswork, and we would strongly recommend talking to a Vet before even thinking about using CBD for one of your pets. A useful article written by a vet pointed to research currently being undertaken at Cornell University to look into the effects of treating cats and dogs with CBD, but for now we would say it's too early to tell so we would advise any pet owners to be very careful.
Can I travel with CBD?
When people ask about being able to travel with CBD, they usually mean through airports. That same 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the sale and use of CBD in the USA means that you can now travel between states with legit CBD products. Flying inside the USA with CBD should pose no issues, but we recommend contacting the airport you wish to use in advance in case you have any doubts. Obviously keep in mind that the legality of CBD may change once you are abroad so its best to research the legality of CBD in any country outside the USA you may be traveling to.
Can CBD Cause Liver Damage?
We've had an increase of people asking about a recent study in 2019mentioned in the press that talked about the levels of CBD needed to make CBD toxic to humans. It's important to look at this study in perspective and understand that finding the upper toxic level of a chemical like CBD is important because that is what is done with all drugs that humans use. Almost every drug we take has a toxic dose level that is usually very, very much higher than the doses we take each day.
What is important here is to be aware that a bigger concern is the purity and accuracy of any CBD product that you buy. If you buy from a reputable source with strict quality controls you can be confident that what you buy is what you get. The FDA has been critical lately (and rightly so) of cheap companies supplying CBD products with a wide range of concentrations that don't match what it says on the label.
CBD - Can I Take CBD with Blood Thinners?
CBD blocks the effect of blood thinners in the body, and as a result causes the medication to exist in a higher level in your body than normal, putting people at an increased risk of excessive bleeding or hemorrhage. This reported case from 2017 is typical of the effects, so we do not recommend that you use CBD if you take blood thinners.
Summary and Verdict
So that's our summary on everything you might need to know for now about CBD. You can see we have linked all the scientific research to support the claims people are making for each health benefit. Although there are clearly a wide range of positive reasons to use CBD now that it is legal in the USA, we would always advise you to speak to your physician before trying CBD for the first time.