CBD oil: Should you use it?

CBD oil is considered generally safe, but may not be the best treatment option for you.

A White woman taking cbd oil

Key Takeaways:

  • The only FDA-approved CBD medication is Epidiolex for treating certain types of seizures. Still, people try out CBD for treating different medical conditions and symptoms, including anxiety, pain and addiction.
  • While CBD oil is considered safe for adults, not everyone should use it. For instance, people who are allergic to cannabidiol or pregnant people should stay away from it.
  • Safety tips for taking CBD include consulting a healthcare professional first, taking the recommended dosage and ensuring you choose the right product.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract from the hemp plant, but unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it doesn't have psychoactive effects. CBD is also different from CBG, another chemical compound in cannabis that is found in lesser concentrations in the plant.

If you're thinking of using CBD, you're not alone. 60% of Americans have used a CBD product at least once, and many are curious about its safety and benefits.

Whether or not you should use CBD oil largely depends on your medical condition, the severity of your symptoms, how your body reacts to CBD, what your doctor says, and what you think of using CBD for a therapeutic purpose.

All the noise about this wonder supplement makes separating fact from fiction challenging. Although some studies indicate that CBD can help treat certain health conditions, some of its long list of potential benefits contains many unverified claims.

Is CBD safe? Is it for everyone? This article provides all the information you need to decide if you should use CBD oil.

What Is the Approved Way to Use CBD?

When trying out a medication, it is important to check if it's approved for use and to get the opinion of your healthcare team. In the US, only one CBD medication is approved by the FDA, Epidiolex. It contains 99% pure CBD for managing seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or Tuberous Sclerosis.

Epidiolex is only available on prescription and serves as an alternative when other therapies for these conditions fail to show results. It can lower seizure frequency by up to 42% in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, 39% in Dravet syndrome, and 48% in tuberous sclerosis. Bear in mind that Epidiolex isn't approved for other seizure-causing conditions. 

When it first gained approval in 2018, Epidolex was classified as a controlled substance, limiting access to it. It's much easier to fill your Epidiolex prescriptions now that it's no longer a controlled substance. 

Outside the US, other CBD medications are approved by their regulatory agencies. A great example is Sativex, a 50:50 preparation of CBD and THC, approved in the UK. It's also under strict regulation, and you can only get it if your doctor prescribes it. Sativex is used to manage pain and muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis. 

If you are considering using CBD for medical purposes, speak with a healthcare professional. Your doctor will diagnose you, assess your health condition, and suggest the right CBD supplement for you (if it's safe for you). They will also give you guidelines on dosage and monitor you closely while you are on it.

What Are Other Uses of CBD Oil?

Every CBD product you find on the American market besides Epidiolex doesn't have FDA approval. They’re marketed as supplements, so they can’t claim to treat anything. 

This doesn’t stop people from trying CBD oil for various health conditions and making bold claims online. Personal testimonies vary; while some sing its praise, others are disappointed. Here are some unapproved ways people use CBD and what research says:

  • Sleep — CBD sleep gummies are popular for those nights when falling asleep takes you a little longer. Sleepiness is already a well-known side effect of CBD oil, so it makes sense. Studies show that many users get better sleep quality after using CBD oil. Of course, individual experiences differ, as some people report that they saw no difference. 
  • Anxiety — CBD supplements are popular for reducing anxiety. People with mental health struggles such as PTSD and depression may feel better after taking CBD.
  • Pain — Studies show that CBD can help reduce inflammation and pain. Researchers looked at people who have arthritis, and 83% of participants reported that they got pain relief from CBD use. Some got better sleep and improved joint mobility too.
  • Addiction — Some users say that CBD helped them kick nicotine to the curb. Researchers have found that CBD can help reduce cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It may help tackle opioid withdrawal as well. 

Can Anyone Use CBD?

Most adults, including seniors, can use CBD safely. However, not everyone can use CBD oil, so if you’re allergic to cannabidiol, there's none for you. Side effects may be mild, such as diarrhea, drowsiness, or fatigue. 

Some people may have more serious side effects from CBD, like liver damage, feeling weak, or getting an infection. Talk to your healthcare provider if you don’t feel good after taking CBD oil. They’ll let you know if you should stop taking it. 

Giving kids CBD supplements is not a great idea unless under medical supervision. Epidiolex remains the only approved CBD medication for children with particular forms of epilepsy, only given with a doctor’s prescription.  

Pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised not to take CBD. There isn’t enough evidence that it’s safe for the growing fetus, so it’s best to wait until after the baby is born. CBD also makes its way into breast milk if you take it while lactating. 

How to Use CBD Safely

Here are some tips to help you safely explore the benefits of CBD oil:

  • Speak with your doctor — As a rule of thumb, keep your doctor updated about any health supplement you intend to use. Many health professionals know of the benefits of CBD and may encourage their patients to try it. Furthermore, if you’re already on medication, your doctor will let you know if you can safely combine it with CBD. 
  • Choose the right product — Not all CBD products on the market follow strict production standards. Stick to high-quality supplements by checking for certifications and third-party testing badges. Some companies share the results of these tests on their website, which you can download and study. 
  • Start slow — Taking too much CBD can harm your liver. Don’t take more CBD than the label recommends. You could even start with smaller amounts and up your dose till you find your sweet spot. Ask your doctor if you want more helpful advice on how much CBD to take. 

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that most adults can safely enjoy CBD. If you’re allergic to cannabidiol, pregnant, or breastfeeding, don’t take it. Few people may react adversely to CBD, but when that happens, it’s usually mild. Severe symptoms such as liver damage and infections are rare. 

If you choose to start taking CBD, do so safely. Start by speaking with your doctor, especially if you’re on medication or managing chronic illness. Next, is deciding what supplement to use. Choose companies that are transparent about their production process and share results from purity tests. Don’t forget to follow instructions on how much CBD you should take. 

Learn everything about CBD, its uses, side effects and legality.