I’ve been wanting to do a blog post on CBD for a while now and I’m excited to share this with everyone! We’ve been using CBD in the acupuncture clinic for about a year now and I’ve been taking it myself for about that time as well. I don't claim to be a CBD expert but what I’d like to present is sort of a “CBD 101” and answer some of the big questions I get all the time: What is CBD? How does it work? What is it good for? How do I take it?
I'm going to share my personal experience with CBD and how it’s helped me, as well as a broad picture of what we are seeing clinically. Before going into this any further I want to be clear that this blog post is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific conditions, nor am I recommending that you take a specific dose. I believe CBD has a lot of potential for treating many conditions and I have been using myself as a guinea pig! I will be sharing some of the common dose ranges that we have people taking and which I take myself, but as always—please do your research thoroughly before deciding to take a new supplement. If you have any specific questions (about possible drug interactions, medical conditions, etc.), please consult your health care practitioner.
I also want to disclose up front that this post has been created in partnership with two fantastic brands, TONIC (internal CBD oils, topical oils & veterinary oils) and Buddha Teas (delicious tea, including a new CBD line). I am going to discuss both of these brands at the end of the post. I only collaborate with brands that I truly love and use.
What is CBD? How does it work and what does it do?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive (meaning it produces NO “high”) cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in many plants, including its namesake cannabis, as well as produced naturally in our own body. There are approximately 100 known cannabinoids. The most famous and most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant is THC, which is psychoactive and responsible for the “high” effect. CBD, or Cannabidiol, is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the plant. It is non-psychoactive (meaning it produces NO “high”), non-addictive and can be purchased legally in the US.
Cannabinoids, including CBD, act on our body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). That’s right, every one of us has an entire built-in system that specifically reacts to cannabinoids. In fact, all mammals do, too. They play an important role in healthy function of the immune and nervous systems. In the most simple sense, the ECS works to promote homeostasis, or balance, in our immune and nervous systems, and does so by being acted upon by cannabinoids.
CBD in particular has been found to have numerous beneficial effects. CBD is anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and anti-depressant, analgesic (reduces pain), antispasmodic (reduces muscle tension and cramping), antioxidant, antiemetic (reduces nausea/vomiting), anticonvulsant (suppresses seizures), anti-tumoral and antipsychotic (in fact, CBD counteracts the effects of THC, an example of nature’s own system of balancing). It does quite a lot, right!?
My Experience with CBD
I’ve been taking CBD regularly for the past year or so now. CBD can be taken internally or applied topically. My primary method of use is internal. Here’s what I noticed:
For me, it took about 2 weeks to start noticing anything. I felt no immediate effects from the CBD; it wasn’t like I took my dose and then “WOW all my pain is gone” or “WOW I’m immediately asleep”. It was more that after a couple weeks I noticed the absence of symptoms that previously bothered me; I noticed the absence of headaches, the absence of disrupted sleep, and the absence of my acne!
Headaches: This was the first thing I noticed! All of a sudden, after about 2 weeks, I noticed that my headaches were gone… after months of daily headaches. Now, almost a year later, I do get an occasional headache but overall they are much less frequent. When I do get a headache, I find that massaging the topical CBD products into my hairline and temples can help them pass quickly.
Sleep: I also started noticing that I was sleeping significantly better. Instead of taking 2 or more hours to fall asleep, I was drifting off within 30 minutes. Instead of waking 4-8 times in the middle of the night, I was waking once or twice. When I did still wake up, I was falling right back into deep sleep instead of tossing and turning for hours. This was a huge improvement for me.
Skin: One completely surprising and unexpected side effect of taking CBD is that my skin has really cleared up. I still get occasional pimples, but overall I am seeing much less inflammation, almost no cystic acne, less hormonal flare ups and quicker healing of any pimples that do show up.
Joint Pain: This was actually the original reason I started CBD, but I actually haven't noticed much change in my joint pain (in my fingers/toes). It's possible the CBD has helped, and the joint pain would be much worse if I wasn’t taking it regularly…but I’m just not sure. I’ve been wondering about this since a lot of my patients do notice enormous improvements in joint pain.
Autoimmunity: This is one category I am adding simply because I’m curious about the long-term effects. Since autoimmune conditions are chronic, systemic and inflammatory in nature, I suspect that CBD may be helpful but that long-term use is necessary to see improvements. I’m excited to see if prolonged use of CBD may lessen the overall autoimmune attack against my body. I haven’t had my thyroid levels or autoimmune markers checked recently but I will update the blog when I get some blood work done!
Dosing: What I find works best for ME is taking 35-70mg daily. I usually take it in the evening but sometimes split my dose into a morning and evening dose. I don’t notice any sedative effects so taking a morning dose is no issue. If my headaches are worse or my sleep is worse, I’ll take a higher dose and if things are really under control I stick with a lower dose. I’ve experimented with taking a week off here and there and the results seem to be fairly well maintained. However I enjoy taking it and as I mentioned above, I’m interested in the long-term benefits so I’m continuing to take it daily.
What I’m Noticing in the Clinic
I also want to very briefly share what I’ve seen in my acupuncture practice. We have many patients currently taking CBD with great results. The primary reasons people take it are to manage:
pain conditions (headaches, nerve pain, joint pain, muscle tension, chronic pain, etc.)
A note on side effects: I have personally not experienced any adverse effects of CBD. One patient noticed some immediate drowsiness right after taking the CBD and therefore cut her dose in half and has since been fine. Otherwise, so far, we have seen no negative side effects in our patients taking CBD.
Dosing: The most common doses people are taking are 10-20mg, 30-50 mg, or 70-80mg per day, with most people somewhere in the 30-50mg range.
I am truly LOVING this woman-owned company with its high-quality, small batch products. All of the internal oils are blended with full spectrum hemp extract, coconut MCT oil, black seed oil and pure maple syrup. I’ve tried a handful of other brands’ oils, and they’ve all tasted so bad that I couldn’t use the product. NOT the case with TONIC! The ingredients are simple, natural and high quality, and as a result that’s exactly how it tastes. Big perk for me. Another small detail I really appreciate is how the dosing is explained; there’s a total milligram per bottle stated as is standard, but TONIC also clearly spells out what dose (by milligram) is in each full dropper. This takes the guesswork out of using oils and getting the intended dose, and is not something a lot of brands do.
TONIC has 3 internal-use CBD oils, called Bare (which contains only the full spectrum hemp extract, MCT oil, black seed oil and maple syrup), OG (same ingredients PLUS ashwagandha, which is a fabulous adaptogenic herb), and Chill (same ingredients as OG, with the addition of lemon balm and passionflower). Most people find ashwagandha very relaxing, but personally I find it a bit energizing so I like to use the OG in the morning and then take the Bare in the evening. TONIC also has two topicals in the form of roll-on oils. I’ve used the Warrior blend and as I mentioned above really like it for local use when I get a headache or menstrual cramps.
I’ve been a fan of Buddha Teas for at least a year or two now (their Crown Chakra tea is amazing) so when they reached out to me recently to try their new CBD line of teas, my response was a hearty “I’d LOVE to!” The CBD line includes the following flavors: Chamomile, Matcha Green Tea, Mint Tea and Turmeric & Ginger. They are all very tasty! The chamomile and matcha green tea are my favorites. In addition to the herbal blends of each tea is 5 mg of CBD per tea bag (specifically designed to be bioavailable in water-soluble form).
In my mind there are two scenarios in which the Buddha Teas CBD line really excels. The first: for anyone nervous about trying CBD, this is a way to ease into it with a very small dose. The second: for anyone (like me!) who already knows they love CBD and are looking for ways to supplement with a small dose throughout the day.