It’s been a slow come up, but the health benefits of cannabis are finally starting to get recognized in a real way. In particular, the compound cannabidiol, aka CBD, is being studied more and more for the management of certain health conditions, and the medical community is getting more on board with the non-psychoative compound’s potential. After it exploded in popularity this past year, too, the general public is getting more excited about how CBD can be good for you, from anxiety management, to its anti-inflammatory properties, and so much more.
But while CBD is a really compelling substance for a slew of health and wellness benefits, it definitely isn’t a cure all. While there’s no denying that CBD can alleviate symptoms related to a range of both physical and mental health issues, it can’t outright cure serious diseases, as some may claim. Because CBD is such a trendy topic right now, it can be difficult to separate fact from myth. However, like with any other drug or medication, it’s important to look at what the science says when figuring out if it can benefit you.
So, what can CBD actually do for your health? Here are five medical issues science has shown CBD can help with, and four things it can’t.
According to a 2017 review of research surrounding the efficacy of CBD for insomnia, the substance does have the potential to treat certain sleep disorders. However, there is a small catch: Mack explains depending on the person, some actually feel energized by CBD. So, eating a few CBD-infused gummies in the AM may be more conducive to your sleep-wake cycle.
“I guide people to take CBD during the day, and see,” she says. “If it wakes you up, you should take it in the morning, so you sleep much better at night.”
“Digestive issues are often tied to inflammatory conditions, and CBD can help quiet down the gut â€” relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even Crohn’s disease,” explains Mack. Both studies completed in animals and people have indicated that ingesting CBD can lead to a healthier gastrointestinal tract.
One of the most widespread myths online about CBD, and cannabis in general, is that it can cure cancer, but it cannot. “There is absolutely no evidence that CBD cures cancer, at all. Otherwise, people would be prescribed it as a first line of defense, rather than chemotherapy,” explains Mack. She adds that, “However, it can help potentiate chemotherapy, and they are finding that CBD has anti-tumor properties in mice, but its not proven to cure cancer.”
Even though CBD is proven to support brain health, it cannot stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, Mack notes, most studies looking at cannabis compounds’ potential impact on the disease focus on THC, not CBD. “While THC helps to detangle and remove some of the plaques in mice’s brains, these studies are not being done in humans. So, neither CBD, or THC, can stop the disease.” While the Alzheimer’s Society notes that some research suggests that cannabis compounds can help patients manage some symptoms of the disease, it also states that no research has found that cannabis compounds can treat it.
Like with any medication, you should check with your physician before incorporating CBD into your diet. “CBD has an amazing safety profile, but it is not without side effects,” says Mack. She explains that CBD can interact with other medications, and “may potentiate â€” or, sometimes impede the effects of â€” medicines like blood thinners, or anti-convulsants.”
Another health issue that some people claim CBD can cure is Parkinson’s disease. Mack says that CBD may help with symptoms of the disease, such as tremors, but it will not cure it.
Overall, Mack explains, “CBD is generally very safe, and if you want to know how to maximize the use of it as a medical patient, speak to a nurse or doctor.” Separating myth from fact can get a little dicey, but understanding CBD’s true medical benefits can help you make the most of this compound for your health.