Is CBD Safe to Use for Inflammation?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-addictive compound found in cannabis that is currently being used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. Found in oils, sprays, and lotions, this non-psychoactive compound is currently marketed as a healthy alternative to pharmaceutical medications with harsher effects.
As the popularity of CBD use increases, we had asked SteadyMD Dr. Dani Urcuyo for his insight on using CBD as an anti-inflammatory.
Is CBD Safe?
Great Question! Let’s start with some background. Cannabidiol (CBD) is often extracted from the cannabis plant variety that is used to produce hemp and therefore extracts have little to no THC, the chemical responsible for producing a high when using marijuana. Furthermore, CBD does not have any abuse potential.
How “Legal” is CBD?
CBD is readily available in all 50 states, but because it is sold as a supplement and is not regulated by the FDA, it’s hard to know what you’re getting. Reported dosages may not be what is listed on the bottle and impurities could also find their way into what you are taking. Further complicating the issue is the fact that we do not know what the best dose is for each condition, and CBD can interact with other medications you may be taking. As always, please speak with your primary care doctor before starting any supplement.
I should also note that some states categorize CBD similarly to marijuana. For example, in Ohio, a physician must have a special license simply to recommend CBD.
Can CBD Help My Inflammation?
Inflammation is the process by which your body’s immune system fights infection and facilitates healing. The classic signs of inflammation are redness, heat, swelling, and pain. When you get a cold or cut your finger, it’s the immune system and inflammation that comes to the rescue. As you can see, inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. However, too much of it for too long can be a problem and can predispose people to issues such as autoimmune disease, heart disease, and cancer. Inflammation is an important and necessary process, but too much of it can get us into trouble
CBD has become very popular in the last couple of years and is used to treat many ailments ranging from anxiety to insomnia. Interestingly, the most well-studied application for CBD is for childhood epilepsy. In some kiddos, CBD has been able to control seizures that were previously unmanageable by conventional medications.
Unfortunately, the data is a bit murkier for other conditions such as insomnia, pain, and anxiety, and more research is needed to better understand it’s potential anti-inflammatory effects. That being said, many of my patients have reported dramatic improvements, particularly in their sleep when using CBD. If this is due to a placebo effect or truly because of CBD then it remains to be seen. Maintaining a lifestyle that keeps chronic inflammation low gives us the best shot at living a long and independent life.
What Causes Inflammation?
A few of the key players include poor food choices, sleep deprivation, and chronic stress. Most know that eating processed food causes inflammation, but I want to highlight the toxicity of chronic stress. Just like inflammation, some stress is good, but too much of it isn’t. There are those among us that have been stressed for so long that we don’t notice it anymore. This constant level of stress is a significant health risk and can lead to health problems by way of increased inflammation.
What Tests Are Available?
Several tests are used to measure inflammation. A complete blood count (CBC) examines the concentration of cells floating in your bloodstream including red blood cells and infection-fighting cells called white blood cells. Two other commonly ordered tests for inflammation are high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).
How Can I Reduce My Inflammation?
There are several ways to keep inflammation low and most are accessible to everyone. These include eating a whole foods based diet rich in vegetables and healthy fats, exercising regularly, sleeping 7-9 hours per night, managing stress, and maintaining meaningful relationships. All of these have the added benefit of helping keep our blood sugar from being too high which is one of the biggest drivers of inflammation.
In short, CBD is generally well tolerated, and although we do not have all the necessary data to determine the efficacy of CBD for many conditions when it comes to sleep and therefore recovery, many people report an improvement. It’s effect as an anti-inflammatory is less clear.
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