cbd oil what can you use it for

Can you mix CBD and essential oils?

How to determine if it is safe to mix CBD and essential oils.

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Over the last few years, more and more people have been turning to cannabidiol — aka CBD — as a part of their health and wellness routine, and it’s easy to see why. Research shows that CBD offers an impressive list of potential health benefits. It can help address issues like pain, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, which makes it easy to understand why CBD products are becoming so popular across the United States.

Essential oils are also incredibly popular — with essential oil remedies being shared across the internet — so you might find yourself wondering if you can combine these products, whether or not using CBD and essential oils is safe, and how to try it out for yourself.

What is CBD? How does it work?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the main active ingredients found in the cannabis plant. Unlike cannabis, which contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive — meaning it doesn’t cause the “high” feeling typically associated with cannabis use. Plus, CBD is relatively well-tolerated by most people and it has very few side effects, meaning it’s pretty low risk and isn’t associated with potential abuse.

As far as how it works? Researchers are still figuring that out.

“We are still learning how exactly CBD works. It appears CBD interacts with a wide variety of systems in your body, such as your serotonin system,” explains Dr. Jeff Chen, founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative and CEO and CoFounder of Radicle Science. “CBD also interacts with your endocannabinoid system, which is spread throughout your entire body. Whereas THC exerts its effects by directly binding to your cannabinoid receptors, CBD doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors, but instead appears to slow the breakdown of the endocannabinoids your own body naturally produces.”

Translation? While we don’t know how CBD works with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and cannabinoid receptors, we do know that the ECS plays a role in bodily functions like sleep, memory, and mood — as well as maintaining our bodies’ homeostasis, AKA the balance and stability of our bodies’ systems.

From there, many believe that CBD works by helping your body return to that state of homeostasis — so if your body needs sleep, CBD might help with that. If you need to boost your energy, it might help with that too. And because cannabinoid receptors within the ECS are located throughout your body, although there’s a higher concentration of these receptors in your brain, that’s why CBD offers such a wide range of potential benefits.

What about essential oils? Do they work?

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Essential oils have been used throughout human history, but before we dive into the science, it’s important to highlight that not all essential oils are safe to consume orally and others can cause damage if they’re applied directly to your skin. Unlike CBD oil, different essential oils vary wildly — and some carry severe health risks if used incorrectly — so you’ll want to do extensive research prior to combining these and you’ll want to consult your primary care doctor.

That being said, when it comes to using essential oils (and deciding whether or not they work), the answer is “it depends.” Different oils offer different benefits, and not all essential oils have been extensively studied. You’ll want to speak with a medical expert before using any essential oils to make sure you’re using them safely.

Is it safe to mix CBD and essential oils?

Because CBD and essential oils use in humans haven’t been studied extensively, it’s hard to give a clear answer on whether or not it’s safe to mix the two. Especially when you’re looking at something like essential oils — where some are considered harmless for both oral and topical use while others can be poisonous — it’s important to act with an abundance of caution.

“Most herbalists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners usually recommend using multiple botanicals to treat a condition. Rarely, do they ever recommend a single herb,” explains Dr. Felecia Dawson, a physician and cannabis advocate.” Thus, adding additional terpenes via essential oils may give better results. I would recommend working with someone knowledgeable about CBD and essential oils to stay safe, save money and time.

So even though CBD itself might be relatively low risk — and there might be some benefits from mixing CBD and essential oils — the safety of essential oils varies wildly on the specific oil you’re using and the method of delivery. If you’re not sure about mixing the two then it might be worth keeping these two habits separate, or speaking with a medical professional, at least until we know more.

Science-backed health benefits of CBD and how to use it safely and effectively

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a type of chemical found in the same plant that produces marijuana.

CBD is different from marijuana though, and will not make you “high.” That’s because it does not contain the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC, which is the chemical responsible for the intoxicating feeling associated with consuming marijuana.

Recently, CBD has gained traction in the scientific community for its ability to treat multiple conditions — from chronic pain to epilepsy. Here are some of the benefits of CBD oil and whether science says it might be helpful for you.

1. CBD oil eases pain

CBD has been widely studied as a natural, non-addictive way to manage and treat pain symptoms — especially as an alternative to opioids for patients with severe pain.

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While animal research found CBD to be a promising treatment for nerve-based (neuropathic) pain and inflammatory pain, few studies have examined its effects on humans.

Still, researchers know that CBD has antinociceptive and anti-hyperalgesic effects — meaning it can block the detection of pain by neurons and counter pain sensitivity.

“CBD has over 65 different targets in the brain and body, working at many receptors and other areas to change messages that cells are sending to each other. If the message of pain is being sent from one cell to another, CBD can block or diminish this message,” says Bonni Goldstein, MD, the Medical Director of Canna-Centers, a California-based medical practice devoted to patients about the use of cannabis for serious or chronic health conditions.

Goldstein says that higher ratios of CBD to THC are often more effective for inflammatory pain like rheumatoid arthritis, while lower ratios are more effective for nerve-based pain like shingles.

A 2006 study found that combining THC and CBD increased each cannabinoid’s effectiveness in reducing pain and diminished adverse effects of using just THC alone.

“Studies clearly show that all types of pain respond better to products that contain both compounds rather than each one alone,” Goldstein says.

2. CBD oil can treat epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which abnormal brain activity causes seizures. Recent studies show that CBD may be an effective treatment for epilepsy, although scientists are unsure of the exact mechanisms, Goldstein says.

A 2017 study of patients ranging from two to 46-years-old with treatment-resistant epilepsy found that 86% of patients experienced a reduction in seizures after consuming various formulations of artisanal CBD, which is CBD that contains small amounts of THC. Of the participants, 10% reported becoming seizure-free.

Another small 2018 study found that children who took a daily 20mg/kg dose of CBD oil saw a significant decrease in seizure frequency compared to a placebo. However, the study did find seizure intensity increased in patients taking CBD.

3. CBD oil may reduce anxiety

Early research has found CBD may reduce symptoms of a number of anxiety disorders, including:

A small 2011 study of patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) found 600mg of CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort when patients were subjected to a stressful situation like public speaking.

Goldstein says that CBD affects the brain in multiple ways, including enhancing the brain’s own anxiety-reducing chemicals and targeting serotonin receptors involved in mood.

“There is preliminary research that points to neuroinflammation as a cause of anxiety. CBD is a well-proven potent anti-inflammatory which may contribute to its anxiety-reducing effects,” Goldstein says.

Risks of CBD oil

However, much research on CBD oil is still preliminary, and there are also various health risks to consider before using it.

It’s unregulated. Unless you’re purchasing CBD with a medical card from a state-licensed store, known as a dispensary, or in a state where marijuana is legalized, you’re forced to navigate an unregulated market that’s potentially filled with “fake” or low-quality CBD. Make sure you check your state’s laws and look for companies who partake in third-party testing before purchasing CBD, says Goldstein.

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It can interact with medications. CBD is broken down in the liver, where many other medications are metabolized. Medications that CBD can interact with include:

  • Seizure medications like Brivaracetam or Carbamazepine
  • Chemotherapy drugs like Everolimus
  • Muscle relaxers like Chlorzoxazone
  • Respiratory medicines like Theophylline medications like Verapamil or Propranolol like Amitriptyline
  • Antipsychotic medications like Haloperidol or Clozapine

“Anyone with serious medical conditions who take medications should avoid using CBD without medical supervision,” Goldstein says. “Patients on certain medications such as blood thinners or other medications for serious illnesses should always have medical supervision.”

It may be unsafe if you’re pregnant. While there is a lack of research studying the effects of CBD on pregnant women and their children, the FDA recommends that pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid CBD oil.

Animal studies have shown that maternal or paternal exposure to CBD and THC can hinder proper fetal development, and unregulated CBD products could be contaminated with substances that could harm fetuses or breastfed babies.

It can have side effects. CBD is often well-tolerated, but adverse reactions can occur at higher doses. These side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sedation
  • Worsening seizures in those with epilepsy
  • Decreased appetite

How to use CBD oil safely

In 2018, US Congress passed a bill that regulated the production of hemp, or cannabis with extremely low levels of THC, allowing it to be grown and manufactured into products. But not all states have adjusted their laws, so CBD is still illegal in some states including Idaho, Nebraska, and Iowa.

In states where CBD is legal, you’ll have to be either 18 or 21 to purchase it — and make sure to check local laws before traveling across state lines with it.

While there are multiple ways to consume CBD, oral consumption appears to be mostly the preferred method. That’s because vaping and smoking can cause damage to the lungs. Additionally, topical application can be difficult to measure the dosage.

Popular methods of consumption include:

  • Oral consumption (oils, tinctures, pills, edibles)
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Topical application (creams, lotions, transdermal patches)
  • Intranasal consumption (sprays)

CBD has a very wide therapeutic range, with doses ranging from 10 mg per day up to 800 mg per day. “The only way to find one’s dose is to start at a low dose and increase little by little, looking for the dose that gives the best effects,” Goldstein says.

Insider’s takeaway

While more human studies need to be conducted, CBD appears to be a promising therapeutic tool for a range of conditions such as anxiety, epilepsy, and chronic pain. If you do want to try it out, make sure to research your state’s laws and check in with a doctor to ensure that you’re consuming it safely and legally.