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Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many molecules known as cannabinoids that are found in different varieties of the cannabis plant, including marijuana and hemp. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that’s responsible for marijuana’s high, CBD is not intoxicating, even in large doses.

What Is CBD?
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In recent years, CBD products have seen a surge in popularity—due in part to an increasing body of research on the cannabinoid’s potential benefits for body and mind. As a prescription medication (Epidiolex), CBD is FDA-approved to treat two severe forms of childhood epilepsy. Commercially, CBD is sold as oil, capsules, and topical creams, or added to foods and beverages. Many who purchase it seek to reduce inflammation, soothe pain, or ease anxiety.

CBD is well tolerated in most individuals—in contrast to THC, which can induce anxiety or psychosis-like symptoms. It’s also thought to be safe by most researchers who study it. But experts caution that some commercial CBD contains THC or other contaminants, either of which may trigger negative reactions.

How is CBD different from marijuana?

CBD is one of the compounds found in marijuana, but it doesn’t deliver the high that people typically think about when discussing the drug. (That’s due to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC). CBD has no psychoactive properties, meaning that it doesn’t change how you think or perceive the world. Instead, it can instill a sense of calm and positive mood.

How does CBD affect the brain?

CBD acts on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. Although cannabinoids exist in nature through substances such as cannabis, the compounds are also produced by the body to govern functions such as mood and sleep. But scientists still don’t fully understand the pathways by which CBD delivers its therapeutic benefits.

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CBD and Mental Health

CBD has shown promising results as a potential treatment for a wide range of mental and physical ailments, including epilepsy, anxiety, opioid addiction, insomnia, schizophrenia, and chronic pain.

But evidence of its benefits is still highly preliminary, experts warn. More research is needed both to be sure of its effects and to establish appropriate dosing recommendations.

Can CBD help with insomnia?

Cannabis has a long history as a sleep aid, reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and increasing time spent asleep. CBD specifically may also been found to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. The compound also eases anxiety, which may be another route that it can improve sleep.

Can CBD help with anxiety?

CBD can relieve symptoms of anxiety, research suggests, and it may therefore help treat conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But scientists still don’t understand how exactly CBD affects the brain to deliver those benefits.

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