By Dr. Morgan Camp, MD
As a doctor, I have been prescribing CBD to my patients, including professional athletes (top athletes who swear by CBD for optimal performance), for over ten years. Yet Cannabidiol (CBD for short) is still a mystery to many and people have lots of questions about it.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what CBD is, its potential benefits (Science behind CBD and athletic performance), safety considerations, and how to determine if a CBD product is safe and effective.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant. CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, which is a variety of cannabis that is specifically grown for industrial and medical uses. CBD is typically derived from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant, and can be found in a variety of products, including oils, tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topicals. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known compound found in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive and does not produce a “high” sensation. Instead, CBD is believed to have a variety of potential health benefits, including reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and reducing anxiety.
Potential Health Benefits of CBD
While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of CBD, there is some evidence to suggest that it may have a variety of therapeutic benefits. I have seen many of my patients and family members benefit from top quality CBD over the last decade that I have been prescribing it. For example, CBD has been shown to have potential benefits for:
Epilepsy: In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. These conditions are difficult to treat with traditional medications, and CBD has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in some patients.
Chronic Pain: CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce pain and swelling. Some studies have also found that CBD can help to alleviate chronic pain in conditions such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. (CBD for Inflammation: Can it Improve Athletic Performance?)
Anxiety and Depression: CBD has been shown to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant effects, and may be helpful for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Sleep Disorders: CBD has been shown to have sedative effects, and may be helpful for individuals with sleep disorders such as insomnia.
While CBD is generally considered to be safe for most people, there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. For example, CBD can interact with other medications (CBD and Performance Enhancing Drugs: What Athletes Need to Know), including blood thinners, and can cause side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and irritability. Fatigue is by far the most common side effect and that is dose related and actually a desired effect for many people who use CBD to calm them down and to induce relaxation.
Additionally, as I have advised my patients for years, it is important to be aware of the source and quality of the CBD products you are using. CBD products are not currently regulated by the FDA, and there have been reports of mislabeling and contamination of some CBD products. To ensure that you are using a safe and effective product, look for products that have been third-party tested, and avoid products that are marketed with exaggerated or unrealistic health claims.
How to Determine if a CBD Product is Safe and Effective
If you are considering using CBD, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you are using a safe and effective product:
Look for third-party lab testing: Reputable CBD companies will typically have their products tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure that the product is free of contaminants and accurately labeled with the correct amount of CBD. Look for products that have a QR code or batch number that links to the lab results, or that provide a certificate of analysis (COA) on their website. Click here to see Yellow Athletic lab results
Check the THC content: While CBD itself is not psychoactive, some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, which is the compound that produces a "high" sensation. It is important to make sure that the CBD product you are using contains less than 0.3% THC, which is the legal limit set by the 2018 Farm Bill.
Read product reviews: Reading reviews from other customers can give you a sense of the effectiveness of a particular CBD product. Look for reviews that are specific about the effects of the product and how well it worked for the reviewer's specific health concern.
Consult with a healthcare professional: If you are considering using CBD for a specific health concern, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional first. They can help you determine the appropriate dosage and potential interactions with other medications.
As I have personally seen in my medical practice for over a decade, CBD is a potentially useful compound that may have a variety of therapeutic benefits. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential risks and benefits of using CBD, many people have found it to be helpful for conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders. If you are considering using CBD, it is important to ensure that you are using a safe and effective product, and to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or questions.
As with any supplement or medication, it is important to weigh the potential benefits and risks before using CBD. While CBD is generally considered to be safe for most people, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and potential interactions with certain medications. By doing your research and carefully evaluating CBD products, you can ensure that you are using a safe and effective product that may provide you with the potential health benefits you are looking for.