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Why Consumers Use CBD And Where Science Backs Them Up

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Why Consumers Use CBD And Where Science Backs Them Up

(CBD supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or alleviate any symptoms. CBD is marketed and sold as a supplement. It should not be taken or treated as a medicine. The goal of this article is purely for informative purposes to examine why CBD users consume CBD products and to provide references to current scientific studies on the effects of CBD.)

CBD is a booming business. With sales expected to approach nearly two billion dollars by 2022, the story of CBD’s success is virtually unprecedented.

But despite this rapid growth, many people have been left scratching their heads for exactly why CBD’s popularity has grown so rapidly. Just what is all of that CBD doing out there? Why are people so hungry for this supplement?

This is a question with several complicating factors. First and foremost, science hasn’t come to a comprehensive consensus on all of CBD’s effects. Secondly, CBD seems to affect users differently.

Thirdly -- and this is perhaps the factor muddying the waters the most -- many users and vendors have been quick to ascribe CBD a laundry list of benefits, some of which are questionable at best.

Despite the fact that CBD cannot be marketed or sold as a medicine, some unscrupulous vendors have touted CBD’s ability to treat and even cure certain medical conditions -- claims which are not only often unfounded, but in many cases downright illegal.

Therefore, we wanted to take the time to break down this question from an objective standpoint. Our goal in this article is to do two things:

  1. Look at what consumers claim CBD is doing for them.
  2. Take a look at published scientific studies to see if these consumer claims have any scientific credence.

The goal of this article is not to ascribe any specific benefits or effects to taking CBD. We encourage you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions on what CBD does.

That said, let’s dive in.

Why Consumers Take CBD

Why Consumers Take CBD

Consumer Goal: Manage Pain

Scientific Evidence: Some Supporting Evidence

Many consumers who suffer from both chronic and acute pain consume CBD products in the hopes of managing their pain. 

In the United States, CBD has not been approved as a painkiller or anti inflammatory. It should not be thought of as an alternative to over the counter or prescription pain medications. However, there are many daily consumers of CBD products with positive things to say about CBD’s effects on their pain management.

Scientific research into CBD’s effects on pain has shown that CBD can reduce inflammation and pain response in rats. 

Other research has suggested that CBD may interact with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to act on the neurotransmitters which signal pain.

Further research is needed on the effects of CBD on pain management in humans. While there are many open questions surrounding CBD’s effect on pain management, there is at least some scientific backing for this consumer goal.

Consumer Goal: Reduce Anxiety

Scientific Evidence: Some Supporting Evidence

Many consumers have suggested that CBD has a calming effect which can reduce feelings of anxiety and help improve mental clarity.

In this discussion, it is important to focus on the use of the word “anxiety.” While anxiety is a diagnosable medical condition, in everyday parlance it is also a term applied to general feelings of discomfort or unease which are experienced by everyone and are a normal part of everyday life.

For those suffering from severe anxiety, CBD should not be thought of as an alternative to therapies or prescription anti-anxiety medications.

One scientific study into CBD’s effects on anxiety experienced while subjects gave a public speech suggested that high doses of CBD (300mg, an amount much higher than the dose most consumers use,) showed that administering CBD before the speech reduced the markers of stress and anxiety measured by the researchers.

A 2019 review of the literature regarding CBD’s anxiolytic effects noted that while some pre-clinical and clinical research has observed an anxiolytic effect from CBD, more research and better-designed studies are required before any conclusions can be drawn.

Consumer Goal: Improve Sleep Quality

Scientific Evidence: Some Supporting Evidence

Many CBD consumers have reported that taking CBD in the evening can help them fall asleep and get a better night’s rest.

Some consumers have suggested that this may be attributed to the way CBD reduces their anxiety, as we looked at in the point above.

So far, the research on CBD and sleep has been very limited. However, one study with a single participant (a ten year old girl with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder) showed that CBD help reduce her scores on tests of anxiety and improved her scores on a “sleep scale,” suggesting that CBD may be acting in the way some consumers have suggested.

However, it’s important to remember that this was not a large scale study -- it was simply the results of treating a single patient. 

A larger study of 73 adults demonstrated a similar effect, showing improved sleep scores and reduced anxiety scores over the course of the multi-month study.

Consumer Goal: Manage Stress

Scientific Evidence: Some Supporting Evidence

CBD consumers often report a sense of well being or improvements in their mood.

As mentioned above, this could come from the (real or perceived) reduction in everyday anxiety (e.g. general stress related anxious feelings, not severe clinical anxiety symptoms.) 

Scientific research into the body’s natural endocannabinoid system has suggested that endocannabinoid neurotransmitters play an important role in the body’s stress response. While this does not suggest that CBD can be used to manage stress, it does suggest that cannabinoids are related to stress management.

One review into the scientific literature surrounding CBD stated that CBD may have positive benefits on stress management, exhibiting some form of anti-stress properties. 

Consumer Goal: Manage Depression

Scientific Evidence: Some Supporting Evidence

With some consumers reporting a general improvement in their mood and feeling that CBD promotes a sense of wellbeing, some have taken it a step further and taken CBD with the goal of helping manage depression symptoms.

As we noted with anxiety, depression is both a commonly used term as well as a clinical diagnosis. Some consumers who report CBD affecting their depression may not actually be diagnosed with clinical depression and simply refer to a negative mood as “depression.”

Depression is often associated with stress and anxiety. Reducing stress and anxiety often has a positive outcome when managing depression. See the above points for information on CBD as it relates to stress and anxiety.

A 2019 study found that CBD demonstrated an antidepressant like effect in the brains of animals used in the study.

Current clinical evidence regarding CBD’s effects on depression in humans is very limited. More research needs to be done.

Consumer Goal: Manage Acne

Scientific Evidence: Some Supporting Evidence

Some users have reported that CBD seems to help with the management of their acne. 

One study noted that CBD seemed to help reduce inflammation and sebum production, potentially helping to inhibit the formation of acne.

Similarly, a study performed in test tubes showed that CBD reduced sebum production and exerted an anti-inflammatory effect.

Things To Keep In Mind

Things To Keep In Mind CBD Oil


As you perform your own research on CBD supplements, it is important to keep a few important points in mind regarding the scientific studies focused on CBD.

Here are some things you should always look for when evaluating research studies or consumer claims regarding CBD:

  • Type of CBD: Some studies and consumers are using purified CBD isolate -- which contains only CBD -- while other studies and consumers are using so called “Full Spectrum” CBD oils. These Full Spectrum products contain more than just CBD. They also include other cannabinoids and terpenes extracted from the hemp plant. These other compounds may have effects of their own, and may work together in a manner which has been studied and deemed the Entourage Effect. 
  • Other Ingredients: Most CBD products on the market today contain other ingredients. This can include things such as carrier oils, herbs, plant extracts, essential oils, and other additives. These ingredients may have their own unique effects.
  • Dosage: The dosage used in scientific studies regarding CBD is often far higher than the relatively small amounts consumed by users of CBD tinctures and edibles. Always take note of the dosage being used when evaluating a study.
  • Sample Size: When evaluating a study, it’s important to take note of how many participants were tested. Generally, the results from studies with fewer participants are less reliable than studies which include a larger number of participants.

  • CBD and You

    CBD and You


    When making the decision to take CBD for yourself, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your results. 

    CBD is generally well tolerated and has little to no side effects for most users.

    But to find out if CBD is truly helping you meet your goals, you need to pay close attention to your body. It might be a good idea to keep a simple journal regarding your CBD dosage and your perceived effects. 

    It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor about taking CBD. Though CBD is a supplement and not a medicine, your doctor may be able to offer some useful advice on the best method of taking CBD to help achieve your goals. They will also be able to warn you about any potential interactions with other medications you’re taking, or manage any side effects you might experience from taking CBD supplements.



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