CANNABIDIOL Overview Information
Cannabidiol is a chemical in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana. Over 80 chemicals, known as cannabinoids, have been identified in the Cannabis sativa plant. While delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major active ingredient, cannabidiol makes up about 40% of cannabis extracts and has been studied for many different uses. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), because cannabidiol has been studied as a new drug, products containing cannabidiol are not defined as dietary supplements. But there are still products labeled as dietary supplements on the market that contain cannabidiol.
People take cannabidiol by mouth for anxiety, bipolar disorder, a muscle disorder called dystonia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.
People inhale cannabidiol to help quit smoking.
A prescription-only nasal spray (Sativex, GW Pharmaceuticals) containing both THC and cannabidiol is used for pain and muscle-tightness in people with multiple sclerosis in over 25 countries outside of the United States.
How does it work?
Cannabidiol has antipsychotic effects. The exact cause for these effects is not clear. But cannabidiol seems to prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that affects pain, mood, and mental function. Preventing the breakdown of this chemical and increasing its levels in the blood seems to reduce psychotic symptoms associated with conditions such as schizophrenia. Cannabidiol might also block some of the psychoactive effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Also, cannabidiol seems to reduce pain and anxiety.
Possibly Effective for:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). A prescription-only nasal spray product (Sativex, GW Pharmaceuticals) containing both 9-delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol has been shown to be effective for improving pain, muscle-tightness, and urination frequency in people with MS. This product is used in over 25 countries outside of the United States. But there is inconsistent evidence on the effectiveness of cannabidiol for symptoms of multiple sclerosis when it is used alone. Some early research suggests that using a cannabidiol spray under the tongue might improve pain and muscle tightness, but not muscle spasms, tiredness, bladder control, mobility, or well-being and quality of life in patients with MS.
- Bipolar disorder. Early reports suggest that taking cannabidiol daily does not improve manic episodes in people with bipolar disorders.
- A muscle disorder called dystonia. Early research suggests that taking cannabidiol daily for 6 weeks might improve dystonia by 20% to 50% in some people. But higher quality research is needed to confirm this.
- Epilepsy. Some early research suggests that taking cannabidiol daily for up to 18 weeks might reduce seizures in some people. But other research shows that taking cannabidiol daily for 6 months does not reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. Reasons for the conflicting data are unclear. Possibly the studies were too small.
- Huntington’s disease. Early research shows that taking cannabidiol daily does not improve Huntington’s disease symptoms.
- Insomnia. Early research suggests that taking cannabidiol 160 mg before bed improves sleep time in people with insomnia. But lower doses do not have this effect. Cannabidiol also does not seem to help people fall asleep and might reduce the ability to recall dreams.
- Parkinson’s disease. Some early research shows that taking cannabidiol daily for 4 weeks improves psychotic symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease and psychosis. But taking a specific cannabis extract (Cannador) that contains THC and cannabidiol does not appear to improve involuntary muscle movements caused by the anti-Parkinson’s drug levodopa in people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Schizophrenia. Research on the use of cannabidiol for psychotic symptoms in people with schizophrenia is mixed. Some early research suggests that taking cannabidiol four times daily for 4 weeks improves psychotic symptoms and might be as effective as the antipsychotic medication amisulpride. But other early research suggests that taking cannabidiol for 14 days is not beneficial. The mixed results might be related to the cannabidiol dose used and duration of treatment.
- Quitting smoking. Early research suggests that inhaling cannabidiol with an inhaler for one week might reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by about 40% compared to baseline.
- Social anxiety disorder. Some early research shows that taking cannabidiol 300 mg daily does not improve anxiety in people with social anxiety disorder. But other early research suggests that taking a higher dose (400-600 mg) may improve anxiety associated with public speaking or medical imaging test in people with SAD.
- Other conditions.
CANNABIDIOL Side Effects & Safety
Cannabidiol is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth and appropriately in adults. Cannabidiol doses of up to 300 mg daily have been used safely for up to 6 months. Higher doses of 1200-1500 mg daily have been used safely for up to 4 weeks. Cannabidiol sprays used under the tongue have been used in doses of 2.5 mg for up to 2 weeks.
Some reported side effects of cannabidiol include dry mouth, low blood pressure, light headedness, and drowsiness.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking cannabidiol if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Parkinson’s disease: Some early research suggests that taking high doses of cannabidiol might make muscle movement and tremors worse in people with Parkinson’s disease.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For multiple sclerosis: A spray delivering 2.5 mg of cannabidiol under the tongue per dose has been used.