The Many Potential Health Benefits of CBD (Cannabidiol)

Cannabidiol, or CBD, products have become extremely popular since the passage of the U.S. Farm Bill in 2018, which legalized industrial hemp and CBD in all 50 states. 

What is CBD?

According to Miriam Webster, cannabidiol (CBD) is a crystalline, nonintoxicating cannabinoid (C21H30O2) found in cannabis and hemp that is sometimes used medicinally.[i] Although CBD is the second most abundant of the active ingredients of cannabis, better known as marijuana, CBD is derived directly from the hemp plant and therefore contains only trace amounts of THC.  THC is the most abundant psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Does CBD cause a “high”?

Since CBD only contains trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which is the mood-altering component, CBD does not cause a high. 

Is CBD approved by the FDA?

Technically, CBD is not approved by the FDA.  However, FDA approval isn’t required since it contains only trace amounts of THC.  For this reason, it is legal to sell and consume CBD products in the U.S. without FDA approval.

Epidiolex, a medication indicated for the treatment of epilepsy associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, is the first FDA approved medication containing cannabidiol as its active ingredient.

What are the known health benefits of CBD?

Companies are touting the many potential health benefits of CBD. Although with the exception of epilepsy, these benefits are not yet clinically proven, some patients have reported relief from sleep problems, chronic pain, inflammation and anxiety.

A recent study also found that cannabidiol is a potent neuroprotective antioxidant.[ii] This suggests that cannabidiol may eventually play a therapeutic role in the treatment of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

Can CBD be used to treat Glaucoma?

CBD should not be used to treat glaucoma.  Although marijuana has been shown to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) for very short periods of time, a recent study revealed that CBD oil actually raises IOP.[iii] Neither marijuana nor CBD are adequate treatment options for glaucoma as IOP needs around the clock control in order to prevent damage to the optic nerve, which could eventually lead to blindness if not managed properly. Click here to read more.

Does CBD have any eye health benefits?

It’s too soon for a definitive answer as the ocular effects of CBD are still being researched.  However, there are a few possible indications for CBD in ophthalmologic conditions. The  antioxidant properties of CBD may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD) and the neuroprotective properties may help some retinal diseases such as retinal ischemia.

Is CBD safe? 

You should check with your doctor to make sure CBD is not only safe for you, but that there aren’t contraindications between CBD and other medications you are taking.  In addition, CBD should not be used as a replacement for other medical treatments unless recommended by a physician.  Patients with active systemic disease should continue to see their primary care physicians and specialists to monitor their condition and treatment regimen. 

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Glossary of Terms

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[i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cannabidiol#h1

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cannabidiol#h1

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC20965/

[iii] https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/cbd-oil-may-worsen-glaucoma

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