Benefits of CBD

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Many of the purported benefits of cannabidiol (CBD)—such as pain relief or improved skin health—are not based in scientific research, though many people claim CBD benefits them in treating these issues. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved CBD (in prescription drug form) to treat two rare types of epilepsy. That said, there’s also little evidence that using cannabidiol is harmful for otherwise healthy people. Still, always talk to your doctor before taking CBD or any other supplement.

    Find out what people list as CBD health benefits, from improved hair texture to reduced insomnia.

  • 1
    Treating epilepsy
    epidiolex (cannabidiol)

    The FDA has approved only one CBD product to date, Epidiolex, and that medication is only used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Taking over-the-counter CBD for epilepsy is not a proven treatment, and you should not use CBD for epilepsy without consulting a healthcare provider. CBD may adversely interact with prescription seizure medications. If you want more information about taking CBD for seizures, talk to your doctor.

  • 2
    Reduced anxiety
    senior male putting CBD (cannabidiol) oil in tea cup

    Cannabidiol works in conjunction with a person’s natural endocannabinoid receptors to promote relaxation, and some people say taking CBD for anxiety works well. The exact dose of CBD required to reduce anxiety levels is not known, and this effect has not been proven through scientific research. If you decide to take CBD for anxiety, follow the product’s labeling instructions carefully. And be sure to tell your doctor, as CBD can interact with antidepressant medications.

  • 3
    Insomnia relief
    woman holding a dropper sublingual cannabis oil

    One of the emerging benefits of cannabidiol may be insomnia relief. Some studies show a correlation between taking CBD and increased drowsiness, which may also be related to the anxiety reduction benefits some people claim CBD provides. Treating insomnia with CBD is an approach that needs to be validated through more scientific research, but if you often find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, then trying CBD may be an option. Do not take CBD with other sleep aids, as these products may interact poorly with each other.

  • 4
    Pain relief
    CBD oil to soothe the pain

    Cannabidiol is believed to affect both inflammatory and neuropathic pain signaling inside the nervous system, which may be why some people claim that using CBD reduces their chronic pain. However, most studies into CBD for pain control employ products that also contain THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis), so it is difficult to say if CBD alone can treat pain. That said, most people probably can safely use topical CBD to see if it improves their joint or muscle pain. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider about potential medication interactions first.

  • 5
    Acne, psoriasis and dermatitis control

    Does topical cannabidiol benefit the skin? One small study of 20 patients with inflammatory skin disorders (psoriasis and atopic dermatitis) and skin scarring showed significant improvement of skin texture and symptoms when participants applied CBD ointment to the affected areas twice a day. Many people also claim that CBD for acne works wonders. If you decide to try topical CBD for acne or an inflammatory skin condition, be sure to consult a pharmacist or healthcare provider in advance to make sure the CBD won’t interact with your current skin treatment medications or products.

  • 6
    Hair and scalp health
    CBD- or cannabis plant-based soap product surrounded by cannabis plants

    Based on an understanding of how cannabidiol interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation in various tissues, including the skin and scalp, some people think a key CBD benefit for hair is reducing dandruff and promoting hair growth. It’s possible CBD shampoo might reduce scalp flakiness but doubtful it will cause your hair to become fuller. Keep in mind these hair products contain many other ingredients—and those might be more responsible for any positive scalp or hair effects you see after use.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 21
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  2. What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  3. Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t. Harvard Medical School.
  4. FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  5. Palmieri B, Laurino C, Vadala M. A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. Clin Ter. Mar-Apr 2019;170(2):e93-e99.
  6. Boyaji S, Merkow J, et al. The Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Chronic Pain Management: An Assessment of Current Evidence. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2020 Jan 24;24(2):4.