10 Things CBD Actually Does

CBD is having a moment. Gwyneth Paltrow is swears by it, Texas is trying to ban it, kids are suing Jeff Sessions over it, and the GOP now wants in on it. CBD, a complex cannabinoid, is being touted by many as a cure-all. If the internet is to be believed (and why wouldn’t you believe the internet???), CBD helps you sleep and lose weight, reduces anxiety, and calms muscle pain, all while helping your dog achieve active mindfulness (#blessed).


To separate fact from fiction, we compiled the research and spoke to Dr. Scott Shannon, a cannabis researcher, and Dr. Josh Kaplan, a neuroscientist specializing in cannabis and CBD. Here are the answers to some of the biggest questions and misconceptions we’ve heard around CBD. (And if you’d like a full explainer on what CBD is, and what it does, we got you.)

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First off, CBD (cannabidiol) doesn’t get you high. That’s another cannabinoid (chemical) in weed called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a psychoactive (meaning it changes your brain function). That’s what will get you high. On CBD, you can function normally; you’re just less stressed out. That means taking the bus to work or attending 15 meetings back-to-back is less stressful—it might even be enjoyable.

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CBD has shown promise in helping with depression, but more evidence points to it helping anxiety. Most studies are pre-clinical, aka studies on rodents and other non-human mammals, but according to this research, while many anti-anxiety meds like Prozac jack up your serotonin levels, which can alter your mood for the better, CBD activates serotonin receptors. So while it doesn’t force production of the happy hormone, it has similar results.

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It can treat certain types of epilepsy, particularly Dravet syndrome, a devastating condition that starts at infancy. In 2017, the American Epilepsy Society released a study that confirmed CBD is effective in reducing both the frequency and severity of seizures both in children and adults. And the FDA recently approved the prescription cannabidiol medicine Epidiolex to treat Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

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It probably doesn’t help you sleep unless you have anxiety or chronic pain. While CBD might help you sleep, it’s more so because it’s calming your anxiety, i.e. it stops you from thought-spiraling while you’re trapped in an Instagram clickhole. It doesn’t actually put you to bed on its own, though.

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There is a “Goldilocks zone.” Sure, you can’t die from overdosing on hemp or cannabis-derived CBD, but how much you take matters. You may need 10 milligrams while your friend might need 20 to feel anything. This isn’t a traveling-pants situation; everyone’s Goldilocks zone is different.

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Labeling isn’t always accurate, so you’re going to have to test every product. With all the differences in state and federal laws, CBD labeling can be wildly inaccurate. To see if a product works, you’re going to have to be your own guinea pig until there is better testing. This list is a good place to start

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CBD tinctures can help with chronic pain, but for inflammation from injuries, CBD is most effective as a topical. While putting CBD in your coffee can help you live through your morning subway ride, if you have localized pain, you might want to try a topical. Why? When you down a vial of CBD, it’s getting dispersed through your digestive system and might take two hours to hit the intended area. It’s more precise and fast-acting when you apply topically.

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It might be good for your face. CBD might be the perfect post-night (or weeks)-out remedy. It shows signs of reducing inflammation and redness, and even has antimicrobial (aka germ-killing) properties.  

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It’s technically legal. Are the feds going to break down your door for using a dropperful of CBD oil? No. They actually had to clarify this point because there’s been so much confusion. But, as Indiana showed us, certain states have not fully legalized the cannabinoid due to antiquated laws.

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If you are in a non-legalized state and want hemp CBD, ask for the third-party lab results. Unlike cannabis, which is highly regulated where legal, hemp CBD is not regulated by the FDA. To fill the gap, some companies test their products by third parties to check for potency, pesticides, residual solvents, and mycotoxins (fungus). Some companies list their products’ lab results by default, and any company that won’t share its third-party lab results is sus.

All in all, Nice People, while CBD has a host of science-backed therapeutic benefits, when looking for product, take everything with a grain of salt and monitor how you feel. You won’t get high, but you’ll probably have a nice day.

What do you think of CBD? Have you tried it? Did it change your life? Disappoint? Did your dog go clear? Have any deep thoughts and questions we didn’t address? Talk to us.