I Took CBD Oil For 30 Days Straight: Here's Why I Can't Stop Talking About It
Somewhere between the hemp seeds you sprinkle on your smoothie bowl and psychoactive marijuana is CBD oil. In short, CBD provides potent benefits from the hemp plant without the whole getting-high thing. I started taking it as a supplement over a month ago and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. But before I share my personal experience with CBD, I thought I'd give you some info about it and what it can do.
So, what is CBD oil?
Let's get this out of the way first: CBD oil does not get you high. Not even a little bit.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is available as a supplement and comes from the same cannabis plant as the stuff you would smoke, but contains only trace amounts (less than 0.3 percent1) of THC—the chemical component that has psychoactive effects. CBD contains cannabinoids, which are the naturally occurring chemicals within the hemp plant that support the bodies normal inflammatory processes.*
"Clinical reports showing its safety and tolerability allow us to move forward with confidence," says Anjali Dsouza, M.D., of the District Center for Integrative Medicine. "We have long known that, in certain circumstances, cannabinoids like CBD can help achieve and support a stable balance in our bodies, also known as homeostasis."*
CBD hemp oil is legal in all 50 states and is commonly sold in a concentrated tincture with oil and occasionally some extra flavoring.
We actually have an endocannabinoid system.
Humans have an endocannabinoid system—as in a whole network of the body that knows how to process these naturally occurring chemicals. The human body and the cannabis plant both make cannabinoids, so we are biologically programmed to be able to use CBD effectively to help us support a healthy response to inflammation and pain.*
What are potential side effects of taking CBD?
CBD oil has been found to support the body's normal inflammatory processes, have antioxidant properties, and help manage the stress response.* According to Dr. Dsouza, it can be used safely by many people. "I have prescribed CBD oil and my experience suggests it is generally well-tolerated. The worst side effect I have seen is sedation. As with all things, I typically start low and go slow, as paradoxical reactions are always possible in medicine," she says.
How CBD oil affected me.
Like with food, caffeine, and prescription or OTC drugs, everyone's experience is different. For me, I noticed significant shifts in a few major areas of my life.
It helped ease my period symptoms.*
I've never had really painful periods, usually some mild to moderate cramping at the start but nothing inhibiting. Then, a few months ago, I started getting wrenching, fetal-position-inducing cramps on the first day of my cycle. I hated the idea of taking a crazy amount of NSAIDs in a day just to keep the pain under control, which is what led me to start taking CBD oil about a week before my period was due.
That month my cramps were significantly less intense (which I'm sure is due to several factors), but I decided to take a dose of the oil instead of two Advil and see what happened. It took away my cramps within 30 minutes, the same as a typical over-the-counter pain pill.* I would say I was surprised, but I was genuinely hoping it would work and was overjoyed when it did.
The idea of having a natural product I can take to help manage pain is huge. I've tried heating pads, essential oils, and calming teas, but this is something that really, tangibly helps and lets me go about my day without pain. Whoa.
It helped me deal with anxiousness.*
The best way I can describe the noticeable difference in this area is that CBD oil diffuses that knotted nervous feeling in my gut. As a relatively anxious person—especially in big groups or unknown social situations (i.e., a lot of the time)—taking CBD oil has allowed me to shed that a bit. It gives me a more calm, "I've got this" kind of feeling that can really make a difference.*
I'm not usually a nervous flier, but on a recent trip I had received a couple of important emails right before boarding the plane, which sent my mind spiraling. Plus I had a middle seat, which is stressful for someone who drinks as much water as I do. So I took a couple of tinctures' worth of my CBD oil and after a little while, I felt more relaxed and was able to chill out with a good book for the rest of the flight.*
It helped me sleep.*
My sleep is kind of unpredictable, with weeks at a time filled with great sleep and others riddled with random 3 a.m. wakeups or a serious case of overactive bedtime brain (is there an acronym for this yet?). I started taking CBD oil with my evening tea about an hour before bed and five of the seven nights I did that, I had excellent sleep.* It's hard to say whether the oil did it, but I've heard other people report that it really helps them with sleep.
It brightened my mood.*
I'm still me and get stressed, emotional, and blue, but knowing that I have this in my toolbox is comforting and really (as cheesy as it sounds) helps me feel more like me.
How to take it.
The type of CBD oil I take comes with a dropper, so I'll take two droppers' worth on a spoon. You can also get a little creative with your CBD oil and mix it into a cup of tea or a smoothie, too. For specific product recommendations, check out our cbd roundup.
Leah Vanderveldt is an author living in Brooklyn, New York. She received her bachelor’s in communications and media from Fordham University, and is certified in culinary nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute. She is the author of two cookbooks: The New Nourishing and The New Porridge.
Vanderveldt is a former food editor at mindbodygreen and has previously worked for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Australian Home Beautiful.