Have you tried hemp oil?
After almost a century of being outlawed, hemp—a form of cannabis with extremely low levels of psychoactive THC—is now legal in the United States. This is big news for people interested in the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (or CBD) because—while hemp doesn’t contain enough THC, the compound that provides the “high” of cannabis, or any other psychoactive compounds—it does contain cannabidiol (CBD).
For years, all anyone talked about when they talked about cannabis was the THC content. Breeders focused on driving THC levels as high as possible and ignored the other compounds. Even pharmaceutical companies interested in the medical applications of cannabis focused on the THC, producing synthetic THC-only drugs that performed poorly compared to the real thing. It turns out that all the other components of cannabis matter, too, and foremost among them is CBD.
CBD doesn’t get you high, but it does have big physiological impacts. These days, researchers are exploring CBD as a treatment for epilepsy, anxiety, and insomnia. They’ve uncovered potential anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and immunomodulatory properties. And now that it’s quasi legal, hundreds of CBD-rich hemp oil products are appearing on the market.
What are the purported benefits of using CBD-rich hemp oil, and what does the evidence say?
Although CBD research is growing, it’s still understudied and I expect I’ll have to update this post in the near future with more information. But for now, here’s a rundown of what the research says.
The Health Benefits of CBD In Hemp Oil
CBD For Anxiety Reduction
Anxiety can be crippling. I don’t have generalized social anxiety, but I, like anyone else, know what it feels like to be anxious about something. It happens to everyone. Now imagine feeling that all the time, particularly when it matters most—around other people. The average person doesn’t consider the import and impact of anxiety on a person’s well-being. If CBD can reduce anxiety, that might just be its most important feature. Does it?
Before a simulated public speaking event, people with generalized social anxiety disorder were either given 600 mg of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD reported less anxiety, reduced cognitive impairment, and more comfort while giving the speech. Seeing as how people without social anxiety disorder claim public speaking as their biggest fear, that CBD helped people with social anxiety disorder give a speech is a huge effect.
This appears to be legit. A placebo-controlled trial is nothing to sniff at.
CBD For Sleep
A 2017 review provides a nice summary of the effects of CBD on sleep:
In insomnia patients, 160 mg/day of CBD increased sleep time and reduced the number of arousals (not that kind) during the night.
Lower doses are linked to increased arousals and greater wakefulness.
High dose CBD improved sleep; adding THC reduced slow wave sleep.
In preliminary research with Parkinson’s patients, CBD reduced REM-related behavioral disorder—which is when you basically act out your dreams as they’re happening.
More recently, a large case series (big bunch of case studies done at once) was performed giving CBD to anxiety patients who had trouble sleeping. Almost 80% had improvements in anxiety and 66% had improvements in sleep (although the sleep improvements fluctuated over time).
While its psychoactive counterpart THC has been embroiled in controversial links with psychosis and schizophrenia for decades, CBD may be an effective counterbalancing force for mental health.
In patients with schizophrenia, six weeks of adjunct treatment with cannabidiol resulted in lower rates of psychotic symptoms and made clinicians more likely to rate them as “improved” and made researchers more likely to rate them as “improved” and not “severely unwell.” There were also improvements in cognitive performance and overall function. It seems the “adjunct” part of this study was key, as other studies using cannabidiol as the only treatment mostly failed to note improvements.
This was placebo controlled, so it makes a good case for CBD hemp oil as adjunct treatment (in addition to regular therapy) in people with schizophrenia.
Among 11 PTSD patients who took an average of 50 mg of CBD per day for 8 weeks, 10 (90%) experienced a 28% improvement in symptoms. No one dropped out or complained about side effects. CBD seemed to particularly benefit those patients who had issues with nightmares.
This is promising but preliminary. This was an 11-person case study, not a placebo-controlled trial.
A recent review of four human trials lays out the evidence: More than a third of all epilepsy patients experienced 50% or greater seizure reductions with just 20 mg of CBD. The effect of CBD on seizure activity is so widely acknowledged and understood that the only FDA-approved CBD-based product is Epidiolex, a plant-based CBD extract used to treat seizures in patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
CBD for epilepsy is legit. Side note: I wonder how CBD would combine with ketogenic dieting for epilepsy control.
By far the biggest draw for medical consumers of CBD is its supposed ability to nullify pain.
In one study, researchers induced arthritis in rats with intra-articular injections, then gave them CBD. Rats given CBD were able to put more weight on their joints and handle a heavier load before withdrawing. Local CBD reduced nerve damage.
That’s great for pet rats. What about people?
There actually isn’t a lot of strong data on pain management using CBD by itself. Far more robust is the evidence for using CBD with THC for pain. According to this group of researchers, the two compounds exert “constituent synergy” against neuropathic pain. One study found that low doses of each were more effective combined than high doses of either alone in neuropathic cancer-related pain. Another gave a THC/CBD oromucosal spray to otherwise treatment-resistant neuropathy patients, finding that the spray reduced pain, improved sleep, and lessened the severity of symptoms.
Anecdotal evidence for pain relief and other benefits with CBD is vast. Chris Kresser, a practitioner and researcher I trust, swears by it. I have employees who use it quite frequently, reporting that it improves their sleep, hones their focus, reduces pain, speeds recovery, and reduces anxiety. These things are always hard to evaluate, but I can say that my people do great work, and I have zero reason to distrust them.
In later posts, I’ll probably revisit some of these other, more theoretical or anecdotal potential benefits to see if there’s any evidence in support.
Is It Safe?
A recent study gave up to 6000 mg of CBD to healthy subjects, finding it well tolerated and the side effects mild and limited to gastrointestinal distress, nausea, somnolence, headaches, and diarrhea. For comparison’s sake, keep in mind that a typical dose of CBD is 20 mg.
Mouse research indicate that extended high-dose CBD (15-30 mg/kg of bodyweight, or 1200-2400 mg per day for an 80 kg man) might impair fertility. Male mice who took high-dose CBD for 34 days straight experienced a 76% reduction in testosterone, reduced sperm production, and had dysfunctional weird-looking sperm. In the 30 mg/kg group, the number of Sertoli cells—testicular cells where sperm production takes place and sperm is incubated—actually dropped. Male mice taking CBD also were worse at mounting females and had fewer litters.
Those are really high doses. For epilepsy, a common dose is 600 mg/day, and that’s for a severe condition. Most other CBD therapies use much smaller doses in the range of 20-50 mg/day. Long term safety may still be an issue at these lower doses, but we don’t have any good evidence that this is the case.
There’s some evidence that the dosages of CBD required to achieve anti-inflammatory effects are also high enough to induce cytotoxicity in healthy cells, though that’s preliminary in vitro (petri dish) research and as of yet not applicable to real world applications. Time will tell, though, as the legal environment opens up and we accumulate more research.
Is Isolated CBD the Same As Whole Plant Extracts?
As we’ve learned over the past dozen years of reading about nutrition and human health, whole foods tend to be more effective than isolated components. Whole foods have several advantages:
- They contain all the components related to the compound, especially the ones we haven’t discovered and isolated. Supplements only contain the isolated compounds we’ve been able to quantify.
- They capture all the synergistic effects of the multiple components working together. Isolated supplements miss that synergy unless they specifically add it back in, and even then they’ll probably miss something.
It’s likely that whole plant hemp extracts high in CBD are superior to isolated synthetic CBD for the same reason. Is there any evidence of that?
A high-CBD cannabis whole plant extract reduces gut inflammation and damage in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease. Purified CBD does not.
Even at a 2:1 CBD:THC ratio, co-ingesting isolated CBD with isolated THC using a vaporizer fails to reduce the psychotic and memory-impairing effects of THC. In another study, however, smoking cannabis naturally rich in both CBD and THC completely prevented the memory impairment.
And as we saw in the pain section above, THC combined with CBD seems more effective against pain than either alone.
That’s not to say isolated (even synthetic in some cases—see note below) CBD isn’t helpful. We saw it improve joint pain and reduce nerve damage in arthritic rats. It’s just that full-spectrum hemp oil containing multiple naturally-occurring compounds is probably ideal for general health applications. Specific conditions requiring high doses may be another question entirely. Again, we’ll find out as more research comes out.
A word about synthetics: this is fodder for a follow-up, but it appears there may be additional concerns with synthetic CBD, and even supposedly “natural” CBD companies have in some cases allegedly added ingredients to their formulas without letting consumers know.
Is It Legal?
CBD-rich hemp oil lies in a legal grey area. The recently passed Farm Bill allows people to grow and make products from industrial hemp, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. That means CBD derived from industrial hemp is legal at a federal level. But because the Farm Bill has provisions that allow states to set their own rules, legality at a state level is more complicated.
States where hemp is still illegal—South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska—do not permit the sale or use of hemp-derived CBD oil.
In states that permit recreational cannabis—California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Nevada, Michigan, and Alaska—CBD derived from both hemp and psychoactive cannabis is legal.
In all other states, hemp-derived CBD is legal.
The FDA has yet to approve of CBD, so most of the big online retailers like Amazon and Walmart don’t allow CBD products to be advertised. However, Amazon sells a ton of “hemp extract” tinctures and oils with “hemp extract content” listed in milligram dosages—a workaround for listing the CBD content.
If you’re looking for CBD-rich hemp oil, watch out for culinary hemp oil, which comes in larger quantities and has no discernible CBD content. CBD-rich hemp oil will come in dropper bottles, not liters.
Many health food stores sell it. Surprisingly, I’ve seen it in every pet store I’ve entered in the last half year.
Word of Caution: Because it isn’t regulated by the FDA yet, there’s no telling exactly what you’re getting. Choose a product with verifiable lab tests. Many CBD hemp oil products have far less CBD than advertised. In addition to CBD content, the most reputable manufacturers also test for pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and bacteria and advertise their results.
CBD-rich hemp oil is a hot topic these days, and it’s only going to get hotter. I think the compound shows great promise in promoting health and wellness, and I’ll look forward to doing more research as it unfolds.
For now, what about you? Do you use CBD? Have you noticed any benefits? Any downsides? Share your questions and feedback down below.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.
Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-26.
Lattanzi S, Brigo F, Trinka E, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol in Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Drugs. 2018;78(17):1791-1804.
Elms L, Shannon S, Hughes S, Lewis N. Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. J Altern Complement Med. 2018;
Serpell M, Ratcliffe S, Hovorka J, et al. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel group study of THC/CBD spray in peripheral neuropathic pain treatment. Eur J Pain. 2014;18(7):999-1012.
Silva RL, Silveira GT, Wanderlei CW, et al. DMH-CBD, a cannabidiol analog with reduced cytotoxicity, inhibits TNF production by targeting NF-kB activity dependent on A receptor. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2019;368:63-71.
Carvalho RK, Souza MR, Santos ML, et al. Chronic cannabidiol exposure promotes functional impairment in sexual behavior and fertility of male mice. Reprod Toxicol. 2018;81:34-40.
Morgan CJA, Freeman TP, Hindocha C, Schafer G, Gardner C, Curran HV. Individual and combined effects of acute delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on psychotomimetic symptoms and memory function. Transl Psychiatry. 2018;8(1):181.
Morgan CJ, Schafer G, Freeman TP, Curran HV. Impact of cannabidiol on the acute memory and psychotomimetic effects of smoked cannabis: naturalistic study: naturalistic study [corrected]. Br J Psychiatry. 2010;197(4):285-90.
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If you suspect you have a serious food addiction, you could make matters worse by trying to fix it yourself. Follow these tips for successful recovery.
The post Here’s What NOT To Do If You Think You Have A Food Addiction appeared first on Women’s Health.
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I know we missed Valentine’s Day, but I’ve always said love cannot be contained. Besides: People are always going on dates. People are always searching for new ways to break out of the regular mold, which is completely understandable. Dates are try-outs. You’re spending time with another person to determine how they fit into your life. Unconventional dates that branch out from “dinner, movie, drinks” into more adventurous, creative realms provide excellent feedback for making that determination.
Dates are also a way for established couples to keep things fresh and exciting, to keep the relationship moving. There’s no better way than to try something new.
As it happens, most work for friends, too.
Now, some of these dates are silly or out-of-left field. Some are more serious. And one is a Primal Costanza date—what not to do. But regardless, they are all worth exploring. And—as always—I’d love to hear what you’d add.
1) Watch a Movie and Fill In the Dialogue
You know that scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are watching a drive-in movie without sound and filling in the dialogue themselves? Do the same thing, only make all the dialogue health and fitness-related. For example, The Empire Strikes Back would work great.
Just before Han is frozen in carbonite, Leia speaks. “I love cold therapy, so many benefits. I can send you the PubMed links.” Han replies. “I know.”
Vader gives Luke the bad news. “Luke, I am a vegan.” “Nooooooooo!”
Pick your favorite movie, and try it out yourselves. Drive-ins aren’t necessary (do they even still have those?); you could just put the T.V. on mute.
2) Couples’ Spa Day
A couple hundreds years ago, you didn’t really go to the doctor. You’d go to a spa. Spas were healing centers erected around natural springs of mineral-rich water. People would bathe in it (many were hot springs), drink it, and engage in other healthy pursuits. Many of today’s most popular bottled mineral waters come from springs that doubled as health spas back in earlier days.
The average person may think of a spa as a pleasure center, a superficial luxury. But getting a massage, soaking in hot mineral water, smearing yourself with mud and/or clay, exposing yourself to extreme temperatures in the sauna, steam room, and cold water pool? These are all objectively healthy and pleasurable experiences with measurable benefits.
Go for a hot soak, followed by a cold plunge. Do the mud bath thing. Get a deep tissue massage. Soak in the salty mineral-rich brine. And do it with your date, as your date.
3) Get Physical
Intense physical exertion—performed together—increases bonding. You’re sweating, you’re touching, you’re working hard toward a goal. You’re a team. Make it a little dangerous and the juices really flow. For the same reason, going to see a scary movie helps couples get closer.
4) Go Dancing or Take Dance Lessons
Dance is the prelude to closer, more intimate physical contact. And it’s incredibly healthy learning to move with cohesion and fluidity and precision through constantly varying ranges of motion. Dancers are some of the most athletic folks around—think b-boys, ballet dancers, practitioners of modern dance. I’m not a follower of the show, but seriously just look at an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” for plain evidence of their athleticism.
Go dance, or take dance lessons if you can’t dance yet. If the latter, don’t make this a one-off. Keep the lessons going. Build that skill together. Move together.
Dancing together in your living room to music on your smartphone is completely valid, too.
5) Cook the Farmer’s Market
This is a fun little date to try. Carrie and I used to do this at the Malibu farmer’s market every once in awhile.
Go to every stand, ask the farmer what’s best today, and then buy that item. If your market is huge, you don’t need to buy from every single stand. Try to stick to a dozen stands or so just to keep things manageable.
Be reasonable with the quantities. Otherwise it’ll add up fast. If, say, the farmer recommends the leeks, buy a couple leeks. If it’s cauliflower, buy a head. If it’s strawberries, buy a basket.
Go home and create a meal together using only the things you purchased from the market. Use things like oil/cooking fat, salt, pepper, and spices from home (unless you bought them at the market, in which case you get extra points). If your market doesn’t offer any meat, feel free to incorporate store-bought meat. But do your best to use only things from the market.
Prep and cook it together. There you go, that’s your date.
6) Ten-Mile Date
Walk ten miles, at least. It can be through the city, the suburbs, or the forest. You can stop at stores, cafes, museums along the way—it doesn’t have to be ten miles straight without stopping. But get those ten miles in however you can.
Roughhousing is universal. It’s also great fun. You roughhouse. You wrestle, jostle, poke, prod, but you don’t (ever) hurt each other. You keep things light, engaged, dancing on the edge of intensity. I really like Rafe Kelley’s approach. Check out the one where he and his partner act like their wrists are glued together as they move around, roll, push, and pull. Or where they stand on a large log, clasp hands, and try to pull each other off balance. That stuff is really fun. I’d try any of the videos from that link.
Another is one-legged tug of war. You each stand on one leg, clasp the other’s hand, and attempt to pull the other off balance. If there’s a big weight or strength disparity, have the stronger person stay on one foot and the weaker person use both. Put pillows and other soft landing spaces around your perimeter.
If you’re a man and she’s a woman, there will probably be some strength disparities. Use your better judgement. Keep things fair and competitive and fun.
8) Picnic and a Hike
Think back to all the hikes you’ve done, all the wilderness areas you’ve explored. Were there any perfect picnic spots that jumped out at you? Maybe a dry pebbly shore next to a gurgling creek. Maybe a ring of redwoods. Maybe a grassy meadow. Maybe a beach that only locals know about. If nothing comes to mind, Google one.
Then pack a lunch and get moving.
9) Stand-Up Paddling
I’m extremely biased. Stand-up paddling is probably my favorite activity. It’s training, meditation, adventure, and a fantastic core and rear delt/lat workout all in one. I’ve seen dolphins, manatees, whales, and any number of marine life on my board. I’ve hit the flow state on my board. I’ve finally figured out meditation being on my board. I’ve woken up with some of the most intense DOMS after a long day on my board. My transverse abdominals and obliques have never been stronger. It’s an all-around great time—and it makes a great date. We’re no longer youngsters in love, but Carrie and I have had a lot of good times when I can get her out on a board.
Not everyone has access to a paddle-worthy body of water, although more than you’d think—rivers, lakes, and reservoirs all work with a paddle board, not just the ocean. If you can’t paddle, something similar like kayaking or even cross-country skiing will work well.
10) Lecture Your Date At Dinner
Make sure your date knows exactly how unhealthy everything he or she is putting in her mouth.
When he orders pasta, make a face.
When she fails to confirm that the salad dressing was made with extra virgin olive oil, pull the waiter aside and do it for her.
When he orders the fish, let him know the Monterey Bay rating.
If she gets anything deep-fried, tell her all about how restaurants reuse cooking oil, which (by the way) is most likely very high in unstable polyunsaturated fats.
This will ensure a second date.
That’s it for today, folks. If you try any of these date ideas, let me know how it goes. If you have any other ideas, write them in down below!
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Somatic psychologist Noa Belling has simple, smart strategies to help you make it through the festive season emotionally and physically unscathed.
The post 4 Smart Strategies To Fight The Inevitable Festive Season Stress appeared first on Women’s Health.
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Straying from your healthy routine is a seasonal hazard — but not if you follow these simple tips.
Before attending your company holiday party last night, where you knew you’d eat and drink a few too many festive treats, you vowed to wake up early today and sweat off your transgressions with a killer workout.
Except now, all you want to do is cozy up on the couch in your jammies with a blanket, a mug of hot cocoa and an entire season of your favorite TV show. Uh oh — the slippery slope of winter hibernation has officially begun!
“Self-care is important all year long, but it’s vital in a season of big dinners, traveling, office parties and stressful family situations,” says Karen Azeez, certified health coach and owner of Well Beings With Karen Azeez.
“These conditions are the very same ones that often keep people out of the gym or out of their exercise/meditation/self-care routines. In my experience, it’s so much easier to stay on track rather than repair the damage of a huge derailment.”
So if your calendar is full of nonstop fun and festivities this season, Azeez says these seven simple strategies will stave off a world of hurt and get you through the winter fit and happy:
Step into the light.
As human beings, we will always need sunlight and exercise no matter how cold and dreary it is outdoors. Not only do our bodies need vitamin D from sunlight to keep our immune system and bones strong, but getting a dose of morning light also helps keep our internal clock in order (so that we feel awake during the day and sleepy at bedtime). So no matter how difficult, strive to get out into the morning light for at least 10 or 20 minutes a day. Make a morning walk pact with a friend or stroll part of the way to work. And remember, you can still enjoy outdoor sports (skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing). Just layer up and get out there.
When your schedule includes parties, travel, holiday shopping, decorating and entertaining, it’s hard to fit in exercise, right? But it’s easier if you keep this advice in mind: Exercise stays on your schedule — scorched into your digital calendar like the Ten Commandments — and everything else fits in around it. When we exercise regularly, not only are we burning off that slice of pumpkin pie, but we are also creating greater awareness of our bodies, boosting our self-esteem and managing stress more easily.
Stop the snooze.
You may want to pull the covers over your head and get an extra hour (or two) of sleep at this time of year, but resist the urge — too much can leave you feeling foggy-headed and listless, throw off your sleep cycle and cause insomnia, and even exacerbate depression. So push yourself to get up earlier than feels comfortable. If you move around and you’re still tired, then you are actually tired. If not, you were just warm, comfy and sleepy.
Don’t let the fear of derailing your goals keep you from being social and enjoying the holidays — isolation can lead to depression, and depression can lead to weight gain and insomnia. Being with people is energizing in body, mind and spirit, so offer to host a game night with healthy snacks, a soup tasting, a clothing swap or even a tea party.
You may not feel as thirsty as the summer months, but your body still needs at least 70 ounces a day of water to keep going. And while the gingerbread lattes and eggnogs may be delicious, they don’t count toward that goal. Staying hydrated keeps our energy levels up, promotes sounder sleep and staves off overeating and cravings. So your water bottle should be the No. 1 weapon in your arsenal — keep it at your desk, with you on the plane and in your purse while running errands.
Get back to your roots.
It’s normal to crave cheesy dips and tons of mashed potatoes during celebrations and on cold winter days. In fact, it’s our body’s way of reminding us that with the change of season, we should transition to heartier and more warming foods instead of the salads and smoothies of summer. Thankfully, these are the kind of foods that Mother Nature provides to us from the earth in the winter — namely in root veggies, such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes and beets. Whip up a batch of freshly made soup (avoiding the creamy ones) to satisfy your need for coziness without the extra fat.
Keep calm and carry on.
If you do the above steps, you’re well on your way to handling the extra dose of stress the holidays tend to dish out. Now you just need to add some breathing techniques to slow the nervous system and meditation to quiet the mind. Just like exercise, you can program these breaks into your phone’s calendar or reminder system to make sure they stay a part of your daily life. And don’t underestimate the power of locking yourself in a coat closet and counting to 10 when your cousins start fighting again.
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If a friend’s negative vibes send you directly to the sweets jar, you may be a food empath. A what now? Psychiatrist Judith Orloff explains.
The post WTF Does It Mean To Be A Food Empath – And Will It Affect Your Weight? appeared first on Women’s Health.
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Just like any other struggle, depression can add stress to a relationship. But there are some ways to navigate it while keeping your dating bond strong.
The post 7 Ways To Be Supportive When Dating Someone With Depression appeared first on Women’s Health.
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If you’re feeling something you might describe as an anxiety attack, you’re likely actually experiencing a panic attack.
The post Is There A Difference Between Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks? appeared first on Women’s Health.
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