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cannabidiol research

The sample (N = 387) consisted of 61.2% females, mostly between 25 and 54 years old (72.2%) and primarily based in the UK (77.4%). The top 4 reasons for using CBD were self-perceived anxiety (42.6%), sleep problems (42.5%), stress (37%), and general health and wellbeing (37%). Fifty-four per cent reported using less than 50 mg CBD daily, and 72.6% used CBD sublingually. Adjusted logistic models show females had lower odds than males of using CBD for general health and wellbeing [OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.30–0.72] and post-workout muscle-soreness [OR 0.46, 95%CI 0.24–0.91] but had higher odds of using CBD for self-perceived anxiety [OR 1.60, 95% CI 0.02–2.49] and insomnia [OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.13–3.11]. Older individuals had lower odds of using CBD for general health and wellbeing, stress, post-workout sore muscles, anxiety, skin conditions, focusing, and sleep but had higher odds of using CBD for pain. Respondents reported that CBD use was effective for stress, sleep problems, and anxiety in those who used the drug for those conditions.

Those aged 35–54 years old (33.9%; aOR 0.60, [95% CI 0.363–0.995], p = 0.048) and 55+ (31.9%; aOR 0.526, [95% CI 0.287–0.964], p = 0.038) had lower odds of using CBD for general health and wellbeing than those aged 18–34 years old (47.7%). Moreover, those aged 35–54 years old (37.1%, aOR 0.561, [95% CI 0.346–0.911], p = 0.019) and 55+ (20.9%; aOR 0.249, [95% CI 0.132–0.470], p ≤ 0.001) had lower odds of using CBD for stress versus those aged 18–34 years old (51.4%). Those aged 34–55 (24.8%) had greater odds of using CBD for chronic pain versus 18–34 years old (14.7%; aOR 2.093, [95% CI 1.122–3.905], p = 0.02). Those aged 55+ (5.1%) had lower odds of using CBD for post-workout sore muscles than 18–34 years old (15.5%; aOR 0.302, [95% CI 0.105–0.868], p = 0.026). Those aged 35–54 years old (43.5%; aOR 0.464, 95% CI 0.28–0.76, p = 0.002) and 55+ (19.8%; aOR 0.149, [95% CI = 0.077, 0.289], p < 0.001) had lower odds of using CBD for self-perceived anxiety versus 18–34 years old (60.4%). Use of CBD for arthritic/joint pain was higher in those 55+ (41.8%) (aOR 8.569, 95% CI [3.792–19.363], p < 0.001) and 35–54 years old (16.7%; aOR 2.295, [95% CI 1.041, 5.061], p = 0.04) in comparison to those 18–34 years old. Those aged 34–55 years old (5.9%) had lower odds of using CBD for skin conditions than those aged 18–34 years old (14.7% aOR 0.42, [95% CI 0.10–0.93], p = 0.03) and those aged 55+ (4.4%) had lower odds of using CBD to improve focus than those aged 18–34 years old (15.3%; aOR 0.248, [95% CI 0.08–0.77], p = 0.017). Moreover, those aged 55+ (23.1% versus 18–34 years old: 41.4%) had lower odds of using CBD for sleep improvement (aOR 0.4, [95% CI 0.21, 0.75], p = 0.004). For endometriosis and menstrual problems, we removed sex from the model finding those aged 34–55 had lower odds of using CBD for menstrual problems (aOR 0.379, [95% CI 0.18–0.796], p = 0.01). Endometriosis did not vary by age. Depression, PTSD, fibromyalgia, ADHD, headache, asthma, THC counteract effects, and restless legs did not vary by sex or age. Confidence intervals could not be generated for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer, and nausea due to small sample sizes.


This study aimed to investigate CBD use patterns in the general population regarding the route of administration, dose, and indications for use. We found that the main indications for using CBD were self-perceived anxiety, stress, general health and wellbeing, sleep, and pain.

37.5% of respondents reported using CBD for perceived stress, with 92.2% reporting reduced stress levels, making it the third-highest ranking reason for CBD use amongst our sample. Yet, no studies are looking directly at how CBD affects perceived stress levels. This might in part be because stress, apart from post-traumatic stress disorder, is not classified as a disease according to international disease classification (WHO | Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases 2019). With more than 12.8 million working days lost because of work-related stress, anxiety, or depression in the UK (Hse 2019), the relationship between CBD and stress is an area of interest for further research. A recent study surveying social media for comments about perceived therapeutic effects of CBD products revealed that the most frequently discussed symptoms, which are not addressed in the research literature, are indeed stress and nausea (Tran and Kavuluru 2020).

In adjusted logistic models, more males (47.4%) were using CBD for general health and wellbeing than females (30.7%; aOR 0.464, [95% CI 0.30–0.72], p = 0.001). More females were using CBD for self-perceived anxiety (47.9%) than males (34.2%; aOR 1.595, [95% CI 1.021, 2.49], p = 0.04), and for self-perceived insomnia (females 28.6%, males 17.8%; aOR 1.871, [95% CI 1.125–3.112], p = 0.015). More males (14.1%) than females (7.1%) were using CBD for post-workout sore muscles (aOR 0.462, [95% CI 0.236–0.905], p = 0.024).

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been recently covered in the media, and you may have even seen it as an add-in booster to your post-workout smoothie or morning coffee. What exactly is CBD? Why is it suddenly so popular?

Is cannabidiol legal?

CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether. Videos of the effects of CBD on these children and their seizures are readily available on the Internet for viewing, and they are quite striking. Recently the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.

Some CBD manufacturers have come under government scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims, such that CBD is a cure-all for cancer, which it is not. We need more research but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies we can’t pinpoint effective doses, and because CBD is currently is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting. If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor — if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking.

Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. CBD can increase the level in your blood of the blood thinner coumadin, and it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. A significant safety concern with CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So, you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements. We also don’t know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.