CBD is now legal in Australia! – but what is CBD? What does CBD do?

CBD is now legal in Australia! – but what is CBD? What does CBD do?

CBD is now Legal in Australia – But what is CBD? – What does it do? Is it worth the hype?

In this video above we demystify CBD and explore the 6 major benefits that have the most supporting data. These benefits include CBD’s potential to assist with:

1. Pain Relief
2. Anxiety and Depression
3. Cancer related symptoms
4. Acne
5. Neuroprotection
6. Sleep

I also share my own personal take on CBD after experimenting with it on myself and gathering feedback from other users. Finally we finish up by walking through some of the types of products that have been seen on the market (mostly from the U.S.). To date there are no specific products approved by the TGA in Australia so it may be a little while before its “main stream” and seen in chemists as the TGA article references. However it’s worth noting it is now legal and will able to be obtained without prescription. Read below for some more detailed notes and excerpts from websites where I gathered this information:


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.

The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters

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 is one of the two best-known active compounds derived from the marijuana plant. The other is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the substance that that produces the “high” from marijuana.

Besides THC and CBD, more than 100 other cannabinoids have been identified.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychotropic. Recent evidence shows that the compound counteracts cognitive impairment associated with the use of cannabis.[20] Cannabidiol has little affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors but acts as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid agonists.[21] It was found to be an antagonist at the putative new cannabinoid receptor, GPR55, a GPCR expressed in the caudate nucleus and putamen.[22] Cannabidiol has also been shown to act as a 5-HT1A receptor agonist.[23] CBD can interfere with the uptake of adenosine, which plays an important role in biochemical processes, such as energy transfer. It may play a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.[24]

CBD shares a precursor with THC and is the main cannabinoid in CBD-dominant Cannabis strains. CBD has been shown to play a role in preventing the short-term memory loss associated with THC.[25]

There is tentative evidence that CBD has an anti-psychotic effect, but research in this area is limited.[26][20]

CBD does not get you high, but Dr. Levy says the idea that it’s not psychoactive is something of a misconception in his opinion. “It does change your consciousness. You feel mellow, experience less pain, and are more comfortable,” he says. In addition, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC.

Does CBD work?

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a complex biological system in the human body. Medical researchers discovered it in the 1990s, but much is still unknown about how it works and its interactions. Today, experts know that it impacts several major processes, including appetite, sleep, mood, and memory, but there is much more yet to be discovered.

The endocannabinoid system has three components: receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. These parts function regardless of whether someone uses CBD or not.

Here is an overview of each component

Receptors exist throughout the body and are a substance to which endocannabinoids bind;

Enzymes appear in many forms, but only two types of enzymes break down endocannabinoids; and

Endocannabinoids complement the body by keeping internal functions running smoothly.

Understanding the effects of CBD involves examining the relationship between the receptors and endocannabinoids.

There are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily in the central nervous system and are responsible for governing coordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory, mood, and other functions. The CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system, influencing pain, and inflammation.

After the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids look to bind with receptors. Researchers believe that CBD does not directly attach itself to the receptor but influences it in some way. Activating these receptors is what allows for many of the health benefits that people associate with the compound.

CBD can also influence non-cannabinoid receptors. According to Teaera Roland of Lotus Health, CBD modulates the 5ht serotonin receptor, which can treat psychotic disorders. It can also affect the TRPV1 receptor, which is responsible for pain and inflammation.

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.

Yes, there is evidence that CBD works for some conditions, but certainly not all the conditions it is being promoted for these days. There’s no evidence, for example, that CBD cures cancer although it may exhibit some ant-tumor properties as well as assist cancer patients in other ways. There is also moderate evidence that CBD can improve sleep disorders, fibromyalgia pain, muscle spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, and anxiety.

“The most benefit I have seen as a physician is in treating sleep disorders, anxiety, and pain,” says Dr. Levy. “Many people report a definite response when it comes to anxiety.” “CBD also appears to have fewer side effects than other anxiety medications”. – Dr. Levy (Harvard Medical School).

1. Can Relieve Pain

Marijuana has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. (2Trusted Source).

More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of marijuana, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects.

The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response (3Trusted Source).

The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.

Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters (4Trusted Source).

For example, one study in rats found that CBD injections reduced pain response to surgical incision, while another rat study found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.

2. Could Reduce Anxiety and Depression

CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach.

In one Brazilian study, 57 men received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the test.

The placebo, a 150-mg dose of CBD, and a 600-mg dose of CBD had little to no effect on anxiety (12Trusted Source).

observed an inverted U-shaped dose-response relationship between acute CBD treatment and subjective anxiety, indicating that 300 mg (Hedges’ g = 1.0) had a stronger anxiolytic effect than 150 mg (Hedges’ g = 0.7) or 600 mg (Hedges’ g = 0.6).

CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (13Trusted Source).

CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior. However CBD has multiple targets, but one aspect of its polypharmacy may be to help regulate excitatory glutamate (E) and inhibitory γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (I) transmission, which may influence the activity of excitatory and inhibitory signalling pathways.

3. Can Alleviate Cancer-Related Symptoms

A study of 16 people undergoing chemotherapy found that a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC administered via mouth spray reduced chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment alone (18Trusted Source).

Some test-tube and animal studies have even shown that CBD may have anticancer properties. For example, one test-tube study found that concentrated CBD induced cell death in human breast cancer cells (19Trusted Source).

Another study showed that CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice (20Trusted Source).

However, these are test-tube and animal studies, so they can only suggest what might work in people. More studies in humans are needed before conclusions can be made.

4. May reduce Acne

Based on recent scientific studies, CBD oil may help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.

One test-tube study found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, exerted anti-inflammatory actions and prevented the activation of “pro-acne” agents like inflammatory cytokines (24Trusted Source).

Another study had similar findings, concluding that CBD may be an efficient and safe way to treat acne, thanks in part to its remarkable anti-inflammatory qualities (25Trusted Source).

Though these results are promising, human studies exploring the effects of CBD on acne are needed.

5. Might Have Neuroprotective Properties

Researchers believe that CBD’s ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders.

In fact, one of the most studied uses for CBD is in treating neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Though research in this area is still relatively new, several studies have shown promising results.

Sativex, an oral spray consisting of CBD and THC, has been proven to be a safe and effective way to reduce muscle spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis.

One study found that Sativex reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with multiple sclerosis who were experiencing muscle spasticity that was resistant to medications (26Trusted Source).

Another study gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 g/kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5% (27Trusted Source).

One more study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared to a placebo (28Trusted Source).

However, it’s important to note that some people in both these studies experienced adverse reactions associated with CBD treatment, such as convulsions, fever and fatigue.

CBD has also been researched for its potential effectiveness in treating several other neurological diseases.

For example, several studies have shown that treatment with CBD improved quality of life and sleep quality for people with Parkinson’s disease (29

Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).

Additionally, animal and test-tube studies have shown that CBD may decrease inflammation and help prevent the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease (31Trusted Source).

In one long-term study, researchers gave CBD to mice genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, finding that it helped prevent cognitive decline (32Trusted Source).

CBD is also known to interact with several medications. Before you start using CBD oil, discuss it with your doctor to ensure your safety and avoid potentially harmful interactions (41Trusted Source).

This is especially important if you take medications or supplements that come with a “grapefruit warning.” Both grapefruit and CBD interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), a group of enzymes that are important to drug metabolism (42).

CBD is metabolised by several cytochrome P [CYP] 450 enzymes (e.g. CYP3A4, CYP2C9, CYP2C19) which convert it to a number of primary and secondary metabolites (e.g. 7-OH-CBD, 6-OH-CBD, and 7-COOH-CBD) [177]. Complex pharmacokinetic interactions may occur when CBD is co-administered with other drugs (e.g. Δ9-THC) and dietary constituents (e.g. caffeine) that also utilise these enzymes [6, 163].

Assists with muscle soreness and might aid recovery – Jury is out on wether it attenuates muscle “gains” like ibuprofen or actually provides benefits without this downside.

Exercise, particularly when strenuous, unfamiliar, and/or involving an eccentric component, can cause ultrastructural damage to skeletal muscle myofibrils and the surrounding extracellular matrix [36, 59]. This exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) impairs muscle function and initiates an inflammatory response [59]. While inflammation is integral to EIMD repair, regeneration, and adaptation [59], excessive inflammation may contribute to prolonged muscle soreness and delayed functional recovery [7, 158].

CBD modulates inflammatory processes [21]. In preclinical models of acute inflammation, CBD has been reported to attenuate immune cell accumulation (e.g. neutrophils, lymphocytes macrophages) [102, 130, 149, 186], stimulate production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10) [190, 191, 23] and inhibit production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α) [10, 50, 55, 62, 63, 113, 130, 149, 154, 186] and reactive oxygen species [62, 130, 186]. 

Only one study [14] has investigated the biochemical and neuropsychological effects of CBD in an animal model of TBI. Here, C57BL/6 mice were given chronic CBD treatment (3 μg·day−1, oral) 1–14 and 50–60 days post- (weight drop) brain insult. CBD attenuated the behavioural (e.g. anxious and aggressive behaviour, depressive-like behaviour, impaired social interactions, pain-related behaviours) and some of the cortical biochemical abnormalities were observed. Specifically, CBD tended to normalise extracellular glutamate, d-aspartate, and γ-aminobutyric acid concentrations in the medial prefrontal cortex, suggesting a reduction in excitotoxicity. However, neuronal damage was not measured directly in this study [14].

When given chronically, or repeatedly within a short timeframe proximal to the HI event, however, CBD appears to be neuroprotective. Effective dosing strategies have varied and included initiating treatment several days pre-HI (e.g. 100 or 200 μg·day−1, intracerebroventricular 5 days; Wistar rats [100]), shortly pre- and/or post-HI1, and up to 3 days post-HI (e.g. 3 mg·kg−1·day−1, i.p. 12 days; ddY mice [80]). Thus, chronic CBD treatment may be more effective than acute intervention. While “pre-incident” dosing might also be beneficial, it is noted that in practice, this would require humans at risk of TBI to use CBD chronically as a prophylactic.

The precise mechanism(s) underpinning the neuroprotective effects of CBD are not completely understood (see Campos et al. [25] for review), but may involve decreased inflammation, oxidative stress, and excitotoxicity [142, 143] and increased neurogenesis [129]. Preclinical studies have also demonstrated beneficial effects of CBD in other animal models of neurodegeneration (e.g. transgenic model of Alzheimer’s disease [34, 35], brain iron-overload [47, 48]). Collectively, these data suggest that research investigating the utility of CBD in ameliorating the harmful long-term effects of repeated sports concussions is warranted.

most preclinical studies appear to have observed a significant analgesic effect of CBD [29, 39–41, 51, 70, 75, 78]

Exercise-Induced Gastrointestinal (GI) Damage

While strenuous exercise increases blood supply to the active skeletal muscles, cardiopulmonary system and skin—other organs and tissues, including the GI tract, experience reduced oxygen and nutrient delivery [180]. If exercise is prolonged (e.g. >40 min), this “GI ischemia”, as well as the inflammation and oxidative stress that accompanies reperfusion, can compromise epithelial integrity [180]. Such effects may negatively influence exercise performance and post-exercise recovery due to GI distress (e.g. nausea, vomiting, abdominal angina, bloody diarrhoea) and impaired nutritional uptake [180].

CBD has demonstrated some effects that may be relevant to the management of exercise-induced GI damage. For instance, preclinical studies have shown that CBD (e.g. 0.01–10 mg·kg−1, i.v. or 10 mg·kg−1, i.p.) can attenuate tissue damage (e.g. reduce necrosis, blood concentrations of tissue damage markers and inflammation) induced by acute, peripheral ischemia-reperfusion (e.g. kidney, myocardium, liver) [55, 60, 62, 63, 130, 185] and colitis [23, 50, 154] in vivo; benefits that have generally been attributed to its reported antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (see also section “Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage—Muscle Function, Soreness, and Injury”) [50, 55, 60, 62, 63, 130, 154, 185]. Also, of interest is that CBD (1–100 μM) has been reported to restore intestinal permeability in vitro following exposure to Clostridium difficile toxin A, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid and pro-inflammatory stimuli (e.g. interferon-gamma, TNF-α) [2, 3, 71].

one investigation [103] did report that CBD improved the healing of femoral fractures in Sprague-Dawley rats. Specifically, chronic CBD treatment (i.e. 5 mg·kg–1·day–1, i.p.) decreased callus size 4-weeks post-fracture and enhanced the biomechanical properties of the bone at 8-weeks (i.e. maximal force, work-to-failure on a 4-point bending test) [103]. While the mechanism(s) underlying this effect require clarification, CBD may act to inhibit expression of RANK and RANK-L (i.e. indicative of an effect to suppress osteoclastogenesis, and thus, bone resorption) and decrease the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL-1β, TNF-α) at the site of injury [103, 135]. Evidence that activation of CB2R induces bone matrix deposition has also recently emerged [150] alongside data suggesting that CBD may have partial agonist effects at this site [171]. These initial findings suggest that further research investigating the effect of CBD on acute skeletal injuries is worthwhile.

One final observation to note is that some initial data suggest CBD might influence mitochondrial function. Indeed, in vivo CBD treatment has been reported to increase the activity of mitochondrial complexes [48, 77, 130, 178] (30–60 mg·kg−1, i.p. acute or chronic 14 days Wistar rats; 3 and 10 mg·kg−1, i.v. C57BL/6 J mice; 10 mg·kg−1·day−1, i.p. 5 days C57BL/6 J mice; and 10 mg·kg−1·day−1, i.p. 14 days Wistar rats) in various tissues and models (i.e. healthy brain, myocardium following doxorubicin treatment, brain following neonatal iron-overload, hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury) and increase mitochondrial biogenesis [77] (10 mg·kg−1·day−1, i.p. 5 days C57BL/6 J mice; myocardium following doxorubicin treatment). Such effects could have implications for energy metabolism during exercise.

Several studies have investigated the effect of CBD on sleep in humans [26, 32, 115, 157]. The first placebo-controlled, double-blinded (single-dose) crossover trial [26] found that 160 mg CBD (but not 40 or 80 mg) increased self-reported sleep duration in individuals with insomnia (n = 15); although time to sleep onset, number of sleep interruptions, and likelihood of experiencing “good sleep” were unchanged.

CBD has been reported to exert a number of physiological, biochemical, and psychological effects, that have the potential to benefit athletes. For instance, there is preliminary supportive evidence for anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, analgesic, and anxiolytic actions of CBD and the possibility it may protect against GI damage associated with inflammation and promote the healing of traumatic skeletal injuries.


CBD is often consumed orally as oil; however, it can also be ingested in other forms (e.g. gel capsules, tinctures, beverages, and confectionery products) and applied topically [20, 125]. High concentration CBD “vape oils” (i.e. for use in e-cigarette devices) are also available in some countries, as are some CBD-dominant forms of cannabis (sometimes known as “light cannabis”) that can be smoked or vaporised [20, 125]. Pure, synthetic, crystalline CBD was also vaporised in a recent laboratory study [160].

Taylor et al. [170] recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of oral CBD oil pharmacokinetics in healthy participants. When administered as a single, oral dose (1500–6000 mg), the time to reach peak plasma concentrations (tmax) was ~4–5 h and the terminal half-life was ~14–17 h. Although tmax did not increase dose-dependently in this investigation [170], another study [19], involving a much lower oral dose of CBD (300 mg), did indicate a shorter tmax (i.e. ~2–3 h). Peak plasma concentrations (Cmax) were ~0.9–2.5 μM in Taylor et al. [170], but increased ~4.9-fold when CBD was administered with a high-fat meal (i.e. ~5.3 μM at 1500 mg dose) [170]. Both studies observed a large amount of inter-individual variation in pharmacokinetic responses [19, 170].

The pharmacokinetics of inhaled CBD are yet to be well characterised. However, smoked “light cannabis” (with a lower Δ9-THC and higher CBD content than other varieties) has been reported to elicit high serum CBD concentrations at 30 min post-treatment (that decline over time) [146]. A recent study in which participants vaporised 100 mg of CBD likewise observed high blood CBD concentrations 30 min post-treatment [160]. As neither study collected blood samples within < 30 min of CBD administration, tmax and Cmax are unknown [146, 160].

CBD is metabolised by several cytochrome P [CYP] 450 enzymes (e.g. CYP3A4, CYP2C9, CYP2C19) which convert it to a number of primary and secondary metabolites (e.g. 7-OH-CBD, 6-OH-CBD, and 7-COOH-CBD) [177]. Complex pharmacokinetic interactions may occur when CBD is co-administered with other drugs (e.g. Δ9-THC) and dietary constituents (e.g. caffeine) that also utilise these enzymes [6, 163].


Several studies have investigated the effect of CBD on sleep in humans [26, 32, 115, 157]. The first placebo-controlled, double-blinded (single-dose) crossover trial [26] found that 160 mg CBD (but not 40 or 80 mg) increased self-reported sleep duration in individuals with insomnia

CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.

Things to watch out for:

it can raise levels of certain other medications in your blood by the exact same mechanism that grapefruit juice does. Be careful when taking CBD with other supplements and medications as it may increase their potency – always consult your physician.










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