What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical derived from marijuana or hemp plants.
It contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in marijuana that gets you high, so CBD is not intoxicating.
There are all sorts of claims made for CBD. Proponents claim that it can be used to treat:
- Alcoholism and substance abuse
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sciatic nerve pain and inflammation
- Sleep disorders
- Tolerating cancer medications
- Weight loss
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, there is some evidence for all of these claims!
To be clear, the results are very preliminary. Studies to date have consisted mostly of “test tube” studies, studies in rats, and a few very limited clinical trials. It remains to be seen whether CBD is really an effective treatment for many of these conditions.
One exception is the treatment of epilepsy. The FDA has approved Epidiolex, an oral CBD solution, for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
For more information on CBD, and the research that supports it, we refer you to an excellent article on Healthline, which includes links to clinical research.
There’s also a very good introduction and overview (“What is CBD? Cannabidiol: Medical Marijuana Without the High“), including links to very reliable sources, at CBD Central.
CBD is generally considered safe1. Some people experience side effects, including diarrhea, lightheadedness or dizziness, low blood pressure, changes in appetite, and fatigue.
More importantly, CBD can interact with several medications. Talk to your doctor before using CBD!
Regulation and Risks
CBD is now legal in most states, including those that have legalized marijuana, and other states that have passed specific laws legalizing CBD.
However, like other herbal products, it is very poorly regulated. Anyone can put a label on a bottle and call it CBD, so when you buy it, you have no idea what you are getting. Even major retailers like GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart have been caught selling mislabelled herbal products. (See our article on Herbal Remedies to learn more about the problems.)
Does CBD Cure Erectile Dysfunction?
There is no evidence that CBD cures or improves ED. The claim seems to be based solely on the perception that CBD is some sort of “wonder drug” that cures all ailments.
A few websites promote CBD, claiming that it cures ED by “removing toxins.” As a reminder, toxins are not a cause of ED, nor is there any evidence that CBD removes toxins of any sort from the body.
These claims clearly fall into the category of “snake oil” – with one possible exception.
CBD and Anxiety
Several studies2 have found that CBD can be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. For men with psychological ED related to anxiety, CBD may help (although there is no direct evidence of this).
- Iffland, Kerstin; Grotenhermen, Franjo. “An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Jun 2017 doi: 10.1089/can.2016.0034.
- Blessing, Esther M; Steenkamp, Maria M; Manzanares, Jorge; Marmar1, Charles R. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics. OCT 2015; 12(4): 825–836.