Does CBD Work? New Government-Backed Research Is Going to Try to Find Out

Maggie Seaver

It’s official: The U.S. government is funding new research for scientists to study the alleged health benefits of CBD.

CBD is undoubtedly trendy, but soon we’ll know for sure if this storied miracle ingredient is scientifically beneficial for pain relief and more—and not just a placebo.

On Thursday, September 19, the federal government announced funding for nine new research grants, a total of about $3 million, dedicated specifically to researching the health benefits of CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that cannot get you high. (Note that this research will not dive into THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that does produce a high.)

People have been buzzing about CBD for a while now: soaking in baths infused with CBD salts, dropping CBD oil into their tea, and munching on CBD-laced snacks—all hoping to experience at least some of CBD’s alleged laundry list of benefits, such as relief from conditions both minor and severe, including nausea, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and even chronic pain. But to this point, most of the reported uses and benefits have been largely anecdotal, making it hard to prove whether or not this “it” element has any real gravitas in the wellness world—until now.

Science has had the tricky job of playing catch-up to the increasingly prolific manufacturing of CBD and the explosive public consumer demand, and this latest round of grants, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, will hopefully help close the gap between CBD fact and fiction in which both CBD fanatics and skeptics alike have been stuck.

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According to NBC News, one of the goals behind this new wave of CBD research is to uncover and approve more non-addictive, non-damaging forms of pain relief. Scientists are excited to try to counter and replace patients' long-standing and troubling use of opioids and marijuana to ease pain. For example, per NBC News, one of the grant recipients, University of Utah researcher Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, will look into how CBD extract affects pain-signaling pathways in the brain of humans with lower back pain.

Researchers will also be looking into identifying, understanding, and cataloging the many different compounds found in cannabis—beyond the mainstream favorites CBD, CBG, and THC—in order to provide scientific backing to the countless benefits reported by those who swear by it.

So while you may still be on the fence about CBD, and cynical that it's just another passing health fad, we may all have new scientific evidence of CBD's true properties—pain-relief and beyond—sooner than we think.

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