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You may have heard that cannabidiol (CBD) can help with various conditions, like insomnia, chronic pain, and anxiety. Some people even claim it helps with tinnitus.

But does the research really back that up? Read on to find out.

Tinnitus is when people hear ringing or other noises in their ears that aren’t caused by an external source. It’s more common in older adults, but it can happen to anyone.

While tinnitus varies in severity, for some, the constant buzzing, roaring, or ringing can cause extreme distress.

Tinnitus is considered a symptom and not a condition in and of itself. Potential causes include:

Treatment for tinnitus usually involves treating the underlying cause.

Your doctor might recommend removing excess earwax and stopping medications that might be causing your tinnitus. Some drugs, like tricyclic antidepressants, may help dampen ear sounds.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be tough to pinpoint the cause for ringing in the ears. If your doctor can’t find a reason for your tinnitus, or if the treatments for the underlying cause don’t work, you may need to manage your tinnitus by blocking irritating sounds with a white noise machine.

If your tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, using a hearing aid or getting a cochlear implant may help.

CBD is a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant that won’t get you “high” like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does. There are three different forms of CBD:

Both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD contain other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes from the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum CBD also contains a small amount of THC (less than 0.3 percent for federally legal products). CBD isolate is pure CBD.

However, it’s important to recognize that any CBD product, no matter the type, can have trace amounts of THC in it and could show up on a drug test.

You can buy CBD in multiple forms, like gummies, oils, capsules, creams, and lotions.

The two are not the same. Hempseed oil contains only trace amounts of CBD. CBD is mostly found in the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant.

Unfortunately, some brands incorrectly label hempseed oil products as containing CBD — sometimes by mistake and sometimes on purpose.

Looking at the ingredient list and certificate of analysis (COA) will let you know exactly what you’re buying. If you want a CBD product, search for terms, like:

  • cannabidiol
  • full-spectrum hemp
  • hemp oil

We’ve all got an endocannabinoid system (ECS) consisting of endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body. Your body has two main endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. It also makes molecules called endocannabinoids which are similar to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Why does your body make them? Experts don’t quite know everything there is to know yet about the ECS. But it likely helps keep your internal systems working smoothly.

When endocannabinoids bind to either CB1 or CB2 receptors, this produces effects depending on the location of the receptors. For example, endocannabinoids produced by your body might bind to immune cell receptors to let your body know it’s experiencing inflammation.

When endocannabinoids have done their job, enzymes break them down.

Again, experts don’t really know the exact mechanisms behind how CBD interacts with the ECS. Still, they’re aware that CBD binds differently to CB1 and CB2 receptors compared with THC — possibly by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids.

Experts also suspect that CBD produces more noticeable effects when paired with THC. That’s why full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products are more likely to provide benefits than ones containing CBD isolate. This is known as the entourage effect.

Research on CBD for tinnitus is mixed.

A 2015 animal study suggested that a combination of CBD and THC may actually make tinnitus worse.

A more recent review of studies from 2020 concluded there’s not enough scientific evidence from either animal or human studies to confirm that cannabinoids can help relieve tinnitus.

However, another review from 2020 suggested that, because CBD has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, it may help with hearing loss and tinnitus. But more research is needed, especially human studies.

And while CBD might not be a cure for tinnitus, it may help with side effects, such as anxiety-related insomnia and stress.

According to the World Health Organization, CBD is generally safe for most people and is unlikely to cause side effects.

Potential side effects include:

  • weight loss or gain
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue

While you’ll probably only ever experience mild side effects, it’s essential to talk with a doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking any medications. CBD may interact with some medications.

Additionally, it’s important to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate CBD products. Even though the FDA lays down the law when it comes to companies making false claims and committing fraud, the administration doesn’t guarantee that all over-the-counter CBD products are safe and effective.

You’ll have to do your own research to make sure you’re buying a high quality product.

There’s no evidence that CBD can help with tinnitus, but if you want to try it, we recommend opting for an oil due to its higher bioavailability and ability to produce full-body effects.

Likewise, go with a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product to get the most out of the entourage effect.

There are a lot of not-so-great CBD products on the market. Here’s how to figure out if a CBD product is high quality:

  • Look for third-party testing. A quality product should come with a COA that you can read before buying. It should confirm that what’s on the label is accurate, as far as CBD and THC content. It will also tell you whether the product has passed tests for contaminants.
  • Scan ingredients lists. CBD products should contain hemp, hemp extract, or hemp oil. Hempseed oil products only contain trace amounts of CBD. Ideally, opt for a product that contains organic ingredients.
  • Confirm the cannabis source. Make sure the brand you’re buying from is transparent about where it grows its hemp and what the manufacturing processes are.
  • Read reviews. Look through customer reviews to see what other people have to say. And steer clear of Amazon. Amazon prohibits the sale of CBD, so any “CBD” products on there are probably actually hempseed oil products.

While research suggests that CBD has promising qualities, like alleviating pain and helping with anxiety, there’s no scientific evidence that CBD or any other cannabis product can help with tinnitus.

That said, CBD may help you deal with the side effects of constant ringing in your ears, like sleep troubles and stress. Be sure to talk with your doctor before trying CBD.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.