Among health, wellness, and medical communities, CBD (cannabidiol) is in the limelight these days—and deservedly so. For openers, in mid-2018 the FDA approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based oral solution that treats seizures associated with two rare forms of pediatric epilepsy. This is the first time the FDA has approved a drug containing an active ingredient derived from marijuana.
CBD is just one of the numerous phytocannabinoid compounds derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. Another is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the well-known psychoactive cannabinoid compound that gets you “high.” However, CBD is non-psychoactive and doesn’t possess the euphoric properties associated with THC. Hence, CBD has no potential for abuse.
While conclusive scientific research is still in the works and more research is needed to support the encouraging studies listed below, rest assured that this particular cannabinoid compound shows a lot of promise. There’s no doubt it will eventually come into mainstream use.
To give you a proper understanding of why it’s all the rage today, here’s an ultimate guide to CBD oil and a discussion of its potential health benefits to date.
We all have a little-known biological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s responsible for maintaining homeostasis across all major body systems and ensuring they all work in concert with each other. Cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body are part of the ECS. These receptors are activated when they bind with cannabinoid compounds, whether external (or phytocannabinoids) or internal (endocannabinoids).
We currently know of two receptors, namely CB1 and CB2. The greatest concentration of CB2 receptors is in the skin, especially the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. When employed topically as a serum, infused lotion, salve, or oil, the antioxidant in CBD oil can repair damage from UV rays and environmental pollutants. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), cannabis-based topical products are being developed to treat acne and several other skin issues, such as eczema, rosacea, cold sore, and psoriasis.
Cannabis has a somewhat complex relationship with sleep. After numerous studies, researchers are starting to conclude that CBD has wake-inducing properties, which means it might actually hold therapeutic promise for those with somnolence, or excessive daytime sleepiness.
On the other hand, its psychoactive counterpart, THC, seems to work better as a sleep aid for most people.
A study published by the journal Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may reduce anxiety in people with certain anxiety-related disorders. In fact, a number of animal and human studies suggest that CBD has anxiolytic properties. Mental disorders such as anxiety are usually treated with pharmaceutical antidepressants, which can cause a number of adverse side effects, including agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and headaches. Moreover, they can be addictive and lead to substance abuse.
What’s more, a study by the University of São Paulo found that CBD significantly reduces subjective anxiety, leading investigators to conclude that CBD may have a role to play in reducing social anxiety disorders.
#4. Pain Relief
In the United States alone, over seventy million people suffer from chronic pain, defined as experiencing over one hundred days per year of pain.
Well-known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties and potential use as an analgesic, CBD is quickly becoming a go-to supplement for the relief of unrelenting pain. It’s believed that CBD helps control pain by interacting with neurotransmitters and impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity.
A study from 2008 found that CBD yields considerable pain relief without causing adverse side effects. Physicians differentiate between neuropathic (usually chronic) and nociceptive pains (usually time limited). CBD works well on most neuropathic and many nociceptive types of pain.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the single largest contributor to disability worldwide. Marked by chronic sadness and loss of interest in routine activities, depression is a serious mental disorder that can lead to suicidal thoughts. As in the case of anxiety, prescription pharmaceutical drugs may help, but using them can result in a number of undesirable side effects.
Research suggests that, in low doses, cannabis functions as a potent anti-depressant by increasing serotonin levels. However, high doses cause a decrease of serotonin that could worsen the condition. It’s important to work with your healthcare provider (or an expert who is experienced in CBD oil) to ensure that dosage and delivery methods are fine-tuned according to your individual basis.
CBD can be particularly effective for depression associated with chronic stress, which can decrease endocannabinoid levels.
Recent research suggests that CBD can be of significant value in the treatment of cancer in a variety of ways. CBD and some other cannabinoids are promising chemotherapeutic agents and may have an antitumor effect in some cancers. What’s more, they can amplify the death of tumor cells in both leukemia and colorectal cancer. Research has also shown that CBD can stop the spread of cancerous cells in cervical cancer.
Additionally, another study hints at evidence that CBD may potentially help prevent the spread of cancer. The researchers of that study noted that the compound tends to subdue the spread of cancer cells and promote their destruction. CBD may also provide relief to cancer patients by reducing chemotherapy-induced side-effects, such as vomiting and nausea.
Another condition affecting millions of people in the United States alone is drug addiction, characterized by an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication.
Patients with addictive disorders will continue using a harmful substance even though they are aware of the harm it can cause—or, even worse, when the harm is evident. That’s why addicts experience so many chronic relapses.
But research has shown that CBD oil can be a potential intervention for people exhibiting addictive patterns. While still not decisive, this may be considered a promising treatment in the near future.
CBD oil is known to work well for pain relief and can alleviate some types of headaches, possibly including migraines. Though results of a 2016 study indicated that medical marijuana may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches, it was not specific to CBD oil.
While there are not enough studies on the effectiveness of CBD oil for migraines or headaches in general, it is a known fact that people have been using cannabis to treat headaches for thousands of years—well before it became illegal.
For migraine sufferers looking for effective treatment, CBD oil is definitely worth a shot.
#9. Heart Health
Recent research has linked CBD with various benefits for the heart and circulatory system, highlighting its capacity to lower high blood pressure, reducing the risk of a number of health conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
In a randomized crossover study from 2017, a single dose of CBD reduced blood pressure in healthy volunteers. Researchers believe that the anxiolytic effects of CBD are responsible for its ability to help lower blood pressure.
Moreover, treatment with CBD reduces oxidative stress and prevents heart damage in diabetic mice with heart disease.
Your body’s endocannabinoid system is also involved in regulating your mood, appetite, pain management, and other vital conditions. When one of these functions is out of balance, your body naturally synthesizes the cannabinoids it needs to retrieve homeostasis.
When you consume CBD, you are supporting the activity of your CB1 and CB2 receptors and your body’s naturally occurring system. The therapeutic potential of CBD in alleviating low moods is mostly linked with its effect on the serotonin system.
A 2016 study found that CBD can induce rapid antidepressant-like effects faster than some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Under the influence of CBD, your brain can transmit more serotonin and glutamate signals, which facilitate the branching and creation of new neurons (neurogenesis)—changes that are linked with improved mood and reduced stress.
#11. Eye Health
Cannabis is already known as an effective treatment for the eye pressure associated with glaucoma, but research is helping scientists dive even deeper into the benefits of CBD oil and eye health.
For instance, studies suggest that direct topical application of CBD may be beneficial for neuropathic ocular pain. It can even help with puffy eyes.
#12. Bone Health
Several studies over the years have led scientists to conclude that CBD may not only accelerate the process of healing broken bones, but it can also make them stronger.
For instance, a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences suggests that CBD plays a role in regulating bone mass by acting on a previously unknown endocannabinoid receptor, GPR55. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research reaffirmed that CBD can help with healing fractures. Researchers also found CBD increased the strength of once-broken healed femurs in laboratory rats.
CBD can be helpful in the treatment of osteoporosis, and it would complement a Standard Process supplement program very nicely.
#13. Pet Health
As if being a boon for humans wasn’t enough, CBD oil can also benefit your fur baby. For example, anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil can help pets who suffer from separation or noise anxiety.
However, it’s a good idea to talk with your vet first when considering any type of product for your pet. Also ensure that the manufacturer follows best practices by finding a company that has commissioned independent third-party testing and can provide a certificate of analysis, or COA.
The non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD interacts with serotonin releasing receptors, and when given in relatively small doses, CBD may help alleviate nausea and vomiting.
CBD in its raw, acidic form, called CBDA, is even more effective at relieving nausea because it’s more active at the serotonin receptors. Preclinical studies indicate that CBDA is a potent anti-emetic, stronger than both CBD and THC.
For patients suffering from nausea-related chemotherapy and cancer treatment, CBD can provide rapid relief.
#15. Focus and Concentration
As a result of decreased anxiety, pain, and drowsiness, CBD oil also helps improve focus and concentration.
There are countless reasons for a chronic lack of focus, including silly (and unavoidable) distractions, lack of sleep, and stress. But clinical conditions such as ADHD can also have a negative effect on concentration. Since CBD regulates the endocannabinoid system and keeps a check on homeostasis, it helps slow down neurotransmitters responsible for such hyperactivity, and thus improves the symptoms of ADHD.
By increasing the REM sleep cycle, CBD facilitates a more restful sleep, resulting in a refreshed mind and recharged body in the morning. This leads to increased levels of focus and concentration and lowers stress.
This list just goes to show how CBD is an extremely promising dietary supplement. And while scientific studies about its benefits and side effects are still nascent, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if CBD were considered part of a normal dietary regimen in just a couple of years down the line.