Plenty of people still think that CBD is a some sort of novelty, but in fact, this supplement has been discovered in 1940 – more than 80 years ago. CBD has been studied for its potential role in easing symptoms of many common health issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, acne, or heart disease. Further research also includes studies related to dealing with health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy movement disorders, cancer pain, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic pain such as the one caused by rheumatoid arthritis. 

Due to its association with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis sativa plant, which is responsible for the sensation of being “high,” CBD is often treated as a controversial subject.  For this reason, it’s crucial to state that CBD derived from hemp plants contains little to no THC (less than 0.3%) and is a non-psychoactive substance that has enormous potential for therapeutic use and so much more, which we will explore in the article below.

Immune System

CBD does not impact the immune system directly, but it can affect it indirectly by regulating the levels of endocannabinoids and other phytocannabinoids in our bodies. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and is a  strong antioxidant that can neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. It also bears the ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates a wide range of physiological processes, including appetite regulation, pain sensation, mood balance, memory, immune function, and reproductive processes.

Therefore, CBD is a natural alternative that can support your immunity by regulating endocannabinoid neurotransmitters which play a key role in many physiological functions, including neurotransmitter release and homeostasis. This makes it a promising supplement for people with autoimmune diseases who are looking for an alternative to traditional medications, or simply a way to boost their immune system.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In 2018, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine conducted a study on eleven people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In an outpatient psychiatric, along with their routine psychiatric care, they also received CBD for eight weeks. Ten of them noticed a decrease in their PTSD symptoms, and the cannabidiol CBD was generally well tolerated. While adequate therapy is still the most important part of PTSD recovery, studies suggest that CBD can significantly reduce the anxiety levels that the patients experience.

Multiple other studies have used different CBD products during the research focused on whether CBD is an effective PTSD treatment. Some of them used topical CBD, such as CBD oils, while others went with an edible type, including gummies or even mints. What is more, a 2016 study found that CBD oil applied to the skin effectively treated anxiety and sleeping problems in a child with PTSD.

While the studies conducted so far suggest that taking marijuana-derived CBD products can significantly reduce PTSD symptoms, more research still needs to be carried out into its therapeutic uses, effectiveness, and safety.

Addictions

In 2015 a review in the Substance Abuse journal suggested that CBD oil might prove helpful in fighting substance abuse disorders, such as opioid, psychostimulant, and drug addiction. The review focused on analyzing fourteen already published studies – nine of them looked at CBD’s effects on animals, five at the way it impacted humans.

In the review, researchers reported that CBD showed promise in treating people dealing with substance abuse disorders; however, it affected each type of addiction differently. For example, CBD without THC wasn’t an effective aid in decreasing withdrawal symptoms of opioid use. At the same time, it managed to reduce the drug-seeking behaviors in users of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other highly addictive drugs.

Additionally, experts suggest that CBD may help treat nicotine dependence. In 2013, twenty-four smokers took part in a study where, after random selection, half of them were given an inhaler of CBD for one week, while the other half received a placebo. All were instructed to use the inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Over the treatment week, placebo-treated smokers showed no differences in the number of cigarettes smoked, while those treated with CBD managed to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by 40 percent. The gathered data suggested that cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption.

Chronic Pain

Nowadays, chronic pain is a condition that is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States, and it affects more people than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined. While most marijuana-based products don’t have the FDA’s approval, some anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana or its compounds may help treat pain.

Marijuana, or cannabis, contains compounds that may relieve conditions such as chronic pain and nausea. Most studies focus on the pain relief properties of cannabidiol CBD and THC.

Medical marijuana, derived from the same cannabis plant as CBD oil, may be prescribed by doctors to people dealing with pain that’s resistant to treatment, such as the one experienced by patients with terminal cancer. To conduct research, which was later published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers injected rats with chemicals that prompted inflammation. In the next step, they administered the rats with CBD. The animals that received CBD experienced less inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

person holding CBD flower saying no to cigarettes

Reducing Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

While there aren’t many studies that focus on examining the use of CBD in treating pain, those that do exist usually include THC, which makes isolating CBD’s unique pain relief effects harder. A study conducted in 2016 analyzed CBD’s anti-tumorigenic activity against highly aggressive breast cancer cells. It concluded that “CBD inhibits breast cancer growth and metastasis,” and it “can be used as a novel therapeutic option to inhibit growth and metastasis of highly aggressive breast cancer subtypes (…) which currently have limited therapeutic options and are associated with poor prognosis and low survival rates”. However, as it was the first study of its kind, much more research in the matter of the use of CBD as a potential anticancer drug in cancer treatment is needed.

Research conducted in 2019 featured in the International Journal of Molecular Studies concludes that “combining PDT with CBD will allow a substantial advance in the treatment of breast cancer and other types of cancers. Without a doubt, this combination will result in reduced side effects and toxicity to normal cells, and it will improve the patient’s quality of life.” CBD may not be the cure itself, but it has the potential to make cancer treatments more bearable for the patients, which is why it’s important to further explore its potential role in cancer therapy.

High Blood Pressure

According to a 2017 study published in JCI Insight, CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease by relieving high blood pressure in some people. The study focused on nine men who took 600mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. Those who took CBD were observed to have lower blood pressure both before and after stress-prompting situations such as exercise or experiencing cold temperature. What is more, the stroke volume (the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat) was lower among the men who took CBD in comparison to those who took a placebo, which means that their hearts were pumping blood more effectively.

The researchers suggest that taking CBD oil or using CBD salves might prove to be a good solution for complementary therapy and bring health benefits to people dealing which high blood pressure issues brought by stress and anxiety. At the same time, it’s essential to remember that CBD oil has the potential to interact with many other products, such as prescription drugs and other medications. To avoid undesired adverse effects in such therapy, a consultation with the healthcare provider is always necessary.

Seizures

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also knowns as the FDA, approved Epidiolex, a prescription drug in the form of an oral solution that contains CBD. It can be used to treat Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome – two rare forms of epilepsy in children under two years of age. Epidiolex has also been approved to treat seizures caused by a genetic disorder known as tuberous sclerosis complex. Outside of the US, Sativex, which uses CBD as an active ingredient, is approved for muscle spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

The human body contains a system of neurotransmitters and receptors called the endocannabinoid system, which was mentioned before. This system is thought to help regulate functions such as appetite, sleep, and pain, as well as immune system response. Research suggests CBD can modify these functions by interacting with receptors in the ECS.

Because Epixdiolex has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it was possible to perform rigorous studies on people, and the research on CBD oil’s ability to treat seizures is ongoing. When using CBD oil to treat seizures, it’s essential to work with a doctor who can provide medical advice and will help determine if CBD may interact with the patient’s current medications. For example, there is evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medications such as Onfi and boosts their concentration in the blood.  Therefore, nonprescription CBD products shouldn’t be used in treating conditions such complex and severe as seizures.

man in bed holding a CBD oil bottle

Anxiety and Psychiatric Disorders

In the United States alone, around 40 million adults deal with anxiety. Treatment options used to reduce anxiety include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. However, many people decide to deal with their anxiety by using CBD oil.

Cannabidiol CBD may prove helpful in cases when the production of endocannabinoids in our body is disrupted, leading to anxiety-induced issues such as insomnia, changes in appetite, and mood swings. Consuming CBD oil or other CBD products can bring health benefits such as helping to relax your nerves and calm you down. In some cases, it might be used as an addition to traditional forms of therapy. So far, most of the scientific evidence linked to CBD’s effects on anxiety comes from animal studies and laboratory experiments, but the results are considered to be promising. In a study from 2015, scientists reported that CBD oil might ease some conditions, including generalized anxiety, panic, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

With the vast number of potential benefits of CBD, there’s a growing interest in its possible use in dealing with psychiatric conditions. Because CBD, in contrast to THC, is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, it is thought to be potentially beneficial for psychosis and other mental disorders.

 So far, most of the evidence regarding the antipsychotic effects of CBD come from studies with animals or human studies conducted on healthy participants. The gathered evidence suggests that CBD had a beneficial but modest impact on psychotic symptoms and their severity. CBD studies also show it as effective in treating the psychosis that comes with Parkinson’s disease dementia. In 2017, the Salk University in California found that CBD can reduce the amount of amyloid-beta, a toxic plaque protein in the brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. The range of symptoms includes pain, fatigue, cognitive impairment, and muscle weakness. It can manifest in many different ways, depending on the patient, but in the majority of cases, the symptoms have a big impact on the quality of life of the people that MS affects.

To help manage the symptoms, some turn to CBD. The research into the benefits of CBD in dealing with MS is still ongoing, but early indications show that it may help control some of the symptoms mentioned above. In 2018 a scientific review found that CBD reduced pain, fatigue, inflammation, depression, and spasticity in people with MS and, at the same time, improved their mobility. For these reasons, scientists concluded that CBD might be used to deal with symptoms of MS. More research is needed to conclude whether, in the future, cannabis-derived medications and if CBD may also help slow down the progression of the disease.

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements include such ingredients as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. They are marketed in forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gelcaps, powders, and liquids. At present, CBD-containing products do not meet the strict definition of dietary supplements, meaning that per FDA’s requirements, they can’t be marketed as dietary supplements. 

They are, however, different from food supplements which are regular food that people consume every day to maintain good health. If someone works long hours, exercises a lot, and therefore needs more nutrients, they can look for dietary supplements to use according to their needs.

For example, in the UK, CBD extracts are being sold as food and as food supplements. To clarify, those include:

  • oils,
  • drops or tinctures,
  • sweets and confectionery, 
  • bread and other bakery products,
  • drinks.

Those who produce food or dietary supplements that contain CBD must demonstrate proper sourcing of the industrial hemp and must comply with good manufacturing practices. In other words, to be put on the market, dietary CBD products must pass safety and quality tests.

hands holding CBD body balm

Skincare

CBD has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which is why it is often used in skincare products. CBD oil is effective in treating acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and it can also help with wound healing. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help with various skin conditions, and its ability to reduce sebum production makes it a potential treatment for people with oily skin.

What’s more, CBD oil is non-comedogenic, meaning that it doesn’t clog pores. This is why it is often used in skincare products for people with oily skin. CBD oil can also help to reduce the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines. An article published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology shows different ways in which CBD can be used to improve skin health, from improving skin protection to hair pigmentation and growth modulation.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why CBD has gained popularity in the last few years. It’s not just a trendy word that people throw around, but rather a compound that is undergoing thorough research that aims to determine its benefits and potential use. The fact that CBD is non-psychoactive makes it a more appealing option for people who are looking for alternative methods to deal with their health conditions. While more research is needed to draw definite conclusions, many studies showed promising results for the long-term effects of these compounds.

However, if you have any of the conditions mentioned above, it’s crucial to talk with your doctor before trying any option.

Sources

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  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6801525/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders/cbd-for-acne
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  9. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93760