Benefits of CBD for Health

CBD refers to cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating extract from cannabis that does not have the psychoactive properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD does not get people "high."



What is CBD?

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of over 200 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in cannabis. It is the second most prevalent active compound found in cannabis, behind THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in cannabis that has psychoactive properties and gives people a high.


Cannabis is a plant, and there are two main types, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Both marijuana and CBD can be derived from both types, but hemp is only derived from Cannabis Sativa. By law, hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC (the oil in marijuana that gives you a high) to be called hemp, otherwise, growers are at risk of prosecution under federal law. Hemp is a great resource for making 100% biodegradable, environmentally friendly products such as clothing, packaging, biofuel, building materials, and paper.


CBD derived from hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC and is legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws.


Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties and will not give you a “high”. There is no evidence it has any abuse or dependence potential and to date, there is no evidence that it is associated with any serious side effects, according to the World Health Organization.


Instead, CBD has been credited with relieving numerous medical conditions, such as epilepsy, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and pain. Although “credited” does not mean proven. Because of the historical regulatory landscape, there are hardly any well-conducted trials backing up those claims, although research is expected to ramp up now that laws distinguish between hemp and marijuana.

We look at nine medical conditions where CBD maybe, or, has already proven to be, beneficial.


Epilepsy

In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex (a plant-based formulation of CBD) to treat seizures for people 2 years of age and older with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which are two rare forms of epilepsy.

CBD has also been investigated for use in other forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy, usually in addition to conventional epilepsy medications. Results varied, but several trials showed CBD significantly reduced seizure frequency by almost 44% in most people.

CBD can interact with other medications used for epilepsy and some serious side effects have been reported, notably, a decrease in liver function when given to people already taking valproate.


Conclusion: CBD is beneficial for treating certain types of epilepsy.


Pain

Animal studies have shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and works on the endocannabinoid and pain-sensing systems to relieve pain.

Unfortunately, few human trials investigating the use of CBD as a single agent to relieve pain exist, with most trials using a combination of CBD and THC to relieve pain. Notably, Health Canada has approved a combination medication that contains both THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio for the relief of central nerve-related pain in multiple sclerosis, and cancer pain that is unresponsive to optimized opioid therapy.


An observational study of CBD treatment reported an improvement in self-reported quality of life measures for people with non-cancer-related pain but there was no statistically significant improvement in those with cancer-related pain or with neurological symptoms.


A case series of 47 people with multiple sclerosis reported improvements in pain, walking, and muscle spasms with a combination of CBD and THC.

Animal studies have shown that CBD has a positive effect on serotonin levels in the brain, and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a key role in mood as well as pain.

Other research (both animal and human) has shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, and it may relieve pain by this mechanism. CBD can interact with other medications used to treat heart conditions or immunosuppressants so you should always talk with your doctor before taking CBD.


Conclusion: CBD may be beneficial at relieving pain but no high-quality human studies prove this.


Arthritis

Animal studies showed that topical CBD applications relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis with few side effects. The topical application of CBD is beneficial because CBD is poorly absorbed when taken by mouth and can cause gastrointestinal side effects.


Conclusion: Topical CBD may be beneficial at relieving arthritis but no high-quality human studies prove this.


Anxiety

Pretreatment with 300mg CBD significantly relieved anxiety in 57 healthy males who undertook a simulated public speaking test. However, dosages of 150mg CBD and 600mg CBD did not make any difference to the men’s anxiety levels.

Beneficial effects on anxiety after taking CBD were reported in an observational study where 21 patients out of 400 had anxiety.

Anxiety scores decreased in a large case series of 72 patients, with 57 patients (79.2%) reporting decreased scores within the first month after CBD treatment.


Conclusion: CBD may relieve anxiety before events such as public speaking but it is not known what the optimal dose is.


Depression

Animal studies have shown some effect of CBD at relieving depression, possibly related to its strong anti-stress effect after either acute or repeated administration.

Animal studies have shown that CBD has a positive effect on serotonin levels in the brain, and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a key role in mood as well as pain.


Conclusion: CBD may help with depression but more trials are needed.


Sleep disorders

31% of people taking CBD for other conditions such as anxiety or non-cancer-related pain reported improved sleep with CBD. In a large case series of 72 people, 48 patients (66.7%) reported an improvement in sleep scores within the first month, but these fluctuated over time.

Other trials of 300 mg of CBD in people with anxiety or depression showed that CBD appeared to preserve sleep architecture, meaning it was unlikely to have any negative effects on sleep quality.


Conclusion: CBD does not appear to interfere with sleep and may help people sleep better.


Acne

A laboratory study found that CBD prevented human sebocytes from creating too much sebum in addition to having an anti-inflammatory effect, preventing inflammatory cytokines from activating. Because excessive sebum and inflammation are characteristic of acne, topical CBD could be an effective treatment for acne and may prevent or reduce future breakouts.12,13


Conclusion: Topical CBD may help relieve inflammation and excessive sebum production associated with acne but more trials are needed.


Parkinson’s Disease

Several smalls studies have investigated using CBD to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, with most encouraging results. For most studies, there were no differences across groups with regards to movement-related outcomes; however, groups treated with CBD 300 mg/day had a significantly improved well-being and quality of life as measured by the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire [PDQ-39]).


Conclusion: CBD shows promise for improving the quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease but larger trials are needed.


Nausea and vomiting

Most studies investigating if CBD is beneficial at relieving nausea or vomiting, have used a combination of CBD and THC, rather than just CBD alone. A 2016 review found the combination to be either more effective or as effective as a placebo.14

More recent research points to THC being more effective at reducing nausea and vomiting than CBD.


Conclusion: CBD is unlikely to be effective by itself for nausea and vomiting. The combination of THC and CBD does seem to be effective for nausea and vomiting.


Other conditions

Many other studies, both on animals and humans, have overwhelmingly concluded that CBD has immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties which may make it a good choice for some autoimmune conditions or inflammation-related complaints.


In addition, more trials are needed to investigate its use for numerous other conditions, such as muscle-spasticity in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, substance-abuse treatment, and diabetes protection.

Side effects of CBD may include nausea, tiredness, and irritability, and it may interact with some medications, such as warfarin.

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