Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (marijuana or hemp)(1). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is also a cannabinoid found in cannabis, and THC is the compound that causes the sensation of getting “high” that’s often associated with marijuana. However, unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This quality makes CBD an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of marijuana or certain pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant. The specific strain of cannabis used has generally been developed to produce a plant with a very low amount of THC. The extract is then diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil. CBD is gaining momentum in the health and wellness world. We are continuing to see more scientific studies confirming that CBD may ease symptoms of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety.
Understanding how CBD Oil interacts with the human body helps us to understand why it works. The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. CBD oil contains Phyto-cannabinoids, that is cannabinoids that come from plants. Evidence suggest that these Phyto-cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system just as the same as the endocannabinoids produced by the body.
Taking CBD helps to balance the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is important because it plays a regulatory role in signaling. When the endocannabinoid system is out of balance, signals to nerves and cells can be disrupted. This biological disinformation can cause symptoms associated with pain, mood disorders, and poor immune function
There are a number of health benefits CBD oil may provide. Listed below are of the most common uses of CBD oil. Each of these uses have scientific evidence supporting them. Research continues into many of these uses and others.
Cannabis has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of cannabis, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects. Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters (2).
For example, one study in rats found that CBD injections reduced pain response to surgical incision, while another rat study found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation (3) . Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
One study of 47 people with multiple sclerosis examined the effects of taking a combination of CBD and THC for one month. The participants experienced less pain and improvements in walking and muscle spasms. The study didn’t include any control group and therefore the placebo effects cannot be ruled out. However, another study found that the combination of CBD and THC significantly reduced pain during movement, pain at rest and sleep quality in 58 people with rheumatoid arthritis (4) .One 2018 review (5) assessed how well CBD works to relieve chronic pain. The review looked at studies conducted between 1975 and March 2018. These studies examined various types of pain, including:
Based on these studies, researchers concluded that CBD was effective in overall pain management and didn’t cause negative side effects.
A 2016 study (6) looked at CBD use in rats with arthritis. Researchers applied CBD gel to rats for four days in a row. The rats received either 0.6, 3.1, 6.2, or 62.3 milligrams (mg) per day. The researchers noted reduced inflammation and overall pain in the rats’ affected joints. There were no obvious side effects.
Rats who received low doses of 0.6 or 3.1 mg didn’t improve their pain scores. The researchers found that 6.2 mg/day was a high enough dose to reduce the rats’ pain and swelling. In addition, rats who received 62.3 mg/day had similar outcomes to the rats that received 6.2 mg/day. Receiving a substantially larger dosage didn’t result in them having less pain. This indicates that the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of CBD gel could potentially help people with arthritis.
Studies on CBD and migraine are limited. Results from a 2017 study indicate that CBD and THC can lead to less acute pain and less intense pain for people with migraines. In this two-phase study, some participants took a combination of two compounds. One compound contained 9 percent CBD and almost no THC. The other compound contained 19 percent THC. Doses were taken orally. In phase I, there was no effect on pain when the doses were under 100 mg. When the doses were increased to 200 mg, acute pain fell by 55 percent.
Your immune system plays a pivotal role in your overall health as it protects your body from harmful infections and viruses. It creates, stores and distributes your body’s white blood cells which fight the bacteria and viruses that attack it. Therefore, it is imperative that your immune system is at its peak when winter approaches because, at this time of the year, your body is at its most vulnerable.
The immune system is a complex network of tissues and cells that are constantly alert and ready to attack foreign cells like virus or bacteria. A healthy immune system is capable of distinguishing our tissue from foreign bodies.
As well as launching complex attacks against harmful entities, the immune system is a model of efficiency as it recognizes and clears dead and faulty cells. Once it spots an ‘antigen’ (bacterium, viruses, pathogens, etc.), the immune system launches a counterattack to expel the invader.
Generally, the immune system gets stronger as we age although it weakens again once we approach our twilight years. The vast majority of people are born with ‘innate’ immunity, but we also benefit from ‘adaptive’ immunity as we go through life. When we are exposed to diseases or receive vaccinations, the library of antibodies against differing pathogens grows.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, in most cases, a healthy body with a healthy immune system can fend off germs on its own. There are plenty of ‘natural’ ways to improve the immune system. Eat a healthy and balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables for instance. Adults should get at least seven hours of good quality restorative sleep a night. Exercise also helps because it lowers blood pressure and keeps your weight under control. CBD is another, unexpected, natural method of keeping your immune system strong.
The relationship between CBD and the immune system is a complex one. CBD has been shown to modulate our immune response. When the immune system is being a little too lazy, CBD can help to perk it up. However, CDB has also demonstrated the ability to reduce the inflammatory response (7)of the immune system in persons with auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, and other auto-immune diseases.
As stated earlier, taking CBD helps to balance the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is important because it plays a regulatory role in signaling. When the endocannabinoid system is out of balance, signals to nerves and cells can be disrupted. This biological disinformation can cause symptoms associated with pain, mood disorders, and poor immune function. Balancing the endocannabinoid system is thought to help maintain a healthy immune system function. The body uses endocannabinoids to keep the immune response under control, but it doesn’t always fully control inflammation. CBD could provide the ECS with a boost and ensure the inflammatory response is kept under control. This ECS balancing activity may be why CBD appears to be able to boost immune response when the immune system is providing a weaker response than required, and to suppress the inflammation caused by an overactive immune system.
By consuming CBD regularly, you could at least reduce the impact of winter viruses such as cold and flu and possibly prevent serious conditions such as influenza. CBD generally has a build-up period of approximately 14 days for optimal results. For that reason, we recommend you start taking CBD as soon as possible to strengthen your immune system
Influenza is one of the most severe and deadly viruses. According to the CDC (8), anywhere from 12,000 to 56,000 people die from the illness annually with over 700,000 hospitalizations. While the flu is less severe, it still results in up to 200,000 hospitalizations annually, and up to 20% of Americans suffer from it. While you should certainly get a flu shot, there is an increasing body of evidence which suggests that CBD could significantly boost your immune system and reduce the risk of contracting winter’s viruses.
Recently researchers (9)have begun to test more applications of CBD) and other chemicals naturally found in cannabis. While the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are well-established, the anti-viral properties are not. As a result, one research team studying general medicinal properties of CBD decided to test CBD’s antiviral capabilities against Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in vitro/in lab environment.
Essentially, CBD had no effect on HBV other than showing toxicity toward the cells that produce the virus. This did not surprise researchers. However, and somewhat shockingly, CBD also “inhibited HCV replication by 86.4% at a single concentration of 10 micro-molar.” This data immediately identified CBD has a potentially effective therapy for HPC.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the single largest contributor to disability worldwide, while anxiety disorders are ranked sixth. Anxiety and depression are common mental health disorders that can have devastating impacts on health and well-being. Anxiety and depression are usually treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and headache. Some medications can be addictive and may lead to substance abuse.
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach. In one Brazilian study, 57 men received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the test. The placebo, a 150-mg dose of CBD, and a 600-mg dose of CBD had little to no effect on anxiety.
CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (10) . CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies (11,,12) . These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
CBD may help reduce symptoms related to cancer and side effects related to cancer treatment, like nausea, vomiting and pain. One study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication. Those treated with an extract containing both compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those who received only THC extract (13.)
CBD may also help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, which are among the most common chemotherapy-related side effects for those with cancer (14). Though there are drugs that help with these distressing symptoms, they are sometimes ineffective, leading some people to seek alternatives.
A study of 16 people undergoing chemotherapy found that a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC administered via mouth spray reduced chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment alone (15). Some test-tube and animal studies have even shown that CBD may have anticancer properties. For example, one test-tube study found that concentrated CBD induced cell death in human breast cancer cells (16).
Another study showed that CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice (17). However, these are test-tube and animal studies, so they can only suggest what might work in people. More studies in humans are needed before conclusions can be made.
Research on mice has shown that CBD can lead to the shrinking of cancerous tumors. However, most studies in humans have investigated the role of CBD in managing pain related to cancer and cancer treatment. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) (18) Source has pointed to CBD as a possible option for reducing chemotherapy side effects, such as:
Researchers believe that CBD’s ability to act on the endocannabinoid system and other brain signaling systems may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders. One of the most studied uses for CBD is in treating neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Several studies have shown promising results.
An oral spray consisting of CBD and THC, has been proven to be a safe and effective way to reduce muscle spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis. One study found that an oral spray of CBD and THC reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with multiple sclerosis who were experiencing muscle spasticity that was resistant to medications (19).
CBD has been in the news before as a possible treatment for epilepsy. Research is still in its early days. Researchers are testing how much CBD is required to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as how safe it is. The American Epilepsy Society states that cannabidiol research offers hope for seizure disorders, and that research is currently being conducted to better understand safe use.
A study (20) from 2016 worked with 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The study’s researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any negative side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month.
However, severe adverse effects were recorded in 12 percent of the participants. Another study gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 g/kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5% (21) . One more study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared to a placebo (22). It’s important to note that some people in both these studies experienced adverse reactions associated with CBD treatment, such as convulsions, fever and fatigue.
Several studies have shown that treatment with CBD improved quality of life and sleep quality for people with Parkinson’s disease (23, 24). Additionally, animal and test-tube studies have shown that CBD may decrease inflammation and help prevent the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease (25). In one long-term study, researchers gave CBD to mice genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease, finding that it helped prevent cognitive decline (26).
Recent research has linked CBD with several benefits for the heart and circulatory system, including the ability to lower high blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to higher risks of a number of health conditions, including stroke, heart attack and metabolic syndrome.
Studies indicate that CBD may be able to help with high blood pressure. One recent study treated nine healthy men with one dose of 600 mg of CBD oil and found it reduced resting blood pressure, compared to a placebo. The same study also gave the men stress tests that normally increase blood pressure. Interestingly, the single dose of CBD led the men to experience a smaller blood pressure increase than normal in response to these tests (27).
Researchers have suggested that the stress- and anxiety-reducing properties of CBD are responsible for its ability to help lower blood pressure. Additionally, several animal studies have demonstrated that CBD may help reduce the inflammation and cell death associated with heart disease due to its powerful antioxidant and stress-reducing properties. For example, one study found that treatment with CBD reduced oxidative stress and prevented heart damage in diabetic mice with heart disease (28).
Acne is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, bacteria, underlying inflammation and the overproduction of sebum, an oily secretion made by sebaceous glands in the skin. Based on recent scientific studies, CBD oil may help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.
One test-tube study found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, exerted anti-inflammatory actions and prevented the activation of “pro-acne” agents like inflammatory cytokines (29). Another study had similar findings, concluding that CBD may be an efficient and safe way to treat acne, thanks in part to its remarkable anti-inflammatory qualities (30).
CBD has been studied for its role in treating a number of health issues other than those outlined above. Though more studies are needed, CBD is thought to provide the following health benefits:
Though CBD is generally well tolerated and considered safe, it may cause adverse reactions in some people.
CBD is also known to interact with several medications. Before you start using CBD oil, discuss it with your doctor to ensure your safety and avoid potentially harmful interactions. This is especially important if you take medications or supplements that come with a "grapefruit warning." Both grapefruit and CBD interfere with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), a group of enzymes that are important to drug metabolism.
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