A topic that’s gaining popularity in the wellness community and the media is the medical benefits of CBD in treating ailments. Today, many scientific studies support claims that it helps ease the symptoms of several illnesses such as anxiety, seizures, and chronic pain.
What exactly is CBD? How does it help people with medical problems? Is it safe to use?
These are typical questions asked by anyone who’s heard of the health benefits of CBD. Its association with marijuana is also a concern for many people.
You’ll have your answers as we explore the subject in greater detail.
Please note that the content provided should not be treated as a substitute for advice from a doctor or any medical professional.
Are you ready to learn more? Let’s go.
What are the medical benefits of CBD? Before we discuss that aspect, it’s essential to define and explain CBD.
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of over 110 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa. It’s derived from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana cultivar.
Some people use cannabis because the benefits of CBD and THC together are therapeutic. THC, aka tetrahydrocannabinol, is the marijuana plant compound that gives smokers the intoxicating “high.” What does THC do to the body? That’s a question for another time. For now, let’s look at CBD on its own.
Cannabidiol does not have psychoactive effects, making it appealing to people looking for relief from pain and other conditions without the mind-altering effects of marijuana or other pharmaceutical drugs.
A World Health Organization study on the benefits of CBD reports the following:
- Cannabidiol has been found to have relatively low toxicity.
- CBD does not produce the effects typically seen with cannabinoids such as THC.
- Controlled and open-label trials show that cannabidiol is generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile.
Understanding marijuana plant anatomy will be helpful here. CBD is a natural oil that’s extracted from legally grown hemp plants. You can enjoy the benefits of CBD by using it orally or topically. Today, you can also find the compound in edible gummies and capsules. For skin application, you can get CBD products such as lotions, creams, and balms.
When you buy and use CBD, be sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. To get the optimal benefits of CBD, consume or apply it according to the recommended dosage. Excessive use may increase the likelihood of side effects.
Another word of caution. Non-prescription CBD products are not FDA-approved and may be inaccurately labeled. When in doubt, check with your physician.
Also, depending on where you live in the United States, there might be legal restrictions on the possession and use of medical cannabis. Even though you’re taking it for the health benefits of CBD, it’s best to stay within the laws of your state. If you’re traveling, ensure that you’re aware of the legislation that governs your destination.
How It Affects The Brain
To understand the medicinal benefits of CBD, we need to take a closer look at how it affects the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates the release of neurotransmitters in the brain and other parts of the nervous system.
The body produces natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, that bind to cannabinoid receptors. CBD is also a cannabinoid. It’s called a phytocannabinoid because it’s from a plant.
What are the medical benefits of THC vs. CBD concerning these receptors?
First, consider the two main receptors – CB1 and CB2. The former, found in the central nervous system, regulates movement, mood, pain, emotion, and other functions. CB2, in the immune system, impacts inflammation and pain.
When THC attaches to CB1 receptors, it produces psychoactive effects that cause pain relief, uplifted mood, and short-term memory issues.
The benefits of CBD arise from its interaction with CB1. It inhibits the THC chemical from binding to these receptors, thus decreasing the many mind-altering effects caused by THC, such as anxiety and memory problems.
Cannabidiol also boosts anandamide levels in the brain. The latter is one of the few natural cannabinoids the body makes that helps regulate dopamine and serotonin.
How It Affects The Body
What are the health benefits of CBD on the body?
Research shows that cannabidiol may reduce oxidative stress occurring at the cellular level. It’s said to have antioxidant properties that may help conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, linked to excessive free radicals in the body.
A 2014 published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reports that long-term use of CBD products can have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
Here’s a list of CBD benefits and the research that supports them.
While more research is needed for the wide variety of medical conditions that benefit from cannabidiol, there’s substantial scientific proof that CBD effectively treats severe epilepsy cases in children, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
These types of seizures don’t typically respond to antiseizure medications. In many studies on the benefits of CBD in seizures, results showed a reduction in the number. Some cases reported complete recovery from such episodes.
In 2018, after years of researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil in treating epilepsy, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the prescription use of a purified CBD oil called Epidiolex to treat the above mentioned syndromes.
Another of the many benefits of CBD is the possibility of treating chronic pain. A European Journal of Pain reported that applying cannabidiol on the skin could lower inflammation and discomfort caused by arthritis.
In 2019, a study showed that CBD ointment applied to the skin significantly reduced inflammatory epidermis disease and scarring.
As this research involved testing on animals, more human studies on the medical benefits of CBD are needed before we can substantiate these claims about pain relief.
Reduce Anxiety and Depression
For those who have anxiety and have insomnia, there’s hope. Studies suggest that cannabidiol may help people fall asleep and get quality rest.
Previously, doctors often advised patients with chronic anxiety to stay away from cannabis because the effects of THC can lead to increased anxiousness.
On the contrary, one of the benefits of CBD is that it reduces anxiety. In 2015, researchers suggested that cannabidiol could help in the following conditions as it did not have adverse effects that were possible with conventional treatments:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- General anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
These benefits of CBD can offer patients who suffer from depression and anxiety a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, which have side effects.
Alleviate Cancer-Related Symptoms
There have been numerous studies on CBD and how it can help cancer patients.
In 2012, researchers found evidence that cannabidiol may help prevent the spread of some types of cancer by suppressing the growth of cancer cells and causing their destruction.
Other suggested benefits of CBD for those battling cancer include reducing the impact of side-effects of treatment such as nausea and vomiting, which are typical for those undergoing chemotherapy.
Adding cannabidiol to chemotherapy drugs to strengthen the immune system’s response to treatment was discussed in 2020.
Although these studies support the benefits of CBD in cancer treatments, there isn’t enough human research to enable substantive conclusions to be made.
Improved Heart Health
High blood pressure can lead to several health conditions such as heart attack and stroke. It’s vital to keep it under control, and while drugs are currently prescribed to lower hypertension, more people seek alternatives.
Recent research shows that the medicinal benefits of CBD on the heart and circulatory system may include being able to lower blood pressure. In one study, nine men were given 0.02 ounces (600 mg) of CBD oil and compared the results with a placebo. It was found that the oil could help reduce resting blood pressure.
In the same study of the benefits of CBD in lowering hypertension, the men were also subjected to stress tests that typically increase blood pressure. The results showed a smaller increase in BP than the normal outcome of those tests. That small dose of CBD oil kept the subjects’ blood pressure under control during stress.
Due to the antioxidant benefits of CBD, animal studies suggest that cannabidiol may reduce the cell death and inflammation caused by heart disease. The ability to prevent heart damage is good news for people with heart problems.
However, more research on humans needs to be done to confirm these medical benefits of CBD.
Preventing the onset of Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is the result of inflammation in the pancreas when the immune system attacks its cells.
In a 2016 study, researchers found evidence that cannabidiol may ease this inflammation and delay or prevent the onset of this type of diabetes.
Treating psychiatric problems
One of the proven benefits of CBD is in the treatment of epilepsy. Research also suggests that complications linked to the condition, such as neurodegeneration, neuronal injury, and psychiatric diseases, can be treated with cannabidiol.
CBD may also be used in safely treating people with schizophrenia, according to a 2012 study. It found that the compound had similar effects to certain antipsychotic drugs.
Further research is necessary to confirm the benefits of CBD as a natural option.
Helping people with Alzheimer’s disease
Figures released by the Alzheimer’s Association reveal that more than six million Americans have Alzheimer’s. Globally, there are 44 million people with the condition.
It’s no wonder that numerous studies have looked at the benefits of CBD on Alzheimer’s disease and the findings are promising.
A study on mice in 2014 showed that cannabidiol might help people with the disease recognize familiar faces. Most people with Alzheimer’s lose this cognitive function.
More research is underway.
Treating skin diseases
Positive benefits of CBD also extend to treating acne, which is caused partly by inflammation and the production of sebum.
Due to its anti-inflammatory effect, CBD may help reduce sebum production and prevent acne.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD and its ability to treat epidermis diseases such as psoriasis have led to it becoming a key ingredient in skin creams and ointments.
Some experts are not convinced because of the lack of scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness.
Studies have found that people who use inhalers containing CBD stopped craving nicotine and reduced the number of cigarettes they usually smoked. This finding may suggest that the benefits of smoking CBD may help kick the tobacco habit.
According to a 2018 study, cannabidiol’s relaxing effect helped reduce cravings during tobacco withdrawal.
Short-Term Side Effects
Though CBD is considered natural and safe, and many people tolerate it well, there’s the possibility that it may cause adverse reactions in some people.
While there are many claims on the benefits of CBD, there’s limited information about the risks and side effects associated with the compound.
Studies are underway and in their early stages, but the commonly reported side effects are minor ones like tiredness, drowsiness, and diarrhea. Changes in appetite, weight loss, and vomiting have also been mentioned in research findings.
Knowing the health benefits of CBD doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind and ignore the potentially harmful interactions, such as the reaction with several medicines. For your safety, before you use cannabidiol oil, discuss it with your doctor.
Long-Term Side Effects
As mentioned, there aren’t enough reports on the side effects of cannabidiol. Most studies focus on the benefits of CBD.
One rodent study showed that CBD-rich cannabis extracts might cause liver toxicity. However, we must point out that extremely large doses of the extract were given to the mice.
Until there’s more evidence on the long-term side effects of using CBD, it’s best to seek medical advice if you’re planning to use such products
Although there are many medical benefits of CBD, remember that it’s sold as a supplement. Since it’s not considered medication, it doesn’t have FDA regulation and approval. So, you can’t be sure if the ingredients listed on the label are accurate.
Nobody knows the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
There’s no better time than now to consider using CBD if you have any of the ailments mentioned above. As more researchers study the potential health benefits of CBD oil, it’s a matter of time before new therapeutic uses for this natural remedy are discovered.
If you’re interested in growing your own cannabis plants to get both THC and CBD, you’ll first need to learn how to choose the best cannabis seeds. There are many Cannabis seeds 101 articles you can read online to improve your knowledge.
Due to the numerous benefits of CBD and the market's potential growth, you can be sure your knowledge and efforts will pay off.