CBD stands for cannabidiol and it is one of the 104 chemical compounds found in the resinous flower of Cannabis sativa, a plant with a rich history as medicine going back thousands of years.
According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” The safe, non-addictive substance CBD has significant therapeutic attributes. The most popular quality of CBD is the relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or certain pharmaceutical drugs. With dozens of natural benefits, CBD has also been used to ease conditions such as anxiety, epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases and more.
For the last century, researchers have assessed CBD as a treatment for more than 50 conditions. The strongest scientific evidence is for effectiveness in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). The FDA has recently approved the first cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.
CBD and THC are versatile compounds that impact our bodies by mimicking and augmenting effects of "endogenous cannabinoids" which are part of a regulatory system called the "endocannabinoid system". Over the last twenty five years, ECS has emerged as an important neuromodulatory system since it plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes that affect our everyday experience – our mood, our energy level, immune activity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more. This is how modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system holds therapeutic promises in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, by slowing down or in some cases stopping diseases ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis.
And the list isn't over yet - “modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans,” as Pal Pacher and George Kunos, scientists with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). An impediment to the development of cannabinoid medications has been the socially unacceptable psychoactive properties of plant-derived or synthetic agonists.
Popularly, CBD is used to address anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. This is also confirmed by scientific studies. ‘High CBD content medicinal cannabis products can help reduce nausea, poor appetite, pain and sleep disturbance in cancer patients, as shown in multiple studies,’ says Dr. Dani Gordon, a double board-certified medical doctor, integrative medicine physician and world-leading expert in CBD, cannabis medicine and wellness.
A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology back in 2011 found that when people with a generalized social anxiety disorder were given 600mg of CBD oil prior to a public speaking test, as opposed to a placebo, they experienced significantly less anxiety, difficulty, and discomfort during their speech.
Hemp has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. Recent studies have discovered that certain components of Hemp, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects due to the endocannabinoid system. Did you know that Sativex, an oral spray which is a combination of THC and CBD, is approved in several countries to reduce muscle spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis?
A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. CBD may also 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. Another study of 16 people undergoing chemotherapy found that a combination of CBD and THC administered via mouth spray reduced chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment alone.
Recent research has also linked CBD with several benefits for the heart and circulatory system, including the ability to lower high blood pressure. A study from 2017 treated 10 healthy men with one dose of 600 mg of CBD oil and found it reduced resting blood pressure, compared to a placebo. Epidemiological studies have shown a positive relationship between long-term stress and the development of cardiovascular disease. Researchers have suggested that the stress- and anxiety-reducing properties of CBD are responsible for its ability to help lower blood pressure. CBD is also being studied for its role in treating schizophrenia by reducing psychotic symptoms, substance abuse treatment, anti-tumor effects, and even diabetes prevention.
When talking about skincare, due to the positive effects of CBD on the immune system and its ability to help reduce inflammation, CBD oil offers relief from acne. The CBD oil is created by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil (coconut or hemp seed oil). A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD oil inhibited the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands in the skin.
There is much to be learned about the efficacy and of CBD. Research on the potential health benefits of CBD oil is ongoing, so new therapeutic uses for this powerful natural remedy are to be discovered.