Exploring Cannabidiol (CBD): A Plant-Derived Compound
Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, stands as a prominent chemical compound derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Whether applied topically, inhaled through smoke, or consumed as an edible, CBD engages with the neuroreceptors within the endocannabinoid system. This intricate system facilitates communication between cells, contributing to the regulation of essential functions such as movement, mood, homeostasis, and immune responses.
CBD Extraction and Common Consumption
Typically derived from the cannabis sativa plant, CBD is frequently extracted in oil form. To enhance its usability, it is often blended with an inert carrier oil, such as hemp seed oil, for consumption. In a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll, it was revealed that among the 60% of adults who have utilized CBD, a significant 55% opted for CBD oils and tinctures. This underscores the popularity of these particular formulations within the CBD market.
Emerging Health Benefits of CBD Oil: A Glimpse into Research Findings
CBD research is expanding, uncovering potential health benefits. Here are nine ways studies suggest CBD oil could positively impact your well-being:
- Anxiety and Depression Relief
CBD’s renowned calming effect is a key reason for its widespread use. A study in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry (2017) assessed anxiety levels in 57 men during a simulated public speaking test. Those who received 300 milligrams of CBD exhibited significantly reduced anxiety compared to the placebo group. Notably, participants receiving 150 or 600 milligrams experienced more anxiety, emphasizing the importance of optimal dosage. Moreover, preliminary studies in mice indicated CBD’s antidepressant-like effects, similar to the antidepressant imipramine. Further human trials are essential to validate these findings.
- Treatment for Select Epilepsy Syndromes
The FDA approved CBD, marketed as Epidiolex, in 2018 for treating seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome—two rare forms of epilepsy—in patients aged 2 and above. Supported by three well-established studies, Epidiolex, when used in conjunction with prescribed medications, demonstrated a reduction in seizure frequency compared to a placebo in 516 patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
- Reduction of PTSD Symptoms
In a concise 2018 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11 individuals grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) incorporated CBD into their routine psychiatric care for eight weeks. The results were promising, with ten out of eleven participants experiencing a notable decrease in their PTSD symptoms. The overall tolerance to CBD was well-received, as reported by the researchers. Dr. Margaret Rajnic, a nursing practice expert in medical cannabis and CBD, underscores the importance of combining therapy with cannabis or CBD for PTSD. While emphasizing the necessity of therapy for PTSD, Dr. Rajnic notes that CBD contributes to a reduction in anxiety. Several other human trials spanning 2012 to 2016 suggest that CBD, sometimes in combination with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, effectively mitigates PTSD symptoms. The synergistic “entourage effect” of THC and CBD enhances each other’s benefits. For instance, a balanced dose of THC and CBD moderates the psychoactive effects of THC, while a minimal amount of THC, coupled with increased CBD, amplifies the effectiveness of CBD.
- Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Emerging evidence from both preclinical animal studies and human clinical trials suggests that CBD could be a valuable aid in treating individuals dependent on opioids. In a notable study, CBD was administered to individuals with heroin use disorder over a week, resulting in a significant reduction in cue-induced cravings, withdrawal anxiety, resting heart rate, and salivary cortisol levels. Importantly, no serious adverse effects were observed. Additional studies demonstrate CBD’s efficacy in alleviating various psychiatric and medical symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and pain in patients with substance use disorders, indicating a potential role for CBD in treating opioid addiction. However, further research is imperative for a comprehensive understanding of its effectiveness.
- Alleviation of ALS Symptoms
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease impacting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to the loss of muscle control. While the causes of ALS are not fully understood, there is no known cure, and only two FDA-approved medications are available to manage its symptoms. Research suggests that individuals with ALS may benefit from the entourage effect resulting from the combination of THC and CBD, similar to those with PTSD. In a 2019 study, patients received varying doses of THC and CBD based on their individual needs. Those experiencing spasticity due to ALS reported high levels of satisfaction with the treatment, particularly those with moderate to severe spasticity.
- Alleviation of Unmanageable Pain
In 2005, Canada sanctioned the utilization of Sativex, an oromucosal spray featuring equal proportions of THC and CBD, for treating central neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis. Subsequently, in 2007, Canada once again approved its use to address cancer pain that had shown resistance to other medications. Concurrently, ongoing studies in the U.S. underscore CBD’s efficacy in managing chronic, non-cancer pain. A 2020 study employed topical CBD administration on a cohort of patients with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy resulting from damage to nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Another group with the same condition received a placebo. The outcomes demonstrated a significant reduction in intense, sharp pains, as well as cold and itchy sensations, among those using topical CBD compared to the placebo group. Importantly, no adverse side effects were reported by participants. When applied topically, CBD oil doesn’t influence the systemic issue as it would when introduced directly into the bloodstream. Instead, CBD cream offers a more localized treatment, addressing pain in specific areas. Its targeted application may result in a more pronounced effect.
- Mitigation of Diabetic Complications
Preliminary findings from tests on human cells indicate that CBD plays a role in reducing the impact of elevated glucose levels on other cells in the body, a precursor to the development of diabetes and related complications. Researchers suggest that with further exploration, CBD could offer substantial benefits for individuals with diabetes, diabetic complications, and arterial plaque buildup. In a small-scale study, 13 patients with type 2 diabetes, not undergoing insulin treatment, were administered both CBD and a placebo (instead of insulin). The results showed that CBD led to a decrease in resistin levels (a factor causing insulin resistance) and an increase in glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide levels (a hormone ensuring adequate insulin release from digested food) compared to their baseline levels before the study. These findings indicate that CBD might serve as a natural treatment for diabetes by assisting the body in regulating insulin-related hormone levels.
- Neurological Disease Protection
CBD exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as evidenced by both preclinical and clinical studies. These characteristics suggest a potential for substantial neuroprotection against various pathological disorders. Preclinical investigations indicate that CBD may yield positive effects in mitigating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. While studies involving Huntington’s disease and cerebral ischemia have been conducted, significant positive outcomes have yet to be established. Further clinical research is essential to validate the benefits of CBD as a treatment for these neurological disorders.
- Inhibition of Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis entails the degradation of tissues in and around joints, presenting with symptoms like pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Treatment for arthritis typically focuses on pain relief and enhanced joint function. A groundbreaking 2006 study explored Sativex, a CBD-based botanical drug approved in the United Kingdom in 2010, as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. This controlled trial involving 58 patients revealed statistically significant improvements in sleep quality, pain during movement, and pain at rest compared to a placebo. CBD demonstrated not only pain-relieving effects but also the ability to suppress disease activity. In a 2018 study, researchers took a more localized approach, administering a synthetic CBD gel in daily doses of either 250 milligrams or 500 milligrams or a placebo to patients with knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Participants refrained from using other anti-inflammatory medications or painkillers, excluding acetaminophen, before and during the study. The findings, though not entirely conclusive, showed that while those treated with CBD did not experience substantial changes in pain compared to the placebo group, there were statistically significant differences between the 250-milligram dose group and the placebo group in terms of the average weekly improvement in their worst pain levels and WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) physical function ratings. Notably, men appeared to derive more significant benefits from CBD than women in this study.