The health benefits of CBD, or cannibidiol, have led to it being used to treat a wide variety of health ailments. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are mounting indications that CBD has even greater medical potential.
Huge amounts of anecdotal evidence along with an increasing number of studies are all pointing to the same thing: that although we may not yet understand all of the effects and benefits of CBD, the applications and possibilities of this substance are extraordinary.
From debilitating pain to epilepsy to anxiety to cancer—researchers are looking into what seems to be an ever increasing range of conditions that can be or can potentially be helped by CBD. The FDA even recently approved a CBD based anti-seizure drug, called Epidiolex, for the treatment of people with epilepsy.
There have been many far-reaching claims about the health benefits of CBD—even that it is some kind of miracle drug. And though there is still a lot of research to be done, science is quickly catching up with the personal evidence and proving much of it to be true.
But just what is CBD?
What is CBD?
CBD is one of hundreds of chemical compounds found in the Cannabis genus of plants. Around 60 of those chemical compounds are found only in Cannabis plants and so are named cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD has no psychoactive effects and so does not get you “high”.
CBD, like all cannabinoids, interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system, a body system that was relatively unknown until recently. Further Study has shown that it is a crucial biochemical communication system in the human body, and that it plays a critical role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience.
The health benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids result from them tapping into this system and triggering cannabinoid receptors existing within the body. These receptors then stimulate changes, many of which result in positive health effects and which are extremely beneficial for the body.
One of the most exciting—and already widely used—applications for CBD is to treat chronic pain and inflammation. A wide array of existing products are already available across the entire country, ranging from topical ointments to oils that are consumed orally.
Researchers and scientists are still understanding exactly how CBD works so well at relieving pain, but know that it has to do with the unique way that CBD interacts with receptors in the brain (specifically, serotonin receptors) and immune system.
Studies, such as this investigation published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, found that CBD consistently reduces inflammation in laboratory mice. A later study found that it has a similar pain reducing effect in humans, without any adverse side effects. Additionally, a recent clinical trial undertaken by the pharmaceutical company Zynerba found that a CBD based, topical drug provided pain relief to patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan and consulting doctor for this clinical trial, had this to say:
“I don’t think we have that many good drugs for pain, and we know that CBD has fewer side effects than opioids or even nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can cause bleeding and cardiovascular problems,” he says. “If I have an elderly patient with arthritis and a little bit of CBD can make their knees feel better, I’d prefer they take that than some other drugs.”
Another major health application of CBD that is being looked into more deeply is its use as an anti-anxiety medicine. Like with pain, the benefits of CBD lie in the way it interacts with the brain and endocannabinoid system receptors, coupled with the fact that it does not have any of the intoxicating or long-term health effects associated with existing anti-anxiety or pain medications.
A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) had this to say about the benefits of CBD and its effectiveness in treating Social Anxiety Disorder:
“Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group as assessed with the VAMS. The SSPS-N scores evidenced significant increases during the testing of the placebo group that was almost abolished in the CBD group.”
Put simply, the group which received the CBD had significantly less social anxiety than the group that did not receive the CBD (the placebo group).
The research into anxiety treatment has opened up possibilities for CBD to potentially treat other mental disorders or illnesses, including depression and drug and alcohol addiction.
As we mentioned earlier, a CBD derived drug to treat epilepsy has already been approved by the FDA. There have also been a number of studies done to test CBD’s efficacy in treating the different types of epilepsy and their associated seizures.
One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that there was a median decrease of 38.9 percent in the frequency of seizures for patients with Dravet Syndrome (a rare form of epilepsy) who received CBD.
Again, the benefits of CBD lie both in its ability to treat these different ailments or conditions, combined with the fact that it is totally non-toxic and has virtually no side effects that have been observed.
In this article, we only touched on a few of the existing and potential health benefits of CBD. There is a myriad of other medical applications and we are just starting to fully understand the depth of possibilities associated with this extraordinary substance.