From topical pain relief to its anti-tumor potential, cannabidiol (CBD) has implications for a wide variety of symptoms and conditions
The claims for the uses for cannabidiol (CBD) are many, even though researchers are still in the early stages of investigating CBD. Primarily sold as a supplement, full-spectrum CBD contains less than 0.3% THC by volume, which means there are no psychoactive effects.
Most people do not report any side effects of CBD. In very few cases, CBD users have experienced fatigue and low blood pressure.
Before taking CBD with other medications, talk to your doctor. CBD affects the blood thinner coumadin, and it can have the same effect as grapefruit on certain medications.
CBD for pain relief.
If you’re looking for an alternative treatment for chronic pain, CBD is a natural choice. An animal study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine concluded that CBD reduced chronic pain and inflammation in some subjects.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has sponsored other pre-clinical studies to investigate CBD’s role in relieving pain caused by arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries. CBD acts on your body’s CB1 receptors to mute the pain signal to the brain. Research indicates CBD is effective in alleviating chronic pain through its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for maintaining cellular function, with 2 receptors, CB1 and CB2. Receptors are protein-based chemical structures that, when stimulated, react as neurotransmitters to carry out certain functions. While CBD doesn’t attach directly to these receptors, it does influence their responses to stimuli.
A 2018 review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology examined studies into CBD and pain that were carried out between 1975 and March 2018. The researchers studied pain as a symptom of cancer, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, as well as arthritis. The review’s authors concluded CBD is effective for pain management without side effects.
Anxiety and depression relief from CBD
Researchers believe CBD has a strong potential for the treatment of anxiety and depression because of how it works with the serotonin receptors in your brain. CBD indirectly works to change how your brain’s synapses respond to the serotonin already available.
Serotonin is a biochemical neurotransmitter derived from tryptophan. Its primary purpose is to regulate mood, among other functions. Current medical practice is to prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Abilify, or Lexapro. CBD stimulates serotonin’s effect, which increases receptivity.
CBD also has some benefits over traditional antidepressant medications. Most antidepressants can take up to 6 weeks to reach full therapeutic value. CBD, on the other hand, acts quickly, and its effects are sustained. Compared to traditional medications, CBD also has fewer side effects.
CBD for heart health and hypertension.
In the U.S., heart disease is a leading cause of death. While exercise and diet are essential, CBD can help reduce arterial blockages, stress-related cardiovascular responses, and cholesterol levels. CBD also helps prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, and the resulting cell death, which often contribute to the onset of heart disease.
Research studies have shown CBD has the potential to lower high blood pressure by reducing stress and anxiety. Hypertension is a leading cause of stroke. High blood pressure can also be a cause of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.
Seizure disorders and the promise of CBD.
In 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication for Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes are forms of epilepsy that have been resistant to medication. Epidiolex provides more treatment options for children 2 and up.
In a 2016 study, 214 people with epilepsy added 2 – 5 mg CBD per day to their existing epilepsy medications. After 12 weeks, study participants suffered 36.5% fewer seizures per month.
The American Epilepsy Society maintains that cannabidiol research is offering more hope for those who suffer from seizures. Current research continues into the safe use of CBD for treating seizure disorders.
Neuroprotection; CBD for the elderly and others with neurological disorders.
Early research indicates CBD’s impact on the endocannabinoid system and other neurotransmitters could provide relief for people with neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy.
Discussed in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, research appears to show that CBD helps to prevent Alzheimer’s patients’ development of social recognition deficit. This is good news for people in the early stages of the disease as it helps them retain memory and recognize family and friends. CBD also has implications for slowing the disease’s progression.
Several studies have been conducted into the use of CBD for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Results indicate that using CBD helped patients to achieve better sleep quality and improved quality of life.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties also decrease inflammation, relieving neurodegenerative symptoms.
Cancer and CBD.
While the research is still in the early stages, studies are showing that CBD may have a role in preventing the growth of cancer cells. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that CBD may also alleviate cancer symptoms and the side effects of cancer treatments. It’s CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to change cell reproduction that show the most promise.
As a natural alternative to treatment, CBD is useful in treating pain and chemo-induced nausea. There are reports that CBD has been more effective than traditional medications in treating the same symptoms.
Two reviews of CBD studies, published by the American Cancer Society and in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, have reported that the use of CBD slows the growth and spread of certain cancers.
Smoking cessation and addiction can benefit from CBD.
In a double-blind study of 24 smokers, run by the University College of London, half the smokers used a CBD inhaler when they wanted to smoke. The other half received a placebo inhaler. At the end of the study, those using CBD inhalers reduced their tobacco use by 40%.
Similarly, a Scripps Research Institute animal study of cocaine- and alcohol-addiction found that the animals receiving CBD gel treatment were less likely to exhibit drug-seeking behavior, and they weren’t as likely to relapse.
Like the law coming to the Wild West, research hasn’t caught up with all the claims made about the uses for CBD. While rigorous research into CBD is still growing, the early results are encouraging. The FDA, NCI, NIH, and the American Epilepsy Society have all acknowledged the efficacy of CBD, however hesitantly.
Do your research and talk to your doctor.
Lynette Garet is a bilingual freelance writer. A U.S. ex-pat living in Costa Rica with her wife Silvia, when not busy with writing projects, she can be found hanging with her favorite “stinky boys” (the Grand-Littles), tending to her garden, cooking, reading, enjoying good wine, and dancing in the kitchen to music from a limitless list of genres.