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Does CBD Really Help?
If you or a loved one have considered taking cannabidiol — also known as CBD — for improved health and wellness, you’re not alone. CBD, which is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, has received a great deal of attention over the last few years for its purported health and wellness benefits.
While some of the claims about CBD’s health benefits may be overblown, there is real science to back up many of the anecdotal reports about its benefits.
What Exactly is CBD?
CBD is one of the cannabinoid molecules found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis contains over 60 cannabinoid molecules — including the psychoactive THC molecule that causes users to feel a “high” or “stoned”.
CBD Is Non-Intoxicating
CBD doesn’t cause the “high” feeling created by THC, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t doing anything when we use it. In fact, it’s the medicinal powerhouse compound that brings most of the therapeutic relief to medical cannabis patients.
Pain and Inflammation
So far, the research on CBD suggests that it reduces chronic pain and inflammation. According to a meta-analysis conducted in Canada in 2007, the combination of CBD and THC was effective in treating neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis patients. Similarly, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that rodents with neuropathic and chronic inflammatory pain experienced suppression of symptoms without analgesic tolerance.
CBD can trigger the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are compounds that can ease discomfort and pain, and it can disrupt the activity of pain receptors.
Research shows that CBD produces antipsychotic effects. Its pharmacological profile is similar to that of atypical antipsychotic drugs as seen in animal studies.
Studies also show that CBD may prevent human psychosis, and it is safe and effective in clinical trials of patients with schizophrenia. CBD had fewer and less severe side effects than antipsychotic pharmaceuticals.
Humans have been using cannabis to treat nausea and vomiting for centuries, and recent scientific research suggests that both THC and CBD relieve nausea and vomiting in animal studies. A little CBD goes a long way, though: CBD acts in a diphasic manner, so it suppresses vomiting in low doses, but in high doses, it increases nausea or has no effect.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that CBD inhibited the growth of tumor cells in breast cancer patients. The results of this study were backed up further in 2011 when researchers were able to show that CBD triggered cell death of breast cancer cells. They also found that the effective concentrations of CBD have little effect on healthy mammary cells.
Some people may be surprised to learn that a compound from cannabis can reduce anxiety especially since cannabis is notorious for making some users feel paranoid or anxious. Feelings of paranoia and anxiety related to cannabis are related to THC, and not CBD, though.
CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder, and researchers suggest that it may also significantly reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study randomly chose 24 smokers to receive either an inhaler of CBD oil or a placebo. The researchers asked participants to take a puff every time they had an urge to smoke a cigarette. Over the course of a week, study participants with the placebo inhalers saw no change in the total number of cigarettes they consumed, while those who took CBD saw a nearly 40 percent drop in their intake, so CBD may have a purpose in the withdrawal process from cigarettes.
Lowers Incidents of Diabetes
According to a 2006 study CBD aided in the prevention of diabetes in non-obese mice. In the study, the CBD prevented a cytokine that induces many autoimmune diseases. In 2013, researchers discovered that adult men who used cannabis had 16% lower fasting insulin levels, and they also found significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.
Seizures and Other Neurological Disorders
In 2014, researchers at Stanford University surveyed parents who were giving their children CBD to treat epileptic seizures. 84% of the parents surveyed reported a reduction in their child’s seizure frequency. They also reported increased alertness, better mood, and improved sleep.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the National Institutes of Health revealed that CBD is an effective treatment for acne. Researchers used CBD on the human sebaceous glands, and they found CBD was anti-inflammatory and sebostatic.
CBD doesn’t have many side effects, but one of its side effects — tiredness — is welcomed by many people who suffer from bouts of insomnia. This is welcome news for many people since medications to induce sleep may cause dependence. At the very least, many individuals complain of feeling tired and groggy after taking pharmaceuticals for sleeping. CBD, however, is non-habit forming, and it doesn’t cause long-term grogginess.
According to some scientists, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD help reduce the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. CBD affects the system that controls gut function in the body, and some individuals have reported full remission of symptoms.
Mad Cow Disease
Studies show that CBD halts prions, which are the proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases like mad cow. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2007 showed that CBD allowed mice with mad cow disease to survive about a week longer than expected.
Most people who use CBD in moderate amounts don’t experience side effects, but there are a few side effects that some individuals may find to be unpleasant. The most common side effects are hypotension, dry mouth, lightheadedness, impaired motor functions, and fatigue. None of the side effects associated with CBD are dangerous or fatal, but individuals already taking medication to lower blood pressure could experience dangerously low blood pressure levels if they use CBD.
CBD from industrial hemp is legal in all 50 states. Often sold as an oil that can be taken orally via dropper, CBD can easily be purchased from cannabis dispensaries and online, premium marijuana delivery services. With multiple health benefits and few, if any, side effects, you may want to consider keeping some CBD handy in your household’s medicine cabinet.
Kurt Darrell is a Colorado resident and an active medical and recreational cannabis contributor in various blogs and cannabis online publications. He works with several cannabis companies, one of which is Tops Cannabis, a premium marijuana delivery service to help them understand consumer insights regarding marijuana products and consumption. He also engages in volunteer work whenever he’s free.