As recent scientific study has shown, cannabidiol, or CBD, may have significant health benefits in addressing a wide range of medical conditions.
CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant that are showing promise for therapeutic use. As the legalization of cannabis continues to spread, and as researchers continue to study the plant’s potential, the stigma associated with its use will continue to dissipate.
Here's a look at the most intriguing and well-studied diseases and conditions CBD oil may be able to help manage and treat.
However, before you begin to supplement with CBD oil, consult with your physician. Together, you can evaluate any potential interactions with current medications and decide whether CBD is the right option for you. If you require guidance beyond what your physician can offer, consider consulting with a cannabis doctor. They will be able to answer questions related to dosage and other health benefits.
To understand CBD's potential for benefiting your overall health, it's important to know how it works within the body.
Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that bind to or activate cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body as part of the endocannabinoid system. These cannabinoid receptors, named CB1 and CB2, play a significant role in regulating everything from mood to pain perception to immune responses. In fact, it has been found that nearly all human diseases involve some sort of change in the functioning of the CB2 receptors.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid that is chemically similar to the endocannabinoids produced by your own body. CBD binds loosely to some CB1 and CB2 receptors, but mostly works indirectly by activating non-cannabinoid receptors, producing a wide range of effects. Because CBD, and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, are relatively familiar to the body because of their similarity to endogenous endocannabinoids, they're able to exert their action without producing serious side effects.
Inflammatory conditions like arthritis, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, or everyday aches and pains, can be debilitating. Most medical solutions attempt to treat and control the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes of the inflammation. CBD helps alleviate painful symptoms while also altering the mechanisms responsible for the inflammation.
CB2 receptors help to regulate the body’s natural immune response. Inflammation is an immune response to injury, foreign bacteria, and viruses. Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system can no longer recognize the body’s natural responses and begins to attack normal, healthy cells, leading to the possible progression or development of certain diseases.
CBD can stop these inappropriate immune responses before they begin. For example, cytokines are small proteins released by immune cells and are involved in initiating inflammation. CBD works to suppress cytokine production while boosting T-regulatory cells (Tregs). Tregs work to modulate the immune system and prevent autoimmune diseases.
CBD may alleviate severe social anxiety. Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder, or SAD, is one of the most common forms of anxiety disorders that impairs quality of life.
In a 2011 study, researchers studied the effects of CBD in people with SAD. The scientists selected 24 people with the condition who had never received treatment for SAD and divided the participants into two groups. One group received 600 mg of CBD while the control group received a placebo. The scientists then asked study participants to take part in a simulated public speaking test during which they measured blood pressure, heart rate, and other measurements of physiological and psychological stress.
The CBD group showed significantly reduced levels of anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during their speech performance. In comparison, those in the placebo group presented the opposite.
CBD may be able to help treat anxiety and depression in general by targeting the source of the issue.
Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and anxiety. CBD activates a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. CBD also inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters adenosine and anandamide, both known to elevate mood, to limit the effects of anxiety.
One of the greatest benefits of CBD oil is its ability to relieve pain. Studies have found CBD to be effective in treating pain from a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, back pain, and muscle spasms. Studies have also found CBD to be effective in reducing the pain, spasms, and involuntary movements in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.
Significant amounts of research have shown CBD to have a major impact on the glycine receptors found in the central nervous system. These receptors play a key role in our perception of pain. CBD increases the effect of glycine receptors and, in doing so, decreases the sensation of pain. As mentioned above, CBD also has an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces redness and swelling.
Some studies have found that CBD can reduce the growth of cancer cells. One of the ways CBD may do this is through antagonizing the GPR55 receptors. When active, these receptors have been shown to promote the growth of cancer cells. One particular study suggests that CBD oil can “turn off” the ID-1 gene, which is involved in the spread of breast cancer cells.
CBD may also be able to reduce the spread of cancer through its effects on cellular function. While the mechanisms are still being investigated, CBD has been shown to play a role in the apoptosis, or cell death, of cancerous cells.
There is a lot more research left to be done in the area, but the fact that CBD can reduce inflammation in the body and alter the behavior of certain cells offers some hope.
Finally, CBD oil may help manage the side effects of cancer treatments. Because of its pain-relieving properties, CBD oil may be able to help mitigate the painful after-effects of chemo and radiation treatments. There have also been some studies examining cannabidiol's ability to reduce anticipatory nausea, often experienced by cancer patients prior to treatment.
CBD has been showing great potential as an antipsychotic and neuroprotectant. More study is required to understand the exact reasons for this effect, but it may be related to CBD’s action to prevent the breakdown of the endocannabinoid anandamide.
Another potential reason for CBD’s antipsychotic effect could be its ability to bind to the dopamine D2 receptor. This is a receptor targeted by commonly prescribed antipsychotic medications.
These antipsychotic properties are not just important for individuals with schizophrenia, but can also impact those with bipolar disorder, and those experiencing psychosis related to Parkinson’s, Huntington's, or alcohol and drug use.
CBD continues to surprise medical researchers with the variety of common health benefits it provides. An increasing number of scientists, physicians, and consumers are learning about these health benefits and incorporating CBD into a healthy lifestyle plan.
Because CBD acts to reduce inflammation, it can also help reduce the appearance of acne. Sebum is an oily substance that is produced by the body to help hydrate the skin. However, too much sebum can cause acne. One study has found that CBD oil can inhibit the activity of sebaceous glands that produce sebum, leading to clearer, less oily skin.
For this reason, many skin care and beauty brands are starting to incorporate CBD into their products.
The research into the health benefits of CBD oil are ongoing but early indications suggest that CBD may be a practical, more natural, solution to a wide range of medical conditions. This fact is particularly important when you consider the impact of prescription drugs.
Opioids, often used to treat chronic pain, are habit forming and carry a significant risk of dependency and overdose. They can leave people groggy with limited functioning and produce nasty withdrawal symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin or ibuprofen, are useful in treating minor aches and pains but they have limitations. They are not effective at treating chronic or extreme pain and long-term use carries significant risks. Overuse can lead to peptic ulcers, acute renal failure, and stroke or myocardial infarction.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression and anxiety also carry potentially harmful side effects, including insomnia, dry mouth, a reduced sex drive, diarrhea, and sometimes suicidal ideations. Similarly, antipsychotic medications come with risks including low blood pressure, vomiting, constipation, tremors, seizures, drowsiness, and restlessness.
In contrast, CBD oil may be able to provide a safer alternative. CBD produces rare and mild side effects, and even the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated, “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
Treating certain medical conditions can be complicated but if there was a safer, more natural way, wouldn’t you want to try it?
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