The cannabis plant contains more than 80 natural compounds known as cannabinoids. One of the most important of them is Cannabidiol (CBD). Together with THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), these are two of the most important active ingredients contained in the cannabis plant, hence the most commonly studied ones.
Of the two ingredients, THC induces psychoactive effects. CBD, on the other hand, offers protection against the high often associated with marijuana. There are a lot of medical conditions, most of which have been untreatable, to which CBD has yielded promising results in as far as treatment is concerned.
How Does CBD Work?
All cannabinoids function by attaching to receptors in the body. This also applies to CBD. There are some cannabinoid compounds that are naturally produced in the body. For this reason, the body has its own cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2.
Most of the CB1 receptors are found in the brain. However, they can be found all over the body. The presence of CB1 receptors in the brain helps the body manage and coordinate moods, emotions, pain, movement, appetite, memories, and thoughts among other important functions. It’s to the CB1 receptors that THC attaches.
CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are commonly found within the immune system. Therefore, the role of these receptors is closely associated with pain and inflammation. Before recent information, researchers believed that CBD would attach to the CB2 receptors. However, there’s now proof that CBD doesn’t really attach to any of the receptors. In fact, CBD apparently instructs the body to use its naturally occurring cannabinoids.
CBD/Cannabidiol Health Benefits
- Fights Cancer
There are chemicals present in CBD that researchers have in the past proven to be effective in improving some treatments, especially fighting tumors. In some tests for cervical cancer, CBD helped stop the propagation of cancer cells.
The same thing happened in tests for colon cancer and leukemia. There were positive results for invasion and growth of the human glioma cells. Based on these results, it’s a worthy assertion that CBD can play an important role in fighting tumors.
One of the reasons why cannabinoids are presenting good results in therapy for prostate cancer and breast cancer is because they directly fight tumors. As a result, when taken with anti-tumor drugs, they help achieve positive results and also help patients feel less pain.
This works in the following ways:
- CBD reduces the proliferation of cancer cells by blocking the signaling of CPR55
- CBD supports the action of LAK (lymphokine activated killer) cells, making them more effective
- CBD suppresses the ability of cancer cells to metabolize, making them die in the process
- Can Protect Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
CBD plays an important role in preventing the death of brain cells. This is possible because CBD can prevent the action of toxic substances like radical oxygen species (ROS) and neurotransmitter glutamate. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. However, scientists have proven that the antioxidant capacity in CBD is more effective than Vitamin C.
There have been studies for using CBD in therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This is because CBD can also help protect the brain cells from beta-amyloid toxicity. In instances where there’s a reduction in blood flow, especially when the patient is suffering from ischemia, CBD can be used to protect the brain.
Studies that were carried out in patients with Parkinson’s disease indicate an improvement in their administered dosages when given CBD over a period of 6 weeks. While these results were promising, a different study didn’t yield any considerable results when a blend of CBD and THC were administered to patients suffering from dyskinesia or Parkinson’s disease.
Studies in animals, however, produced positive results, reversing the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease. CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a promising option for the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or for prolonging the survival of the patients.
- Can Relieve Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Over the years, scientists have been able to prove a positive correlation between cannabis derivatives and multiple sclerosis. In the right quantities, a blend of THC and CBD is quite effective. The body also tolerates this mix, especially when treating pain, tight muscles, urinary incontinence, and sleep disorders for people who are suffering from multiple sclerosis.
- Therapeutic Potential for Schizophrenia
Experts suggest that CBD can be effective in treating psychosis. While CBD has a good potential for improving the symptoms of schizophrenia, there’s no consensus on the mechanism of action. There are suggestions that CBD might have the same effects as most antipsychotic drugs, perhaps with a lower risk of side effects.
- Helps with Epileptic Seizures
CBD has been touted as a promising form of therapy for epilepsy, especially the treatment-resistant kind. More than 84% of parents whose children had treatment-resistant epilepsy reported a decrease in the frequency of seizures when their kids started taking CBD.
Apart from that, the parents also noted an improvement in the sleep patterns, increased alertness and awareness, and improved mood. Even with these benefits, however, there were obvious side effects like fatigue and drowsiness.
When treated with a 98% pure oil-based CBD extract, 39% of children who had treatment-resistant epilepsy experienced a reduction in their seizures by 50%.
In another study, 8 patients suffering from generalized epilepsy received between 200 and 300mg/d of CBD for 4.5 months. During this test, 7 of these patients noticed an improvement.
- Reduces Anxiety
CBD has also been shown to reduce anxiety in patients who have a social anxiety disorder, and also in people who are healthy. More often, those who engage in public speaking tend to become uncomfortable and suffer anxiety attacks. However, CBD has helped a lot of these individuals deal with this issue.
According to research scientists, CBD can be an effective treatment for OCD, panic disorder and PTSD.
- Relieves Pain
There are successful studies that have proven in the past that cannabinoids might as well be the best drug for treating chronic pain. In lab rodents in which these tests were carried out, CBD resulted in a reduction of neuropathic pain and chronic inflammatory pain in the rodents.
When administered together with THC, CBD has shown some promising results in treating post-operative pain, pain as a result of cancer, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the sublingual sprays, Sativex which is a blend of THC and CBD, has also been used in the recent past to treat neuropathic pain in patients who have advanced pain, cancer patients and those who suffer from multiple sclerosis.
Together with opioids, CBD can provide pain relief in different situations.
- Beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis
CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, the result of which helps provide relief for swelling, joint pains, disease progression and slowing down joint destruction. Using CBD can help provide protection from severe joint damage, can help with decreased progression and in animal test models, and can help yield improvement in arthritis.
In a controlled study, the administration of Sativex for 5 weeks showed improvement in pain relief, inflammation, and sleep quality. In fact, there were no side effects observed from this study.
- Improves Appetite
When administered to rats, CBD helped provide relief from vomiting and nausea. Studies by experts have revealed that when administered in a very low dosage, CBD helps reduce vomiting and nausea, especially from toxic drugs. However, when administered in higher doses, CBD doesn’t have any effect on the animals, other than increasing nausea.
While THC is already an approved drug that can be used for the treatment of vomiting and nausea in patients, there are more clinical studies required to prove its efficiency.
The National Cancer Institute notes that CBD can help improve an individual’s appetite but only by binding to the cannabinoid receptors that exist inside the body.
- Lowers Diabetes
In a study of more than 4,000 men and women, researchers found that the subjects who were using marijuana had 16% lower levels of fasting insulin and smaller waist circumference, one of the risk factors often associated with the early stages of diabetes.
By administering CBD to young and non-obese mice, the result was a reduction in the development of diabetes to 30% from 86%. This is proof that CBD works by inhibiting and delaying the destruction of pancreatic cells that are important in the production of insulin and the production of inflammatory cytokines in diabetics.
- Promotes Heart Health
Administering CBD results in arterial dilation which protects blood vessels from damage in the case of test animal subjects. CBD reduces the infarct size in the brain and the heart. Infarct size is the size of damage as a result of clogging in blood vessels. It also helps reduce the frequency of irregular heart rhythms in animals.
When administered to patients who are suffering from anxiety or going through a stressful situation, CBD is effective in reducing their blood pressure and heart rate. This also helps the individuals to calm down. CBD can also be attributed to influencing the function of white blood cells, and aggregation of platelets.
There’s still a lot of work to be done to prove whether CBD can actually stop the development of disorders of the blood vessels and the heart in humans, though studies are currently showing promising results. Based on this information, therefore, CBD, which has for a long time been known to be safe for human use, can be used as a successful therapy agent for treating type 1 diabetes, especially in the early stages.
- Can Treat Depression
Research scientists have reported anti-depressant effects in mice that received CBD. Based on these studies, these effects were prolonged and very fast. In fact, the effects can only be compared to Tofranil, common tricyclic medication imipramine.
- Helps with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Studies into the use of CBD have also proven that it can prevent the development of IBD in animal test subjects. In fact, a combination of THC and CBD will help provide inflammatory relief and improve the symptoms of IBD. Some of the obvious symptoms that can be improved include reduced appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Patients who have IBD can also consider using CBD given that it helps normalize their gut motility.
- Protects Against Bacteria
Studies have shown in the past antimicrobial activity in CBD, especially when administered against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This is a bacterial infection that usually results in infections that can be very difficult to treat.
- May Prevent Mad Cow Disease
The presence of CBD in the body can help inhibit the action of prions. These are proteins that usually cause neurodegenerative diseases like the mad cow disease. In fact, when administered to lab rats, this prolonged their survival by close to a week.
- Reduces Dyskinesia
Dyskinesia is associated with involuntary movement in the body. When administered in mice, CBD significantly reduced these symptoms.
This is possible through the following actions:
- CBD prevents the production of inflammatory markers in the body
- Reduces the number of enzymes that cause dyskinesia
- Together with a TRPV-1 antagonist, CBD acts on PPAR gamma receptors and CB1 to reduce the expression of inflammatory markers NF-kB and COX-2
- May Help with Insomnia
People who suffer from insomnia are encouraged to take CBD before they go to sleep. This is especially true for those who either struggle to fall asleep or wake up in the morning feeling more tired than they were before they went to sleep.
- Can Treat Substance Use Disorders
CBD can also help treat substance use disorders. There are studies that have proven this, especially concerning the effects of heroin and morphine. Inhaling CBD for a week might also help individuals reduce the number of cigarettes that they smoke by up to 40%, and all this without increasing their craving for nicotine.
- Can Treat Acne
One of the other benefits of administering CBD is a reduction in the proliferation of human sebaceous glands, and lipid synthesis. As a result, this means CBD can act as an effective therapeutic agent in treating acne.
- Helps Deal with Psoriasis
CBD can also help reduce the growth of keratinocytes, playing an important role in treating psoriasis.
- CBD activates the 5HT2A and 5HT1A receptors, helping fight the effects of appetite loss, addiction, anxiety, sleep disorder, vomiting, nausea, and depression.
- CBD, through the 5HT1A receptors, helps keep the brain safe from oxygen deprivation.
- By activating the TRPV-1 receptor, CBD helps with inflammation and pain perception.
- CBD can block the anandamide reuptake, helping the body fight depression and anxiety.
- CBD can also help reduce the frequency of seizures through modulating neuron excitability.