CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the possible therapeutic uses of CBD. Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects. Until recently, the best-known compound in cannabis was delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
This is the most active ingredient in marijuana. Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects. THC creates a mind-altering “high” when a person smokes it or uses it in cooking. This is because THC breaks down when we apply heat and introduce it into the body.
CBD is different. Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it. However, CBD does appear to produce significant changes in the body, and some research suggests that it has medical benefits.
CBD is one of 104 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, that can be found in the cannabis plant. It’s a naturally occurring substance, which can be extracted and mixed with a carrier oil – often hemp seed or coconut – to create CBD oil.
Unlike the most well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it won’t make you ‘high’ – the sensation most commonly associated with cannabis. It is, however, reported to offer a range of health and medicinal benefits – the reason behind its growing acclaim.
- CBD may benefit a person’s health in a variety of ways.
Natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
People tend to use prescription or over-the-counter drugs to relieve stiffness and pain, including chronic pain.
Some people believe that CBD offers a more natural alternative.
Authors of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain in some mice and rats.
The researchers suggested that the non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, could provide a new treatment for chronic pain.
Quitting smoking and drug withdrawals
Some promising evidence suggests that CBD use may help people to quit smoking.
A pilot study published in Addictive Behaviors found that smokers who used inhalers containing CBD smoked fewer cigarettes than usual and had no further cravings for nicotine.
A similar review, published in Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may be a promising treatment for people with opioid addiction disorders.
The researchers noted that CBD reduced some symptoms associated with substance use disorders. These included anxiety, mood-related symptoms, pain, and insomnia.
More research is necessary, but these findings suggest that CBD may help to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, the FDA approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures in 2018.
In the U.S., a doctor can prescribe Epidiolex to treat:
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), a condition that appears between the ages of 3 and 5 years and involves different kinds of seizures
- Dravet syndrome (DS), a rare genetic condition that appears in the first year of life and involves frequent, fever-related seizures
The types of seizures that characterize LGS or DS are difficult to control with other types of medication.
The FDA specified that doctors could not prescribe Epidiolex for children younger than 2 years. A physician or pharmacist will determine the right dosage based on body weight.
Some researchers have found that CBD may prove to combat cancer.
Authors of a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found evidence that CBD significantly helped to prevent the spread of cancer.
The researchers also noted that the compound tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote their destruction.
They pointed out that CBD has low levels of toxicity. They called for further research into its potential as an accompaniment to standard cancer treatments.
Doctors often advise people with chronic anxiety to avoid cannabis, as THC can trigger or amplify feelings of anxiousness and paranoia.
However, authors of a review from Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may help to reduce anxiety in people with certain related disorders.
According to the review, CBD may reduce anxiety-related behaviors in people with conditions such as:
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- general anxiety disorder
- panic disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
The authors noted that current treatments for these disorders can lead to additional symptoms and side effects, which can cause some people to stop taking them.
No further definitive evidence currently links CBD to adverse effects, and the authors called for further studies of the compound as a treatment for anxiety.
Initial research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that CBD was able to prevent the development of social recognition deficit in participants.
This means that CBD could help people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to keep the ability to recognize the faces of people that they know.
This is the first evidence that CBD may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Many small-scale studies have looked into the safety of CBD in adults. They concluded that adults tend to tolerate a wide range of doses well.
Researchers have found no significant side effects on the central nervous system, the vital signs, or mood, even among people who used high dosages.
The most common side effect was tiredness. Also, some people reported diarrhea and changes in appetite or weight.
How to use
Using CBD oil is not the same as using or smoking whole cannabis.
A person can use CBD oil in different ways to relieve various symptoms.
If a doctor prescribes it to treat LGS or DS, it is important to follow their instructions.
CBD-based products come in many forms. Some can be mixed into different foods or drinks or taken with a pipette or dropper.
Others are available in capsules or as a thick paste to be massaged into the skin. Some products are available as sprays to be administered under the tongue.
Recommended dosages vary between individuals, and depend on factors such as body weight, the concentration of the product, and the health issue.
Some people consider taking CBD oil to help treat:
- chronic pain
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- sleep disorders