Ever since our government legalised CBD products in 2018, interest in them has exploded. Sadly, some marketers have over-hyped cannabidiol, creating a mania around it. Some claim it can clear up your complexion, whilst others suggest it can fight cancer.
There’s nothing wrong with the claims themselves: It’s that few marketers bother with evidence-based research. For all the positive press that CBD gets, government organisations like the CDC still point out its drawbacks.
Nonetheless, properly constructed studies are further clarifying cannabidiol’s benefit with every passing day. In this guide, we’ll clear the air, once and for all. Below, we’ll list CBD benefits, effects, and treatments that have been verified by peer-reviewed research.
What does scientific research say about CBD?
Scientists have researched cannabidiol (or CBD for short) for over 30 years. However, the volume of these studies has exploded over the past decade, as governments have lowered legal barriers.
What is the current scientific consensus on CBD? A range of studies, dating from the 1990s up to the present day, points strongly towards several effects. These include anti-inflammatory properties, antipsychotic effects, and neuroprotective properties.
Many findings show positive correlations. However, we must stress that, due to a deficiency of research, scientists CANNOT draw ironclad conclusions. Research is ongoing as we speak to establish repeatable results.
If they are found, then (and ONLY then) can producers make medical claims. For now, all we have are suggestions of what CBD MIGHT do. Bear this in mind as you try CBD products.
Science and full-spectrum CBD oil
On its own, CBD has a range of beneficial effects, as the above studies support. However, it can achieve additional/more significant results when it works together with other cannabinoids.
Those who suffer from disorders of the dietary tract – like Crohn’s Disease – can attest to this. On its own, CBD has no observable effect on the inflammation of the digestive tract. However, when CBD was paired with THC in a 15:4 (15% CBD, 4% THC) concentration, patients reported greatly improved quality of life.
Furthermore, a 2018 study compared the efficacy of pure cannabinoids to a “botanical preparation” in animals afflicted with cancer. In the latter group, researchers gave test subjects a treatment that contained a full spectrum of cannabinoids. Compared to the pure cannabinoid group, anti-tumour responses in those receiving the botanical preparation were far more robust.
As of now, the body of evidence is still too shallow to draw concrete conclusions. However, it appears full-spectrum CBD oil may be superior to CBD isolate.
Want to get your hands on full-spectrum CBD oil? Presently, you can only buy broad-spectrum CBD oil (THC less than 0.2%) from High Street shops/online. Those who require full-spectrum CBD oil (product with significant concentrations of THC) must get their medical cannabis card. Speak with your doctor to start the process.
How does CBD affect the human body?
For decades, users of cannabis boasted of its many benefits. Sadly, these claims could only be regarded as anecdotal – until the 1990s, that is. That decade, researchers published studies which not only uncovered supporting evidence, but an entirely new biological system.
Named the endocannabinoid system, it provides an interface that allows cannabinoids to affect the body. In particular, scientists identified two receptors – CB1 and CB2. THC and other endocannabinoids (like 2-AG and anandamide) connect with these ports. CBD does as well, but in an entirely different way.
Rather than activating their processes, it acts as an agonist. In effect, CBD suppresses the ability of other cannabinoids to enable these ports. For instance, by preventing the activation of CB1 receptors by THC, CBD has anti-psychotic effects.
Meanwhile, CBD calms inflammation in soft-tissue by inhibiting CB2 receptors in immune cells. By doing this, it suppresses the response of inflammatory cytokines.
We’ve only known about the endocannabinoid system for approximately 30 years. As such, our knowledge base is limited. But, so far, science has proven that CBD, through its interactions with CB1/CB2 receptors, can induce several beneficial effects. We’ll talk more about these below.
CBD reduces inflammation
Inflammation is a bodily response to an invasion – real or perceived – by foreign agents. While it’s often a necessary process to injury or illness, auto-immune disorders can trigger it chronically. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common example of such an illness CBD can treat.
When CBD interacts with CB2 receptors in immune cells around the body, it suppresses the production of cytokines. It achieves this goal by inducing the death of T-lymphocytes, which produce cytokines. As a result, the inflammatory response decreases.
When the inflammation subsides, it relieves pressure on nerve endings, thus silencing the pain. Because of this relationship, CBD is becoming an increasingly popular treatment for chronic pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
CBD has anti-psychotic effects
Schizophrenia plagues the minds of more than 23 million people worldwide. For those afflicted, every day is a struggle to understand reality. To cope, they take anti-psychotic medications. These medications inhibit the ability of neurotransmitters to trigger dopamine releases from the D2 receptor.
Unfortunately, current anti-psychotic drugs have a range of unpleasant side-effects. These include muscle spasms, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain.
Whilst the current consensus is inconclusive, it appears CBD may exhibit anti-psychotic effects. Researchers may have uncovered the mechanics of the process in a 2016 study published in Translational Psychiatry. In it, researchers observed that CBD acted as a partial agonist, inhibiting neurotransmitters from binding to D2 receptors.
This action slows excessive releases of dopamine, which are thought to be partially responsible for many schizophrenic symptoms.
CBD has neuroprotective properties
all diseases that can afflict us, those that degrade the nervous
system/brain are among the most horrifying. Parkinson’s Disease,
ALS, Alzheimer’s, dementia – all cause us to physically or mentally
waste away in front of loved ones.
Naturally, we’ve all funded considerable research to combat these conditions. As a result, we now have a suite of neuroprotective drugs. They aren’t cures, but they do buy precious time whilst researchers seek a remedy.
Sadly, common neuroprotective drugs, like Riluzole, come with unwanted side effects. In this example, Riluzole can cause decreased lung function and vertigo-like symptoms. Fortunately, in neurological disorders like ALS, CBD has shown promise.
For instance, let’s refer to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. In this paper, researchers found that CBD significantly altered the expression of genes associated with early-stage ALS. In other words, it offers neuroprotective effects that could slow the progression of this disorder.
CBD can act as an anti-depressant
The 20th century saw monumental gains in physical medicine. However, it is only recently that we’ve begun to take mental health seriously. For starters, researchers have uncovered that depression & anxiety have biological foundations.
In other words, the supplementation of drugs can address the root causes of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, existing anti-depressant drugs have exhibited troubling side-effects, like reduced sex drive, nausea, and paradoxically, suicidal thoughts.
So it’s welcoming news that cannabidiol could have anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties, without the side-effects mentioned above. Preliminary research on animals has revealed that CBD boosts mood through the rapid elevation of serotonin levels.
This neurotransmitter is responsible for the regulation of mood. When present in increased concentrations, feelings associated with depression and anxiety decreased in some patients.
That said, the body of scientific knowledge regarding biology and depression is somewhat limited. The connection of CBD to anxiety/depression, even more so. However, a review of existing studies concludes that cannabidiol appears to have anti-stress effects. We may not understand the mechanisms yet, but it might work for you.
CBD MAY have anti-cancer properties
No disease comes close to the scourge that cancer is. According to Cancer Research UK, a full 50% of us will contract a form of cancer at some point. Chances are good you know someone in your family who contracted and/or died from it.
For generations, we’ve thrown billions of pounds into anti-cancer research. Whilst we continue to contract cancer at disturbing rates, advances have drastically decreased mortality. In the 1970s, the median survival rate for ALL forms of cancer was less than a year. Except for several stubborn cancers, the median survival rate is now five years. For some of these diseases, it’s more than ten years.
And now, it appears CBD might offer significant advances of its own. For starters, this review article lists off multiple studies that suggest CBD slows down tumour growth. In others, it’s posited that CBD may actually kill cancer cells in certain circumstances.
To be 100% clear: we are <strong>NOT</strong> suggesting that cannabidiol is a miracle cure for cancer. However, the current body of research suggests CBD has potent anti-cancer effects. In the future, CBD-infused medications may become an effective weapon against humankind’s greatest foe.
Can CBD treat my illness?
As we’ve shown you, CBD has a variety of effects on the human body. But, if you’ve skipped to this section, you’re likely interested whether it can help you, or a loved one.
Below, we’ll discuss research into CBD’s effects on common disorders, diseases, and conditions.
CBD studies on anxiety
In an instant, anxiety can turn even the strongest-looking person into a frightened mess. It can also make it nigh impossible to leave the house.
Thankfully, several studies suggest CBD holds considerable promise for those who suffer from anxiety. For instance, in 2010, a team of Brazilian researchers published a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. In it, they found CBD significantly decreased anxiety in those suffering from a social anxiety disorder.
Five years later, a broad review of studies on CBD and anxiety pointed to the same conclusion. In short, the correlation between dosing with CBD and the alleviation of anxiety was strong.
CBD studies on depression
In recent years, doctors have treated depression as an illness, not as a moral failing. However, prescribed SSRIs, whilst somewhat effective, have serious issues.
For one, some medications actually encourage suicidal thoughts in some patients. Two, it can take weeks for some drugs to start working as intended. And three, they often come with significant trade-offs, like the suppression of one’s sex drive.
Whilst there is a shortage of human studies, it appears CBD does have a positive effect on depression in animal subjects. Furthermore, cannabidiol appears to take effect almost immediately – a far cry from weeks of dosing with SSRIs.
CBD studies on pain
Chronic pain has a debilitating effect on our ability to function, let alone be productive. Existing modalities like opioids are under heavy scrutiny these days due to their addictive properties.
However, in instances where inflammation triggers the patient’s pain, CBD supplementation appears to help. As we’ve already shown, cannabidiol is a potent anti-inflammatory. Unsurprisingly, numerous studies on the efficacy of CBD in treating pain have shown positive results. For instance, this review of CBD pain studies revealed that cannabidiol was most effective at relieving arthritis pain.
In other instances, like those who have fibromyalgia, a THC/CBD mix is favoured. In these cases, THC activates endorphin production, whilst CBD relieves inflammation and suppresses psychoactive effects. Note that patients seeking the latter treatment in the UK do require a medical cannabis card.
CBD studies on epilepsy
There’s nothing scarier than watching your child go through an epileptic seizure. They occur so frequently, they interfere with the business of growing up. As such, we’d try anything in a bid to relieve them.
Currently, doctors prescribe anti-seizure medications like carbamazepine and phenytoin. Sadly, many of these have undesirable side effects that include nausea, mood swings, and learning deficits.
Scientists, encouraged by cannabidiol’s effects on neurotransmitters, are studying its efficacy in treating epilepsy. In February 2016, an Israeli study which tested the effects of CBD on 74 children with epilepsy. The results showed that 80% reported a significant reduction in seizure volume.
Animal models also confirm this effect. A 2015 study reported that CBD had anticonvulsive effects on rats exposed to pentylenetetrazole, a chemical that provokes seizures.
CBD studies on fibromyalgia
Despite being identified as a disorder in the 1990s, fibromyalgia largely remains shrouded in mystery. Generally speaking, it’s a condition that amplifies the body’s perception of pain. Sensations others can bear can be excruciating for those who have fibromyalgia.
Up until recently, researchers had conducted no studies on the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for fibromyalgia. Then, in 2019, the Journal of Clinical Medicine published a study on cannabis as a fibromyalgia treatment.
Results were positive, with over 80% of test subjects reporting significant reductions in pain. Researchers couldn’t draw more specific conclusions, as they used 14 different strains, each with varying CBD/THC ratios.
As a result, we can’t concretely say whether pure CBD oil will help fibromyalgia. However, initial results hold much promise for the future.
CBD studies on cancer
Cancer is a complex disease. Treatments that work for certain cancers seem to be less effective in others. It’s against this backdrop that scientists have conducted CBD cancer studies.
What has the science said so far? Going into the 2010s, cannabis was known as an effective way to manage symptoms. However, a recent review of CBD studies revealed this cannabinoid has much more potent effects.
Several studies suggest CBD doesn’t just relieve pain and nausea – it actively interferes in tumour growth. Further, it even appears CBD may induce apoptosis (or cancer cell death) in certain circumstances.
Cannabidiol also appears to exert a protective effect on DNA. According to a 2012 study, it inhibited the spread of colon cancer cells by guarding DNA against oxidation damage. That same year, similar results were found in those who have lung cancer.
CBD studies on glaucoma
After a lifetime of taking one’s sight for granted, having it stolen can be quite distressing. In England, nearly a half million people have glaucoma, a disease that slowly consumes your vision.
It does this by inducing apoptosis of cells in the optical nerve. Since CBD has developed a reputation for being a potent antioxidant, researchers have researchers whether it can forestall glaucoma.
According to a 2003 study published in the American Journal in Pathology, it might. In that paper, CBD was one of the cannabinoids shown to prevent glutamate-induced cell death.
However, on the subject of intraocular pressure, it appears THC-heavy cannabis strains may be more effective. A December 2018 study showed THC relieved intraocular pressure, whilst CBD did the opposite. Further, it seems CBD blunts the effect of THC – therefore, a higher THC concentration may be advisable.
CBD studies on insomnia
A good night’s sleep is essential for the orderly function of the human body. Insomnia, or an inability to consistently enjoy restful slumber, can pose dire health effects in the long-term.
Some have treated this condition by taking doses of CBD. According to studies, though, its effectiveness may be indirect. According to a January 2012 study, cannabidiol exerted an anxiolytic effect on the brain, preventing disruption of REM sleep. However, NREM sleep (dreamless, deep sleep) was unaffected by CBD.
It appears insomnia caused by psychological disturbances may be treatable by CBD, whilst others may not be.
CBD studies on multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nervous system disorder, can make it difficult to function day-to-day. To regain a semblance of normalcy, many MS patients have turned to CBD. Now, it appears scientific studies are backing up what they already know.
A 2013 paper published in Neurobiology of Disease showed CBD downregulated the transmission of leukocytes across the blood/brain barrier. This action reduced the autoimmune response responsible for many symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis.
A 2018 review article also made a case for a medical cannabis blend with a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio. According to the sources it cited, this treatment modality reduces pain and muscle spasms.
Studies on CBD and dogs
Many of us regard our dogs as family. So, when they’re beset with expensive medical issues, most have a willingness to experiment with alternative therapies. The internet is full of anecdotal reports of the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of various canine ailments.
However, few studies have been conducted evaluating the effect of CBD on dogs – until recently. For instance, a 2019 study assessed the effectiveness of CBD-infused dog food on osteoarthritis. By the end of the study, a statistically significant difference in pain was shown.
Another study evaluated the effect of CBD on seizure frequency in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. In the end, a median reduction of 33% was observed in the CBD group.
The science of CBD is constantly evolving
There’s no question: cannabidiol has many potential applications. However, only now is a body of CBD knowledge being built, after years of legal hurdles.
To reiterate: The latest CBD findings are <strong>NOT</strong> ironclad declarations. They are hypotheses that could be confirmed by studies that repeat earlier results. Of course, they could be disproven by studies by DON’T agree with the current consensus.
Bear this in mind when reading the latest CBD claims.