Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a product made from cannabinoids, which are the chemicals naturally found in Cannabis plants. Unlike other cannabinoids such as THC, CBD doesn’t create a “euphoric” effect when used.
While research in the United States has been limited due to CBD’s regulatory status, there has been some international pre-clinical and clinical research done. With hemp legalization passing at the end of 2018, consumer interested exploded and awareness about CBD’s potential applications grew. Here’s what you need to know about six potential medical uses of CBD and where the research currently stands:
CBD may be able to help you manage the symptoms of anxiety. Researchers believe it may change the way your brain’s receptors respond to serotonin, a chemical linked to mental health. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical messages and help your cells respond to different stimuli.
One study found that a 600mg dose of CBD helped people with social anxiety to give a speech. Other early studies done with animals have shown that CBD may help relieve anxiety by:
- reducing stress
- decreasing physiological effects of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate
- improving symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- inducing sleep in cases of insomnia
CBD has been in the news before as a possible treatment for epilepsy, but the research is still preliminary. Researchers are testing how much CBD can be used to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as how safe it is. The American Epilepsy Society indicates that cannabidiol research offers new hope for seizure disorders, and that research is currently being conducted to better understand safe use.
One such study in 2016 involved 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The study’s researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any negative side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month. However, severe adverse effects were recorded in 12 percent of the participants.
Researchers are looking at the brain’s CB1 receptor to identify ways that CBD could help people with neurodegenerative disorders, which are diseases that cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time.
Researchers are studying the use of CBD oil for treating:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
CBD oil may also reduce the inflammation that can make neurodegenerative symptoms worse. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD oil for neurodegenerative diseases.
The effects of CBD oil on the brain’s receptors may also help manage pain. Studies have shown that cannabis can offer some benefits when taken after chemotherapy treatments. Other pre-clinical studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health are also looking at the role of cannabis in relieving symptoms caused by:
- chronic pain
- MS pain
- muscle pain
- spinal cord injuries
Nabiximols (Sativex), a multiple sclerosis drug made from a combination of THC and CBD, has been approved in the United Kingdom and Canada to treat MS pain. Researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD in the drug may be contributing more effective on treating inflammation than pain relief. Clinical trials of CBD are necessary to determine whether it should be used for pain management.
The effects of CBD on receptors in the immune system may help reduce overall inflammation in the body. In turn, CBD oil may offer benefits for acne management. A human study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the oil prevented activity in the sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, a natural oily substance that hydrates the skin and causes acne when overproduced.
Before you consider CBD oil for acne treatment, it’s worth discussing with your dermatologist first. More human studies are needed to evaluate the potential benefits of CBD for acne.
Some studies have investigated the role of CBD in preventing cancer cell growth, but research is still in its early stages. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) indicates that CBD may help alleviate cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects. However, the NCI doesn’t fully endorse any form of cannabis as a cancer treatment. The action of CBD that’s promising for cancer treatment is its ability to moderate inflammation and change how cells reproduce, including tumor cells.