Many people wonder what the benefits of CBD oil are and how to use it. Studies have shown that medical use of CBD can help symptoms of many diseases, from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s. Sounds intriguing? Read on for the details.
Medical marijuana and whether it should be legalized is a politically charged issue. Whether you agree or disagree with legalization, you are probably aware of a new conversation regarding CBD (cannabidiol), a compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. It is one of nearly 80 compounds called cannabinoids. CBD is frequently used in an oil form. Over the past few years researchers have studied how CBD oil affects the body when used for medical and therapeutic purposes.
The biggest difference between CBD and what people think of as marijuana is the effect it has on the body. The most well-known compound in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which has a mind-altering effect on the body. It is generally smoked or cooked into food. CBD has no psychoactive effects, meaning using CBD oil will not create a “high” or a feeling of euphoria. The human brain has its own cannabinoids, and two receptors that attract these compounds, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are located throughout the body, but many of the CB1 receptors are in the brain.
The CB1 receptors deal with movement, pain, thinking, appetite, and memory, coordination, moods and emotions. The THC compound binds to the CB1 receptor, and this is what causes the altered mental state or “high.” CBD does not bind to the CB1 receptor. The CB2 receptors are mostly located in the immune system, and affect inflammation and pain. While initially it was thought that CBD may bind to the CB2, receptor, researchers now believe that CBD also activates the cannabinoids that are already present in the human body, affecting the body’s ability to fight inflammation, pain and other medical issues.
Marijuana farmers grow the cannabis sativa plant to be high in THC, the mood-altering compound. CBD is processed from hemp, one of the least processed parts of the plant. CBD oil is generally used as a tincture or oil taken sublingually, or rubbed onto the skin, or inhaled as a vapor.
Studies to determine the therapeutic effect of CBD oil have been done for years, but as more information comes to light regarding the benefits of CBD oil in the treatment of multiple medical settings, the number of research studies have multiplied. Each day, more and more discoveries are made about how CBD oil can be used to treat different medical conditions. Here are a few conditions and what has been learned so far about treating with CBD oil:
Anxiety: Anxiety, including PTSD, is one of the most studied conditions with regards to the therapeutic use of CBD oil. According to an article published by the NIH titled “Cannabidiol: Barriers to Research and Potential Medical Benefits,” studies using mice showed a marked decrease in anxiety, stress and heart rate. Small human clinical trials have shown the same results, reporting a marked decrease in heart rate when participating in a stressful activity such as speaking in front of a large group of people. CBD was also beneficial in treating patients with PTSD by reducing memories of stressful or painful situations. Side effects reported with CBD use are most commonly dry mouth, dizziness or lightheadedness.
Pain and Inflammation: While there are many anecdotal reports of CBD oil reducing pain and inflammation, research studies are still in the early phases. Many of the studies involving cannabinoids and pain involve THC, or a combination of THC and CBD. The medications with a higher concentration of THC demonstrate the side effects expected with that compound, including altered mental state. More current studies are underway to focus on the CBD for pain and inflammation relief without the THC compound or with a greatly reduced amount of THC versus the CBD.
Sativex is a formulation available in Europe by prescription which includes some THC as well as CBD. The Sativex was delivered in spray form. More than 2000 patients were followed and found to have a very favorable response, and were able to maintain relief for pain even after reducing the dose to a level that eliminated psychotropic effects. In 2006 the FDA approved clinical trials of Sativex in patients with cancer pain.
Epilepsy: Studies have found that CBD can be used to treat neurological conditions (epilepsy), with clinical research and medical studies showing positive insights. They used a highly concentrated form of CBD oil (99% purity) called Epidiolex which was used in human trials to treat people with severe forms of epilepsy that were hard to treat with normal medications. In an additional study of 214 participants they also found positive results with a 54% reduction in their seizures. People who improved most where those that used both modern medications coupled with the Epidiolex CBD oil.
Alzheimer’s: Cannabinoids show anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antioxidant properties and have immunosuppressive effects. As a result, studies of how CBD can help Alzheimer’s patients with symptoms such as aggression, confusion and anxiety are of great interest. Many individuals report success using CBD oil to ameliorate these symptoms, but the studies are still in early stages and cannot confirm results yet. According to the Alzheimer’s Society,
In addition to this cannabis has a potential future in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s based on current findings however more studies are needed to find out the exact process by which cannabis can target the symptoms. This cation is based on the counter productive elements on cannabis which can cause memory loss with heavy use.
Small pre-clinical studies have also been done with Parkinson’s and schizophrenia patients, and positive results were reported. In Parkinson’s patients the results were mixed, with the cannabinoids increasing tremors in some patients.
Substance Abuse: Early research shows that CBD oil may be beneficial in treating substance abuse, including helping people quit smoking tobacco. Severity of morphine withdrawal in mice was significantly reduced in one study using CBD oil. Because of the way CBD interacts with the receptors in the brain, further opportunities may exist to treat opiate addiction as well as alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine addiction. One of the most intriguing uses of CBD for substance abuse involves the parent plant, marijuana.
According to an NIH article there are many side effects of cannabis sativa use other than addiction. Early (adolescent) use of cannabis can result in attention deficit, and increases the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses. Patients with long-term cannabis use can display apathy, personality changes and lack of motivation. CBD oil has a protective and anti-inflammatory effect on the brain receptors and can lessen or even reverse some of the effects that high THC marijuana use can cause. CBD oil is commonly used to reduce the anxiety that can occur with marijuana use, and can have a leveling effect on mood.
In addition to the above conditions and symptoms, CBD oil and cannabinoids are being actively studied as therapeutic treatments for many other disorders such as obesity/anorexia (improving diet), cardiovascular disorders, osteoporosis and various already mentioned neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s).
One of the reasons that CBD oil is so intriguing to researchers is that the side effects of CBD oil are minimal. Most commonly reported side effects are dizziness or lightheadedness, dry mouth, and low blood pressure. No records exist of a CBD oil overdose, although taking too much can cause discomfort. CBD oil does not appear to be addictive. Some users have reported diarrhea, headache and vomiting, but in most of those cases are likely a result of using an unreliable or impure product. When a quality source of CBD oil is used at the smallest effective dose, the side effects are negligible.
Initial studies of CBD continue to be positive, and more and more studies are underway. The benefits of CBD oil are numerous and the side effects are few. CBD oil is currently legal in 44 states, with more on the way. This is a great time to discuss the benefits of CBD oil use with your medical professional and see how CBD oil can be an effective addition to your treatment plan. What do you think? Comment below.