CBD (cannabidiol) oil is relatively new to the alternative medicine stage. While people have used cannabis for thousands of years, the uses for cannabidiol have become the subject of scientific study over the past 20 years. A lot of the information we have about cannabidiol and how people use it is anecdotal, but as interest in CBD increases, so do the scientific studies producing solid medical information.
Even though the scientific proof of what CBD can do is not fully developed, people are still using CBD for medical reasons right now. Here are 9 reasons that people choose to use CBD.
It is a natural, herbal remedy
Many people suffering from medical conditions, especially chronic diseases, have spent many years and a lot of money on prescription drugs. A naturally-occurring, plant-based solution is appealing to these patients.
CBD or cannabidiol is one of more than 80 compounds found in cannabis. For years, cannabis sativa plants have been grown in two different ways. Marijuana was grown and modified to increase or adjust the THC in the plants, which were intended for recreational use. Hemp, also a cannabis sativa plant, is generally not genetically altered. Historically it was grown for its fiber and was used to make textiles or rope. Hemp has a smaller amount of naturally occurring THC. CBD is most frequently made from the hemp plant.
CBD does not cause a “high”
CBD does not cause a mind-altering sensation. CBD works differently in the body than THC, the compound which does cause the “high” generally associated with cannabis use. Often people refer to the “high” as psychotropic or psychoactive. A definition of these two terms can help to clarify what that means.
The word psychotropic means “acting on the brain.” Psychoactive means “affecting mind or behavior.” Because CBD does have an effect on the brain by binding to receptors in the brain, technically CBD could be considered to be psychotropic.
That does not mean that it causes a “high” or altered state sensation, but rather it may have other effects, like calmness or a reduced feeling of anxiety. CBD can actually reduce or moderate the high produced by THC and has been shown to be helpful in treating drug and cigarette addiction.
CBD can relieve pain and inflammation
Historical records that show people used the cannabis plant more than a thousand years ago likely used the plant as a pain reliever. Current studies support this use of CBD. A study that was reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in 2012 indicated CBD reduced pain and inflammation in mice.
CBD could help you quit smoking
A study done in 2013 and reported by the National Institutes of Health concluded that cannabidiol (CBD) reduced cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers. When study subjects inhaled CBD, they smoked fewer cigarettes and they did not seem to have nicotine cravings with the missed cigarettes. Additional studies show that CBD can also help people who are addicted to opioids.
CBD can treat mental disorders
As most of the studies which have been done using animal subjects (mice or rats), much more research is needed to determine how CBD can help mental health in humans, however the science behind how CBD works in the brain is promising and many people have been using CBD to treat conditions like depression and anxiety for many years with huge success.
CBD may help fight cancer
Right now, the only cannabinoid drugs approved by the FDA are for cancer care. Two drugs created with synthetic cannabinoids are currently in use to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy given to cancer patients. But new studies are showing that cannabinoids may not only treat the symptoms of cancer but may also treat cancer itself.
In animal and laboratory studies, researchers have examined the impact that CBD might have on many cancers, including lung cancer, brain tumors, and breast cancer. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reviewed multiple cancer studies.
These studies did not use human subjects, but cancer cells in a laboratory setting, or in animal studies. They found that CBD does stop the growth of cancer cells, promotes the death of cancer cells, and may even prevent cancer cells from spreading. Treating cancer patients with CBD presents an appealing option, as current cancer treatments have dangerous and debilitating side effects.
CBD can treat skin disorders
CBD is currently being used to treat acne, psoriasis, and eczema. CBD is applied topically in the form of a cream or an ointment. CBD may be beneficial to skin disorders because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
CBD may reduce seizures for Parkinson’s and epilepsy patients
Perhaps the best well-known story of using CBD for medical benefit involves an 8-year-old girl from Colorado with Dravet Syndrome, a form of epilepsy. This form of epilepsy is resistant to most treatments. Her parents treated her with medical marijuana, which resulted in a dramatic reduction of her seizures.
After her results were made public, many scientific studies have backed up the results and shown that CBD has a “neuroprotective” effect, and may work to repair neurological injury and increase mental function.
Studies showed, that in some Parkinson’s patients, CBD actually increased the number of seizures. Because the information we have about treating these diseases with CBD is so new, it is important that any changes in care or medication be done under a doctor’s care.
Another reason why people are choosing to use CBD is that in the many studies listed above, the side effects of CBD were minimal. Side effects reported include drowsiness, insomnia, low blood pressure, dizziness or sleepiness.
Compared to side effects experienced with prescription medicines for chronic illnesses, these side effects are extremely manageable. Other side effects reported anecdotally, mostly through responses online, include vomiting and diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, headaches, lethargy and generally feeling sick and unable to carry out the activities of daily living.
In many cases, these side effects can be traced back to CBD products that are not pure or have other ingredients. As mentioned above, the production of CBD products is not regulated, making it difficult to make sure the product is as advertised.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states. In those states, CBD is also legal for medical use. In 16 more states, there are laws that allow CBD for medical use, but they do not allow marijuana or products that have a high level of THC to be used medicinally.
The federal issues are a little more confusing. In 2016, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) enacted a “final rule” regarding all marijuana and all products made from marijuana, including CBD. This became effective in January 2017.
According to this rule, all marijuana products are listed as Schedule 1 in the Controlled Substances Act. This makes all marijuana products illegal. There are a few loopholes to this rule which may allow patients to use CBD for medical purposes, but it is wise to be aware of what the laws are in your state.
It is critical to involve your doctor in any decisions you make to use CBD. CBD can affect the way prescription drugs are metabolized in the body, changing the way they work. Any medications, especially experimental medications, should be monitored by a medical professional. Make sure that your doctor is a partner in your treatment decisions.