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CBD Oil, or cannabidiol, is one of more than 60 active agents in the cannabis sativa plant. The medicinal properties of CBD have been used for centuries in traditional applications. However, because THC, another of the active agents in cannabis, is known to have psychoactive effects, the other active agents in cannabis like CBD have been understudied and misunderstood.
In recent times that has begun to change with the discovery of four more cannabinoids which are all thought to have significant health benefits. Coupled with this is the discovery that the human body has many cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. These are located all over the body, but are mostly found in the brain. Many are associated with the human immune system and nervous system. These discoveries have led to a peek in interest and research in how cannabinoids can affect our brains and our health.
CBD Oil is not THC, though some medical marijuana products combine these two agents together. CBD Oil can come from the marijuana plant (with more than 0.3% THC) or the hemp plant(with less than 0.3% THC). Both marijuana and hemp are variants of the cannabis plant. CBD Oil can be manufactured in a way that it contains no THC at all and therefore cannot cause the addictive ‘high’ that so many people associate with cannabis.
Is CBD Oil Illegal?
Because there has been insufficient scientific study of CBD, it is often lumped together with THC in law. This is unfortunate because the laws relating to all forms of marijuana, especially in the United States, are fragmented and can be confusing. This hampers further study of CBD oil.
Hemp is a legal product with significantly less regulation than marijuana. Some states have legalized marijuana (and its products) for recreational use, while some for only medical use. Others have not legalized any form of marijuana use at all. Furthermore, even in states where cannabis is legalized, the laws aren’t consistent.
To add to the confusion, the FDA has approved a very limited number of products for use in a very limited number of medical applications. The DEA continues to list marijuana and its products as a Class I Controlled Substance. So, on the federal level, marijuana is illegal to possess, sell or prescribe. All of this legal uncertainty has made it difficult for doctors and medical researchers to conduct proper and thorough studies of marijuana generally, but CBD oil specifically.
In Canada, cannabis products are set to be legalized in July, 2018 and medical marijuana products have been legalized for many years. CBD oil, with less than 0.3% THC content, is legal.
What Are the Effects of CBD Oil?
There are a large number of CBD oil benefits and side effects on our health. This is not surprising given the number of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. CBD, it has been discovered, does not act directly with these receptors but encourages the natural production of the body’s own endocannabinoids, which have significant positive health effects and few, if any, demonstrated risks.
The top 6 CBD oil effects that will be reviewed in this article are the effects on:
Treatment of Epilepsy
One of the CBD oil effects that has drawn the most public attention lately is the treatment of epilepsy, pediatric epilepsy in particular. Scientific studies are few but are continuing in this promising field. More study is required to fully understand the risk, benefits, how it works, and the proper dosages for treatment of not only epilepsy but some of the other issues that arise in people suffering with the disease – including neurodegeneration and psychiatric disease.
Animal studies from the 1970’s showed the effectiveness of controlling epilepsy in rats and mice with cannabinoids. In animals, CBD in particular has been tolerated well in the epilepsy studies.
The recent mass awakening of public interest in the use of CBD for medical purposes began when two children with Dravet syndrome were given CBD rich medicines by their parents, and reportedly stopped having seizures and also improved neurologically. In 2013, a paper was published which listed 19 further anecdotal reports of the effectiveness of CBD in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy. These were not controlled studies so the reports cannot be completely relied upon without further study.
Most recently a pure CBD drug called Epidiolex has been given special status by the FDA for use in a limited number of children for the treatment of severe epilepsy. There may have been a small number of side effects, which are currently being studied, but overall the seizures in these children have been reduced by at least 54% across the board.
Anxiety, PTSD and Insomnia
Most people who have anxiety, PTSD or similar conditions are told to avoid the use of marijuana. This is because the presence of THC in marijuana may introduce or aggravate anxiety in some people. However, there is mounting evidence to suggest that CBD may have the opposite effect.
Here, two discoveries have been very important. First, CBD can counter the effect of THC, reducing the risk of triggered anxiety. Significantly more research needs to be done in this area to determine how this process works and how it can be used to eliminate anxiety. The second discovery is that CBD, when not in the presence of THC, can have antipsychotic effects and reduce anxiety in people with anxiety disorder, PTSD, and other similar mental health conditions.
In a case study published in The Permanente Journal in 2016, a 10-year-old girl who suffered from a number of effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of neglect and sexual abuse when she was young had her symptoms effectively brought under control with the use of CBD. Before the CBD, other medications had been used with partial success but their effect did not last and she suffered significant side effects.
In this case, CBD was used to effectively treat a range of symptoms including improving the young patient’s anxiety and reducing her insomnia. These resulted in improvements in her behaviour at home and in school, giving her an improved quality of life overall. Other than the CBD oil effects, her health was improved with only dietary supplements. No other medications were used.
Treatment of Marijuana Addiction
In very preliminary work, CBD may have the ability to treat marijuana addiction through it’s anxiety relieving and sleep improving effects. In one published case study, CBD helped a 27-year-old, male patient with bipolar disorder who used marijuana daily. To treat the addiction, only CBD oil was added to his regime in decreasing doses. He reported having less anxiety and improved sleeping patterns. He also reported that he had quit using marijuana since he began using CBD oil, a success he was able to maintain while the dose decreased from 24 to 18 mg daily.
Treatment of Skin Conditions
Recent discoveries have given hope for important CBD oil effects on skin conditions like acne and eczema.
In the case of acne, inflammation can cause the production of too much sebum (an oil produced in hair follicles) which then, mixed with pollution, oil containing makeup, dead skin cells, etc. cause acne. With the discovery of CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, it’s expected that an effective, chemical-free treatment for acne can be developed.
In the case of eczema, CBD may have additional effects that will improve the lives of eczema sufferers. Not only is it believed that CBD is effective at reducing inflammation, it’s also thought to be tolerated very well by the skin and works well when applied topically (to the skin). Furthermore, it has significant pain killing effects and may inhibit the production of histamines in the skin which result in the intense itch associated with the condition.
Cancer Pain Management
One promise of CBD oil effects is in chronic pain management. Researchers have discovered that the application of CBD topically to animal models such as rats and mice reduces pain along with inflammation. While there is promise that CBD oil will be found to be an effective treatment for chronic inflammation and pain, the oil is also currently being studied specifically for use as a management treatment for cancer pain.
CBD may slow the progression of cancer and the growth of cancer cells. Though not a direct treatment for cancer pain, both of these effects may lead to significant discoveries which reduce cancer pain.
A very recent review of published studies that studied the effect of CBD (or THC, or a combination) on managing cancer pain suggests that cancer pain was reduced with these treatments. The doses for CBD in these studies ranged from none to 40 mg per day. The review strongly advocated that further clinical trials be implemented to nail down the optimal dose for cannabinoid-based therapies.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
While studies are still very preliminary, one has found that CBD can have the effect of preventing deteriorating facial recognition in subjects. This is only one aspect of a very complicated neurodegenerative disease and there is no evidence that CBD could prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s or slow its progression at this time. This study suggests that if an effective CBD treatment can be developed, Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients may be able to recognize faces for longer.
There is also early research to suggest that using cannabinoids may help to control some of the behaviours that are associated with dementia like aggression or agitation because of their anxiolytic properties. This could mean a big improvement to the quality of life of dementia patients and their carers, friends and family. More study needs to be undertaken in these areas.
What Are The Risks of CBD?
Because of the fragmented nature of CBD regulation, production and sales, and also the relatively low supply of extensive medical study of CBD, there are risks associated with its use that people should be aware of.
The first is that it is difficult to know from batch to batch and brand to brand the purity and dosage of CBD oil. Pesticides and other contaminants can be introduced at any point in the process unless great care is taken. Work is being done to improve these standards, including standardized testing to determine the precise contents and ratios in CBD products, but is not yet complete. Anyone who buys CBD oil should research the manufacturer and purchase only from a reliable source.
Dosages for any particular condition will eventually become standardized as more scientific research, trials, case studies and reviews are conducted. Evidence so far suggests that there are no substantial side effects from either low dose usage or high dose usage of CBD. CBD can also have a mental sedative effect, although if the product contains no THC it is believed to be perfectly safe. Further research needs to be conducted into long term usage of CBD.
CBD could have negative interactions with other drugs. It is important to discuss CBD and other medication use with your doctor and to also discuss appropriate dosage for the condition you wish to treat. If you experience any side effect while on CBD or on CBD in combination with other medications, you should report these to and discuss them with your doctor.
All in all, CBD oil and its products hold a lot of promise. From treating multiple sclerosis to high blood pressure, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests that CBD oil could be the treatment of the future. However, for now these are just hopes. We will have to wait and see the results of research over the next couple of years before we can say for absolute fact that the CBD oil effects are overwhelmingly positive.