What is CBD (cannabidiol)?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is quickly changing the debate surrounding the use of marijuana as a medicine.
1. CBD is a key ingredient in cannabis.
CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. CBD and THC levels tend to vary among different plants. Marijuana grown for recreational purposes often contain more THC than CBD. However, by using selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and next to zero levels of THC. These strains are rare but have become more popular in recent years.
2. CBD is non-psychoactive.
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. While this makes CBD a
poor choice for recreational users, it gives the chemical a
significant advantage as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatment with minimal side effects. CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same pathway as THC. These pathways, called CB1 receptors, are highly concentrated in the brain and are responsible for the mind-altering effects of THC. A 2011 review published in Current Drug Safety concludes that CBD “does not interfere with several psycho motor and psychological functions.” The authors add that several studies suggest that CBD is “well tolerated and safe” even at high doses.
3. CBD has a wide range of medical benefits.
Although CBD and THC act on different pathways of the body, they seem to have many of the same medical benefit. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following medical properties:
Unfortunately, most of this evidence comes from animals, since very few studies on CBD have been carried out in human patients.
But a pharmaceutical version of CBD was recently developed by a drug company based in the UK. The company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is now funding clinical trials on CBD at a treatment for schizophrenia and certain types of epilepsy. Likewise, a team of researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, led by Dr. Sean McAllister, has stated that they hope to begin trials on CBD at a breast cancer therapy.
4. CBD reduces the negative effects of THC
CBD seems to offer natural protection against the marijuana high. Numerous studies suggest that CBD acts to reduce the intoxicating effect of THC, such as memory impairment and paranoia. CBD also appears to counteract the sleep-inducing effect of THC, which may explain why some strains of cannabis are known to increase alertness. Both CBD and THC have been found to prevent no risk of lethal overdose. However, to reduce potential side effects, medical users may be better off using cannabis with higher levels of CBD.
Proven Health Benefits of CBD
1. Anxiety relief
CBD may be able to help you manage anxiety. Researchers think it may change the way your brain 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 600mg dose of CBD helped people with social anxiety give a speech. Other early studies done with animals have shown that CBD may help relieve anxiety by:
•decreasing physiological effect 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, at a possible treatment for epilepsy. Research is still in its early days. Researchers are testing how much CBD is able to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as how safe it is. The American Epilepsy Society states that cannabidiol offers hope for seizure disorders, and that research is currently being conducted to better understand safe use. A study from 2016 worked with 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epileptic medication. The studies 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 a receptor located in the brain to learn about the ways that CBD could help people with neurodegenerative disorders, which are diseases that cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time. This receptor is known as CB1. Researchers are studying the use of CBD oil for treating:
•multiple sclerosis (MS)
•spinal cord injuries
Nabiximols (Sativex), a multiple sclerosis drug made from a combination of THC and CBD, it approved in the United Kingdom and Canada to treat MS pain. However, researchers think the CBD in the drug may be contributing more with its anti-inflammatory proprieties than by acting against the pain. Clinical trials of CBD are necessary to determine whether or not 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 benefit for acne management. A human study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine found that the oil prevented activity in sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for producing sebum, a natural oily substance that hydrates the skin. Too much sebum, however, can lead to acne. Before you consider CBD oil for acne treatment, it's worth discussing with your dermatologist. More human studies are needed to evaluate the potential benefit of CBD for acne.
6. Cancer treatment
Some studies have investigated the role of CBD in preventing cancer cell growth, but research it still in it's early stages. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says 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 it's ability to moderate inflammation and change how cells reproduce. CBD has the effect of reducing the ability of some types of tumor cells to reproduce.