The use of cannabidiol, or CBD, has been sweeping the nation in recent years. According to a 2020 survey conducted by SingleCare, over 33% of Americans have used CBD at least once, and the popularity seems to be growing pretty rapidly.
In 2019, just one year prior, a Gallup poll showed only 14% of Americans reported using CBD. Why was there such a huge increase?
Perhaps the answer lies in the benefits of CBD, especially considering the lack of unwanted side effects.
But before we get to the good stuff, let’s first answer the question: What even is CBD?
What is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a type of cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. The cannabis plant has two main varieties: hemp and marijuana.
CBD is an oil-based product that can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants, but it is most commonly derived from hemp. This is due to the fact that the production of hemp was made legal in the U.S. thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, while marijuana is still federally illegal.
Unlike it’s feisty sister, hemp doesn’t contain high amounts of the cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that’s known for making it’s user feel “high,” which is a psychoactive effect.
Another difference between the cannabinoids CBD and THC is that CBD is known for reducing anxiety, whereas THC has been found to increase anxiety in some instances.
What are the Benefits of CBD?
Cannabis compounds have been studied by researchers for decades, but the popularity of this research has risen exponentially in recent years.
Thankfully, there are now hundreds of studies and registered trials evaluating cannabidiol, or CBD. There’s even an FDA-approved medication in the U.S. that’s made from CBD oil, called Epidiolex.
Here are a few benefits of CBD oil that are backed by science:
1. Anxiety Relief
Like we mentioned earlier, cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its ability to treat anxiety.
Researchers have found that using CBD can actually change the way your brain responds to serotonin, a chemical in the human brain that’s associated with our mental health and helps to regulate mood.
One study discovered that a 300-mg dose of CBD can help reduce anxiety for people who suffer from social anxiety.
Likewise, animals have also been found to respond positively to therapeutic doses of CBD, resulting in reduced anxiety and a decrease in physiological effects brought on by anxiety. (You can read a couple of these studies by clicking here and here).
Furthermore, CBD oil has been shown to treat anxiety as well as insomnia in children with PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder (source).
CBD has also been known for treating seizures related to epilepsy. According to the American Epilepsy Society, cannabidiol (CBD) gives a fighting chance for individuals suffering from seizure disorders, and more research is still being conducted (source).
Furthermore, a 2016 study involving 214 people with epilepsy showed some promising results. The participants of the study were required to take oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD each day for 12 weeks. Researchers found that the participants in the study had a 36.5% lower chance of suffering from episodes of seizure each month (source).
Another study from 2017 showed similar results in CBD’s ability to reduce seizures in children suffering from Dravet Syndrome, a childhood epilepsy disorder (source).
3. Neuroprotective Properties
Researchers associated with the study of neurodegenerative disorders have also acknowledged possible treatments with cannabidiol, or CBD.
CBD has been used in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
Similarly, CBD has been discovered to reduce inflammation, which worsens the effects and symptoms of these neurodegenerative diseases.
For more information on the research behind treating these diseases with CBD, checkout these studies:
- Alzheimer’s disease: source / source
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): source
- Parkinson’s disease: source / source
Further research continues to be conducted in order to fully identify the effects of CBD towards treating neurodegenerative diseases.
4. Pain Relief
CBD has also been discovered to help its user’s brain manage pain receptors better.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has sponsored some preclinical studies involving the usage of CBD in treating pain symptoms caused by arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) pain, muscle pain, and spinal cord injuries, as well as other causes of chronic pain.
These studies have shown that CBD can help alleviate chronic pain by interacting with neurotransmitters as well as by reducing inflammation throughout the body (source).
Further research is being conducted as well to determine whether CBD should be fully used as a substitute treatment involving pain management.
CBD oil can also offer help in treating acne.
One study found that CBD can prevent activity in sebaceous glands, which are the glands responsible for producing sebum, a natural oil substance in our skin (source). Sebum is known to hydrate the skin, but too much of this substance can cause acne.
Another study showed similar results, but concluded that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD is a large reason for its effectiveness in treating acne (source).
However, it’s important to note that these studies suggest consulting with your dermatologist before considering using CBD as part of your acne treatment plan.
6. Addiction Management and Treatment
Cannabidiol can also be used as a treatment for various addictions (source).
CBD is thought to reduce the activity of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain involved in addiction activities.
One study showed that using CBD resulted in lower cravings and anxiety in individuals with an addiction to heroin, but larger studies are needed to confirm these findings (source).
In the same way that CBD is known to reduce anxiety, cannabidiol has also shown promise as a natural treatment for depression.
A 2019 study conducted with mice showed that not only does CBD have a fast antidepressant effect, but the effects are also sustained over time (source).
Furthermore, CBD seems to have several benefits over prescription antidepressants.
Not only does it take effect much quicker than antidepressant medications, which can sometimes take weeks to start working, but CBD also has much fewer side effects.
However, more studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of CBD before it can be recommended as a sole treatment for depression.
8. Cancer Treatment
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), CBD may alleviate the symptoms felt by patients suffering from cancer and undergoing cancer treatment (source).
It’s important to note that the NCI does not fully endorse the usage of CBD as a form of alternative cancer treatment. They have disclosed that CBD has only been proven to reduce the ability of cancerous cells to reproduce, as well as alleviate the symptoms while undergoing cancer treatment
More studies are needed before conclusions can be made about cannabidiol’s ability to fight cancer.
Summary of the Benefits of CBD
As researchers continue to study cannabidiol and its role in treating many common health issues, the results seem to mostly be in CBD’s favor.
This cannabinoid has been studied for health issues ranging from anxiety and depression to acne and cancer, but science has only begun to scratch the surface of what CBD is capable of changing inside the human body.
As research on the potential benefits of CBD continues, there is no doubt that new therapeutic uses for this natural substance will be discovered.
While we still have much to learn about this powerful plant extract, the results from recent studies suggest that CBD may be a safe and effective alternative treatment for many different health issues.
To ensure safe usage of CBD, whether for medical or personal use, we highly suggest you consult with a physician before use, especially if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should be sought before using any hemp products.