The popularity of CBD (cannabidiol) has been growing rapidly in recent years. This is largely due to scientific research showing some promising results, coupled with a great number of people claiming physical and mental health benefits. Cannabis has become legal in many areas for both medicinal and recreational use. In places that continue to restrict certain varieties, people still want access to as many potential benefits and uses of the plant as possible. This has lead to a lot of excitement and allowed the CBD industry to grow radically and exponentially.
With cannabis plants being plentiful and widely available, the applications of CBD oil are increasing as well, with it making its way from medication into other products for its potential health benefits, such as food, beverages, health products like lotions, and even beauty products like lip balm. From epilepsy to PTSD, many are seeking out this alternative treatment and making some pretty bold statements about its efficacy. Science has delved in, of course, to evaluate theories and claims surrounding the plant, and hopefully shed some light on the truth. It is a long process and huge undertaking to prove- or disprove- the medicinal effects of a compound. There are many years of research ahead, but what is science leaning towards about the effects of cannabis now, in the year 2018? Will it end cancer? Stop obesity? Cure dementia? While we continue to search for answers to the surmounting list of questions, many scientists are feeling pretty positive about cannabis, in particular CBD, and perhaps for good reason.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is being researched and explored for a number of mental health ailments. Anxiety, schizophrenia, and even substance abuse are just a few psychological disorders that are being studied in which CBD may be beneficial. Some studies have shown some promising results in this area, though there is much research still to do, science is beginning to build what looks to be a pretty decent foundation in regards to treating mental health with naturally occurring CBD.
Unlike the THC found in the marijuana plant, hemp-derived CBD oil is not psychoactive, which means it does not create a euphoric effect, otherwise known as a “high”. In fact, the psychoactive properties of marijuana have been shown to have a negative effect on mental health, in some cases even producing acute instances of psychosis, as well as paranoia, among other things. It’s important to note that while there can be some down sides to use of THC, it is also a very promising cannabis compound itself, though not one as widely accepted or well-received. Thankfully, studies have shown that CBD can counter-act psychoactive effects, though many CBD oils are completely free from THC to begin with, thus alleviating that concern.
While there have been some inconclusive and overall mixed results, some clinical studies have had some noteworthy positive outcomes. CBD for anxiety has been tested in a range of animal model based studies, as well as some small clinical trials with human participants. Positive therapeutic effects such as a lower heart rate and calmer behavior were seen in animal test subjects; this indicates decreased stress and anxiety. With human subjects, one trial used public speaking exercises to measure anxiety in participants. The participating patients reported feeling significantly less anxious before and during the public speaking task after being treated with CBD. This just scratches the surface of the hopes hung on CBD for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Fear and anxiety are deeply embedded in all creatures as adaptive responses to external threats. This is what survival depends on. As the human race has evolved, however, it seems that our minds and bodies can no longer quite differentiate real threats from the other constant sources of stimulation. This creates excessive amounts of anxiety and fear, leading to many disruptive symptoms, and becoming quite debilitating. The resulting psychiatric disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.
The typical modern treatment for these disorders include (but are not limited to) a range of prescription medications, such as benzodiazepines, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and tricyclic antidepressants. In some cases, especially with obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, other anti-psychotic medications are used as well. Unfortunately, many of these medications can lead to addiction and/or abuse, a plethora of unwanted physical side effects, worsening or the addition of other psychological symptoms like depression, and tolerance to the medication thus ineffectiveness over time.
In studies on the effects of CBD in those suffering from this variety of affliction, the results were quite exciting. The introduction of CBD to patients was well-received and tolerated, even with a significantly varied dosage, with little to no side effects. This is obviously good news, as it indicates that many people of all kinds don’t experience negative, ill effects from use. Of course this is a great start, but the bright outlook on CBD for anxiety disorders doesn’t stop there.
Many mental disorders are typically treated with pharmacological methods of manipulating the brain’s serotonin receptors (medication like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also commonly known as SSRI’s). It is believed, based on research and trial results, that CBD also affects serotonin in the brain, providing similar therapeutic results. Once again, science still has a lot of work to do in order to know exactly how CBD works in the brain, but the early trial results appear to show very similar results to other current methods of treatment, yet without the risks of dependency, addiction and/or substance abuse, or frustrating unwanted side effects. This is also what makes CBD an intriguing potential option for alternative treatment for those that already suffer from addiction. In many cases with these individuals, they have an existing chemical imbalance in the brain that leads them to seek out substances that make them feel relief. By using a non-habit-forming treatment option like CBD, it could potentially help restore the order and balance needed and eliminate the destructive behavior acquired by self-medicating with harmful substances.
Healthy Body Weight
Reports for England alone show an increase in hospital admissions in which obesity played a factor; admissions increased by 18% from 2015/16 to 2016/17. The 2016/17 reports for England also indicate that one in every five children in grade six were classified as obese. Due to the rise of obesity (as well as the many health problems that occur in conjunction with being over weight) that is appearing across the globe, threatening to become quite a pandemic, finding an efficient and safe way to achieve weight loss is pressing. A natural, plant-based product for weight loss is particularly appealing for that reason, and CBD oil supplements may be just that.
You may be more familiar with the idea of cannabis and “the munchies,” so the idea of CBD aiding weight loss might sound utterly bizarre. Once again, however, this is confusion brought on by the drastic differences between the different compounds in the plant. Instead of stimulating the appetite like THC is known to do, CBD does not have such an effect. Some studies show that CBD actually may reduce appetite in those that have a tendency to over eat (a study published in a 2012 edition of the scientific journal Psychopharmacology illustrated appetite-suppressing results), and perhaps even increase the body’s metabolism.
The metabolism is a biological process in which food and/or stored energy (fat) is burned to fuel the body and its many functions. When a person is eating more calories than what they need, these are stored as excess fat; potential energy for use later, as needed. Unfortunately, if this process continues and the person never needs to tap into these excess “energy stores”, his or her weight will continue to rise, eventually resulting in being over weight or even obese. Once in this condition, it becomes increasingly difficult to get back to a healthy weight. A poor diet (and not necessarily over eating), lack of exercise, or certain health problems can also cause the metabolism to become slow, which means it doesn’t burn calories from food the way it should. By boosting this biological process, the metabolism will ideally not only efficiently burn calories from daily intake of food, but also start burning the excess that has been stored as fat, thus reducing body weight. There are many angles from which to evaluate CBD and how, exactly, it works to speed up the metabolism, but one that has become more clear is how it interacts with mitochondria, which are responsible for producing the energy base within cells. A study performed in 2016 showed that CBD increased the number of mitochondria, thereby energy, which as a result, enhances the body’s ability to burn calories; in other words, burning off unwanted fat.
With so many products on the market for weight loss, from pills to special shakes to equipment and even camps, wouldn’t CBD just be another addition to an already saturated industry? Hopefully not, according to science. Instead of short-term success or fickle results that are typically found with modern weight loss products, the use of CBD aims to be much more. Rather than implement unhealthy strict diets or harmful chemicals found in some dietary aids, CBD is being viewed as a health supplement and part of an optimum health routine, much like a healthy diet that includes a multivitamin. If it proves to be as successful as hoped, it certainly won’t be just another product on the shelves, but an actual solution to the problem that our society is facing.
The National Institute of Health estimates that 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disease, compared to 9 million that are diagnosed with cancer, and 22 million with heart disease. In London, autoimmune disease is approximately the sixth or seventh most frequent underlying cause of death in women below the age of 75, according to a study conclusion in 2003. Science has learned that autoimmune diseases are a result of the immune system malfunctioning and attacking the body, causing inflammation and damage. Unfortunately, what causes the malfunction is still unknown, which further complicates finding successful treatment. Current treatment largely revolves around suppressing the immune system in an effort to prevent it from attacking and damaging the body. This isn’t ideal, however, because suppressing the immune system can come with some pretty negative side effects and risks, from contracting life-threatening illnesses and infections, to an increased chance for different types of cancer. CBD may offer autoimmune disease sufferers a safer, more efficient treatment option compared to other medications and therapies that are available.
One particularly prevalent autoimmune disease is inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD, with 1.4 million Americans and even more UK citizens suffering from the illness. A small pilot study held by the Department of Gastroenterology tested the effects of CBD on 13 adults with formally diagnosed IBD. The participants were given two quality of life questionnaires; one as they entered the study, and one after it concluded. After three consecutive months of treatment with CBD, patients reported improvement in overall health, improved ability to function socially, decreased physical pain, and a decrease in depression directly related to suffering from IBD.
CBD contains omega 3 fatty acids which help to decrease inflammation, as well as a known natural anti-inflammatory called gamma linoleic acid. There is a lot more to learn regarding function and application, and while current CBD treatment for these diseases is by no means a cure as of yet (though science is hopeful), by decreasing inflammation and the resulting damage, many symptoms of autoimmune diseases improve or subside entirely and increase quality of life.
One thing that nearly all physical disorders and diseases have in common is pain. Yes, it varies in severity, variety (muscle pain, bone pain, nerve pain for example), and location, but it is often the symptom that has the largest ill effect on day-to-day life. Treatment typically includes a mixed combination of physical therapy, steroid-based medications, and pain relieving medications in the form of opiates. Sadly, steroids have severe side effects (like bone loss), especially with long-term use, and sometimes physical therapy just doesn’t provide significant pain relief. The remaining treatment option, opiate-based pain medication, is what many people turn to, with the notion that the side effects are not as severe and the pain relief being well worth it. Within this treatment lurks hidden danger, though, and what starts as legitimate use for chronic pain can lead to dependency, addiction, abuse, and even over-dosing and death. This is another health pandemic that our world is struggling with; a treatment option that is effective across many ailments is vital, and with the versatility and safety of CBD in mind, it could be the best choice.
As detailed above, we know that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. That in itself could provide some significant reduction of pain, as inflammation is the culprit for many painful conditions in addition to autoimmune diseases. The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases performed a study with 58 arthritis patients in which 31 were treated with CBD and 27 were given a placebo. After several weeks of treatment, the cannabis-based medication recipients reported significant improvements, including decreased pain with movement, decreased pain while at rest, and better quality sleep.
Reducing inflammation isn’t the only means of pain relief that science believes rests in CBD. While limited, there is evidence that suggests that CBD can reduce muscle spasticity, which can help alleviate painful spasms. CBD is also being studied for its effects on how we perceive pain. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors (part of our endocannabinoid system) in the brain, and because this system may help maintain (and restore) balance within the body through its connection in a variety of biological processes (hormones, chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, and more), some scientists believe this may be key in reducing how pain signals are received and interpreted by the brain.
There is an abundance of research, studies, and clinical trials surrounding the treatment of many different kinds of disorders using cannabis-based compounds. What may be even more effective is the use of such compounds in preventing ill health all together, versus treating it after it manifests. CBD is very similar to natural compounds already present in the human body, which means it is easily incorporated and highly adaptive to aid and maintain a variety of physical and mental functions.
Cannabidiol, as we have established, is a cannabinoid, and cannabinoids are found to be neuro-protective. Simply put, it is believed to help protect the cells in our brain, maintaining cellular integrity and overall health. Moreover, some preliminary animal studies have shown that CBD may also encourage new cell growth, and prevent inflammation in the brain. This means that CBD can potentially help ward off age-related mental illnesses like Alzheimers as well as nerve-related issues like neuropathy.
A study conducted in 2012 using animals showed that those treated with CBD were less likely to develop colon cancer after exposure to known carcinogens in the laboratory. Another study with more animals subjects showed that CBD’s “sister compound” THC decreased the incidence of both benign and hepatic adenoma tumors. These and other studies give some hope that the use of cannabis compounds including CBD may help prevent the onset of cancer.
The prevention of many health issues has long been believed to lie in a healthy diet. In this way too, CBD oil may be significantly lending a helping hand with its high nutritional value, especially in high-quality CBD oil supplements. A full-spectrum CBD oil is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which not only regulate inflammation, but also lowers triglycerides in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The nutritional profile of a full-spectrum, high-quality CBD oil also includes vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, iron, beta carotene, zinc, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and vitamin E.
Another important nutritional component that can be found in full-spectrum CBD oil supplements is flavonoids. These are a group of plant metabolites that are believed to be powerful antioxidants, potentially anti-viral, and reducing the risk for cancer, inflammatory conditions, and perhaps even heart disease. Other antioxidants like terpenes and terpenoids are present as well, which assist in these positive effects.
While the existing pre-clinical data, as well as results from experimental human trials and case studies, strongly support CBD as an effective alternative treatment for many illnesses and disorders, there is still a lot left unknown. Science is certainly progressing forward with this astounding compound and its applications, but there is a long road of exploration and discovery ahead. Does cannabis hold the secret to ridding humankind of disease? Is it possible that there is a plant that may even hold the key to eternal youth, and eternal life? Perhaps that’s a bit radical, but modern technology in existence right now seemed just as impossible in the past; yet here we are, with things that our ancestors may not even have dared to dream of.
There are so many things left unexplored here on our Earth; there are islands never stepped foot on by man, thousands of miles of oceans waiting to be searched, and plants and animals that we have yet to lay eyes on. So it only makes logical sense that there are even more things just waiting to be discovered. Of course, with every newly mapped step comes new questions. Every successful answer poses multiple additional questions that must be asked; with every galaxy, a number of uncharted planets. It certainly is likely that life exists elsewhere, as it is likely that cannabidiol holds powerful medicinal effects, perhaps even cures. Even so, we must go forward, treading carefully, to find certainty.