With the high cost and sometimes adverse results of conventional medicine, many people are looking for alternative solutions.
They are tired of the long waiting times to see a GP, the rushed 5-minute appointments, and the feeling that they are on a production line.
But the options are relatively limited; go private and purchase your own medication, subscribe to one of the many health insurance plans currently available, or self-medicate with alternative therapies and medicine.
Scientists have been busy researching many natural compounds looking for effective ways to cure illnesses - and there are many - from foods and herbs to spices and naturopathic medicine. There is an extremely wide variety of choices which should mean that every person, with some research, can discover an effective treatment method to help with their specific ailment.
Over the last two or three years, CBD oil research has surged in popularity as people search for natural and effective plant remedies. So let's take a look at this increasingly popular legal cannabis oil and evaluate some of its claimed benefits:
Why hemp CBD oil?
Cannabis has long been a controversial plant due to its psychoactive effects. Many countries and cultures consider it a dangerous “drug” and it is, therefore, illegal in many countries. It is common in many cultures for people to believe that someone may be a criminal, dangerous, or mentally unstable because they consume cannabis.
The problem is that the medicinal history of the cannabis plant has been virtually deleted from the history books, thousands of years of knowledge gone. But now, with the help of scientific research, published papers, articles and campaigning in favour of the use of cannabis for medical purposes, the stigma has been reduced.
By isolating over 110 cannabinoids from their psychoactive sibling THC, scientists have been able to separate the medical effects of cannabis from its recreational effects, and one of the best examples is CBD oil.
CBD is a cannabinoid that can make up as much as 40% of the total cannabinoid content in hemp plants (cannabis sativa L). Cannabinoids, as well as being present in plants - like cannabis and hemp - are also present in humans and animals. The two types of cannabinoids are endocannabinoids ( which are produced in the body), and phytocannabinoids (that are produced by plants).
Is CBD oil safe to use?
If someone wants to use CBD oil, that person is likely having health issues and is seeking natural medication to help cure the problem or help relieve symptoms. A large number of people are also searching for information concerning the preventative potential of cannabidiol.
CBD oil has been well researched to determine its safety for use by humans, and the results show that it is very safe and has no severe secondary effects. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), CBD is a safe product for almost everyone, although if you plan to use it, you should consult with a doctor before you begin. This is important to identify any risks, and especially important if you are currently taking other medication or could be pregnant.
Now, let’s take a look at the preliminary results of CBD research concerning its effects on humans and animals.
1. Is CBD an analgesic?
This is one of the most widely searched topics relating to the possible medical benefits of CBD - "CBD for pain".
Research indicates that cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoids in the body and especially the brain. The endocannabinoid system is known to play a role in modulating the immune response, so if the immune response is suppressed, inflammation is reduced as well as pain.
A reduction of inflammation can help with anxiety induced by arthritis, chronic pain, muscle pain, fibromyalgia or spinal cord injuries, and even with sclerosis and cancer. This effect was presented for the first time after a study in 2012 by the Journal of Experimental Medicine; researchers found that cannabidiol oil can help with chronic inflammatory pain as well as neuropathic pain.
CBD could be a potential alternative to the use of analgesics, which for some people can prove to be ineffective to relieve pain and can even cause intolerance in the patient or trigger gastrointestinal issues. If CBD does become recognised for its analgesic properties, it will provide a welcome natural alternative to conventional medicine. Analgesics usually need to be prescribed by a doctor to be able to access the stronger versions, while CBD oil can be purchased easily online or in legal cannabis stores.
2. Does CBD cause anti-seizure effects?
A seizure happens when the brain suffers a rapid fluctuation of electrical activity. It can be caused by many physiological and external triggers including epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that consists of recurrent and unprovoked seizures. Seizures can also be related to genetic diseases as well as brain injuries.
CBD oil has been thoroughly researched to determine if it can reduce seizure frequency in patients with epilepsy, and although it has been observed to have secondary effects occasionally, they are not classed as dangerous. In animal tests, CBD oil was able to be administered with regular epilepsy or anti-seizure medication, and the results were that the test subjects had less frequent seizures. It is worth remembering that CBD oil has not been proven to be a stand-alone anti-seizure medication and that it has been classed as a useful addition to current anti-seizure treatments.
3. Can CBD oil help with anxiety?
Anxiety is not an illness or disease on its own; it is a general term that is used to refer to many disorders that can affect people who show symptoms of nervousness, fear, apprehension or worrying.
Anxiety can be an emotion that a person experiences due to a specific single event, or it can be a generalised disorder which usually requires an intervention, possibly involving medical treatment.
The problem with anxiety disorder is that it can impact the life of the person by affecting their thoughts and the way they perceive their reality so it can also cause depression and negatively influence a sufferers quality of life.
Patients affected by stress or anxiety are usually treated medically with pharmaceutical drugs, but one problem with this type of medication can be the side effects, which may include insomnia, drowsiness and addiction. The effects of addiction to these type of drugs are not much different from that of addiction to alcohol or recreational drugs.
CBD oil has been studied using animals with this type of disorder (created by giving the animals THC), and the results have been extremely positive showing better performance, less anxiety and overall general improvement. We now know that this effect is a result of CBD acting over the glutamate and serotonergic cortical signalling systems, which are related to depression and anxiety.
4. Can CBD help with diabetes?
Diabetes is a fairly common condition in which the body is not able to properly use ingested glucose which translates into higher levels of “sugar” in the blood. High sugar levels can do some severe organ damage to the heart, kidneys and nerves.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2; type 1 is called insulin-dependent, and type 2 is called non-insulin dependent.
Type 1 is more common in young people, while type 2 is more common in adults.
Diabetes is frequently related to obesity, which can cause a person to be more at risk to diabetes but it can also have a genetic cause.
The problem with diabetes is that the body is not able to produce insulin or the insulin cannot work, so the glucose levels in the blood are higher.
CBD oil in animal research studies has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes because it acts on the pancreas, reducing inflammation and delaying the development of diabetes. However, we must point out that CBD is not useful as diabetes treatment and only has been found to decrease the odds of developing the full-blown disease.
5. Can CBD help with sleeping problems?
Having problems falling asleep can be a major obstacle to well-being because your body may not get the required amount of rest.
Typical insomnia symptoms can include feeling low on energy, experiencing problems with concentrating and noticing changes in mood.
Insomnia can often be caused by stress being experienced at work, in relationships or at home. Some health problems can also cause insomnia.
Some people may experience insomnia for a short period of time, after a tough day, issues in the workplace or some situation that pushes the person to high levels of stress. The main problem is when someone begins to experience insomnia frequently, it can then become a long-term sleep disorder.
The traditional treatment for sleep disorders usually involves medical therapy combined with changes in lifestyle.
CBD oil may be an option in the future due to the results of recent research, which has found that some strains of cannabis high in cannabidiol can prolong sleeping time and reduce the risk of developing sleep disorders.
6. Can CBD help prevent or cure cancer?
Cancer has become one of the most feared illnesses on earth. It is often terminal, but if it’s detected soon, the chances to survive can be fairly high. Nowadays, with the improvement of cancer treatment protocols like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the odds of survival are higher. However, cancer is still a severe illness to deal with. This illness can start in any place of the body and takes place when the growth of cells runs out of control, like a dysfunction or “error” during the process. The uncontrolled cell multiplication allows the growth of a tumour that can ultimately affect the way the body works.
Cancer is not a single disease; there are many types of it depending on the region of the body and how fast the tumour grows. Cancer has 4 stages; the first two are the "better" ones because cancer hasn't spread all over the body or may have spread to some local areas, but not too much. Stages 3 and 4 are the most serious, meaning that cancer has spread even more. Many plants and plant-derived products are believed to have anti-cancer benefits while others are thought to help alleviate the symptoms. CBD oil is currently being researched for both potential benefits.
Cannabis high in CBD oil is currently prescribed in the US for the symptoms associated with chemotherapy, especially the ones that appear with the regular treatment cycles such as vomiting, nausea and pain. This suggests that the CBD rich cannabis can be used as a complementary therapy alongside cancer treatment, suggesting it may not cure cancer by itself, but it may assist the patient to tolerate regular cancer treatment procedures better.
7. Does CBD help cure acne?
Acne is a common problem that is frequently experienced by teenagers, but it can be present in adults. It affects both men and women, and the most commonly affected areas are the face, back and chest.
It is a disease that affects the hair follicles and results in the production of pimples, pustules and cysts in the skin that generally give a bad appearance and can be associated with depression or self-consciousness.
Acne has many conventional treatments, and CBD oil is also currently being researched to determine if it may be useful.
Acne is not associated with any particular predisposing factor as it merely occurs when the sebaceous glands are stimulated (because of hormonal changes, skin damage or other conditions); however, some products and foods may contribute to its appearance including greasy food, dirt, or certain chemicals or compounds.
Stress, genetic components and drugs are not directly linked to acne but are thought to be a possible factor that may increase the probability of having acne.
Researchers are interested in cannabidiol specifically due to its potential anti-inflammatory characteristics and its ability to reduce the sebum (oil) production of the skin. Reducing sebum oil production is known to have a direct impact on this disease. In the future, teenagers may be able to treat and prevent acne by using cannabidiol.
Before using any types of skin lotions, be sure to consult with a dermatologist.
8. Is cannabidiol(CBD) good for heart health?
The heart is a vital organ in your body; it is responsible for pumping blood through your circulatory system. Diseases in this organ can be caused by stress or a genetic predisposition to heart disease. Heart problems can also be caused by poor diet, smoking tobacco, excessive drinking and illegal drug use. Heart attacks are the number one cause of death in many countries. In animal experiments, CBD oil has been found to reduce artery blockage and reduce blood pressure. Further research is necessary to determine if CBD oil may be useful for preventing heart attacks and increasing life expectancy.
Side effects of CBD
As you can see, whilst CBD oil has many potential benefits; most of them are still being researched, and it may be wise to remain prudent when using a new plant-based medicine. But, like other compounds, CBD oil may have secondary effects, so let's take a look at what they are.
Occasionally, when using CBD oil, some people have experienced negative side effects including depression, low blood pressure, hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, vomiting and bloating. However, these side effects are not very common, but there are not yet enough human studies to understand thoroughly the way CBD may cause these effects in the body. One of the commonly asked questions about CBD is "is it addictive". Until now, scientists haven't been able to detect any evidence of addiction developing with the use of CBD oil, however, when a person stops using it, irritability and insomnia may occur.
Proven and “still in research” benefits of CBD oil
There are many possible potential benefits of using CBD oil, but it is essential to look for well documented authentic research studies prior to considering embarking on a self-medication course of action.
Websites such as www.cannabis-med.org only publish scientific and medical-based research.
Let's take a look at some examples of the recent studies into CBD oil.
1. Research into anti-cancer effects of CBD
There is much research about the potential anti-cancer properties of cannabidiol. In a research report titled "Cannabidiol is a novel inhibitor for Exosome and Microvesicle (EMV) Release in Cancer” published by Kosgodage US, Thomas EL, Mould R and others; the authors propose that CBD can prevent the appearance of some parts of cancer cells that are associated with the resistance to chemotherapy as well as the production of transfer factors that increase the probabilities to have metastasis. These parts of cancer cells are called Exosomes and Microvesicles or EMV, and they participate in the transference of genetic material and proteins between cells.
They found that CBD works as a potent inhibitor in prostate and breast cancer, adenocarcinomas and hepatocellular cancer. The effects of CBD were also related to the size of the dose. The researchers concluded that CBD could potentially be useful to make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy.
2. Multiple sclerosis CBD research
A research paper titled "Cannabidiol Attenuates Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Model of Multiple Sclerosis Through Induction of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells", was published by the Department of Pathology, microbiology and immunology of University Of South Carolina's School Of Medicine in the US. They used experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or EAE for the study, and they found that CBD uses correlated with a reduction in the clinical scores of paralysis, reduced levels of IL-17 and IFNy and a decrease in T cell presence in the central nervous system.
3. Neuropathic pain CBD research
A study carried out by a group of researchers was designed to evaluate CBD use in relation to neuropathic pain. Researchers from the Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit of McGill University in Canada and the Department of Integrative Psychology and Neuroscience of Washington State University in the USA among others found that CBD had potential analgesic and anxiolytic properties; however, the critical finding of this study was that the 7-day CBD treatment reduced mechanical allodynia, which is an abnormal way of perceiving pain.
4. Parkinson’s CBD research
This study was carried out by researchers from several universities in Brazil. The study concluded that CBD can prevent motor and cognitive impairments when it is induced by reserpine in rats. They found that CBD can reduce the psychotic symptoms that are caused by L-DOPA, and they conclude that CBD is suggested in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease; however, this study was done using rats, and it is recommended to wait until the human-based research is done before drawing any conclusions.
5. Depression CBD research
A study was completed by scientists Alexandre de Mello, Natalia de Oliveira and others. They were testing the effect of CBD in animals as an antidepressant and anxiolytic, and they found that CBD did not activate neuroreceptors CB1 and CB2, but that CBD is able to work with a neuro-receptor called 5-HT1A, which gives cannabidiol high potential as a possible antidepressant.
6. Epilepsy cannabidiol research
There is a wealth of existing research concerning the use of CBD in epilepsy treatment. The clinical study “Pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders” was carried out by a team of neurobiologists who were able to demonstrate the antiepileptic properties of CBD. However, they say that the mechanisms of how the CBD acts in the body to obtain this results are not known yet and may be related to the “equilibrative nucleoside transporter”, which deals with the electrical function of the brain.
A wide research field
There is a variety of research about CBD effects and benefits in topic areas or on specific diseases like Cancer, Parkinson and others.
However, there are also broad study groups that focus on many variables involving cannabis and CBD users. The most extensive and most widely cited study is “A cross-sectional study of cannabidiol users”. It was carried out by the Center for Medical Cannabis Education, the Helfgott Research Institute and the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center. In simple terms, this group wanted to confirm what benefits CBD had amongst its users. The study was performed with 2409 CBD consumers, and it was done online and anonymously.
The results show that the majority of people use CBD to self-medicate, especially for pain, depression and anxiety related conditions. They concluded that CBD is self-reported as being useful in helping people with a wide range of disorders. They found that the most common uses are for sleep disorders, pain, depression and anxiety.
Cannabis is a plant that may have the potential to help people with some diseases; the problem is that it has a social stigma due to its well known recreational uses.
There is a wide body of research on the benefits of CBD, but there is plenty of information that is still unknown, and many people may take this as a valid reason to state there is no reason to legalise the use of cannabis. However, it is necessary to give a chance to cannabis and hemp products to be able to continue the scientific research into cannabinoids and hemp plant compounds.
It is not an easy task to research a controversial product but nowadays there is more opportunity, and people are becoming more interested in cannabinoids. Countries around the globe - such as the UK - are changing their regulations to accept CBD products as medicines. Now, we must not recognise Cannabis only as a psychoactive drug because the medical benefits have been tested and some are now proven.
CBD oil may have great potential to be used for many different applications but if you want to know more about it make sure to look for specific information online, consult studies that are in process or talk to a health professional or an expert. Remember that CBD is extracted from cannabis (which has accepted medical benefits), so there is much more to be discovered.