CBD is being touted as a new treatment for dozens of different illnesses and conditions. But without government approval, there are still many questions around these three simple letters
Where would the cannabis industry be without the plant compound commonly known as CBD?
It’s true, much of the spotlight is taken up by CBD’s bigger sister THC. But without the medicinal benefits of cannabis, most of which are thought to come from CBD, lawmakers would have had a much tougher time pushing through legislation across the country.
A lot of states relaxed the laws around medical cannabis first, and recreational use followed after. Cannabis users across America owe a lot of thanks to CBD for blazing the trail.
But what medical conditions can CBD help relieve?
Let’s take a closer look…
Cannabis and CBD – What’s the difference?
CBD is short for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of over a hundred plant compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant.
However, cannabinoids are not just found in cannabis. They are also produced by the human body and in the bodies of nearly all animals that walk planet earth. In fact, all animals (humans included) have a system called the endocannabinoid system, with which CBD and the other cannabinoids interact.
It is these interactions that cause the effects associated with cannabis and CBD products. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in bringing balance to the body and regulates many key systems and functions within the body. Using cannabis or CBD products can help bring these systems back to their normal levels.
The most well-known effect of cannabis – the “high” is caused by THC, another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. The key difference between marijuana and CBD products is that CBD does not produce a high feeling.
But it does affect the body in different ways, including the range of medical benefits that have helped skyrocket its popularity in recent years.
Anxiety is the most common reason that people turn to CBD.
In the modern world, it’s hard to live a life that is totally free from anxiety. We have 24/7 rolling news, data, and information bombarding our senses from every angle, and financial stresses growing every month. And that’s before we even spend hours every day glued to our smartphones.
It can be hard to switch off and give our minds the space to unwind and decompress. Anxiety is extremely difficult to live with and can lead to a range of secondary conditions like high blood pressure and depression.
It is for this reason that many people are turning to CBD for some mental relief.
Whether it’s to help relax after a stressful day of work or to just handle the stresses of work in the first place, CBD is giving many people a break from the anxiety.
Medical studies into the effectiveness of treating anxiety with CBD are very promising. A widely cited study gave various doses of CBD to people before they took part in a public speaking event, and the results showed a marked decrease in stress and anxiety amongst the subjects.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are using CBD as an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals and reporting great effects. People are even using CBD as a way to calm down pets that suffer from separation anxiety, and studies are underway into the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Depression is on the rise.
Whether it’s becoming increasingly difficult to live in the modern world and maintain sound mental health, or if the increased awareness of mental health conditions is leading to more diagnoses is hard to know for sure.
Either way, it’s clear that mental health conditions are on the rise and depression is one of the main drivers of this increase.
Traditionally depression has been treated with a range of synthetic pharmaceutical drugs. But these drugs come with a whole host of side effects and risks. People are more aware of the risk of addiction to prescription drugs, the damage they can do to our bodies, and the huge alterations they can have on their personalities.
As part of the push towards more natural and holistic treatments, many depression sufferers are turning to CBD as a viable alternative.
Research has shown the anti-depressant qualities of CBD, and many studies have shown a link between CBD and decreased levels of depression. There are cases where CBD has reduced manic states in patients and its antipsychotic effects have made it a safe alternative treatment for schizophrenia.
Insomnia comes in many different shapes and sizes. At the very severe end, sufferers may only sleep a few hours a night for weeks on end, causing them to fall asleep in an instant during the day, have memory blackouts, and severe mental health problems.
But for most people, insomnia means tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep, and failing to sink into the deep sleep that our brains need to feel fully recovered and switched on.
It’s long been known that smoking marijuana has a sedative effect, and a common stereotype is a stoner falling asleep on the sofa with the tv running and surrounded by snacks.
Preliminary studies have shown that CBD is effective in reducing REM sleep disorders. REM sleep is a period in which the brain is highly active. Spending too much time in this sleep stage means the brain spends less time in recovery mode, and you can wake up feeling unrested and agitated.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD is highly effective when it comes to helping people sleep, but the scientific community is still divided.
Some studies have shown that CBD increases wakefulness, and some insomnia sufferers are using it to keep themselves awake and alert during the day. But other studies have shown the sedative effects of CBD, and how by reducing stress and anxiety insomnia patients can fall asleep quicker.
Acne is probably one of the most treated conditions of recent times. Take a trip into any pharmacists or supermarket and you’ll see shelves and shelves of creams and treatments, and the web is awash with 101 different ways you can fight off skin blemishes.
CBD is now officially added to the roster of anti-acne treatments, and it probably has more scientific backing than a lot of the products that have been on the market for years.
CBD’s ability to fight acne comes in two forms. In 2017, a review found that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. These properties lend themselves to a wide range of problems including combating acne. A common symptom of acne is irritated and reddened skin. CBD helps reduce this inflammation and the visible signs of acne on the skin.
Secondly, a 2014 study reported that CBD can affect cells known as sebocytes. These sebocytes produce an oily, waxy substance known as sebum. Sebum’s role is to protect the skin against dryness and dirt. But too much sebum leads to bacteria growth which then leads to acne.
The study found that CBD helps prevent the overproduction of sebum. But there is still a gap in the research to indicate that CBD directly reduces acne. But try telling this to the CBD companies that are producing huge ranges of topical skincare products – and the thousands of people who report reduced ance as a result of using them.
Glaucoma is a common condition that affects the sight of thousands of people in America. It is caused when the optic nerve between the eyes and the brain becomes damaged. This can lead to blurred vision and seeing colors around bright lights.
At the severe end, glaucoma can lead to irreversible blindness and complete loss of sight in both eyes.
Glaucoma is treated in several ways, including eye drops, laser treatment, or even surgery on the optic nerves themselves. But CBD could step in to change all of that.
One of the leading causes of glaucoma is high intraocular pressure or IOC, typically caused by a buildup of fluid inside the eye. There has been a long history of treating glaucoma with cannabis, and studies have shown that THC is effective at reducing the impact of the condition. However, it is a treatment and not a cure, meaning that to keep glaucoma at bay you would have to be high all day, every day.
This may be good news for some, but for some, this could impair their ability to get on with their day-to-day lives. Luckily, scientists have switched their focus to CBD.
CBD has been shown to reduce blood pressure. As a result of this reduction in BP, the pressure inside the eyes also decreases, bringing some much-needed relief for glaucoma sufferers. Not only this, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can ease the symptoms of glaucoma.
It’s often said that after space, the human brain is the last frontier that science is yet to explore and understand. There are so many things about the brain that we just do not understand, which makes epilepsy such a difficult condition to treat.
Epilepsy is a condition where uncontrollable electrical bursts in the brain cause people to suffer from seizures and fits. Oftentimes it’s not clear what the root causes of epilepsy are, with doctors pointing to genetic traits or damage to the brain.
While research is still underway to determine what causes these electrical bursts, most medicine and treatments for epilepsy are centered around controlling the seizures and minimizing the damage they can cause.
The first drug containing an active ingredient derived from cannabis to be approved by the FDA was Epidiolex, It is an orally administered drug containing CBD from hemp plants that reduce fits and seizures.
Epidiolex’s effectiveness was studied in three randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving 516 patients. Epidiolex, taken along with other medications, was shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of seizures when compared with placebo.
After depression and anxiety, pain is the number one reason people are turning to CBD.
Chronic pain comes in many forms. It can be a side effect from a deeper condition, or it could be the aches and pains of old age.
Whatever pain you’re suffering, CBD is being touted as a top alternative to common prescription drugs. People who suffer from long-term chronic pain are all too aware that they’re often juggling two different risks. They either live with the pain, or they take pain-killing medication day after day, often for months or years at a time. Pain-killing medications often have side effects and can be highly addictive.
On the other hand, CBD is non-habit forming, completely natural, and has relatively mild side effects when compared to a lot of pain-relieving drugs.
But the results on the efficacy of CBD as a pain reliever are still inconclusive. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that it is effective in animals, but these trials have not been replicated or conclusive when it comes to pain relief in humans.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to using CBD to treat medical conditions, the general consensus from the scientific community is that the signs are positive, but there is not enough evidence to make conclusive statements at this time.
But fear not! The cannabis industry is booming, and the CBD specifically is in a stage of constant growth. As these industries expand, more money is being spent on research into the effects of cannabinoids. It is only a matter of time before more concrete evidence comes to light.
For now, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of trial and error. If it’s working for you, who cares what the FDA says, right?
CBD is perfectly legal in all 50 states and it’s easy to buy. Just make sure you’re buying a reputable brand from a dispensary, rather than supermarket products. The staff at your nearest dispensary will be more than happy to point you in the direction of some high-quality CBD.
And once you have some, start with small doses and gradually increase until you start noticing a difference. You’ll be amazed at how powerful and versatile CBD can be!