Everywhere you look CBD oil seems to be popping up in everything from edibles, oil, drinks and skincare. Whilst some of the wilder claims about the benefits of CBD and health has it as a cure for every ailment known to man, the reality is that it’s still early days and a lot of research has yet to happen.
However, the research that has been conducted, whether human or animal studies, has shown some promising results.
For example, in a landmark report published in 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that CBD has been “demonstrated as an effective treatment for epilepsy” in adults, children and even animals.
The report also highlighted “preliminary evidence” that CBD could be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psychosis, Parkinson’s disease and other serious health conditions.
One of the most interesting areas for studies is the potential use of CBD for pain relief and inflammation as CBD has been shown to interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and immune system to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Some studies, such as the findings published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced inflammation in mice and rats, learnings which were substantiated by a 2008 review that demonstrated that CBD also offered effective pain relief without inducing adverse side effects in humans.
Cannabinoids Patented by the US Government
CBD has been found to be a super-antioxidant with between 30-50% more antioxidant quality than Vitamin C or Vitamin E when protecting neurons exposed to hydroperoxide toxicity.
Interestingly, these particular findings saw the US Federal Government file a patent for ‘Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants’.
The patent references how Cannabinoids could be effective for treating a wide range of oxidisation diseases including inflammatory, autoimmune, age-related, or ischemic (restriction in blood supply leading to tissue damage, such as stroke or coronary artery disease).
The application was granted in 2003 which was a good few years before the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill by the US Food & Drug Administration which removed Hemp’s designation as a Schedule I drug.
So whilst the research may still be in its infancy, what is already known has obviously been enough for the US Government to see the potential of Cannabinoids which on the surface is very interesting. However, not so much when you look at what’s being discovered, which you’ll find below.
CBD AND ADDICTION
Surprisingly, there are signs that CBD could assist in the fight against a range of additions including opioids, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco.
The Opioid addiction crisis is a global problem killing millions and there is now emerging evidence that cannabis and by association, cannabinoids like CBD could have a role to play in opioid use disorder.
For example, a June 2017 study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research suggested that CBD might be useful as a pain therapy substitute in place of opioids. These are very early indications though so no conclusions should be drawn but if further research supports these early findings, it would be game-changing.
CBD AND ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
With the conversation around mental health gaining ever more importance, there have been numerous studies into how CBD might be used to treat a variety of mental health disorders.
A study review published in September 2015 in the Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics found that “preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders,” including PTSD, generalised anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Season Affective Disorder (SAD).
Another study by the University of São Paulo found that CBD significantly reduces subjective anxiety, leading investigators to conclude that “These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in [social anxiety disorder] and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”
CBD AND CANCER
Research indicates that CBD may be valuable in the treatment of cancer in a number of different ways. CBD as well as some of the other compounds found in cannabis have an antitumor effect and can amplify the death of tumour cells in both colon cancer and leukaemia.
In addition, investigations have shown that CBD can be used to stop the spread of cancer cells in cervical cancer cells.
It is important to note that the vast majority of CBD and cancer studies are pre-clinical, meaning they’re not yet, at the time of writing, being conducted on humans and the findings, whilst promising, should not be taken as conclusive proof that CBD can cure cancer.
CBD AND DEMENTIA
Whilst the research into CBD as a potential medicine for Dementia and related conditions that affect mental cognitive ability is not as advanced as it is for Epilepsy, research undertaken at California’s Salk Institute in a 2017 study found evidence that cannabinoids such as CBD could help remove dementia from brain cells.
This is because it helps to reduce inflammation, oxygen build-up and works as a brain stimulant and neuroprotectant.
CBD may also help to reduce stress and anxiety in a person with Dementia as well as reduce the decline of memory and other brain functions. This is only one study and again, no definitive conclusions can be drawn.
CBD AND DIABETES
A rarely discussed potential health benefit of CBD is how it could help to reduce the risk of developing Diabetes. In a study published in Neuropharmacology, researchers set out to explore what effect CBD would have on non-obese diabetes-prone female mice.
Only 32 per cent of the mice that received the CBD were diagnosed with diabetes compared to 100 per cent of the untreated group.
Another study published in the Feb 2012 American Journal of Pathology, suggested that CBD could play a role in improving outcomes for people already diagnosed with Diabetes.
CBD AND EPILEPSY
Some high profile cases have raised awareness of CBD’s potential anti-seizure properties but it’s only recently that science has been able to confirm this link with two rare and severe forms of Epilepsy.
The results of a study published in May 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showed that CBD was effective at reducing the number of seizures amongst children and adults with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS).
In a further study published in the NEJM to look at the impact of CBD on Dravet Syndrome, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial explored the effect of CBD medication on children and young adults.
Those who received CBD saw their seizure frequency drop by a median of 38.9% vs the placebo group although they also experienced higher rates of side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting and fatigue.
The UK Government and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved Epidiolex, a CBD based prescription medication for the treatment of both Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.
CBD AND MENOPAUSE
In our report on how CBD works, you will read about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and how it can affect the body’s balance if it’s disrupted, and it seems that menopause is one of the things that could disrupt the ECS.
As the cannabinoid receptors we have all over our body include the reproductive system, CBD is thought to help ease both perimenopause and full menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, sleeplessness and anxiety.
CBD AND NAUSEA / VOMITING
A study compiled by the British Pharmacological Society gave evidence that cannabinoids can help to regulate nausea and vomiting in humans and animals by influencing the serotonin receptors as well as decreasing the release of serotonin so that the body will have less stimulation of the vomiting controls in the brain.
CBD AND PAIN
A study published in July 2016 in the European Journal of Pain found that CBD could potentially help people with arthritis manage their pain after an animal study looked at whether using a CBD gel transdermally (on the skin) would reduce inflammation and signs of pain.
The study concluded that the topical product did offer relief from pain-related behaviours without evidence of side effects.
CBD AND SKIN CONDITIONS
A study published in July 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) explored the effects of CBD on human sebocytes. These are the cells that create sebum, the waxy, oily substance the skin produces.
Whilst sebum actually helps to protect the skin, excess sebum can cause acne. The JCI study suggested that CBD can help to prevent the sebocytes from creating too much sebum.
A 2016 review noted the potential antibacterial and antifungal properties of the cannabis plant which could help prevent acne caused by infections on the skin.
A July 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that both CBD and THC were useful for reducing the itching and inflammation associated with eczema and psoriasis.
A 2019 clinical trial suggests that CBD may also be beneficial for treating the appearance of acne scars.