CBD Truth or Consequences
The evidence for cannabidiol health benefits
CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases it was able to stop them altogether. Videos of the effects of CBD on these children and their seizures are readily available on the Internet for viewing, and they are quite striking. Recently the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.
CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.
CBD Isolates vs. Broad-Spectrum and Full-Spectrum CBD Oils
Let’s look at the characteristics of the three major types of CBD products:
CBD isolates — contain pure CBD only
Broad-spectrum products — besides CBD, they contain various other cannabinoids, terpenes, and acids, but are THC-free
Full-spectrum products — contain numerous compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC
Since broad-spectrum and full-spectrum products contain other cannabinoids besides CBD, they can have the so-called entourage effect. The entourage effect is the synergy of all compounds — it makes the product stronger, so you will need less CBD to get the desired effects.
Full-spectrum oils are the most potent and sought-after CBD products. However, if you’re looking for a strong product but want to avoid THC, you should stick to broad-spectrum oils.
Both broad-spectrum and full-spectrum products offer more health benefits than pure CBD. Still, bear in mind that even though CBD isolates are less potent, they shouldn’t be underestimated. Unlike broad-spectrum and full-spectrum products, isolates do not contain any allergens. Moreover, with a CBD isolate, you don’t need to worry about failing a drug test.
CBD for Pain
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response.
The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system.
Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters.
One study of 47 people with multiple sclerosis examined the effects of taking Sativex for one month. The participants experienced improvements in pain, walking, and muscle spasms. Still, the study didn’t include any control group and placebo effects cannot be ruled out.
Another study found that CBD significantly improved pain during movement, pain at rest and sleep quality in 58 people with rheumatoid arthritis .
Anxiety Can Be a Killer
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach.
CBD may also benefit people with other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may help treat anxiety-induced insomnia as well.
In 2011, a study researched CBD’s effects on people with SAD. Participants were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.
In one Brazilian study, 57 men received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the test.
CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder.
CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies.
These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
CBD Cancer Symptom Relief
CBD may help reduce symptoms related to cancer and side effects related to cancer treatment, like nausea, vomiting and pain.
One study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication.
Those treated with an extract containing both compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those who received only THC extract.
CBD may also help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, which are among the most common chemotherapy-related side effects for those with cancer.
CBD for the Mind
One study found that CBD reduced spasms in 75% of 276 people with multiple sclerosis who were experiencing muscle spasticity that was resistant to medications.
Researchers are studying the use of CBD oil for treating:
CBD oil may also reduce the inflammation that can make neurodegenerative symptoms worse. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD oil for neurodegenerative diseases.
Inflammation Effects Every Part of Your Body
Based on recent scientific studies, CBD oil may help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.
One test-tube study found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, exerted anti-inflammatory actions and prevented the activation of “pro-acne” agents like inflammatory cytokines.
Many proponents of cannabis legalization claim that cannabis doesn’t have the potential to be addictive, but that’s not the case.
And yes, those who use cannabis frequently might experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as mood swings, a lack of energy, and cognitive impairment.
Do you have any co-occurring mental health issues that might increase your risk of misusing cannabis? This can include conditions like PTSD, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression. If so, discuss with your care providers if cannabis might exacerbate your symptoms (for example, weed definitely made my OCD much worse), interact with your current medications, and whether the benefits of use are strictly short-term or sustainable over a longer period of time.
Know the signs. Does it feel more like a thoughtful choice or an urge or compulsion when you use? Are you able to take a break from using? Is your tolerance growing? Has it interfered with obligations or relationships in your life? Has it created problems (financially, emotionally, socially, even legally) or taken you away from things that are important to you?
Another study gave 214 people with severe epilepsy 0.9–2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound (2–5 g/kg) of body weight. Their seizures reduced by a median of 36.5%.
One more study found that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity in children with Dravet syndrome, a complex childhood epilepsy disorder, compared to a placebo.
CBD Reaches the Heart
Studies indicate that CBD may be able to help with high blood pressure.
One recent study treated nine healthy men with one dose of 600 mg of CBD oil and found it reduced resting blood pressure, compared to a placebo.
The same study also gave the men stress tests that normally increase blood pressure. Interestingly, the single dose of CBD led the men to experience a smaller blood pressure increase than normal in response to these tests.
Researchers have suggested that the stress- and anxiety-reducing properties of CBD are responsible for its ability to help lower blood pressure.
Though more studies are needed, CBD is thought to provide the following health benefits:
Antipsychotic effects: Studies suggest that CBD may help people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders by reducing psychotic symptoms.
Substance abuse treatment: CBD has been shown to modify circuits in the brain related to drug addiction. In rats, CBD has been shown to reduce morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior.
Anti-tumor effects: In test-tube and animal studies, CBD has demonstrated anti-tumor effects. In animals, it has been shown to prevent the spread of breast, prostate, brain, colon and lung cancer.
Diabetes prevention: In diabetic mice, treatment with CBD reduced the incidence of diabetes by 56% and significantly reduced inflammation.
CBD Grapefruit Warning
Although studies are still ongoing to determine potential interactions between CBD and specific medications, there’s one rule of thumb that can help consumers in the meantime: Avoid CBD if your medications have a grapefruit warning on the label.
This warning indicates that people taking the medication should avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
According to the Food and Drug Administration Trusted Source, consuming grapefruit while on one of these medications can lead to a higher concentration of the medication in the bloodstream and adverse side effects or even an overdose.