You may have heard of the many benefits of CBD but how much of the claims are based in science?
Early research has found that CBD oil has the potential to reduce chronic pain, anxiety, depression and acne, and may help those overcoming addiction. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also play a role in lowering the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has even shown anti-tumour effects and could be effective in inhibiting the progression of cancer and its related symptoms.
Here is a general overview of some of the scientific research conducted in the field of CBD. The good news is that research is increasing and the research area is being taken seriously with large financial backing from institutions and government.
Is the world finally waking up to the benefits of CBD? It’s about time.
Benefits of CBD #1: May relieve chronic pain
Early research has shown promising results for the use of CBD oil in relieving chronic pain.
A report studied CBD use for general chronic pain. Researchers compiled the results of multiple systematic reviews covering dozens of trials and studies. Their research concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults. 1
A separate study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine supports these results. This research suggests that using CBD can reduce pain and inflammation. 2
The researchers also found that subjects were not likely to build up a tolerance to the effects of CBD, so they would not need to increase their dose continually. CBD, could offer helpful new treatments for people with chronic pain.
Benefits of CBD #2: Reduces anxiety and depression
One of the benefits of CBD oil is that it could help treat anxiety and depression. This is thought to be due to CBD’s ability to activate the brain receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, as well as appetite and sleep. CBD also slows the body’s absorption of anandamide (the “bliss molecule”) helping users feel happier, longer.
Benefits of CBD #3: Alleviates cancer symptoms and may have anti-tumor effects
Both the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute recognise CBD oil’s potential in slowing and reducing the spread of cancer cells.
While they emphasise that CBD is not a cure, research shows it can be highly beneficial in inhibiting the progression of many types of cancer, including breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer. 6
Cancer treatment side-effects are challenging and can include nausea and dizziness, pain, exhaustion, digestion issues, and loss of appetite. Recent studies have shown that CBD oil may help mitigate these symptoms, and allow patients to better manage their treatment symptoms.
Nausea and vomiting
CBD may be effective in lowering cancer-related pain, as well as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. 7
Through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been shown to help manage pain, inflammation and neuropathy in patients with malignant diseases 8. Fifteen of the 18 trials demonstrated a significant analgesic effect of cannabinoids as compared to placebo.
Understandably, general anxiety is a common symptom of cancer treatment. Studies show that CBD can help alleviate a range of anxiety disorders (and disorders with anxiety symptoms) including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)9
Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia. 10
#4: Reduces seizures in epilepsy and spasms in MS
Much of the research on CBD has looked at its seizure-reducing effects on two rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
In fact, the FDA just approved the first prescription cannabis drug, called Epidiolex, for these two forms of epilepsy. 11
Other research looked at CBD in the treatment of muscles spasms in people with multiple sclerosis. Muscle spasms are one of the most common symptoms of MS. These spasms can be so great they cause constant pain in some people.
One report found that short-term use of CBD oil could reduce the levels of spasticity a person feels. The results are modest, but many people reported a reduction in symptoms. More studies on humans are needed to verify these results.12
#5: Displays anti-psychotic properties
Randomised, double-blind controlled clinical trial demonstrated that in acute schizophrenia cannabidiol exerts antipsychotic properties comparable to the antipsychotic drug amisulpride. Preliminary research suggests that CBD’s antipsychotic effect may be due to its relation to elevating anandamide levels (the so-called “bliss molecule”). 13
#6: Helps treat substance abuse
One of the exciting benefits of CBD to emerge is that it counteracts the psychoactive properties of THC, meaning it may help those addicted to marijuana.
#7: Lowers risk of diabetes and heart disease
CBD has beneficial effects in disorders as wide ranging as diabetes, Huntington’s disease, cancer and colitis. Growing evidence now also suggests that CBD is beneficial in the cardiovascular system, primarily through its anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant effects. Cannabidiol appears to offer a range of benefits that include improved blood flow in animal models of stroke; reducing the effect of stress on the heart and white blood cell management 19
Some scientists also believe that CBD could have the potential to help treat type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease because of its anti-inflammatory properties. 20
#8: Improves skin health
There is some evidence to suggest that CBD oil may be helpful in the treatment of acne. CBD oil may help reduce various types of acne thanks to its ability to adjust how the body creates sebum. Sebum is a waxy, oily substance the skin makes.
CBD may help reduce acne by inhibiting the sebaceous glands that produce excess oil. 21 It may be more effective than vitamin C and E in improving skin conditions, coupled with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Another study revealed that CBD oil triggered an anti-inflammatory reaction in cells and prevented inflammatory cytokines from activating. Cytokines may trigger acne, so reducing them may help prevent further breakouts. 22
#9: Reduce inflammation
Many studies have found that CBD can reduce joint inflammation and other inflammatory pain in rats, without side effects. This may point to potential relief from arthritis in humans. 23
In fact, one of the first trials of Sativex, a medicine that contains both CBD and THC, reported significant improvement in pain and sleep quality in 58 rheumatoid arthritis patients. 24
The same medicine showed a notable reduction in pain and muscle spasms in a small group of people with multiple sclerosis.
Analysing several trials and studies, a 2017 report concluded that adults treated with cannabis or cannabinoids, like CBD, are likely to experience a significant reduction in chronic pain symptoms. 25
The same report found a notable decrease in opioid use in pain patients taking medical cannabis.
Another study in the European Journal of Pain used an animal model to see if CBD could help people with arthritis manage their pain. Researchers applied a topical gel containing CBD to rats with arthritis for 4 days. 26
Their researchers noted a significant drop in inflammation and signs of pain, without additional side effects.
People using CBD oil for arthritis may find relief from their pain, but more human studies need to be done to confirm these findings.