6 Potential Benefits of CBD Worth Knowing
Updated: Feb 24
By Keith Alban
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, has been taking over local dispensaries, health and wellness stores, supplement sites, pharmacies, smoke shops, gas stations, and even some grocery stores. It’s somewhat unprecedented in the natural health and wellness world for a supplement to spread so quickly. CBD’s increasing popularity has caused a buzz in the science and research community, which in turn has caused the growth of the funding for CBD studies. The National Institutes of Health funding for CBD studies went from zero in 2014 to around $16 million in 2018! In addition, the Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has granted 3 million dollars to study the medicinal effects of CBD in greater detail. This speaks to the potential interest in this versatile, potent cannabinoid.
With this new influx of researchers interested in discovering CBD and advancing the understanding of its medicinal capacity, studies have emerged and shown promise in its overall medicinal value. While initial studies into this plant-derived compound focused on debilitating conditions such as PTSD and epilepsy, researchers and consumers are discovering benefits for other conditions such as pain, anxiety, inflammation, skin conditions, neurological disorders, and much more. It’s fairly safe to say that CBD has surpassed expectations thus far, although more research is still needed to gauge to what degree it will help different conditions. The popularity of CBD and its rapid emergence on the market may have you wondering:
What is CBD and where does it come from?
CBD is one of over 100 compounds classified as cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. CBD is usually derived from the hemp portion as opposed to actual marijuana. This extraction allows it to remain non-psychoactive and adhere to the legal limit of 0.3% THC. Since cannabis is still federally illegal in many places, CBD products sold in all 50 states must be derived from industrial hemp as defined by the U.S. Farm Bill section 7606. Compare that to marijuana which can contain up to 30-40% THC levels.
CBD has a complex and dynamic action in the body because it, directly and indirectly, influences many receptors throughout the body. Researchers have found endocannabinoid receptors within the GI tract, immune system, brain, nerves, bone, liver, pancreas, muscle tissue, kidney, heart, blood vessels, adipose tissue, and more! CBD can activate and stimulate these receptors that influence aspects of our health such as cognition, neuro-protection, immunity, reproductive health, endocrine balance, and hormonal secretion, pain perception, inflammatory response, stress response, appetite, and even our mood and metabolism. (1,2) That’s not to say that the endocannabinoid system entirely governs those systems of the body, but it plays a prominent role. CBD’s unique ability to influence and affect multiple systems, as well as its high level of safety, are partially responsible for the meteoric rise and continued climb in sales, mainstream appeal, and positive testimonials.
What may CBD be potentially useful for?
Inflammation & Pain
Inflammation and pain relief are perhaps the most common uses of CBD. People of all ages and conditioning are trying it in the hopes that it helps to quell and relieve some of the pain from a wide range of rheumatic conditions, injuries, surgery, etc. A high percentage of CBD products are marketed with the angle of pain relief and many products are specifically formulated for that purpose. You can find topical creams, gels, patches, salves, as well as oral tinctures, edibles, teas, and pills. Multiple studies have shown CBD to be a useful analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, especially when dealing with chronic conditions such as arthritic conditions and injuries, or nerve pain from multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and more. (3,4)
Drug addiction & withdrawals
CBD’s ability to target serotonin, GABA, TRPV1, glycine, and many other receptors provide a glimpse into how this potent cannabinoid can produce potential benefits for conditions such as opioid dependence, depression, anxiety, and neuropathic pain. That’s not to say it will automatically improve these conditions, as causative factors can vary tremendously. Results vary with any product, both medical drugs, and natural supplements. CBD can exert influence over many non-cannabinoid receptors in the brain that may positively influence cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Many people have reported tangible results with CBD, although not all will respond to it. It’s a tricky thing when it comes to withdrawal because of the range of symptoms from substance to substance.
One interesting study that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry saw very positive results for long time heroin users. The study gathered 42 users from halfway houses, social services, and treatment centers that were on heroin for over 10 years. Three groups were given either high dose CBD, moderate dose, or placebo. The participants were shown different forms of stimulus like pictures and videos of drug use and paraphernalia, such as syringes and heroin powder. Following these tests, researchers gauged their cravings for heroin as well as their levels of anxiety. Both groups that were given CBD had a 2-3 fold reduction in cravings and decreased anxiety compared to the placebo group! (5)
CBD has been showing some potential in different areas related to our mood and emotional states. CBD may be able to help you if you battle with various forms of anxiety such as panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and general anxiety. A review published in Neurotherapeutics journal found strong preclinical evidence supporting CBD’s anxiolytic role via CB1 and 5-HT1A receptors. (6) Nothing will ever get rid of all of the anxiety we feel as human beings in this fast-paced, stressful, demanding world, but the evidence is showing that CBD may be quite helpful in lowering it to some degree.
Animal research on CBD’s antidepressant properties found positive results with probable mediation via activation of 5-HT1A receptors. A small amount of evidence exists that actually suggests a lack of endocannabinoid signaling may play a role in depression. Some researchers have seen that people with depression tend to have deficiencies in endocannabinoid signaling, which is an interesting angle that’s not typically considered with depression. (7) CBD may help to improve the activation process of the endocannabinoid system. One study found similar results to the medication imipramine, without the side effects. (8) While more clinical research is necessary to assess the effectiveness of CBD in people, these studies provide a strong foundation for further studies.
Chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, infections, and others continue to be some of the leading causes of death on a global scale. Many factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, poor diet choices, and exposure to toxins and chemicals can play a role in the development of certain chronic diseases. It’s important to know that chronic disease isn’t an inevitability. We’re in the driver’s seat of our health to a large degree. Detoxifying heavy metals, candida, viruses, pathogens, halides, plastics, pesticides, insecticides, and the multitudes of disease-causing compounds will significantly lower your risk of health problems. While it’s impossible to eliminate that risk, learning about the sources of these toxins as well as solutions to them will go a long way to improve our chances of staying healthy.
When it comes to CBD and cancer, as unlikely as it may seem, CBD has surprisingly shown good promise. A study from 2013 found that CBD may help reduce the spread of breast cancer, leukemia, glioma, lung cancer, endocrine tumors, and colon cancer. (9) A somewhat shocking result for sure, but other studies have shown that cannabinoids may help to inhibit angiogenesis via multiple mechanisms. (10) Yet another piece of research in vitro and in vivo demonstrated potential for neuroblastoma, one of the most common cancers in children. (11) Cancer is one of the most vicious diseases that require a comprehensive approach. Other nutrients such as honokiol, limonene, galangal, lemongrass, pterostilbene, barley grass juice, boswellia, MSM, and others may have the potential to help those with cancer. While more human clinical studies are needed to understand CBD’s potential against one of the most ruthless killers in the world, the research coming in has been surprisingly powerful.
Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other forms of neurodegeneration
Recent studies on Alzheimer’s disease used animal models to test the efficacy that CBD had in brain cells and the potential properties it may have on the progression of the disease. What researchers found was that CBD exhibited protective properties on multiple levels of degeneration. CBD helped to both prevent and even reverse some cases of cognitive decline in animals with Alzheimer’s. (12) Other studies have shown promise as well, but human clinical studies are still lacking. We do know that CBD offers very potent protection to the brain because of the receptors and mechanisms it activates, so the potential is high when it comes to several forms of neurodegeneration.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is on the rise in the U.S. with an estimated 40,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. This somewhat staggering statistic is in addition to the 1.25 million Americans who already have it. Type 1 isn’t nearly as common as type 2, but the statistic of 40,000 new cases per year in the US is a bit surprising. Researchers in Portugal found out that CBD caused a significant reduction in pancreatic inflammation associated with the development of this disease. (13) Another study with mice showed positive results in decreasing the development and certain manifestations of type 1 diabetes. The endocannabinoid system has actually been shown to play an important role in insulin sensitivity in fat cells. CBD shouldn’t be looked at as a stand-alone treatment, but rather one of many supplements and diet changes to help maximize wellness.
In conclusion, the therapeutic potential and range of CBD is vast and still somewhat untapped. As we delve deeper into the world of cannabinoids, we’ll find out just how capable and potent they are medicinal. Positive research and results have been evident in people with stress, anxiety, pain, and chronic conditions, although there’s no guarantee it will work for each of the conditions listed. Research is diligently trying to catch up to the trends that have consumers taking a chance on this natural remedy. As scientists continue to learn more about the mechanisms and effects of CBD and other cannabinoids, we can be certain that CBD will become a familiar component in future therapies and protocols. Although CBD should not be considered a miracle worker for any of the above conditions, the future is bright for this diverse, powerful, yet gentle compound.
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