• Amber Olsen

Cannabidiol's History, Pharmacological Activity, and Potential Health Benefits

Updated: Feb 24

Cannabis sativa has been used for medical and recreational purposes for thousands of years. It’s been one of the more successful compounds used to improve epilepsy for centuries. Early documented uses of cannabis to treat seizures include a Sumerian text from 2900 BCE, and an Arabian document from the twelfth century. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the therapeutic potential of compounds derived from these plants. Specifically, the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) has shown promise as an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotectant, analgesic compound with many other unique therapeutic health benefits as well. People all over the country have reported CBD’s benefits for conditions like chronic pain depression, anxiety, PTSD, brain injuries, pain, sleep disorders, seizures, and many others.

What are the medicinal uses of Cannabidiol (CBD)?

For many years, hemp was used to produce hemp fiber for rope, clothing, bowstrings, and paper in Central Asia. This is where it’s thought to have originated. Cannabis was also used for its seeds and seed oils, as livestock feed, for medicine, religious ceremonies, and recreation. Hemp is now a worldwide crop used to make cordage, construction material, paper, and textiles, as well as for edible seeds, milk, and oil. According to several scientific documents, medicinal preparations from the flowers and resin of cannabis have been used in China since 2700 BCE to treat menstrual disorders, gout, rheumatism, malaria, constipation, and problems with memory.

Islamic physicians used cannabis to treat nausea, vomiting, epilepsy, inflammation, pain, and fevers. In the 1800s, cannabis was widely used by western medicine as a common analgesic drug. More recently, cannabis has been used to treat glaucoma, pain, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, insomnia, anxiety, and epilepsy. Evidence for its efficacy varies substantially for different indications, with the best data in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy, chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Although scientists have identified over 100 cannabinoids, CBD and THC are by far the most extensively studied. The two major neuroactive components in cannabis are the psychoactive THC and the non-psychoactive CBD. We use the term non-psychoactive to indicate a lack of psychotropic effect that THC produces. CBD can affect behavior in many positive, subtle ways. Despite their similarities, THC and CBD have distinct differences that influence how they interact with the endocannabinoid system.

THC and CBD oftentimes have opposing actions within the body despite having the same molecular structure. The manner in which the atoms are arranged cause major differences in how it fits into and affects receptors throughout the body. THC binds in a stronger manner to CB1 receptors, while CBD affects many other receptors in a way that's unlike other cannabinoids. CBD has the ability to activate and bind to many different receptors in the body, which is one of the reasons for the success

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in protecting the brain in response to trauma. The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of receptors within different organs, tissues, and cells that govern many systems and processes in the body. Researchers used to believe cannabinoid receptors were only found in a couple of places. More research has uncovered that these responsive cannabinoid receptors are all throughout the body.

Nearly every layer of our physiology including bone, muscle, adipose tissue, liver, kidneys, pancreas, brain, spine, nerves, skin, GI tract, blood vessels, heart, and others carry these ubiquitous receptors. Researchers have discovered that the endocannabinoid system influences the immune system, reproductive system, digestive system, inflammation, mood, appetite, stress response, metabolism, and so much more. Cannabinoids are some of the most diverse molecules found in nature because of their ability to affect such a large number of receptors in the body.

What are CBD’s mechanisms of action?

Cannabidiol has a wide range of biologic effects with multiple potential sites of action in the nervous system. Preclinical evidence for anti-seizure properties with low side effects supports further development of treatments for epilepsy. Activity in models of neuronal injury, degeneration, and psychiatric disease suggest that CBD may also be effective for a wide range of central nervous system disorders that may complicate the lives of individuals with epilepsy.

Decades of prohibition have left cannabis-derived therapies in a gray area that may pose challenges for the evaluation and clinical development of CBD-based drugs for epilepsy and other disorders. However, a growing acceptance of the potential benefits of cannabis-derived treatments in many countries may ease the regulatory path for clinicians and scientists to conduct more studies to understand other health benefits of CBD.

In conclusion, pre-clinical and clinical evidence has shown that cannabinoids such as CBD can be used to reduce seizures in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy. The use of CBD for specific health conditions and general well-being is growing each day. CBD is being used as a specific therapy for several diverse medical conditions like pain, inflammatory disorders, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. It is important to continue the research on CBD to improve the understanding of its therapeutic potential. The efficacy in treating medical conditions and providing healthy solutions for those who most need it will grow as more clinical research emerges.


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*FDA DISCLAIMER The statements and products referred to throughout this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health condition or concern, consult a physician or your health care provider. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing new exercises. We recommend you educate yourselves on the scientific / nutritional facts.




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*FDA DISCLAIMER The statements and products referred to throughout this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health condition or concern, consult a physician or your health care provider. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing new exercises. We recommend you educate yourselves on the scientific / nutritional facts.

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