Author: Joy Hughes
CBD has been gaining popularity lately, but it’s actually been studied for its health benefits for decades.
Here are some health issues that CBD has shown promise for — either in scientific studies, or personal anecdotes.
Jump to: Health Conditions Treated by CBD
CBD for Acne
Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and we take pride in maintaining a healthy complexion. So, when there is a change in our hormones or lifestyle, we may also see a change in our complexion.
Today, we have prescriptions to help maintain a healthy complexion, and to get rid of any unwanted blemishes or acne. However, these prescriptions can cause side effects and may end up hurting our skin in the long run. Acne, also known as Vulgaris, is a skin condition that starts when oil and dead skin cells get clogged within the hair follicles.
Through multiple studies, researchers have seen the positive effects CBD has on the skin. With its antioxidants, neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD helps in reducing the reproduction of sebaceous glands, while normalizing the lipid production, producing a clearer and healthier complexion. Researchers have even suggested that CBD is more effective than vitamin E and C when treating acne1.
CBD for Arthritis
At some point in our lives we may experience pain, stiffness, swelling, and lack of movement in our joints and muscles. Often times, these symptoms are referred to as arthritis. However, there are over 100 different forms of arthritis — Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, just to name a few — that may develop over time, or appear suddenly.
Inflammation and pain are usually the two most common signs of all types of arthritis. In a study supported by The Arthritis Society, researchers saw, for the first time, the ability CBD had in blocking acute inflammation and pain in Osteoarthritis models. They also saw arthritic relief when CBD was applied topically. In each of these studies, researchers concluded there were no side effects from CBD in the animal models.2 3
As for CBD treating Rheumatoid Arthritis, studies have shown that a daily dose of 5 mg/kg prevented the progression of the chronic inflammatory disease.4
CBD for Asthma
Having asthma — inflammation of the bronchial tubes (airways) — can be scary. It can be triggered by stress, an irritation to something in the environment, even overly excessive exercising. Over the years, scientists have conducted studies on the effects CBD has in the lungs. In a 2012 study, scientists suggested that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties could be a potential therapeutic mechanism for treating lung disease.5
In another study, researchers witnessed similar results. Using a number of rats, scientists noticed a reduction in inflammation as well. Scientists suggest that CBD may also influence a decrease of mucus hypersecretion. Scientists believe more tests need to be done; however, the data from these studies appear to be promising.6
CBD for Anxiety and Stress
Life in general is stressful. One of our body’s ways of reacting to stress is through anxiety. It’s expected to have occasional anxiety throughout our lives. However, when our stress and temporary anxiety escalate into attacks, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. There are several forms of anxiety disorders that can cause you to feel disorientation, panic, fear, restlessness, and fatigue. These disorders can be debilitating, causing problems in different areas of your life, and can even affect you physically.
Thankfully, through a number of studies, researchers are seeing the potential therapeutic effects CBD has on people with different types of anxiety. In one study, researchers used neuroimaging to see how CBD affects brain function in patients struggling with SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). Through parametric mapping before and after CBD was administered, researchers saw a change in the regional cerebral blood flow of the limbic and paralimbic areas — regional parts of the brain where we may feel anxiety, fear, panic, stress, etc. The results of this study showed CBD effectively reducing anxiety in SAD and improving the participants state of well-being.7
Another study was done on anxiety through public speaking. Participants submitted to a SPS (Simulated Public Speaking) test and were then administered CBD. Researchers saw a significant decrease in anxiety when the participants took CBD. These results suggest that CBD produces anxiety-reducing properties.8
CBD for Cancer
There are over 200 different types of cells that make up our body. And we contain roughly 37.2 trillion cells throughout our body. To maintain a healthy and normal homeostasis, our body gets rid of abnormal, unhealthy, and unneeded cells by a process called apoptosis — a programmed cell death and immune function. However, when these unhealthy or abnormal cells do not die, they may begin attacking, causing diseases such as cancer, which contain cells that never stop dividing or dying.
Studies have shown that CBD increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in cancerous cells such as leukemia. Researchers also noted that CBD helped induce the process of apoptosis, therefore suggesting CBD as be a potential selective anti-cancer agent of leukemia.9
In another study, researchers again saw CBD-induced apoptosis in cervical cancer cells, and it even stopped the reproduction of these cells. Because of CBD’s ability to inhibit cancer cells, researchers have also seen CBD effectively treat breast and prostate cancer.10
CBD for Chronic Pain
Pain is one of the most recurring symptoms found in people suffering from a disease or illness. It can severely decrease quality of life regardless of its cause.
In several studies, researchers have discovered that cannabinoids such as CBD, CBC, and THC have antinociceptive mechanisms — a process that halts exposure to the stimulation of pain or injury. These mechanisms are unlike the drugs that are being used today, and may be a promising therapeutic treatment to alleviate pain, especially when pharmacological treatments fail.11
In 1859, Sir John Russell Reynolds, a research pioneer in neurology and epilepsy, wrote, “For the relief of certain kinds of pain, I believe, there is no more useful medicine than Cannabis within our reach.”
In a 2013 study, researchers noticed that patients suffering from chronic pain were prescribed hydrocodone. However, the patients didn’t need the narcotic if they had use of cannabis.12
CBD for Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the pancreas stops producing insulin. Because of CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory properties and its influence on the function and discharge of the immune cells — cytokines — researchers began investigating how CBD may affect type 1 diabetes. The results of this study showed that CBD is capable of partially preventing the initiation of diabetes. This suggests CBD could be a reasonable way to control type 1 diabetes, when found at an early stage.13
CBD for Depression
One of the most common mental disorders in the United States is depression — a loss of interest or constant feeling of sadness. There have been multiple studies on CBD and its ability to treat depression.
Though researchers have seen mixed results in the past, in recent studies, they have seen the effect phytocannabinoids such as CBD have in decreasing depression. These studies have demonstrated positive interaction between the 5-HT1A neuro-receptors and CBD. In a 2016 study, researchers saw that CBD treatment in depressed rats improved motivation, pleasure, and exploration in each test they were given. These results concluded that clinical depression could potentially be treated with CBD.14 15
CBD for Epilepsy and Seizures
Epilepsy and seizures are an area where researchers have focused much of their attention on throughout the years. Not only is CBD an anti-inflammatory, it also provides antioxidants, and interacts positively with our neuro-receptors. There are a number of stories and studies that prove how successful CBD is in treating patients with severe cases of epilepsy.
In fact, GW Pharmaceuticals conducted three double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for patients suffering from Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. Within the 14 weeks of these trials, researchers saw a significant decrease of seizures in a number of their patients with the use of CBD.16
This led to the first FDA approved synthetic-free, plant-derived cannabinoid-based drug, Epidiolex — an oral liquid prescription drug designated for the treatment of seizures and epilepsy, such as Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
In 2011, Jayden David, a four-year-old boy diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, was dying. He suffered from 200 seizures a day, and was prescribed 22 medications to help control his seizures. However, after a short time, the medications stopped helping and Jayden was left to suffer. Jason David, Jayden's father, sought for alternative treatments and came across CBD. “The first day I gave [CBD] to him, was the first day that he didn’t have a seizure in his life,” said Jason.
Doctors told Jason that his son would not live to see his 5th birthday. However, today Jayden is 12 years old and improving every day. “I thank God for this gift that brought my son back. Cannabis saved my son’s life and saved my whole family,” said Jason.17
That same year, a little girl named Charlotte Figi began CBD treatment for her Dravet syndrome. Little Charlotte had started developing seizures at just 3 months old. Like Jayden, Charlotte was prescribed a number of medications that helped for a short time. However, as time went on, Charlotte began seizing 300 times a week, and her parents feared they would lose her forever.
Charlotte's parents began seeking alternative treatments after learning there was nothing else doctors could do to help. Her parents then tried CBD treatment for Charlotte and the results were stunning. "When she didn't have those three, four seizures that first hour, that was the first sign," says Paige, Charlotte’s mother.
Today, Charlotte leads a normal life, "She can walk, ride a bike. She goes to school," says Paige, and it’s all thanks to CBD treatment.18
CBD for PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder)
For most people, fear is usually the anticipation of something dreadful about to happen. However, reliving fear from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event could lead to a psychiatric disorder known as PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, and severe stress and panic.
Thankfully, as more and more studies are conducted, researchers are seeing how effective CBD is in treating PTSD. In one particular study, male rats were exposed to a predator. Researchers noted the stress from predator exposure affected the rats in the long term, causing recurring anxiety, panic and fear. However, through continual CBD administration, it helped prevent the long-term damage from fear and anxiety. This showed researchers that through the 5HT1A receptors, CBD could potentially treat PTSD patients.19
Barbara Harris Whitfield, RT, CMT, reported that one of her patients found relief with CBD treatment. The 61-year-old woman suffered from PTSD due to a traumatic event she endured as a child. She told Whitfield that after trying CBD, she finally felt normal and found the missing link to her disorder.20
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CBD for Sleep
Sleep plays a crucial role in our overall health. It allows our mind and body to rest and restore. But, when there’s a persistent lack of sleep, over time our body can develop health problems. Sleep deprivation can even lead to somnolence — excessive drowsiness, and always feeling sleepy.
Over the past several years a number of studies demonstrated the different effects CBD had on sleep. In one of these studies, 4 groups of animals’ models were given CBD over the course of 4 days. Two groups received CBD during light periods and the other two received CBD during dark periods. Researchers saw a significant increase of alertness in groups that received CBD during the light period. These results indicated that CBD may be beneficial for those who battle somnolence.21
In the same study of the ten-year-old girl with PTSD mentioned in this article, researchers concluded that through CBD treatment, the little girl’s sleep improved significantly. This suggests that CBD helps in reducing anxiety, and potentially induces sleep.24
CBD for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease where the immune system attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The cause of MS is unknown. Recently, multiple studies have been conducted on the effects Cannabinoids have on MS. In one study, the anti-inflammatory effects CBD has on CB1 receptors helped reduce neurological disability in mice with MS. Researchers also saw a reduction in the disease progression, as well as an improvement in their coordination.22
In another study, 66 patients struggling with pain and sleep deprivation from MS underwent a 5-week CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) treatment. After the 5 weeks of treatment, they reported feeling relief from their pain and improvement in their sleep.23 Learn more about how CBD differs from THC.
CBD for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that sometimes causes sufferers to hear or see things that aren’t there, along with other symptoms. As researchers investigated THC and its mind-altering capabilities, they also discovered the potential antipsychotic effects CBD had on the mind.
In a 2006 study with animal models, scientists observed anti-anxiety and antipsychotic effects when CBD was administered. These finding suggested that CBD has a comparable pharmacological form as an atypical antipsychotic drug.24
Then in 2012, a randomized, double-blind trial was conducted between CBD and Amisulpride — antipsychotic medication for schizophrenia. Both treatments displayed improvements. However, in the CBD treatment, less side effects were recorded, suggesting CBD is a safer alternative treatment for schizophrenic suffers.25
In another study, conducted by Schizophrenia Research, scientists noted that higher CBD doses significantly lowered symptoms of psychotic episodes.26
CBD for Nausea
Being sick isn’t fun for anyone, especially when we are sick to our stomach. However, nausea — the uneasy feeling or discomfort we get in the stomach, along with the urge to vomit — can affect anyone regardless if they’re sick or not.
In a study conducted in 2002, rats were induced to feel nauseous, then were given CBD to treat their nausea. The results indicated that CBD reduced the feeling of nausea, showcasing CBD as a potential aid in chemotherapy treatment.27
Another study, done ten years later, indicated the same results in another group of rats. Scientists suggest that CBD produces an anti-nausea effect.28
CBD for Drug-Resistant Bacteria
In 1928, Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered. Because of its antibacterial properties, it was used in chemotherapy treatments. Since then, numerous antibiotics were created to help with bacterial infections. Though antibiotics have been effective, scientists have recently observed that bacteria are becoming more resistant to them, and patients are being prescribed stronger antibiotics that may cause more harm than good. With this in mind, scientists have conducted studies to look for alternative treatments.
In a 2008 study, researchers tested a handful of cannabinoids, found in Cannabis sativa, against different strains of bacteria. Of these cannabinoids, CBD showed to be more effective against the various strains. Scientists concluded that CBD, along with other cannabinoids, can potentially be used as an antibacterial agent to different bacterial strains that are normally resistant to other pharmaceutical antibiotics. 30
CBD for Digestive Problems - IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis
Digestive problems can affect anyone. Symptoms may include cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and more. Digestive diseases, however, are much more serious. Diseases like Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis, and many others, can be debilitating to live with and can hugely affect our day to day life. Scientists have done a number of studies on how CBD affects the digestive tract, and they’ve concluded that CBD can aid in treating the gastrointestinal tract.
In one study, scientists administered CBD in patients that suffered from Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Remarkably, CBD reduced inflammation and intestinal damage. Scientists concluded that CBD could be an alternative way to treat digestive diseases.31
In a 2009 study, scientists tested the effect CBD had on mice that were induced with Colitis. They observed that CBD reduced injury to the colon. They also noted that CBD prevented “experimental colitis in mice,” by the reduction of lipid peroxidation and the production of reactive oxygen species32
And in a more recent placebo-controlled study, researchers noted that CBD produces promise for Crohn’s disease sufferers, though more clinical trials are needed.33
CBD for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia has often been thought of by doctors as an excuse to get more pain prescription drugs. However, over the years, doctors have been able to understand a little more about fibromyalgia — a chronic disorder that causes hypersensitivity to pain throughout the body. Symptoms may include headaches (migraines), stiff joints, IBS, restless leg syndrome, brain fog, and fatigue.
Through multiple studies, scientists have concluded that “migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines." 34
CBD for Smoking
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical compound found in tobacco products. Smoking cigarettes can cause a number of diseases and it effects all organs of the body. Some diseases include heart disease, COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and asthma, just to name few. Trying to stop smoking may seem impossible for some and could take years to break the habit. However, scientists believe CBD can help in breaking nicotine addiction.
In one study, involving 24 smokers, researchers divided participants into two groups and had them use an inhaler when they felt the desire to smoke. They did this for one week. One group of the 24 participants had an inhaler that contained CBD, while the other group’s inhaler contains a placebo. The group with the placebo inhaler showed no change in the number of cigarettes they smoked for that week. As for the group that had CBD, their amount of smoking decreased by 40%. These results suggest with the use of CBD, scientists believe it can help to reduce symptoms of withdrawals in people who are trying to stop smoking.35
In another study, scientists tested the effects CBD had on cues that spark cigarette cravings. Scientists had 30 patients refrain from smoking for 12 hours. Patients were then given either a placebo or CBD. Scientists then had the patients look at several images to try and spark a craving to smoke. In the patients who received CBD, they noticed a lesser desire to smoke — suggesting that CBD and its ability on neurocognition could help with nicotine addiction.36
CBD for Addiction and Relapse
Millions of people around the world suffer from substance abuse. For those who seek treatments and rehabs, they find that staying sober is usually harder within the first year of their recovery. Stress and fear during the recovery process may lead to relapse. However, in a recent study, researchers gave transdermal CBD to animals who were being administered alcohol and cocaine over a long period of time.
“Transdermal” is medicine applied to the skin through a patch. This transdermal CBD was administered every day for 7 days. The results from these tests showed that CBD prevented characteristics of addiction and relapse. Though CBD was no longer in the brain after 3 days, these results continued for 5 months. Based on these results, scientists believe that CBD can help in fighting drug addiction.37
CBD Benefits for Pets
CBD has also shown great results in treating pets with health issues, from anxiety and pain, to epilepsy and cancer. For example, in two placebo-controlled, double-blind trials, client-owned dogs with epilepsy were given 5 mg/kg of CBD daily over the course of 12 weeks. Results of these trials are expected by the end of this year (2018). However, for some clients who have already completed the 12-week trial, they’ve seen remarkable improvements in their pets’ health, and have already purchased CBD for their dogs.
Scientists have also determined, through previous studies conducted on animal subjects, that CBD can potentially help pets with cancer, pain, anxiety, and other diseases or disorders.
With the evidence of CBD’s effectiveness piling up every day, it’s definitely worth a try for anyone seeking health benefits. In the meantime, researchers will continue experimenting and will likely discover even more benefits of this amazing botanical substance.
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