Cannabidiol (CBD): The Omnipresent Cannabinoid
In October 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that it was removing non-intoxicating CBD from its list of 2018 banned substances. Shortly after that, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report acknowledging the medical benefits of CBD and that the compound doesn’t have potential for abuse or adverse health effects.
CBD is now a household name, going from an unknown compound of the cannabis plant to an essential and viable nutritional supplement that could potentially benefit everyone from cancer patients to athletes to people suffering from Parkinson’s. With its power to alter the perception of pain and reduce inflammation, there’s not much more one could ask for from an all-natural compound. As it turns out, though, CBD can deliver even more therapeutic benefits…
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound (a cannabinoid, specifically a phytocannabinoid) derived from cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive (it can’t get you high). In marijuana, it antagonizes the THC-targeted receptors to minimize negative impacts, such as anxiety and paranoia.
CBD is found in the stalk, the seeds, and the flower of the cannabis plant. It occurs in large quantities in the cannabis plant, quite unlike the many other hundreds of cannabinoids that exist. Because of this, it is quite easy to extract it into the form of cannabis oil.
Once it is extracted, it may be processed and ultimately converted to other products such as capsules or liquids, or purified to its crystalline form.
What Does CBD Do?
It is believed that CBD activates serotonin receptors. Serotonin is the vital neurotransmitter that is responsible for much of what goes on in our central nervous system, digestive system, and bodies as a whole. This “happy hormone” controls pivotal bodily functions such as aggression, learning, appetite, sleep, and consciousness.
Cannabidiol works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is through this system that it exerts its therapeutic effects on the human body. The ECS is present in all mammals and is involved in the regulation of a number of body functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, production of hormones, and regulation of immune and nervous system responses. By regulating these functions, CBD helps maintain the body’s homeostasis.
Therapeutic Benefits of CBD
Relief of anxiety: CBD may be effective in the management of anxiety. Researchers are of the opinion that it may alter the reception of the brain’s receptors to serotonin. A study has found that a dose of 600 mg of CBD helped people with social anxiety issues to deliver a speech. Other studies conducted have shown that CBD may help in anxiety relief by:
- Stress reduction
- Reducing the physiological effects of anxiety such as tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rate)
- Inducing sleep (in insomnia patients)
Anti-seizure: CBD is a very effective treatment for epilepsy. However, research on this is still in its infancy. Current research is examining how much CBD is required to reduce the number of seizures in epileptic patients, as well as its degree of safety. According to the American Epilepsy Society, research on CBD offers a ray of hope for people with seizure disorders.
A study was conducted in 2016 with 214 epileptic subjects. Two to 5 mg oral doses of cannabinoids were given to the participants daily in addition to their existing medications. The participants were carefully monitored for 12 weeks, with all the negative side effects being recorded. Results from the research showed that the participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures each month. Severe adverse effects were recorded in 12 percent of the subjects that were possibly related to CBD.
Neuroprotective function: There are signs that cannabinoids may have neuroprotective functions. Research is ongoing to study how brain receptors can assist people with neurodegenerative disorders. The receptor being studied is the CB1 receptor.
The effects of CBD on diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke is currently being investigated.
CBD oil may also be effective in reducing the inflammation that can worsen neurodegenerative symptoms. However, there is a need for more research to fully comprehend the effects of CBD on neurodegenerative disorders.
Pain relief: Cannabidiol has analgesic effects. Studies have shown that it has some benefits if taken after chemotherapy. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health is studying the role of CBD in relief of symptoms associated with:
Anti-acne: CBD has effects on immune system receptors which helps reduce inflammation in the body. This, in turn, improves acne symptoms – this is more noticeable when using CBD oil. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has discovered that CBD oil prevents activity in the sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands are responsible for the production of sebum. An excess production of sebum leads to acne.
Treatment of cancer: The role of CBD in the prevention of cancerous growth has been investigated by several studies. However, research is still in its infancy. According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabidiol may help improve the symptoms of cancer and some of the side effects associated with cancer treatment. The is accomplished through CBD’s ability to moderate inflammation and change the reproductive ability of cells. CBD can alter the ability of some tumor cells to reproduce.
- Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H. C., Chagas, M. H. N, de Oliveira, D. C. G., De Martinis, B. S., … Crippa, J. A. S. (2011, May). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(6), 1219-1226. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079847/
- Campos, A. C., de Paula Soares, V., Carvalho, M. C., Ferreira, F. R., Vicente, M. A., … Guimaraes, F. S. (2013, March). Involvement of serotonin-mediated neurotransmission in the dorsal periaqueductal gray matter on cannabidiol chronic effects in panic-like responses in rats [Abstract]. Psychopharmacology, 226(1), 13-24. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23007604
- Cannabis and cannabinoids. (2016, May 27). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq
- Devinsky, O., Marsh, E., Friedman, D., Thiele, E., Laux, L., … Cilio, M. R. (2016, March). Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial [Asbstract]. The Lancet, 15(3), 270-278. Retrieved from http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(15)00379-8/j
- Olah, A., Toth, B. I, Borbiro, I., Sugawara, K., Szollosi, A. G., … Biro, T. (2014, July 25). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(9), 3713-3724. Retrieved from http://www.jci.org/articles/view/64628
- Volkow, N.D. (2015, June 24). The biology and potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/biology-potential-therapeutic-effects-cannabidiol