With the legalization of marijuana over the past decade picking up steam and spreading to more and more states with every election the term CBD has come up often. Most people are familiar with THC, the inebriating chemical in “weed.” But many are unaware of what CBD is.
Similar to THC in that it is produced in the cannabis family of plants, CBD is a non-inebriating chemical that be found in the plants. It has similar, and possibly superior, positive effects as THC without the “getting high” aspect that some are not comfortable with.
Much like THC, the actual scientific study of CBD is an ongoing process. Both chemicals were first identified in the 1940’s but very little had been done to add to that basic knowledge since until recent years. There is some information coming out about the benefits of both. We’ll take a look at the benefits of the lesser-recognized CBD; and you can also get more information here.
On a physical level CBD seems to have positive effects on the human body. It can have beneficial properties for heart and bone health, may be effective in treating some neurodegenerative disorders, seems to help fight cancer and prevent diabetes, is an effective and non-addicting pain reliever, and has extremely effective anti-seizure properties with minimal side effects.
Evidence in labs point to the fact that CBD can help the body regulate blood pressure. It not only appears to help reduce a high blood pressure but also prevents spikes that can occur during stressful or surprising events.
CBD also helps strengthen bones and maintain density, an important factor as human beings age. It may also speed up the healing process for fractured bones through the same process that it strengthens bones, by helping build up strong bone density at a fast rate.
Due to the way CBD interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain some doctors think it can be used as a means of treating some neurodegenerative disorders. It may also help alleviate the symptoms of some of these diseases, with Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and ALS all showing preliminary possibilities in CBD studies.
Though far from being proven in clinical trials, there is growing evidence that CBD- and THC- may help fight some types of cancer. It may have a tumor-killing effect, especially in leukemia and colon cancer, and may stop the spread of cancerous cells in cervical cancer. This is a particularly interesting field of study as cancer is a major cause of death worldwide and is still largely not understood. If these early lab results are proven true, CBD could help save lives.
Testing done on mice have shown the potential for CBD to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Very little is understood about how this works, but early lab testing showed a more than two-thirds decrease in diabetes among test groups of female mice.
CBD is proven to be an effective anti-inflammatory substance and is probably best studied for this aspect. It has been used to treat pain from migraines, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Studies have shown a “clinically significant” reduction of pain without the fear of physical addiction. Side effects related to pain relief use are minimal to none and CBD may be safer than traditional pharmaceutical pain medications.
Another effect of CBD is to reduce some types of seizures, particularly from some kinds of epilepsy. A study done in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that CBD does have a role in reducing some types of seizure, though more study needs to be done on how this is accomplished. Nevertheless, it is confirmed that CBD can reduce seizures for some patients by a median percent of almost 40 (38.9%) and human trials are being conducted. CBD has, again, little to no side effects in this treatment and is showing itself safe enough to be used on patients as young as 2 years old.
Mental Health Benefits
In addition to its potential clinical benefits, CBD may also help with some types of mental health issues. It may help reduce depression and regulate anxiety as well be a mood booster in general. It has also shown promising results in addiction treatment.
Though it is not quite understood how CBD effects depression and anxiety, it is showing itself to have a result on these conditions. By interacting with the receptors in our brains that make the chemicals that produce happy and sad feelings in human beings, CBD seems to regulate these receptors so that the symptoms of depression and anxiety are reduced.
CBD also seems to have a general mood-boosting effect over time, possibly through the same interactions that help alleviate depression and anxiety. It is not a well-documented side effect, but enough trial participants have reported this effect that it has become a target for further research.
In addition to being a non-addictive alternative to some potentially addictive medications, especially pain killers, CBD has shown early results in treating an addiction. Studies as recent as 2018 show that CBD treatment is a side-effect free way to alleviate addictive symptoms and helps prevent a relapse after a single week of treatment. With the opioid epidemic in the United States a non-addictive form of reliable treatment is receiving further study.
CBD has also proven to be a helpful component in treating PTSD. While many new and promising areas of study are being pursued for PTSD, CBD is showing that it may be a fast and safe means to treat PTSD over the long-term and during episodes.
CBD has, like THC before it, shown to be an effective sleep aid that also improves quality of sleep. Studies have shown that a small dose before laying down can speed the patient off to sleep faster and provide a deeper, more restive sleep experience.
CBD may help the body attain and stay in the NREM stage of sleep, which is the “deepest” and most beneficial stage. With its anxiety reducing effects it helps calm the mind of symptoms related to anxiety and in doing so helps the patient drift off quicker. Its NREM-inducing properties also help speed the brain to a restive sleep state.
With so many areas of study still deserving of exploration on the effects of CBD on the human body, the United States’ willingness to explore these benefits are likely to produce positive results. Even if every area of potential benefit fails to work out as hoped, at least some benefits are already documented for the effects of CBD. Whether treating physical or psychological ailments, legalization has opened the door to new treatments.
Written by: Greg Morrison