[Consult with your healthcare expert before using cannabidiol, especially if you are already taking certain medications]
CBD oil has become a buzzword lately, but what does it really mean, what does it do and what are the benefits associated with it?
CBD oil stands for cannabidiol, which was first discovered in 1940, and is part of the 113 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plants. As of 2018 in the US, CBD was only allowed to be sold as a supplement, with the recent exception of Epidiolex which is approved to be used as a medication against severe epilepsy.
While there is a large amount of testimonial and anecdotal evidence supporting CBD oil and its uses, a lot of further research needs to be completed to fully understand the true power that this natural oil has.
Below there is a compiled list of the most researched, reviewed (anecdotally) and relevant information that so far has been done in the emerging field of using CBD oil for health problems.
1: anxiety and depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association America (ADAA), anxiety disorders make up the most common mental illness in the USA, affecting 18% of the population. With depression also being the leading cause of disability worldwide.
These statistics seem very scary, but with recent studies like a 2015 published medical article called “Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders” stated that CBD could strongly be a potential treatment against anxiety disorders.
Noteworthy conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were mentioned specifically.
How did they find evidence for CBD being a potential treatment for anxiety disorders? They used a technique called neuroimaging (image where you can see parts and the functions of the brain) to look at certain parts of the brain. The study found ‘reduced amygdala activation’ and altered connections to other parts of the brain. (For understanding, the study used between 300-600 mg of CBD through an oral dose).
The amygdala is part of the limbic system, which regulates over emotions, memory and instincts. Therefore it takes part in regulating your anxiety-inducing reactions. With reduced activation there is less response of the amygdala in connections with other parts of the brain to events.
This may show that CBD is a good form of treatment to help support people suffering from anxiety and depression. From personal experience, and other anecdotal testimonies online, many people have found CBD to be a very effective tool in helping manage and deal with mental disorders. Especially along with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or talk therapy.
2: Pain relief and anti-inflammatory
CBD oil has been seen to be a very effective tool for pain relief, especially because of CBD oil’s antioxidant properties. This is highlighted by Dr. Sarah Brewer, who spoke to netdoctor.co.uk . She is a ‘medical nutritionist and health author’.
She said that because of the high antioxidant quantity, it has anti-inflammatory properties on joints and parts of the body, as well as reducing pain perception in the brain. This is done by increasing the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide, she said.
Looking at chronic pain, CBD has also been seen as a potential treatment especially for arthritis and back pain. Other types of chronic pain such as headaches, migraines, cancer pains and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also become improved on CBD oil.
These issues relating to chronic pain was commented on by verywellhealth.com . They mention numerous studies like a 2016 article in ‘The European Journal of Pain’ where there were significant improvements in people’s lives, by using CBD in a topical form. This could mean using it e.g. as creams or lotions on the skin, as through the studies this was an effective form to combat arthritis and other pain-inducing conditions.
Insomnia is a major health problem that can affect every part of a person’s life. According to cbdproject.org, 70 million Americans ‘suffer from insomnia, insufficient sleep or another sleep disorder’. Some people have reported using CBD as a tool to facilitate sleep, but this may typically be done with a higher dosage. While a mild dosage CBD may have the same effects as a caffeine on the adenosine receptors which promotes alertness, the CBD project highlights.
In a study 2013 study on rats called ‘effect of acute systematic administration of [CBD] on sleep-wake cycle in rats’ the conclusion came to that by using an immediate dosage of CBD on rats, their sleep may have improved. In particular the total sleep time and sleeping during the night and not day.
This may suggest that CBD can help against insomnia and other sleep related disorders in higher dosages, as this has a stronger sedative effect.
4: Epilepsy and Seizures
A seizure is a debilitating condition that can be caused by epilepsy. Like we previously saw, CBD oil may be able to calm and sedate the body and mind, which has caused many people who suffer from epilepsy to medicate themselves by using CBD oil.
With the recent approval of Epidiolex (which is 99% pure CBD), there has been a lot more focus on CBD use to treat epilepsy. The company who created this product, GW pharmaceuticals, funded a study involving two groups of people suffering from severe epilepsy condition called ‘Lennox-Gastaut syndrome’. The first group of the 225 patients were given 20mg of Epidiolex had 42% fewer seizures while the other group that was given 10mg of Epidiolex had 37% fewer seizures.
This information comes from webmd.com talking to the lead researcher Dr. Orrin Devinsky. He goes further into highlighting that there are only little or few benefits found for focal (generalized) epilepsy, because there has been no large study done, clinically, to prove its benefits for focal epilepsy.
It seems that the treatment of using CBD oil for severe epilepsy conditions proves to be accurate, however anecdotal reviews from people suffering for it too have said it also worked for their focal form of epilepsy. While for others it doesn’t work, which could suggest it may be effective on an individual basis.
Some other conditions CBD oil may have an affect on:
- Cancer (because of the anti-inflammatory properties)
- Diabetes (helps regulate the blood)
- Hemorrhoids (also because of the anti-inflammatory properties)
- Joint inflammation
- Dog anxiety
What are the side effects of CBD oil?
Now that we mentioned the positive effects CBD oil may have, its important to also be aware that like any supplement or medically used treatment, there may be side effects. However many people have reported that using CBD oil as a treatment may have less severe and dangerous effects than traditional medications. Generally it is considered safe. But possible side effects can be:
- Changes in appetite
- Interacting with other medications
However, with too high dosage of CBD there have also been cases of possible liver damage, increase in sleep disorders. This information was obtained also from verywellhealth.com by Cathy Wong.
Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
Dr. Sarah Brewer on CBD for pain relief: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/a25407130/cbd-pain-relief/
effect of acute systematic administration of [CBD] on sleep-wake cycle in rats’: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23343597
webmd.com with Dr. Orrin Devinsky: https://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/news/20180516/low-dose-of-cbd-oil-eases-epilepsy-seizures#1
verywellhealth.com by Cathy Wong: https://www.verywellhealth.com/cbd-oil-benefits-uses-side-effects-4174562