Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to go on a quick shopping spree without stumbling upon some type of product infused with cannabidiol (CBD).
The buzz surrounding this non-intoxicating cannabinoid has prompted many to adopt it into their daily health and wellness routine, with CBD products available at major pharmacy chains and local cafes alike.
You might have heard people boast about the various benefits of different CBD products, but what, exactly, does research tell us about the therapeutic properties of this cannabis compound? In order to maximize the benefits of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid, it's critical to answer the following questions:
- What is CBD used for?
- What's the optimal method of delivery?
- How long do the effects of CBD last?
Before we delve into the best methods of delivery, let's examine what past studies have to say about the therapeutic and medicinal value of CBD.
What are the benefits of CBD?
When CBD is introduced into the system, it conjures up bodily mechanisms, leading to a complicated interaction that still requires further research to fully comprehend how it generates certain therapeutic properties. However, based on what past research has already established, we can paint a relatively accurate picture of the relationship between CBD and the human body.
Pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties:
The therapeutic potential of CBD as an analgesic is well-supported through multiple studies. For instance, research has found that CBD oil is an effective treatment for a variety of chronic pain conditions, including neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis (MS) and intractable cancer pain. A 2010 study published in Future Medicinal Chemistry concluded that CBD also demonstrated the ability to suppress inflammatory pain.
From past research, we know that CBD interacts with a wide range of proteins located throughout the body and central nervous system. The bulk of this interaction transpires in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), an internal system that helps regulate our bodies' homeostasis (stability among bodily functions), specifically involving the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. CBD is an inverse agonist to the cannabinoid receptors, essentially functioning as the opposite of THC, which binds to these receptors to create an intoxicating effect.
CBD has demonstrated an ability to inhibit the absorption of anandamide, which is a natural endocannabinoid molecule that regulates pain. When CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors, it ends up increasing levels of anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, both endocannabinoids that are located throughout the body. Past studies also show that CBD targets alpha-3 glycine receptors to suppress chronic pain and inflammation associated with dysfunctional glycine receptors.
Outside the ECS, CBD also has an effect on other receptor proteins, such as the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A and vanilloid receptor TRPV1. Some believe that the purported anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of CBD could stem from the activation of these additional biological pathways.
Anxiety and depression:
There's also evidence that points to CBD as a potential treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. For instance, a February 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry concluded that 300 milligrams of CBD was the optimal dose for reducing anxiety during social activities such as public speaking.
Similar findings have also been established through research conducted on animal models, such as the 2014 study that found CBD exhibits anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. Additionally, there's also evidence suggesting that cannabis with a high CBD-to-THC ratio could help reduce depression.
Epilepsy and seizures:
Long before CBD garnered mainstream appeal, it was widely considered to be an incredibly effective treatment in reducing epileptic seizures in both children and adults. In fact, Epidiolex, the very first cannabis-derived medication to be approved by the FDA, is a treatment option for people suffering from severe forms of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, both of which cause frequent seizures in children. A 2018 study focused on pediatric patients found that whole-plant CBD oil reduced epileptic seizures in patients, while 10% end up becoming completely seizure-free.
CBD has also arisen as a potential candidate for the treatment of addiction to opioids or tobacco. In a 2015 review authored by researchers from the University of Montreal Hospital Centre, the work compiled 14 studies and concluded that CBD could provide therapeutic properties for opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction. In a 2013 study published in Addictive Behaviors, researchers examined whether CBD could reduce tobacco addiction. After treating 12 people with CBD inhalers and another 12 with placebos for one week, the team found that those treated with CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by 40%, while the placebo group showed no notable difference.