Up until the 20th century and the formation of the Federal Food and Drug Administration, it wasn’t uncommon for “snake oil salesmen” to tout the long list of miracle benefits of their newest drugs. While the marketing of so-called “Miracle” drugs never totally disappeared, the ever-growing hype around recently legalized CBD is making it easy to draw a comparison between it and the snake oils of the 19th century.
What isn’t CBD supposed to cure? The growing list of CBD benefits includes treatment for:
• Chronic pain,
• Parkinson’s disease,
• Huntington’s disease,
• Sleep disorders, and
just to name a few.
What is CBD ?
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects.
THC creates a mind-altering “high” when a person smokes it or uses it in cooking. This is because THC breaks down when we apply heat and introduce it into the body.
CBD is different. Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it.
However, CBD does appear to produce significant changes in the body, and some research suggests that it has medical benefits.
Where does CBD come from?
CBD comes from the cannabis plant. People refer to cannabis plants as either hemp or marijuana, depending on their level of THC. Hemp plants that are legal under the 2018 Farm Bill must contain less than 0.3% THC.
Over the years, marijuana farmers have selectively bred their plants to contain high levels of THC and other compounds that interested them, often because the compounds produced a smell or had another effect on the plant’s flowers.
However, hemp farmers have rarely modified the plant. These hemp plants are used to create CBD oil.
How CBD works
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors.
The human body produces certain cannabinoids on its own. It also has two receptors for cannabinoids, called the CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are present throughout the body, but many are in the brain.
The CB1 receptors in the brain deal with coordination and movement, pain, emotions, and mood, thinking, appetite, and memories, and other functions. THC attaches to these receptors.
CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.
Researchers once believed that CBD attached to these CB2 receptors, but it now appears that CBD does not attach directly to either receptor.
Instead, it seems to direct the body to use more of its own cannabinoids.
Evidence on CBD’s health effects is almost nonexistent. Although there have been a number of research projects concluding the benefits of CBD, the DFA has only approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures in 2018.
However, that hasn’t stopped CBD supporters from proclaiming a long list of benefits for CBD. According to research, the most common uses for CBD are: pain relief, anxiety, insomnia, and arthritis
Here is a limited review of some of the current research on how CBD might prove beneficial.
Natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
People tend to use prescription or over-the-counter drugs to relieve stiffness and pain, including chronic pain. Some people believe that CBD offers a more natural alternative.
Authors of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly reduced chronic inflammation and pain in some mice and rats.
The researchers suggested that the non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, could provide a new treatment for chronic pain.
Quitting smoking and drug withdrawals
A pilot study published in Addictive Behaviors found that smokers who used inhalers containing CBD smoked fewer cigarettes than usual and had no further cravings for nicotine.
A similar review, published in Neuro-therapeutics found that CBD may be a promising treatment for people with opioid addiction disorders.
More research is necessary, but these findings suggest that CBD may help to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.
CBD has been approved for the treatment of two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures but there is hope that it can help treat many complications linked to epilepsy, such as neuro-degeneration, neuronal injury, and psychiatric diseases.
Authors of a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found evidence that CBD significantly helped to prevent the spread of cancer. The researchers also noted that the compound tends to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote their destruction.
They pointed out that CBD has low levels of toxicity. They called for further research into its potential as an accompaniment to standard cancer treatments.
Doctors often advise people with chronic anxiety to avoid cannabis, as THC can trigger or amplify feelings of anxiousness and paranoia.
However, authors of a review from Neuro-therapeutics found that CBD may help to reduce anxiety in people with certain related disorders.
According to the review, CBD may reduce anxiety-related behaviors in people with conditions such as:
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• General anxiety disorder
• Panic disorder
• Social anxiety disorder
The authors noted that current treatments for these disorders can lead to additional symptoms and side effects, which can cause some people to stop taking them.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes results from inflammation that occurs when the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas.
Research published in 2016 by Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation found that CBD may ease this inflammation in the pancreas. This may be the first step in finding a CBD-based treatment for type 1 diabetes.
Acne treatment is another promising use for CBD. The condition is caused, in part, by inflammation and overworked sebaceous glands in the body.
A 2014 study published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that CBD helps to lower the production of sebum that leads to acne, partly because of its anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Sebum is an oily substance, and overproduction can cause acne.
Initial research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that CBD was able to prevent the development of social recognition deficit in participants.
This means that CBD could help people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to keep the ability to recognize the faces of people that they know.
Ground Swell of Demand
A new Gallup poll finds one in seven Americans use CBD and that 11% of users are 50 to 64 years of age, and 8% are at least 65 years. Nearly four in 10 Americans think CBD oils should be legally available for adults to buy over the counter.
Most CBD sales will soon take place in general retail stores, rather than cannabis dispensaries, according to a recent cannabis market report. The authors predict sales of cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD products in the United States will surge from $1.9 billion in 2018 to $20 billion by 2024.
Sources: Medical News Today and Medscape Medical News