Cannabidiol oil (CBD) comes from the cannabis plant and has become a popular alternative therapy for various conditions in recent years. People report that they use CBD oil to help reduce pain, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Due to the cannabis ban and associated research restrictions, there is limited evidence from human studies to support the benefits of CBD oil. However, with the legalization of cannabis in some regions of the world, research in this area is gaining momentum.
CBD is just one of the many different molecules unique to the cannabis plant. CBD oil generally contains low levels of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound that produces the “high”.
People report using CBD oil for a variety of medical conditions without experiencing the intoxicating effects of THC. In general, most people tolerate CBD well and experience minimal serious side effects.
Unlike THC, CBD does not bind easily cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are key components of the human endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in the central nervous system.
Endocannabinoids are signaling molecules that help regulate various processes, such as pain, memory, mood, immunity, and stress.
CBD, however, interacts with other receptors, such as serotonin and opioid receptors. It could also increase natural endocannabinoid levels, which may explain its seemingly wide range of uses.
Is CBD legal?The 2018 Agriculture Act removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC legal. However, CBD products that contain more than 0.3 percent THC are still under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved over-the-counter CBD products, and some products may be incorrectly labeled.
Read on to learn about some of the possible benefits of using CBD oil.
The first CBD-based drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was Epidiolex. Doctors prescribe Epidiolex to those who suffer from seizures due to Lennox-Gastrault or Dravet syndrome, which are rare types of epilepsy.
Epidiolex underwent rigorous human studies before the FDA approved it as a treatment for these two conditions.
According to an article a Molecules, scientists do not know exactly how CBD helps control seizures. One theory suggests that CBD influences a receptor involved in seizure activity called the transient receptor potential vanilloid.
A review of completed and ongoing clinical trials indicated that adding CBD to common antiepileptic drugs may be suitable for treatment-resistant epilepsy in infants, children, and adolescents.
Researchers have investigated the analgesic effects of CBD. A small one 2020 placebo-controlled randomized trial investigated the use of topical CBD oil in people with peripheral leg neuropathy.
In this small study, participants with non-carcinogenic peripheral neuropathic pain received 250 milligrams (mg) of total CBD dissolved in 3 oz of oil) or a placebo.
After 4 weeks, the researchers observed a statistically significant reduction in severe pain, acute pain, sensations of cold, and itching in those using CBD oil. Participants did not report any side effects.
Although the results of this small trial are positive, only 29 participants participated, so researchers need to conduct further research to confirm the results.
Another study review demonstrated that a 1: 1 combination of THC and CBD sprayed on the back of the mouth (a pharmaceutical called Sativex) could be effective for chronic pain unrelated to cancer.
However, researchers do not know which of the two compounds had the most significant effect. In addition, the follow-up period of this study was 15 weeks. Scientists need to do more research to confirm whether long-term pain control is possible.
This aerosol that contained both THC and CBD may also have anti-inflammatory properties. An previous study in people living with rheumatoid arthritis showed that Sativex reduced the activity score of disease-28, demonstrating a decrease in inflammation.
These studies show the potential effectiveness of CBD on pain and inflammation.
Learn more about CBD for pain here.
Many animal studies on the effects of CBD on mood disorders showed promising results. An article prior to Neuropsychopharmacology described a study on humans where researchers showed that CBD could reduce the anxiety caused by public speaking.
Participants prepared a CBD before a public talk event. They reported feeling less anxiety and discomfort. Researchers suggest that CBD may help relieve anxiety associated with anticipating a fear event.
Participants also had a lower negative self-assessment during public speaking. Researchers suggest that serotonin receptors may play a role in the effects of CBD on anxiety.
There are currently no human studies on the effectiveness of CBD on depression. More research needs to be done before using it for this purpose.
Learn more about CBD for depression here.
Learn more about CBD for Anxiety here.
Some experts suggest that CBD oil may help people with addiction by reducing the activation of the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in addiction.
Drug cravings are usually caused by exposure to a particular signal. Therefore, reducing desire during signals can help people refrain from heroin.
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry explored the effect of CBD on the desire and anxiety induced by signals in people with heroin use disorders. The researchers showed that, compared to placebo, those taking CBD had lower desires and anxiety. These results are promising and require further research.
In some studies, certain cannabinoids demonstrate anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, anti-aging and anti-cancer properties. Some experts suggest that these effects occur when the drug interacts with the endocannabinoid system found in the skin.
Some skin conditions that can be improved with CBD treatment include:
Cell studies showed that CBD prevented some of the functions of the sebaceous glands that contribute to acne. Researchers need to confirm these results in human studies before doctors can recommend their use.
An article a Molecules indicates that animal studies have shown that CBD could provide neuroprotective activity in several neurodegenerative diseases, such as:
Researchers suggest that neuroprotective effects occur from the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD.
In some countries, doctors may prescribe Sativex, a drug that contains THC and CBD, to relieve spasticity in people with MS. Scientists are not sure how it works.
An article in British Journal of Pharmacology indicates that the effect of CBD on nausea and vomiting in animals may be linked to its interaction with serotonin receptors. However, the article concludes that THC appears to have a greater ability to reduce nausea and vomiting than CBD.
In a human study, people with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting experienced relief when they took Sativex, but it is unclear what contribution CBD made. A more detailed review is needed to understand the role of CBD in relieving nausea and vomiting.
Learn more about CBD for cancer here.
CBD oil is not the only form of CBD that people use for medicinal purposes. The different types of CBD include:
- creams and ointments
- flower high in CBD by inhalation
- edibles (such as jelly beans)
The effect a person can get from using CBD can vary depending on whether they inhale it or take it orally. The side effects of CBD can also vary depending on the form consumed.
Learn about the best CBD oils available here.
Learn about the best CBD jelly beans here.
People use CBD oil and other CBD-based products for different reasons, such as reducing pain, controlling anxiety, and managing seizures.
Although studies report few side effects with the use of CBD, its effectiveness for various medical conditions requires further research.
Other people use CBD oil for medical conditions that researchers have not yet rigorously studied. People who use CBD oil should talk to a doctor to make sure the drug is safe and whether CBD is more effective than other conventional medications.