Recent research has made it abundantly clear that cannabidiol (CBD) has a wide range of therapeutic applications. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid has the ability to influence our bodily functions at the molecular level, mitigating or entirely reversing medical disorders. Because it doesn’t cause users to feel high, it is also a highly tolerable substance to consume. While recreational users enjoy the cerebral effects of the psychoactive THC, medicinal patients who need to remain fully coherent while medicated as well as pediatric patients whose brains are still developing benefit most from cannabis that has low amounts of THC and high amounts of CBD.
It isn’t easy to find flower bred with low THC, high CBD levels since the majority of the market wants the high, too. However, products like CBD capsules can deliver the relief that medical and wellness users are looking for. These capsules are filled with cannabis oil extracted from high CBD, low THC strains. Some of these capsules, such as Real Scientific Hemp Oil or Elixinol, extract CBD from hemp, a variation of cannabis that has negligible levels of THC (you’d get a migraine before a high if you smoked it).
Taking one of these capsules is like taking a vitamin. It’s quick, and when sold by a trusted brand, effective and non-psychoactive.
The Evidence-Backed Benefits of CBD
CBD’s medical efficacy is indisputable. Researchers are still trying to understand the mechanisms by which CBD affects the body as well as the specific disorders it may be able to treat. What is generally understood is that CBD’s interactions with molecular pathways responsible for maintaining our bodies’ internal stability contribute to its ability to alleviate many uncomfortable symptoms. Here is some of the most recent literature supporting the medical efficacy of CBD.
Anxiety and Other Psychological Disorders
A 2017 study published in Current Neuropharmacology reviewed existing literature examining the effects of CBD on panic disorder, a debilitating psychiatric disorder in which patients suffer from spontaneous and irrational panic attacks. The study concluded that, while the mechanisms by which it’s efficacy are misunderstood and require more research, CBD shows promise in the treatment of panic disorder in humans and animal studies because of its anxiolytic effects.
Cannabis has been implicated in the onset or exacerbation of schizophrenia. While the connection between the plant and the psychotic disorder is unclear, any negative effects cannabis may have on its progression is attributable to THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid housed in the cannabis plant. CBD, on the other hand, exhibits anti-psychotic effects. According to a 2017 study published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, CBD’s molecular and neuronal functionality may make it an effective schizophrenia therapy.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics investigated CBD’s cell-killing and anti-proliferative effects on cancer cells when used by itself and synergistically with chemotherapy. The study concluded that when combined with chemo (a drug therapy containing DNA-damaging agents) in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (cancer of the brain or spine), CBD demonstrated limited anti-proliferative and cell-killing activity.
A 2017 review of literature published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews sought to evaluate cannabis’ efficacy in the restoration of cognitive deficits resulting from schizophrenia. The study could not conclusively state that CBD improves cognition impairments resulting from schizophrenia, but recommended that the issue be further investigated given CBD’s ability to restore impaired cognition in preclinical trials. The study came to this conclusion by reviewing research (27 articles written between January 1990 and March 2016, 18 preclinical and 9 clinical studies) on CBD’s efficacy in restoring cognition. The results of the review suggested that CBD improved cognition in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, meningitis, sepsis, cerebral malaria, hepatic encephalopathy, and brain ischemia.
According to a 2017 article published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, the anti-inflammatory effects expressed by THC and CBD’s interactions with receptors CB1 (pain signaling) and CB2 (inflammation) make cannabis a worthy subject of study for the treatment of joint pain.
A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggested that CBD had potential efficacy in the pre-treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s are senile plaques, microscopic masses of decaying nerve endings formed by the buildup of the tau protein. The study found that pretreatment of CBD led to the downregulation gene expression linked to tau buildup.
A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences examined the effects of a CBD and THC mixture on mice who had Huntington’ disease. By 12 weeks, the mice treated with the mixture demonstrated a marked improvement in energy, mitochondrial function, and excitotoxicity. The study concluded that the combination of these two cannabinoids should be further investigated as a treatment option for the progression of Huntington’s.
One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease, is painful spasticity, or a sensation that causes muscles to spasm and feel stiff. A 2017 study published in Drugs reviewed existing evidence on the use of a THC/CBD oromucosal spray and concluded that in cases where current anti-spasticity medication is ineffective, the spray is a viable option for relief.
A 2017 article published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics called for the use of CBD in the treatment of Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a condition affecting many parts of the body and in which frequent seizures are characteristic, given its efficacy in the treatment of Dravet syndrome seizures, a genetic life-long disorder of the brain resulting in debilitating seizures. Treatment of this syndrome tends to focus on children since it is first diagnosed within the first year of life.
A 2017 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine studied the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for the drug-resistant Dravet syndrome. The researchers concluded that CBD resulted in an overall decrease in seizures. The greatest reduction was in convulsive seizures, but the rates of non-convulsive seizures remained relatively unchanged.
Patients with drug-resistant seizure disorders often experience significant deficits in their quality of life. A 2017 study published in Epilepsia demonstrated that outside of its efficacy in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures, CBD treatment also seemed to improve pediatric patients’ quality of life. After 12 weeks of CBD treatment, patients reported improvements in energy, memory, control/helplessness, cognitive functions, socialization, behavior, and overall quality of life.