These days, talk of CBD is everywhere, and for good reason. The more researchers study CBD, the more conditions it appears to help. The different conditions and diseases CBD has proved helpful for are many, and we will cover some of them in greater detail in just a moment.
First, let’s make sure we understand CBD and how it affects us. CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it’s one of over 80 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD has only been studied for its medicinal value over the last few decades.
Before that, most of the study of marijuana was centered around the whole plant, or another compound found inside the plant, known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is responsible for the psychoactive high that marijuana generates.
While many people believe whole-plant cannabis and THC to be useful for those suffering from a variety of different ailments, many desire the benefits of cannabis without the mental high.
CBD holds promise as a non-psychoactive compound whose properties may help those with conditions that have shown to be challenging to manage with more conventional medications.
Fortunately, just as the number of CBD products that are available is increasing, so is the level of education the public is receiving about this amazing compound. Let’s take a closer look at the way CBD effects the body, and some of the popular ailments that it’s already being used to treat.
What Does CBD Do When It Enters The Body?
CBD can be ingested in a variety of different ways, which makes it a very versatile method of treatment.
You can unlock the therapeutic value of CBD by smoking marijuana or vaporizing CBD alone. It can also be provided in pills, tinctures, concentrates, edibles, topical ointments and more. These methods are incredibly popular with people who aren’t interested in smoking marijuana, as well as those who are incapable of smoking due to their illness.
As the demand for CBD products continues to grow, more growers are producing strains of cannabis that are bred to provide much more CBD than they have in the past – these CBD-heavy cannabis plants are known as hemp plants. This has led to an increase in the quality, availability, and variety of different CBD treatment options.
Once CBD is inside the body, it goes to work on the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an enormous network of cell receptors.
These receptors serve an incredibly varied amount of functions inside the body. Some of the significant functions these receptors help to facilitate include:
- Stress recovery
- Immune system response
In addition to these functions, there are many more functions that are closely related to the ECS. Many of these functions are just now revealing themselves through clinical research.
The role of the endocannabinoid system when it comes to our wellbeing cannot be overstated. In fact, many clinical researchers believe that a deficiency of endocannabinoids in the body can lead to the development of a variety of different conditions. An endocannabinoid deficiency can also exasperate side effects from other medications and treatments. Many of the ailments, disorders, diseases and conditions we’ll discuss are closely tied to the endocannabinoid system.
Chances are, you’ve already connected the dots between the terms ‘endocannabinoid’ and ‘cannabinoid,’ as the two are obviously related. The prefix ‘endo’ means inside, so an endocannabinoid is a cannabinoid which occurs naturally within our bodies.
The reason why CBD treatment is so beneficial to the endocannabinoid system is easy to understand. Since cannabinoids are already found in the human body, you’re simply supplementing their existence by consuming CBD.
Cannabinoids like CBD are called agonists. An agonist is a chemical or compound which can attach to a receptor cell to elicit a certain reaction inside the body.
Since cannabinoids like CBD and THC are so closely related to the endocannabinoids that already occur naturally inside the body, they’re able to bind to these receptor cells to produce a response.
But what about the receptors themselves? How do they work?
Cannabinoid receptors are part of a family referred to as the G protein-coupled receptors. Three different compounds can cause these sensors to react: the cannabinoids which occur naturally inside our bodies, the cannabinoids that are present in marijuana, and the synthetic cannabinoids that are found in certain drugs, or marijuana alternatives.
Research indicates that there may be different type of receptors that cannabinoids can interact with. To date, there are two primary receptors that we know to be affected by cannabinoids.
- CB1 receptors
- CB2 receptors
These two kinds of receptors can be found throughout the body. CB1 receptors are found in their heaviest concentration throughout the central nervous system, CB2 receptors can also be found in the central nervous system, but they’re more prevalent throughout the gastrointestinal tract and in various organs.
These receptors can react to all kinds of cannabinoids, but they seem to indicate a preference. CB1 receptors have a particular affinity towards THC, while CBD doesn’t have a particularly strong affinity toward either receptor, yet impacts the endocannabinoid system and our bodies in other ways.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with these receptors, as they may hold the key to why specific compounds found inside marijuana are more beneficial in the for those with certain conditions.
In other words, these receptors likely hold the key to why CBD can treat certain conditions more efficiently than THC, and vice versa.
While the CB1 receptors seem to be affected most profoundly by THC, CBD also appears to elicit an effect on endocannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body as well. These receptors play a role in many of the conditions that CBD may be able to help treat, including Parkinson’s.
What Does CBD Help With The Most?
CBD possesses a variety of different positive side effects that make it a practical supplement option for many different conditions.
Before we can learn about the conditions CBD can be used for, we must first understand the different properties that CBD possesses. In studies, cannabidiol has been shown to help promote the following:
In a review published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011, Parker concluded that CBD may help to reduce or eliminate feelings of nausea and vomiting. (1) These conclusions were based on numerous preclinical, animal studies, mostly on nausea in rats and mice.
In a review published in Future Medicinal Chemistry in 2009, Nagarkatti concluded that cannabidiol appears to reduce inflammation within the body, which may make it an ideal supplement for those suffering from a variety of inflammatory conditions that affect people. (2,3) Multiple preclinical and animal studies have found similar results.
In a study on rats published in 1998 by Hampson, it was concluded that CBD may work as an antioxidant to help fight the free radicals present in the bloodstream. (4)
In an animal study on piglets in 2010, Stockman concluded that CBD forms a protective barrier around the brain’s neurons, which may help to prevent degeneration. (5)
With so many different beneficial properties, it’s no wonder that CBD has grown so popular as a supplement option for those with a myriad of different ailments.
What Conditions Is CBD Used For?
The past few decades have been an exciting time for CBD, as it’s shown to be helpful for a variety of different conditions. As time goes on, we are likely to see this list continue to grow longer. Here are a couple of conditions for which CBD has shown promise as a treatment alternative.
While it remains unclear the exact impact that cannabidiol has on human acne, studies have found that the endocannabinoid system is involved in cutaneous cell growth and differentiation, and a study did find individuals with acne to benefit from cannabis seed extract cream. (6,7)
Researchers found that the cannabis extract cream led to a decrease in skin sebum and erythema content when compared to the control. As sebum and erythema add to the growth of acne, researchers concluded that cannabis seed extract may be effective in the treatment of acne vulgaris.
This study does not help us to know if it is a specific compound in cannabis or the unique combination, leaving further studies on CBD alone necessary.
Millions of people experience poor sleep on a nightly basis. In some studies, CBD once again shows promise as a treatment option, while in others it has been demonstrated to promote wakefulness.
The human research is very limited with small sample sizes and no placebo group, leaving us to wait and see what researchers find next before we can draw any definitive conclusions.
For thousands of years, hemp has been prized for a variety of different uses, including its positive effect on the skin.
Humans are susceptible to a range of different skin conditions. Many of which are challenging to treat with conventional medications as well.
Evidence from a 2007 in vitro study by Wilkinson suggests that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in many different skin conditions. (8)
Interestingly, a 2007 study by Karsak suggests that one of the areas of the body where receptor cells within the endocannabinoid system are located in the skin. (9) These findings may help explain why CBD may be an effective treatment for skin conditions.
Keep in mind, it is likely that there are even more conditions which can benefit from CBD treatment outside of the conditions we’ve just discussed. As researchers continue to discover new applications for CBD with other diseases and ailments, it appears that the list above may only be the tip of the iceberg with regards to conditions which CBD can help manage.
- Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British Journal of Pharmacology,163(7), 1411-1422.http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176
- Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Medicinal Chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349http://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93
- De Filippis D, Esposito G, Cirillo C, Cipriano M, De Winter BY, Scuderi C, Sarnelli G, . . . Iuvone T. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis. PLoS One. 6(12):1–8.http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028159
- Hampson, A. J., Grimaldi, M., Axelrod, J., & Wink, D. (1998). Cannabidiol and (−)Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(14), 8268–8273.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC20965/
- Stockman, J. (2010). Neuroprotective Effects of the Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid Cannabidiol in Hypoxic-Ischemic Newborn Piglets. Yearbook of Pediatrics,2010, 418-419.http://doi.org/10.1016/s0084-3954(09)79386-8
- Ali A., Akhtar N. (2015). The safety and efficacy of 3% Cannabis seeds extract cream for reduction of human cheek skin sebum and erythema content. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 28(4), 1389-1395.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26142529
- Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., . . . Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. Journal of Clinical Investigation,124(9), 3713-3724.http://doi.org/10.1172/jci64628
- Wilkinson, J. D., & Williamson, E. M. (2007). Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. Journal of Dermatological Science,45(2), 87-92.http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdermsci.2006.10.009
- Karsak, M., Gaffal, E., Date, R., Wang-Eckhardt, L., Rehnelt, J., Petrosino, S., Starowicz, K., . . . Zimmer, A. (2007). Attenuation of allergic contact dermatitis through the endocannabinoid system. Science. 316(5830) 1494-1497.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17556587