Most Common Uses of CBD
CBD is becoming increasingly more popular and for good reason. Cannabinoids attach to receptors within the endocannabinoid system, which is a biochemical communication system that regulates our entire body. This system is why CBD is able to have so many uses and benefits for humans and animals.
Here you will find some of the numerous benefits of CBD, however research is constantly ongoing and scientists find new discoveries about CBD and the endocannabinoid system everyday. The information here is compiled from a number research-backed articles from Conscious Lifestyle Magazine, Medical News Today, and Healthline, along with numerous other studies cited below.
Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief
Of all the uses for CBD, pain relief is the most common. In the United States alone, over seventy million people suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as experiencing over one hundred days per year of pain. People tend to use prescription or over-the-counter drugs to relieve stiffness and pain, including chronic pain.
CBD works in the same way as over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories, but provides a much more natural and holistic alternative. A number of studies have demonstrated that they can reduce the amount of opioids needed, lessen the buildup of tolerance, and reduce the severity of withdrawal. At least ten randomized, controlled trials on over one thousand patients have demonstrated efficacy of cannabinoids for neuropathic pain of various origins .
CBD engages with the endocannabinoid system in many organs throughout the body, helping to reduce inflammation systemically. The therapeutic potential is impressively wide-ranging, as inflammation is involved in a broad spectrum of diseases.
A 2011 study showed that CBD and CBC stimulated descending pain-blocking pathways in the nervous system and caused analgesia by interacting with several target proteins involved in nociceptive control . The following year, researchers reported that CBD significantly suppressed chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without causing apparent analgesic tolerance in animals . And then in 2013, researchers concluded that chronic pain patients prescribed hydrocodone were less likely to take the painkiller if they used cannabis .
Anxiety and Stress
Another one of the most common uses for CBD, although this application seems to have the most confusion tied to it. This confusion seems to be linked to the false idea that THC and CBD are one in the same. THC has been known to increase anxiety in some patients, while lowering it in others. However, CBD effects have been shown to consistently reduce anxiety when present in higher concentrations in the cannabis plant. On its own, CBD has been shown in a number of animal and human studies to lessen anxiety. The stress-reducing effect appears to be related to activity in both the limbic and paralimbic brain areas.
In one of the most credited studies done for CBD on anxiety disorders, a review from Neurotherapeutics done in 2015 concluded CBD may reduce anxiety-related behaviors in people with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive 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. No further definitive evidence currently links CBD to adverse effects, and the authors called for further studies of the compound as a treatment for anxiety.
Another 2012 research review assessed a number of international studies and concluded that CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety, and in particular social anxiety, in multiple studies and called for more clinical trials . Two years later, researchers in an animal study related to stress and the endocannabinoid system wrote that augmentation of the endocannabinoid system might be an effective strategy to mitigate behavioral and physical consequences of stress .
Depression and Mood Disorders
Clinical depression is a serious mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest, sometimes leading to decreased appetite and energy and suicidal thoughts. Commonly used pharmaceuticals for depression often target serotonin, a chemical messenger that is believed to act as a mood stabilizer. The neural network of the endocannabinoid system works similarly to the way that serotonin, dopamine, and other systems do, and, according to some research, cannabinoids have an effect on serotonin levels .
In 2009 researchers concluded that there was substantial evidence pointing to endocannabinoid signaling as a target for the pharmacotherapy of depression.  Authors of a 2016 study wrote that “CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug, via enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signaling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism.”.
“It is important to remember that CBD benefits and improves the activity in the endocannabinoid system by increasing the time anandamide works on the CB1 and CB2 receptors,” writes Dr. Michael Moskowitz. “Anandamide works on the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine systems. Its main role is restoring balance through inhibition when levels are too high and enhancement when they are too low. This is the most likely reason phytocannabinoids in general and CBD specifically are able to regulate depression and anxiety.”
Reduced Risk of Diabetes and Obesity
For being perhaps one the most important discoveries with CBD, not many people know about its’ influence with diabetes and obesity. Several studies have shown that regular cannabis users have a lower body mass index, smaller waist circumferences, and reduced risk of diabetes and obesity.
One 2011 report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, based on a survey of more than fifty-two thousand participants, concluded that rates of obesity are about one-third lower among cannabis users. Research has demonstrated that CBD benefits weight loss by helping the body convert white fat into weight-reducing brown fat, promoting noatherogenesisrmal insulin production and sugar metabolism .
Beyond relaxing the body and the mind in general, making sleep much easier for most people, CBD can benefit people with actual sleep disorders in different ways. Cannabis and sleep have a complex relationship that is only beginning to be understood by science.
Quality sleep is critical to human emotional, mental and physical health, yet it eludes between 50-70 million Americans. Highlights below explain why sleep matters, the role of the endocannabinoid system in sleep, and how cannabis and its components—in particular, CBD and THC—may benefit those with sleep issues.
- Sleep disturbances are the most common health problem in America. Those with sleep issues are poorly served by prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills and other pharmaceuticals, which have serious risks.
- CBD and other plant cannabinoids show promise for treating insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and other sleep-related disorders.
- CBD co-administered with THC improves sleep more efficaciously than single-molecule medications.
- Chronic, heavy consumption of THC-dominant cannabis can disrupt healthy sleep patterns.
- Our ability to be awake, fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling rested is part of an internal biological process regulated by circadian rhythms and the endocannabinoid system.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Perhaps the most important implication of CBD in terms of the mortality rate of cancer patients, much more research and experimentation on those patients is always needed. However, CBD and cannabis as a whole has already been proven to be a healthy option to fight cancer symptoms.
A 2012 study showed that animals treated with CBD were significantly less likely to develop colon cancer after being induced with carcinogens in a laboratory . Authors of a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found evidence that CBD significantly helped to prevent the spread of cancer. According to their conclusions, “Collectively, the non-psychoactive plant-derived Cannabinoid CBD exhibits pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions in different types of tumours and may also exert anti-migratory, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic and perhaps anti-angiogenic properties. On the basis of these results, evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread” .
Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Other Neurological Symptoms or Disorders
Cannabinoids are neuroprotective, meaning that they help maintain and regulate brain health. The effects appear to be related to several actions they have on the brain, including the removal of damaged cells and the improved efficiency of mitochondria. CBD and other antioxidant compounds in cannabis also work to reduce glutamate toxicity. Extra glutamate, which stimulates nerve cells in the brain to fire, causes cells to become over-stimulated, ultimately leading to cell damage or death. Thus, cannabinoids help protect brain cells from damage, keeping the organ healthy and functioning properly .
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, in 2018 the FDA approved the use of CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures, called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS). The types of seizures that characterize LGS or DS are difficult to control with other types of medication. A study from 2016 worked with 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The study’s researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any negative side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month .
Initial research published in 2014 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. This is the first evidence that CBD may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Protects and Heals the Skin
The skin has the highest amount and concentration of CB2 receptors in the body. When applied topically as an infused lotion, serum, oil, or salve, the antioxidant (a more powerful antioxidant than vitamins E and C) in CBD oil has many benefits and can repair damage from free radicals like UV rays and environmental pollutants .
Cannabinoid receptors can be found in the skin and seem to be connected to the regulation of oil production in the sebaceous glands. Cannabis-based topical products are being developed to treat related issues from acne to psoriasis and can promote faster healing of damaged skin. In fact, historical documents show that cannabis preparations have been used for wound healing in both animals and people in a range of cultures spanning the globe and going back thousands of years. The use of concentrated cannabis and CBD oils to benefit and treat skin cancer is gaining popularity with a number of well-documented cases of people curing both melanoma and carcinoma-type skin cancers with the topical application of CBD and THC products .
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. CBD could become a future treatment for acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne.
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