From chronic pain to epilepsy, CBD has become increasingly popular for its potential health benefits. But what can CBD do for you, and why should you take it?

From chronic pain to epilepsy, people are giving rave reviews to CBD for its possible health benefits. Although most of these therapeutic effects aren’t fully understood, some evidence suggests cannabidiol extracts could offer symptom relief in some areas.

But what can CBD do for you, and why should you take it? We’ll analyze available evidence to see what CBD might help with. Some information validates CBD, while some raise doubts. Regardless, it’s essential to have a full understanding of the product before taking CBD oil.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for “cannabidiol,” an active ingredient derived from the cannabis sativa plant species—often mistakenly broken down into “marijuana” or “hemp.” The chemical compound is an active ingredient that many claim can help with various medical conditions.

Cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight (“hemp”) is used for CBD products like dietary supplements, CBD oil, CBD gummies, topicals and drinks—to name a few.

Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating due to a radically different mechanism of action. This makes CBD a staple of medical cannabis products, with a notable list of possible benefits. Although most of these therapeutic effects require further research (such as large-scale human trials), there is one FDA-approved use for CBD on severe childhood epilepsy.

However, preliminary scientific evidence is mounting, which may yield proof of CBD oil’s effectiveness for symptoms of many physical issues and neurological disorders.

Now that we have a basic understanding of CBD, let’s look at what CBD oil can do for you.

10 Benefits of CBD Oil & Why You Should Take It

Again, except for severe epilepsy, there are no placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials that conclusively prove CBD oil can treat the health conditions listed below. We suggest speaking to a doctor or other healthcare professional before trying CBD oils or any related products. These extracts vary in quality and effectiveness. If you’re unsure what to pick, check out our recent review about the 10 best CBD oils of 2024.

In some circles, CBD has earned a reputation as a cure-all. It would be impossible to fully cover all of CBD oil’s potential health benefits. So, today, we’ll address the top ten.

Pain Relief

Pain management is one of CBD’s biggest claims to fame. Millions of people need temporary or chronic pain management, and many turned (successfully) to products like CBD oil or CBD gummies for pain. Although CBD’s ability to treat pain is still under review, some studies suggest cannabidiol can alleviate symptoms of pain-related health issues.

For example, a 2021 study in The Journal of Pain examined adult subjects with fibromyalgia who replaced conventional medication in favor of CBD. These drugs included NSAIDs, opioids and benzodiazepines. The individuals switched to CBD due to concerns about addiction and side effects. The results were surprising. Most participants reported reducing or dropping prescription medications while retaining the therapeutic benefits. Individuals who stopped or decreased their conventional pharmaceuticals without CBD experienced no improvement in their symptoms. Further, the subjects overwhelmingly reported better memory, improved sleep and an increased overall well-being.

However, the study isn’t conclusive. With 878 participants, the sample size is too small for the medical community to consider conclusive. Second, studies relying on self-reporting can be skewed by participant bias, the placebo effect or other mitigating factors.

But this isn’t the only example of pain management with CBD. An April 2024 analysis of 15 scientific studies. They examined 15 publications involving self-reporting and small-group trials. Of those 15, 11 journal submissions showed a 42 to 66% reduction in chronic pain using CBD or a combination of CBD and THC. Of the remaining four, three indicated no therapeutic effects compared to placebo, while one showed mixed results. However, the authors still conclude that CBD may help reduce chronic pain, but admit more research is needed.

Anxiety and Depression

Many people consume CBD for anxiety and depression symptoms. One of the major benefits of CBD is that it can’t potentially trigger anxiety, unlike THC. If anything, studies suggest otherwise.

One paper published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology subjected several participants with generalized anxiety disorder to a simulated public speaking test. This double-blind study involved CBD, placebo and control groups. The results indicated that the placebo recipients fared the same as those in the control group, who received neither CBD nor placebo.

On the other hand, individuals who received CBD treatment showed less anxiety, better mental clarity, less anticipatory nervousness and greater confidence in their public speaking abilities. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression sometimes go hand-in-hand. Fortunately, some evidence indicates that CBD may help there as well.

A 2020 systematic review published in Biomolecules analyzed various papers covering CBD’s effects on depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. Based on the body of evidence analyzed, the authors concluded that CBD could be useful in conjunction with other medications to help support the treatment of depression, anxiety and several psychotic disorders.

Cancer-Related Symptoms

Cancer affects millions of people in the U.S. every year. With so many types of cancer, the list of cancer-related symptoms is virtually endless. However, California made history as the first state to legalize medical cannabis, with cancer patients on the eligibility list.

Although the legalization of medical marijuana is more widespread now, we still don’t have conclusive information on how it can help with cancer-related symptoms. However, a 2022 study in the National Library of Medicine examined multiple sources, with some promising conclusions.

Nausea and Vomiting

The review looked at experiments to see if CBD could alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). They took into account survey sources, animal studies and randomized clinical trials. According to the authors, CBD may help relieve these adverse effects by acting on 5HT1A receptors.

Based on the randomized clinical trials, the review concludes that “there is conclusive or substantial evidence that oral cannabinoids are effective anti-emetics in the treatment of CINV.”

Sores

The paper states that 30 to 80% of individuals receiving some form of radiation treatment (radiotherapy or chemotherapy) for head and neck cancers will develop a condition called “oral mucositis.” This unfortunate side effect triggers large ulcers in the mouth, making it difficult to eat, exposes patients to infections and negatively impacts their quality of life.

One finding highlighted in the above review involved an experiment on mice. After inducing oral mucositis, the experimenters administered CBD via injection. The mice showed faster improvement, along with less severe oral lesions, compared to the control group.

Cancer-Related Sleep Disturbance

According to the review, 20 to 75% of cancer patients deal with sleep disturbances during treatment. However, these adverse effects can continue for two to five years after radiation therapy.

But the review wasn’t as conclusive in this regard. Different studies yielded a variety of results. Some showed that CBD is sedating, but others determined CBD can be energizing. One of the sources studied revealed no change in sleep patterns with CBD compared to placebo.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Many consumers swear by CBD to reduce inflammation, with CBD oils and CBD gummies being particularly well-received. There is much preliminary evidence about CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. This mechanism may be responsible for some other potential health benefits of CBD, like joint pain relief.

A double-blind 2003 study by Wade et al. gathered 24 participants with chronic muscle issues. Eighteen of the patients suffered from multiple sclerosis, while the rest had symptoms due to injuries. Subjects received a sublingual spray containing an even ratio of THC and CBD. After two weeks of use, the individuals reported a marked reduction in pain related to inflammation from multiple sclerosis, along with better mental clarity and improved quality of life. However, the authors acknowledge that their sample size is too small and warrants further investigation.

A 2022 study in the Journal of Cannabis Research also made a case for arthritis patients. Researchers gathered information through questionnaires and surveys from 478 online participants, considering variables such as other medications. Of the respondents, 83% reported a reduction in pain, with osteoarthritis patients showing the most improvement.

Sleep and Insomnia

According to many consumers, CBD is an integral part of their nightly routine. CBD products, like oils and CBD gummies for sleep, are convenient, easy to dose and come in hundreds of varieties.

Considering the mounds of anecdotal evidence, there’s good reason to believe that helping with sleep is among the list of CBD’s potential health benefits.

A 2024 study in The Journal of Sleep Medicine performed a small, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on 30 participants with insomnia. The group was split equally into CBD and placebo. The researchers gave the CBD group 150 mg of CBD nightly for two weeks.

Results were mixed. There was no difference between the CBD and placebo groups when it came to inducing sleep. However, subjects who consumed CBD experienced waking up less frequently, felt more rested and showed better cognitive function following sleep.

It appears (at least in this study) that CBD may not help induce sleep in people with insomnia but increases sleep quality. Given this, it’s ideal to consume CBD products infused with relaxing compounds like cannabinol (CBN), a highly sedating minor cannabinoid.

A 2024 survey study from The Journal of Cannabis Research involved a 20-question survey sent to 387 participants. These current or former CBD users consumed CBD products for a variety of health benefits.

42.5% of these individuals reported that they used CBD for “self-perceived” insomnia or to improve sleep quality. Referring back to the previous study, which focused on subjects with insomnia, the survey participants didn’t have a formal diagnosis. Instead, it was “self-perceived,” indicating they may not have had the condition. It’s difficult to determine if their inability to sleep was due to issues like stress or anxiety, which is among the list of CBD’s possible health benefits.

If stress and anxiety were the cause of this self-perceived insomnia, it’s possible that the sleep effects came from CBD’s impact on their mood, rather a direct effect on sleep. One thing both studies indicate is that CBD could help improve sleep quality.

Hearth Health

Heart problems affect millions of Americans, with consequences ranging from lower quality of life to potentially deadly health conditions. Taking CBD—or medical cannabis in any form—for heart issues is a novel idea, but does it hold up to scrutiny?

A 2020 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology seems promising. Researchers recruited 26 healthy male participants. One group received 600 mg of oral CBD for one week, while the other was given placebo.

A single daily dose helped reduce resting blood pressure in the subjects but stopped being effective at reducing blood pressure after seven days. The authors attribute this to tolerance. However, repeated dosing during times of acute stress remained effective, likely because it wasn’t consumed regularly enough to build a tolerance.

But while the patients in the above study were healthy, a 2023 study in the National Library of Medicine examined the effects of CBD on 70 subjects with mild to moderate high blood pressure (hypertension). The individuals who received CBD improved in all measurements after 2.5 weeks, while the placebo group demonstrated no change in blood pressure.

Neuroprotective Properties

Neurological conditions vary in severity. Some can interfere with daily life without threatening overall health (like ADHD), but neurodegenerative disorders or brain cancer can be severely damaging, if not fatal. Evidence for CBD’s neuroprotective properties is limited but encouraging.

For instance, a 2015 review of preclinical evidence in the National Library of Medicine found a survey of 339 participants who used CBD to relieve Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. According to the data collected, 46% reported consistent health benefits. They reported improvements in areas like resting tremors and movement issues associated with PD.

But as with any health issue, prevention is the best cure —something CBD may facilitate. An extensive 2017 review in Frontiers in Pharmacology examined several studies on CBD’s neuroprotective benefits. They cited multiple sources indicating that CBD may work as an antioxidant, which protects brain cells from damage.

Acne & Skin Health

Acne affects virtually everyone at some point. But while most people see it as a cosmetic inconvenience, acne can become severe. Fortunately, CBD may help prevent or reduce acne.

According to a 2014 study published in the National Library of Medicine tested the effects of CBD on sebocytes, which produce sebum. Sebum is an oily compound generated by the skin, which often clogs pores and leads to acne. By curbing sebum production, CBD prevents it from accumulating in the skin, reducing the chance of developing acne.

The cell study results also found that CBD generated an anti-inflammatory reaction by preventing cytokines—which are known to trigger acne—from activating.

But oily skin and inflammation aren’t the only contributing factors to acne. Fungi and bacterial infections can also be responsible. According to a 2016 review of existing literature from Frontiers in Plant Science, some evidence suggests CBD may have antibacterial and antifungal effects.

Epilepsy

Unlike other conditions and symptoms on our list, CBD is conclusively proven to help treat epilepsy. However, epilepsy comes in many forms, only two of which are among the list of seizure disorders that respond to CBD treatment.

Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome are two forms of severe childhood epilepsy that don’t respond well to conventional treatment.

But unlike the other conditions on our list, the FDA approves CBD in a new drug called Epidiolex. This first-of-its-kind prescription medication is designed for patients with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome.

One study that led to this development was a groundbreaking 2017 experiment published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers recruited 120 children and youth with Dravet syndrome. One group received 20 mg/kg of CBD, while the other took a placebo. They also continued with their conventional medical treatment with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).

The CBD group showed massive improvement, with their median seizure rate dropping from 12.4 to 5.9 per month. Furthermore, 50% of the patients showed a 43% reduction in seizures while taking CBD.

Shortly after, a 2018 study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed similar success in patients with LGS.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study had 225 participants with LGS ranging from two to 55 years old. Three groups were involved. One received 20 mg/kg of CBD, another took 10 mg/kg and the final group used a placebo.

The CBD groups both showed success, with a seizure drop rate of 41.9 and 37.2% in the 20 mg and 10 mg groups, respectively. However, a small percentage became seizure-free during the study. The placebo group fell much shorter, at 17.2%.

But the trial uncovered something else. Seven patients had to withdraw due to adverse effects from CBD. A further 14 subjects (9% of the total group) showed elevated liver enzymes indicative of possible liver damage.

Health conditions like epilepsy are complex. Although CBD is approved to treat LGS and Dravet syndrome, individuals with other forms of epilepsy shouldn’t experiment with CBD oil.

Additionally, CBD interacts with many AEDs, including the commonly used valproic acid. Don’t try CBD for epilepsy without consulting a healthcare professional, such as a neurologist.

 

 

Source: observer.com,  Observer Content Studio

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