Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a phytocannabinoid (plant-derived cannabinoid) found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.
Despite its sudden surge in popularity in Australia, the discovery of this CBD dates back to the 1900s.
After tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis. THC is the phytocannabinoid responsible for cannabis’s main psychoactive effects.
In contrast, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and does not produce a euphoric “high” or psychoactive effect. The compound also shows no potential for abuse or dependence and may even inhibit some of the adverse effects brought on by THC.
Cannabidiol affects specific receptors in the brain and throughout the body that make up a prominent and complex biological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Found in every vertebrate species, the ECS controls a plethora of critical body systems such as those related to sleep, energy, appetite/hunger, pain sensation, mood, and more to maintain homeostasis.
Numerous studies show that disruption to the ECS plays a role in the cause and effects of many disorders.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is an extract of raw, cannabidiol-rich cannabis plant material. The source is usually industrial hemp. The extraction process involves the use of carbon dioxide, steam distillation, or hydrocarbon or natural solvents.
The extract contains a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil (MCT), hemp seed oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil.
Carrier oils dilute the cannabinoid and improve its absorption rate (bioavailability). This boosts the effectiveness of the compound.
The medicinal use of cannabis traces back to around 400 AD. Today there are numerous claims that cannabis oil can treat anything that ails you.
A majority of those claims have no scientific evidence to back them. The following benefits do.
1. Chronic Pain
The use of cannabis to treat various types of pain goes back thousands of years.
The oldest record of its use in this way is in an ancient Chinese medical (pharmacopeia) text. Those texts note the use of cannabis for joint pain and muscle spasms, among other conditions.
According to BUPA, it is estimated that 20% of Australian adults deal with chronic pain.
Inflammatory and neuropathic pain are the most difficult types of pain to treat. Inflammatory pain is the result of tissue damage and is the most common type of pain. Damage or disease to the somatosensory nervous system is the cause of neuropathic pain.
Multiple studies have found evidence that CBD can help suppress and relieve inflammatory and neuropathic pain. CBD also has a better safety profile than opioids.
One study looked at rats with inflammatory and neuropathic pain. The data showed that oral treatments of cannabidiol reduced hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain).
Another animal study found that CBD significantly reduced incision-related nerve pain and inflammation.
Researchers have also found evidence showing CBD may be a more potent analgesic when combined with THC. One example of this is a study done in 2018 with 177 patients.
Participants in this study had cancer-related pain and were treating their symptoms with potent opioids. The results of the study found that a combination of CBD and THC reduced their pain by 30 percent or more.
Sativex, an oral spray used for multiple sclerosis-related spasticity and spams contains both THC and CBD.
2. Depression And Anxiety-Related Disorders
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common types of mental health disorders. These are incredibly debilitating conditions, that when left untreated severely impact one’s quality of life.
Beyond Blue’s stats indicate that approximately 1 million adults in Australia have depression in any given year and the number for anxiety-ridden adults is more than 2 million.
Research confirms that the ECS plays a role in anxiety and depression and CBD’s anxiolytic and antidepressant agents have shown promise as a treatment for both conditions.
Some people may even experience fewer side effects when using this cannabinoid.
One example is a study done on ten patients with a social anxiety disorder (SAD). Results showed that CBD significantly decreased subjective anxiety.
Another study found that a 600mg dose of CBD helped reduce anxiety brought on by public speaking.
A study done on rats showed that CBD blocked reconsolidation of fear-related memories in rats.
One animal study showed that CBD increased dopamine and serotonin levels. These are two chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that regulate mood and social behavior and linked to various mental health disorders.
Seizures are a neurological disorder caused by sudden, unusual nerve cell activity on the brain. The condition may occur on one side of the brain (focal or partial seizure) or both sides of the brain (generalized).
People who have recurrent unprovoked seizures due to a brain disorder have epilepsy.
According to current statistics, more than 250,000 people have epilepsy in Australia.
Studies show that CBD’s anticonvulsant properties may help reduce the frequency and duration of seizures and other related symptoms. CBD may also be a useful treatment for pharmacoresistant epilepsy.
One example of this is a study done with 214 people aged between 1–30 years. The participants had severe, childhood-onset, treatment-resistant epilepsy. Researchers added CBD to their existing anti-epilepsy medications (2 to 5mg per day).
Results showed a 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month. However, 12 percent of the participants had severe adverse effects.
CBD is the active ingredient in Epidiolex. This medication is an oral solution approved for the treatment of severe and rare types of epilepsy, particularly Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes in children aged two years and older.
Scientists are also studying the effect of cannabis extracts on seizures in dogs. One small clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found CBD reduced the frequency of seizures.
4. Neurodegenerative Disorders
Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and multiple sclerosis are the leading cause of morbidity and disability worldwide. Research shows that these types of diseases share a common denominator, inflammation.
Studies suggest that a combination of CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have neuroprotective potential. CBD may, therefore, be useful for treating and managing neuroinflammatory disorders.
In a study with 119 participants with Parkinson’s, researchers found that hemp oil improved their quality of life with no psychiatric comorbidities.
Another study on Parkinson’s with six patients found that CBD significantly decreased these psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia.
A study done on rats with Alzheimer’s revealed that long-term hemp oil treatment could help reverse cognitive deficits caused by the disease.
5. Heart Disease
CVD’s, of which heart attacks and strokes are the most common, have multiple risk factors. High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension presents the most substantial risk factor, particularly for hypertensive heart disease.
Studies show that CBD has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. These properties may help lower HBP, which in turn may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease increases the risk of a stroke. Strokes damage the brain and effects depend on which area of the brain (Cerebrum, Cerebellum, Brainstem) the condition occurs. Strokes can impair movement, sensation, speech, language, and cognitive function, among others.
A study done on rats with arterial ischemic stroke (AIS) found that CBD reduced brain damage and also improved long-term functional recovery.
The importance of a good night’s sleep is undeniable. The effects of sleep deficiencies are far-reaching. Insomnia can affect your brain and mental health as well as cognitive and immune function, among others.
There are two critical aspects of a good night’s sleep. How easily you fall asleep is the first and the second is how long you stay asleep.
Studies show that CBD oil may help with both these areas as it interacts with receptors in the brain that govern the body’s sleep and wake cycle.
Another study showed that cannabis oil reduced symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s.
It also improved the quality and quantity of sleep in a patient with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
7. Diabetes And Diabetes-Related Health Problems
Diabetes is a condition where your body does not make or use insulin well, resulting in high blood glucose or blood sugar levels.
According to DiabetesAustralia.com.au, more than 2.4 million Aussies currently struggle with diabetes.
There’s evidence of a link between the endocannabinoid system and diabetes and diabetic complications. Excess inflammation is known to impact the development of insulin resistance, and the ECS is a key player in this aspect.
Studies show that hemp extracts can have a positive effect on diabetes symptoms and complications.
A study by researchers at the University of Nottingham showed that a combination of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) might help lower blood sugar levels. These two cannabinoids may also increase insulin production in people with type 2 diabetes.
GW Pharmaceuticals, the UK-based company, behind Sativex, is in the process of developing a similar oral spray which could aid blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes.
CBD may help treat the symptoms of cancer, including pain, appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting, in complement with conventional Australian treatment programs.
One study found a combination of CBD and THC helped reduce chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting more effectively than standard anti-emetic treatment in the post-chemotherapy period.
Another study done on people with cancer-related pain found they experienced pain relief after using a combination of CBD and THC.
Research about CBD’s role in treating cancer is still in its early stages. There is some evidence that implies that targeting the ECS can help reduce the development of cancer. This fact stems from findings that overactivation of the ECS may result in the creation or formation of tumors (tumorigenesis).
One study done on mice found that increased endocannabinoid levels reduced the development of precancerous lesions in the colon. CBD is known to enhance natural endocannabinoids levels while also influencing other types of receptors.
A study on pancreatic cancer found that hemp extract made tumors more susceptible to cell death without affecting healthy pancreas cells.
Research into CBD’s therapeutic potential remains ongoing.
However, the mounting evidence collected by researchers from preclinical and clinical studies shows excellent promise.
Many medical professionals in Australia believe that cannabidiol, as well as other cannabinoid compounds, will surely become an integral part of various treatment programs as we look into the future(especially for things like epilepsy, for which the benefits have actually been scientifically proven).
There is still a lot to learn so you should always talk to a doctor before using hemp oil.