What Are The Benefits of CBD?

August 17, 2019

Many people choose to take CBD for the range of benefits it provides. Since cannabis is often used to treat ailments like pain, large and well funded research into the plant is only just now becoming more common due to the global acceptance of cannabis.

Lots of research lately has focused around CBD, which may not come as a surprise if you've been living in a state where CBD is legalized. There have been some promising early studies that show CBD has strong benefits for those who decide to medicate with it.

What is CBD?

CBD (short for cannabidiol), is one of over 100 types of cannabinoids naturally occurring in the cannabis plant. When you consume CBD, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and those interactions lead to most of the benefits associated with CBD.

Non-psychoactive

For some people, the fact that CBD is non-psychoactive is one of the main benefits of this substance. This way, it lets you get the medical benefits of cannabis without having to worry about the psychoactive effects.

Of course, the psychoactive benefits are not necessarily a bad thing; they are not always ideal. Many people who like to take advantage of CBD want to be able to function normally at work or school or to drive their cars without impairment. The non-psychoactive nature of CBD also means that you can use it without fear of the results of any drug tests at work or school.

The psychoactive component of the cannabis plant is the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. If you feel that the non-psychoactive nature of CBD is a benefit for you, then make sure you choose a CBD product without THC.

⚠️Some CBD products contain less than 0.3 percent THC, which is enough to show up on a drug test but not typically enough to interfere with daily functions. So, keep that in mind if this is a significant advantage for you.

Pain Relief

For many people, the most important benefit of CBD is its ability to help with pain relief. There are indications that our ancestors used marijuana for pain relief as long ago as 2,900 B.C. In recent years, scientists have discovered that CBD is one of the reasons that marijuana can provide pain relief.

Research indicates that CBD might help alleviate chronic pain thanks to its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, specifically the endocannabinoid receptors. The CBD interacts with neurotransmitters and reduces inflammation. Studies in rats have shown reduced inflammation and sciatic nerve pain while human studies have shown CBD, combined with THC, can help with arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS) pain. There is even an oral spray combining these two cannabinoids, and various countries have approved it for treating MS pain.

Reducing Depression and Anxiety

Another major benefit of CBD is its ability to reduce depression and anxiety without the side effects associated with antidepressants and other medications usually used to treat them. This is important since certain medications for anxiety and depression can be addictive, potentially leading to substance abuse, while others just cause minor yet annoying side effects.

Studies have already shown that CBD has a similar impact as antidepressants in animals. Other studies in humans support the ability of CBD to reduce anxiety in public speaking, along with discomfort and cognitive impairment in that situation.

That ability to reduce anxiety can also help people navigate stressful situations and everyday stress. When you are less anxious thanks to CBD, it becomes easier to handle a potentially stressful situation.

Improving Sleep

Cannabis may also help you fall asleep at night and get a better night’s rest in the process. Between anecdotal evidence and early research, it seems that CBD is worth a try for sleep disorders. It can specifically help if you have trouble falling asleep or do not feel rested when you wake up.

While there are numerous over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, they tend to come with side effects. Some may not even be very effective. By contrast, CBD has almost no risk, and it should help you sleep better.

Experts believe that CBD helps with sleep in several ways. Some argue that its ability to reduce anxiety and to relieve pain will naturally help people fall asleep. After all, many people who do not sleep well have those issues. Other researchers feel that CBD might directly affect sleep via interactions with the brain receptors responsible for the sleep and wake cycle.

Reducing Symptoms From Cancer

Given the harsh symptoms typically associated with cancer, and the unfortunate prevalence of the disease, CBD’s ability to reduce certain symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment is a significant benefit. Some of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatments include pain, vomiting, nausea, and changes in appetite. Various studies and anecdotal evidence show that CBD can help with all of these.

Research has looked at both CBD alone, and CBD combined with THC for treating cancer symptoms. One study found that CBD with THC can provide a significant reduction in pain, even if the pain was resistant to traditional medications. More importantly, the pain reduction of CBD with THC was greater than that of just THC.

In terms of nausea and vomiting, a study looked at a group of people undergoing chemotherapy. This study found that CBD did better at reducing nausea and vomiting than just traditional treatments and without side effects.

Might Lower the Risk of Cancer

Although this potential benefit of CBD still requires more research, there is some indication that CBD might lower the risk of cancer or its spread. A study found that animals with CBD in their systems were less likely to get colon cancer after exposure to carcinogens. Some studies have also looked at reported data, including one about male Californians in 2015, that found a significantly lower rate of bladder cancer for those using cannabis.

Potentially Reducing the Spread of Cancer

Early evidence indicates that CBD may be able to limit the growth of cancer cells, this particular benefit should be taken with a grain of salt due to its life and death nature. Animal and test-tube studies indicate that CBD can reduce or slow down the spread of lung, colon, brain, prostate, and breast cancer.

The reason to be extra cautious with this potential benefit is the risk factor. Because CBD has not been proven to reduce the spread of cancer, those who have cancer should not rely solely on cannabidiol to stop the disease from spreading or to treat it. Instead, they can consider CBD when traditional medications do not work. Alternatively, cancer patients can ask their doctors whether CBD would negatively interact with any of their other treatments and if there would be risks to trying it.

Reducing the Risks of Obesity and Diabetes

Some early research has shown that CBD may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes or being obese. This comes from studies that indicate that those who use cannabis regularly have smaller waist circumferences, lower body mass indices, and a lower risk of both obesity and diabetes. This study is particularly useful as it had a large sample size. However, the caveat is that it looked at cannabis as a whole, not just CBD and that it relied on self-reported data regarding cannabis use.

Despite these limitations, there have been other studies focused on CBD. One looked at diabetes in rats and found that CBD helped with weight loss and controlling diabetes.

Promoting Heart Health

Another significant benefit of CBD is its ability to promote heart health, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improving cholesterol profiles. One study found that those who use cannabis regularly had higher levels of good cholesterol and reduced levels of bad cholesterol. Once again, it is important to note that this study looked at cannabis as a whole, not just CBD.

Although There is some anecdotal evidence that CBD can help with heart health. Some studies also looked at CBD in particular instead of cannabis. One animal study in 2007 found that CBD could provide cardio-protective benefits during a heart attack. Animal studies show CBD might reduce cell death and inflammation due to heart disease, thanks to its stress-reduction and antioxidant properties.

There are also indications that CBD may be able to reduce a person’s blood pressure. Since high blood pressure increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, heart attack, and stroke, this potential CBD benefit is important. Experts feel that this reduction in blood pressure is due to the ability of CBD to minimize stress and anxiety.

Protecting the Brain

In addition to helping the heart, CBD may also help protect the brain. Experts believe that when CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it can help people with neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The early research into this is promising.

One of the few FDA-approved medications with CBD is for the treatment of epilepsy. Studies have found that taking CBD can reduce medication-resistant muscle spasticity in persons with multiple sclerosis and can reduce seizures. There are also studies indicating that CBD can help improve the quality of life of those with other neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The research regarding Alzheimer’s so far focuses on mice and test tubes, but the Parkinson’s study includes human participants.

Protecting Against Bone Disease

CBD may also be able to protect against broken bones and bone disease. This is because cannabinoids like CBD encourage bone metabolism. That process is when the old material in our bones gets replaced with new material, encouraging healthy and strong bones.

While that benefit applies to multiple cannabinoids, research indicates that CBD, in particular, can block the enzyme that is responsible for destroying our body’s bone-building compounds. That, in turn, reduces the risk of breaking bones as well as that of developing bone-related diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Overcoming Substance Abuse

There are some indications that taking CBD may help people suffering from substance abuse to overcome their addiction. This comes down to the ability of CBD to modify brain circuits that are part of drug addiction. One study involving rats showed that CBD can reduce both heroin-seeking behavior and dependence on morphine.

Minimizing Acne and Protecting the Skin

You can also find research to support the idea that CBD can help reduce acne. Acne is due to sebum overproduction, underlying inflammation, genetics, and bacteria. Some studies indicate that CBD can treat acne, thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation. It may also reduce the production of sebum. The studies so far have not included humans, so more research is still necessary.

On a related note, some research indicates that CBD infused into lotion can improve the skin’s ability to repair damage from environmental pollutants and UV rays. This comes from the skin’s cannabinoid receptors, which are related to sebaceous glands’ oil production.

Reducing Psychotic Symptoms

Although this particular benefit needs more research, some studies have shown that CBD may be able to reduce the psychotic symptoms experienced by those with schizophrenia or other mental disorders.

There Is Minimal Risk to Trying CBD

On top of all the above potential benefits, one strong advantage of CBD is the typical lack of side effects. In most cases, those who take CBD will not notice any adverse reactions. It is possible to experience changes in weight or appetite, diarrhea, or fatigue. CBD may also interact with certain medications.

Other than those rare cases, however, CBD is completely safe. This makes it an appealing option for those who have used traditional medications without success or with horrible side effects. Because CBD has almost no side effects, there is almost no risk in trying it for any of the above benefits.

The Takeaway

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, and it can relieve pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and inflammation, help with sleep and protect the heart and brain. Few people experience side effects with CBD, making it safe to try the cannabinoid and take advantage of its many benefits. 

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