Cannabis plants contain a group of substances called cannabinoids. Although there are more than 100 cannabinoids, the two most studied cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. THC is a psychoactive compound that is responsible for most of the psychological effects and the high that people often associate with marijuana. CBD is not psychoactive in the same way. While THC does have psychoactive effects, it does not lead to high or euphoric feelings and other such effects associated with recreational cannabis smoking. Researchers are studying CBD as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, but research supporting its benefits is limited. Before you buy cbd oil, make sure to read how it works and what effects you can see.
How CBD Works
The way CBD works — and the systems it affects in the body — is complicated and still under study.
As stated above, CBD is in a class of chemicals called cannabinoids. Because it comes from a plant, it is further classified as a phytocannabinoid.
The human body also produces natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids.
Both variations of cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are part of the complex endocannabinoid system (ECS). The system regulates the release of neurotransmitters (chemicals that communicate between nerve cells) in the brain, as well as in other parts of the nervous system. The ECS responds to both types of cannabinoids, phyto- and endo-.
By acting on the ECS, CBD Oil may have many different effects on the body. Examples include: balancing the body’s overall physical functions (homeostasis), reducing pain sensation, and lessening the body’s reaction to injury or inflammation.
Medical Uses of CBD
- Reduces epileptic seizures: In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex as the first pharmaceutical-grade CBD medication. Epidiolex treats seizures in two rare and severe epilepsy types called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in people age 2 years and older. Clinical trials found that when people with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes take Epidiolex with other seizure medications, they have fewer seizures than people taking a placebo with other seizure medications. There is not enough research to confirm whether CBD would help people with other, more common forms of epilepsy.
- May relieve chronic pain: People around the world have used cannabis for medicinal purposes, including pain relief, since around 2900 B.C. Researchers have suggested that cannabinoids may be responsible for the pain-relieving effects associated with cannabis. However, few studies have currently tested how CBD independently affects pain. A 2018 review examined 47 studies, including 4,743 people, of using cannabis and cannabinoids for chronic pain other than cancer pain. The review found moderate evidence that cannabinoids reduce pain when compared with placebo groups.
- Might reduce anxiety: The relationship between cannabis and anxiety can be inconsistent. An article in Neuropsychopharmacology notes that some users of cannabis report that the main reason that they use it is to reduce anxiety. However, others report panic and anxiety as side effects. These conflicting results may be because low doses of THC in cannabis are linked with reducing anxiety, while high doses seem to cause anxiety. The article in Neuropsychopharmacology also indicates that CBD decreases the anxiety-causing effects of THC. In animal studies, CBD also appears to inhibit anxiety in a similar way to other anti-anxiety drugs.
- Could ease chemotherapy side effects: Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can cause nausea and vomiting. Doctors often treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) with a medicine called an antiemetic. One earlier studyTrusted Source found that compared to placebo, adding a combination of THC and CBD to conventional antiemetic treatment provided better protection against delayed CINV. A 2018 study in rats observed that treatment with CBD prevented a surge in serotonin levels in the rats’ interoceptive insular cortex (IIC) following an injection of a nauseating chemical compound. In humans, the IIC is the region of the brain that is responsible for nausea. These findings indicate that scientists could potentially develop CBD into antinausea treatments for people having chemotherapy. According to a 2019 article in Future Oncology, cannabinoids may also prevent other side effects of chemotherapy, including pain, loss of appetite, and organ toxicity. Studies examining CBD as an antinausea treatment are relatively new, and scientists need to carry out more research before they can confirm whether CBD prevents chemotherapy side effects.
- PTSD treatment: Studies have shown that alongside psychiatric treatment, CBD can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. One recent studyTrusted Source, in particular, found that participants saw a reduction in trouble sleeping and nightmares. All participants continued to use CBD throughout the study and experienced no side effects. That said, researchers noted that many more studies must take place before there is conclusive evidence.
- Depression: A 2018 review notes that some studies indicate antidepressant activity after CBD intake in animal models. Researchers state that CBD exhibits a clear anti-stress effect after short- or long-term use, and in some tests, CBD acted as an antidepressant. That said, human testing must take place before researchers make any definitive conclusions.