Cannabidiol (CBD) has many potential benefits, but its explosion in popularity has created a divide: on one side of the chasm there are hardcore devotees, and on the other, relentless skeptics.
Between the worship that says CBD washes away the pain of human existence and the slander that claims it is no more than a placebo, we find the truth: there is much research on CBD, but much research remains.
The Magnificent Seven
- Epilepsy: CBD is effective for treatment-resistant epilepsy, backed by double-blind placebo controlled human trials and an FDA-approved drug.
- Pain: CBD binds to vanilloid TRPV1 and serotonin receptors; it is very likely to be effective for chronic pain management according to animal studies andsome robust human trials.
- Anxiety: Because CBD binds to serotonin receptors, it may help with anxiety; animal studies are abundant but human studies are fairly limited. A study in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology found that CBD reduced social anxiety.
- Psychosis: CBD has demonstrated antipsychotic properties and clinically significant effects in humans. The mechanism of action is not fully understood, but it appears to reduce brain function abnormalities.
- Inflammation: There is significant research on animals and some research on human tissue suggesting that CBD reduces inflammation.
- Addiction:The endocannabinoid system (ECS) intersects with the brain’s reward pathways. CBD is an ECSreceptor antagonist and may help curbaddiction withdrawal and craving/motivation. Animal and limited human studies support the hypothesis.
- Autoimmune Disease Symptoms: CBD has demonstrated immunosuppressive effects in mice, inhibiting leukocytes, facilitating T-cell death, and reducing inflammatory cytokine release. Randomized, controlled human trials have shown that cannabinoids are effective for pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Recent research in Frontiers in Neurology called for the broad use of CBD to increase mobility in individuals with multiple sclerosis.
- Sleep:Improved sleep is one of the most touted benefits of users with CBD, but studies and the mechanism of action are limited (related to reducing anxiety?).
- Skin:CBD may address acne and improve skin conditions due to upregulating effects on skin growth, hormone balance, and hair follicles. This is a newer application and research is still young.
- Cancer? There are studies that demonstrate CBD’s ability to combat cancer cells in petri dishes or rat tumors. It is unclear how CBD works (if at all) inside a person suffering this terrible disease. Cannabinoids are used in palliative care for cancer-related pain.
Why does CBD have such wide-ranging promise? The trick is to remember that the endocannabinoid system was only discovered 35 years ago. Furthermore, cannabis and all related compounds (such as CBD) were completely prohibited for the better part of a century. We can’t definitively make most health claims, but there is emerging preliminary evidence for many benefits of CBD.