What Is CBD and Does it Work?

CANNABIDIOL, OR CBD, IS quickly becoming a familiar term. This cannabis plant-derived, non-psychoactive, natural remedy is being used to treat a wide variety of ailments from anxiety and pain to various seizure disorders. So what is this "miracle drug" and does it really work?


The answer is "potentially," and there is one very good reason why: We naturally produce cannabinoids in our endocannabinoid system already, ones that affects our mood, appetite, pain and varying cognitive functions. It makes sense that the addition of more cannabinoids could serve a purpose in our physiology in the same way that taking additional melatonin -- which our bodies also produce naturally -- can make us sleepy.

Commercial CBD affects two main cannabinoid receptors in the body: CB1, which is primary located in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2, which is located in our immune system cells, gastrointestinal tract and peripheral nervous system -- the nerves extending from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.

Some studies have found that activation of CB2 receptors can rid the brain of beta-amyloid protein (a plaque found in people with Alzheimer's disease) while activation of CB1 receptors can improve depression, reduce fear and paranoia, and lower intestinal inflammation and blood pressure. CB1 receptor activation can even give relief to one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States: anxiety.

In a 2018 survey in "Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research," more than 60 percent of cannabidiol users reported they were taking CBD to treat a medical condition. The most prevalent conditions these users reported were pain, anxiety, and depression. Still, many people wonder if CBD is safe.

According to the World Health Organization CBD is generally tolerated by most humans, and has a good safety profile. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has even approved an oral CBD product, Epidiolex, as a treatment for Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes – two severe childhood-onset seizure disorders. In 2018, the DEA changed the classification of  CBD from Schedule I (drugs with no medical use, such as heroin) to Schedule V (low potential for abuse, such as cough medicine).

CBD is not only in the oil market. There are companies making CBD bath bombs, lotions, candies, sodas, sprays, chocolates, vaping products and even CBD ice cream for sleep.

As with any ingestible substance there can be risks associated. Some of the risks associated with CB1 activation include constipation, lowered thyroid hormones, increased liver fat and food intake, and decreased bodily use of fat for energy. It is key to note that these side effects have been more closely associated with more potent psychoactive activators like the THC that comes from marijuana (CBD is non-psychoactive).

When it comes to the effect of CBD for pain management, there have been several reviews for chronic neuropathic pain but none have concluded that CBD is effective at pain management for humans. These reviews were primarily conducted through animal studies; future Future human clinical trials may provide more information in this area.

Source: US News