The CBD (cannabidiol) industry is flourishing, conservatively projected to hit $16 billion in the United States by 2025. Already, the plant extract is being added to cheeseburgers, toothpicks, and breath sprays. More than 60 percent of its users have taken it for anxiety, according to a survey of 5,000 people, conducted by the Bright Field Group, a cannabis market research firm. Chronic pain, insomnia and depression follow behind. Kim Kardashian West, for example, turned to the product when “freaking out” over the birth of her fourth baby. The professional golfer Bubba Watson drifts off to sleep with it. And Martha Stewart’s French bulldog partakes, too.
But what exactly is it, and does it live up to the hype surrounding its potential benefits? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of cannabidiol, exploring its origins, claims, and effectiveness for anxiety, PTSD, sleep, and depression, as well as potential safety concerns.
CBD is a chemical obtained from the cannabis sativa plant, which also produces tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for marijuana’s euphoric effects. Cannabis has been used medicinally and for ceremonies for ages, with roots extending back to ancient Central Asia.
It is the lesser-known child of the cannabis sativa plant; its more famous sibling, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active ingredient in pot that catapults users’ “high.” With roots in Central Asia, the plant is believed to have been first used medicinally — or for rituals — around 750 B.C., though there are other estimates too.
Cannabidiol and THC are just two of the plant’s more than 100 cannabinoids. THC is psychoactive, and CBD may or may not be, which is a matter of debate. THC can increase anxiety; it is not clear what effect CBD is having, if any, in reducing it. THC can lead to addiction and cravings; CBD is being studied to help those in recovery.
Cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less of THC is hemp. Although last year’s Farm Bill legalized hemp under federal law, it also preserved the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of products derived from cannabis
It has been utilized for pain management since ancient times, with roots dating back to 2900 B.C. in Chinese medicine. It may help alleviate chronic pain by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which modulates pain experience, according to research. CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities may also contribute to its analgesic benefits. Although further research is needed, it appears to be effective in relieving pain linked with disorders such as fibromyalgia and rheumatic diseases.
Mental Health Disorders
Cannabidiol oil is being investigated as a possible treatment for mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. A 2020 literature analysis found multiple studies that suggested it could help with the symptoms of various diseases. Furthermore, it was found to be useful in treating PTSD-related symptoms in adults in a small 2019 trial.
It may help lessen cancer-related symptoms and adverse effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, and pain, according to research published in 2022. Despite these encouraging findings, more research is needed to discover CBD’s full potential in controlling cancer-related symptoms.
Cannabidiol has shown potential advantages for people suffering from neurological illnesses. According to a 2022 study, Sativex, a Cannabidiol and THC-containing spray, may improve pain and muscle spasms in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). Furthermore, CBD oil has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of seizure disorders such as Dravet syndrome and seizures induced by tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). It may also help with illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and movement problems like cerebral palsy, according to new studies. However, more research is required to confirm these possible benefits.
Studies indicate that cannabidiol may benefit heart health by influencing heart muscle contractions and widening blood vessels, potentially leading to reduced blood pressure. A study on healthy men found that it significantly reduced blood pressure in the short term. Nevertheless, more human studies are necessary to fully understand CBD’s impact on heart health.
Other Potential Benefits
Helpful in Anxiety and PTSD
Some studies suggest that it may be helpful in managing anxiety. A small experiment found that it reduced nervousness and cognitive impairment in patients with social anxiety during a public speaking task. However, conflicting results show that it did not significantly change emotional reactions to unpleasant stimuli. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funding its first study on it to assess its potential in conjunction with psychotherapy for PTSD treatment.
Sleep and Depression Problem
CBD’s possible role as a sleep aid is being explored, as certain side effects of Epidiolex trials included drowsiness. However, a review of 72 psychiatric patients found no substantial improvement in sleep. Regarding depression, animal studies indicate that it may act faster than conventional antidepressants in models of chronic stress exposure, suggesting greater resilience in rodents. Still, further clinical trials in humans are required before confirming CBD’s effect on depression.
Reduce ALS Symptoms
According to research, persons with ALS, like people with PTSD, can benefit from the entourage effect caused by the combination of THC and cannabidiol. In a 2019 study, individuals were given varied amounts of THC and CBD based on their requirements and preferences. Those with ALS who had mild, moderate, or severe spasticity (muscle tightness and stiffness) reported substantial levels of pain.
Diabetic Complications Can Be Reduced
Opioid Addiction Treatment
To begin, studies on human cells discovered that it helps lessen the impact of high glucose levels on other cells in the body, which often precedes the development of diabetes and other issues. Researchers concluded that further research into CBD’s potential advantages in people with diabetes, diabetic complications, and plaque accumulation in arterial walls is needed.
Some studies, both preclinical animal and human clinical trials, suggest that it could be utilized to treat opiate addiction.
In one such study, researchers gave cannabidiol to persons who had a heroin use issue. Cannabidiol dramatically reduced heroin users’ cue-induced cravings, withdrawal anxiety, resting heart rate, and salivary cortisol levels over the course of a week. There were no major side effects discovered.
Other studies have found it to be useful in lowering psychological and physical symptoms such as anxiety, sleeplessness, and pain in patients with substance use disorders, indicating that it may be a viable treatment for opioid addiction. However, more research is required.
Aside from the benefits listed above, cannabidiol has being investigated for its possible function in the treatment of substance abuse problems, some forms of cancer, and sleep difficulties. However, further research is needed in these areas to provide conclusive findings.
Safety Concerns and Controversies
Pure cannabidiol is generally considered safe, but some side effects reported in Epidiolex trials include diarrhea, sleepiness, fatigue, and elevated liver enzymes. However, specific safe dosages and potential effects during pregnancy remain unknown. Concerns have been raised about the accuracy of cannabidiol products’ labeling and potential contamination with harmful substances. However, more research is being carried out in this manner, whereas it has the potential to treat many illness with the passage of time.
Is It Harmful?
“If you take pure CBD, it’s pretty safe,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Side effects in the Epidiolex trial included diarrhea, sleepiness, fatigue, weakness, rash, decreased appetite, and elevated liver enzymes. Also, the safe amount to consume in a day, or at all during pregnancy, is still not known.
CBD oil has grown in popularity as a natural medication with a wide range of potential health benefits, including pain relief and mental health support, as well as potential neuro-protective properties and heart health benefits. Despite the positive data, further study is required to fully understand the scope and use of CBD for a range of health conditions. Always get the opinion of a healthcare specialist before taking it to ensure safe and optimal use. As research continues, CBD has immense promise as a substantial addition to the field of natural medicines.
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