Cannabinoids: Is CBD Effective?

CBD is a cannabinoid, a chemical compound extracted from two different varieties of the cannabis plant: marijuana and hemp. What is CBD effective for? Cannabidiol and THC are two compounds that have the most health benefits. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is psychoactive, whereas CBD is not. Hemp and hemp-derived products are legal in the U.S as long as their THC content is less than 0.3%. Is cannabinoid effective?

CBD is a safe non-addictive substance, naturally found in the resinous flower of cannabis. CBD is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, not a medication. Usually CBD is sold as oil, but is also available as an extract, an oil-based capsule, and a vaporized liquid. Recently, it is also available in the form of gummies, and foods and drinks infused with CBD. Currently, CBD products can be bought online without a medical cannabis license. According to the WHO, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential in humans.

FDA does not regulate the purity and safety of dietary supplements. This can be a cause of concern regarding the dosage and other unknown elements in CBD products. According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, which tested 84 CBD products, it was found that 26% contained lower doses than stated on the product’s label.

How To Use CBD?

There are different ways of using CBD products, and their administration will depend on the type of product used.  Some ways of using CBD include:

  • Swallowing capsules
  • CBD tinctures and oils: Orally as with a pipette or dropper or Mixing into food and drink.
  • CBD creams and ointments: Massaging paste into the skin
  • Nasal sprays: Spraying it under the tongue

CBD is also available as dietary supplements, in food products, cosmetics and animal health products.

So, does CBD really help?

CBD has significant therapeutic attributes which are being tested and confirmed by doctors and scientists around the world. Recently, FDA approved Epidiolex, a prescription oil which contains CBD, the first ever cannabis derived anti-seizure medicine. The strongest evidence is its efficacy in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes, namely Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome that do not respond to pharmacological anti-seizure formulations.

 What Is CBD Is Effective For?

According to a 2018 study, CBD is effective in various ways which includes:

  • Arthritis or joint pain and chronic pains: CBD oil can be used to treat different types of chronic pain. CBD applied to the skin can help lower inflammation and neuropathic pain due to arthritis.
  • Anxiety and hypertension: The use of CBD in low doses can elicit a positive response in alleviating anxiety. Since anxiety and hypertension can lead to heart diseases, the use of CBD can improve heart health.
  • Sleep disorder and Insomnia: CBD is known to help in inducing sleep as well as help in staying asleep.
  • Migraine and other headaches: CBD has low affinity for cannabinoid receptors in the brain, however, it does regulate pain and glycine receptors involved in the regulation of the “feel-good” hormone.
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder): CBD might help reduce anxiety-related behaviors such as PTSD, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), panic disorder, general and social anxiety disorder.
  • Withdrawal from drug addiction: Research indicates that cannabidiol taken for 3 days can reduce cravings of nicotine, and other substance abuse such as morphine, heroin and other opioid drugs. It also reduces symptoms related to drug abuse and managing withdrawal symptoms.    
  • Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, and Schizophrenia: Does CBD really help? CBD usage can reduce psychotic and anxiety symptoms.
  • Multiple sclerosis: Cannabidiol has shown to be effective for improving muscle-tightness, pain and urination frequency. Using a CBD spray under the tongue can improve pain, muscle spasms, and generally the quality of life of patients with MS.
  • Acne: CBD is being used in topical skin ointments and creams to reduce inflammation that helps lower the production of sebum.
  • Neurological symptoms and disorders: CBD is effective in treating complications linked to epilepsy, such as neuronal injury, neurodegeneration and psychiatric diseases.
  • Fighting Cancer: CBD can improve the immune system’s response to cancer treatment. It can prevent the growth of cancer cells, lessen the side effects and improve the action of chemotherapy.

CBD is also used in the treatment of different allergies and asthma, due to its anti-inflammatory effect. Research has also shown positive effect of CBD in managing weight loss, fibromyalgia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and menopause.

What Are The Recommended Doses For Using CBD?

The recommended doses vary between individuals and depend on factors such as:

  • body weight
  • reason for using CBD
  • concentration of the product

Since Epidiolex is the only FDA approved CBD product, the dosage for this oil is as follows:

  • Starting dose is 2.5mg/kg of body weight twice daily, totaling to 5mg/kg every day.
  • After one week, the dosage may be increased to 5mg/kg twice daily, which equals 10mg/kg per day.

Higher doses may be required ranging from 100-800mg per day, to cure different medical conditions, however, it is important to consult a doctor before determining an effective dose and use of safety along with other medications.

Does CBD Really Help?

Clinical trials on humans are still underway to evaluate the effectiveness of CBD in controlling diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, peripheral neuropathy, and many other nervous disorders.

Is Cannabinoid Effective?

All cannabinoids produce effects in the body by interacting with two receptors in the body; CB1 receptors present throughout the body, mainly in the brain coordinate with pain, movement, emotion, appetite, thinking, memories and other functions. CB2 receptors more common in the immune system affect inflammation and pain.

CBD is known to stimulate the receptors so that the body produces its own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids.

Risks And Possible Side Effects

CBD oil can trigger certain side effects and also interact with supplements and other drugs. Adverse effects that can occur with CBD when used orally may include dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, and changes in appetite, changes in mood including irritation, and dizziness or drowsiness. CBD may also cause liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, and a reduction in fertility in males.

CBD may be unsafe for use during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in very young children. It may harm the fetus especially if the product is contaminated with other ingredients. The only safe prescription CBD product for children is Epidiolex. Regular use among teens may associated with memory issues, behavior and intelligence.

Hence, CBD should not be considered as an alternate to conventional medical care, according to the FDA.

In conclusion, CBD is effective as a therapy for various conditions is gaining popularity, though FDA has only approved one product. As clinical trials and regulations increases, more specific prescriptions and dosages will start to emerge. 

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