More people than ever are managing various health conditions with CBD oil, thanks to new legislation that legalized the active ingredient in some forms. Anecdotal evidence abounds about the benefits of CBD oil as a remedy for insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain and many other ailments; still, more research is needed to scientifically verify the claims.

In the meantime, CBD’s popularity is growing thanks the wide range of products now available.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating chemical found in the cannabis plant. It does not make people high like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another compound found in the plant. This makes it appealing for people looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without experiencing mind-altering effects.

CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and diluted with a carrier oil to create many different products including tinctures, under-the-tongue sprays and softgel capsules. Some forms of CBD oil are applied directly to the skin, like salves and creams.

Interaction of CBD with the human body

Scientists have discovered that, just like the cannabinoids found in plants, our bodies produce cannabinoids that engage receptors throughout the body and regulate different bodily functions such as mood, sleep, memory, immune activity and appetite.

CBD interacts with these receptors and seemingly increases the quantity of cannabinoids produced by the body. It appears to bind with serotonin receptors and stimulate GABA receptors that help calm the nervous system. This discovery is raising expectations about the potential of CBD in treating a variety of conditions.

The first CBD-based drug

Children with severe epilepsy have found relief from seizures with a drug called Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved CBD-based drug. Clinical trials included 171 people, mostly children, with a rare, severe seizure disorder. Those taking CBD saw a median drop in monthly seizure frequency of about 44%. The results were published in March 2018 in the Lancet.

An increase in funding for research

Large-scale studies comparing CBD with placebos in individuals are still needed, as much of the existing research comes from tests done in lab animals or cells in a lab.

Fortunately, support for CBD studies is increasing, with funding from the National Institutes of Health reaching about $16 million in 2018. Many small trials are now being conducted, examining the effect of CBD on pain, anxiety, depression and various other health problems.

CBD oil and pain relief

Various studies have been conducted on rats using CBD for pain relief. In one study, rats were injected with CBD after a surgical incision and their pain response decreased. In another study, rats were given CBD orally and this reduced inflammation and pain of the sciatic nerve.

An oral spray, Sativex, combining THC and CBD has been approved in several countries to treat pain related to multiple sclerosis. Several human studies have found using CBD and THC is effective in treating multiple sclerosis and arthritic pain.

CBD Oil and anxiety disorders

A report published in the journal Neurotherapeutics says that CBD shows promise in treating anxiety disorders. When looking at results from clinical trials, epidemiological studies and experimental research, there is evidence that CBD may help treat generalized anxiety as well as social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

CBD oil and depression

CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in more than one animal study. These effects appear to be linked to its ability to act on the receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.

CBD oil and heart health

Research has linked CBD with benefits for the heart and circulatory system, including lowering high blood pressure. In one randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study nine healthy men received one dose of 600mg of CBD oil and it reduced their resting blood pressure compared to the placebo.

They were given stress tests that would normally increase their blood pressure but they experienced a slighter increase than normal. Researchers believe that the ability of CBD to reduce anxiety is why it helps to lower blood pressure.

CBD oil and diabetes

Preliminary studies on CBD for diabetes have been promising. There’s been a call for increasing research as studies already conducted suggest it may stabilize blood sugars, lower blood pressure over time, prevent nerve inflammation and improve circulation. Additionally, there are studies that show promise in treating cardiac dysfunction and diabetic retinopathy.

CBD oil and acne

There is evidence to suggest that CBD oil may reduce various types of acne. Sebum is the waxy, oily substance that protects the skin but it can mix with dirt, dead skin cells and other pollutants, becoming trapped in pores and causing acne.

A 2014 study explored the effects of CBD on the cells that create sebum and found that it prevented cells from creating too much. It also triggered an anti-inflammatory reaction in the cells. Inflammatory cytokines may trigger acne and reducing them could help prevent breakouts.

CBD oil and eczema

Eczema is common in both children and adults, and produces red, dry skin. It is itchy and can seep and produce a crusty appearance. Eczema can flare up for many reasons; using steroid creams to address it can thin the skin and cause other side effects. CBD has been shown to protect the barrier function of the skin and the balance of bacteria on the skin’s surface.

CBD oil and cancer-related symptoms

CBD may reduce cancer-related symptoms and the side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea, pain and vomiting. One study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 individuals with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication. The pain of those treated with an extract containing CBD and THC was significantly reduced, compared with others receiving only THC extract.

Potential side effects and adverse reactions

CBD is generally considered safe and there haven’t been any reports of lethal overdoses and few reports of major complications. Current research indicates that short term use has low overall risks, but research must still be conducted to clarify possible long-term risks. If you are interested in trying CBD oil, it is important to discuss the possible side effects with your physician.