CBD has become as popular a remedy for your health and wellbeing as the latest fad diet or meditation retreat.
But unlike not being able to eat anything at your favourite restaurant or sitting still and pretending to be at peace with yourself, research is beginning to show us that CBD holds legitimate medicinal qualities.
Here’s the thing: we’re still learning a lot about cannabidiol (CBD), which is the second most abundant component of cannabis. Because cannabis was illegal for so long, the research is far behind. In fact, if you dig into any of these studies, you’ll find that just about all of them recommend further study.
However, early research is promising, with some studies even making “miracle drug” claims about CBD’s disease-fighting ability.
Some studies have suggested that CBD may work to reduce psychotic symptoms — helping people who live with schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
Others are indicating that CBD can be used in treating persons with substance abuse issues. The research shows that CBD may actually be able to modify circuits in the brain related to drug addiction.
Studies have gone so far as to indicate that CBD has demonstrated anti-tumor effects (meaning that it works to reduce the spread of cancer) and may even be a form of diabetes prevention.
These are all positive indicators for the properties of CBD and cannabis.
However, for most cannabis users, CBD is not necessarily a combatant against more serious diseases. Rather, CBD has become a part of self-care. Just like going to the gym, flossing or avoiding calling your overly aggressive aunt, using CBD is being seen more and more as a way to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
These are a few ways that CBD has been shown to improve your wellbeing:
1. It can relieve pain
“For the relief of certain kinds of pain, I believe, there is no more useful medicine than cannabis within our reach,” wrote Sir John Russell Reynolds, neurologist, epilepsy research pioneer, and physician to Queen Victoria back in 1859.
Sure, that quote is from a time when people took about one bath a month and pooped in a bucket, but still, it sounds classy.
The point is, CBD is not a new thing and neither is the use of cannabis to treat pain. Historically, just about every major ancient civilization from Asia through the Middle East and into Europe and the Americas used cannabis to treat pain.
(If you’re picturing famous historical figures, like say, Abraham Lincoln, smoking a joint, you’re doing this right.)
In the future (a.k.a. now), scientific research into cannabis has in fact confirmed that it’s an effective and safe analgesic for many kinds of pain.
Yes, there are different kinds of pain.
Medical professionals actually put pain into two different categories: neuropathic (usually meaning chronic) and nociceptive pains (time-limited).
Cannabis works on most neuropathic and nociceptive types of pain. A number of studies have demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system is both centrally and peripherally involved in the processing of pain signals.
If you’re wondering, yes, you can use CBD to reduce migraines and other pain caused by inflation.
So, it will actually help when you do call that aunt of yours.
2. It can reduce anxiety and depression
Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, including being overstressed can be vicious cycles which at times feel impossible to break out of.
The more you feel affected by them, the harder it can be to adopt behaviors which work to combat the symptoms. It can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning, let alone be productive or social. That’s why CBD can be such an important aid in managing and improving mental health.
In 2009, researchers concluded that there was substantial evidence to indicate endocannabinoid was a legitimate “pharmacotherapy of depression.” Meaning CBD is something you could use to treat depression.
Authors of a 2016 study wrote that “CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug, via enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signaling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism.”
The study refers to CBD as a “rapid-acting antidepressant.”
Translation: it’s just like chocolate or sex or that feeling you get when your former high school crush finally slides into your DMs 15 years later.
As for anxiety, a 2012 research review assessed a number of studies from around the world and concluded that CBD did in fact exhibit anxiolytic-like effects. Moreover, CBD was shown to reduce anxiety in patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
3. It may improve appetite
We had to address “the munchies” at some point.
There are many reasons you may want to improve your appetite. You may be combating a physical disease or sickness, or you may have experienced a loss of appetite due to stress, anxiety, depression or another mental health issue.
Maybe you’re headed to an “all-you-can-eat” buffet and you just want to put your money where your mouth is. It’s a free country. You do you.
However, you should know that not everyone who takes CBD will experience a similar effect on their appetite.
A recent study involving 2,409 people who use CBD found that 6.35 percent experienced increased hunger as a side effect.
Like so many other effects of CBD, the effect on appetite is not yet completely understood and more research is needed. There are a lot of factors which may influence just how much CBD can affect one’s appetite — including everything from hunger levels to when you take CBD to genetics.
4. It may improve your skin and even reduce acne
While more research is needed to fully understand cannabis’s effect on skin, studies have found CBD oil to be an effective treatment of a variety of skin conditions including acne, allergic reactions, skin cancer, and systemic sclerosis.
5. It can help maintain brain health.
Be honest, you’ve probably never thought about your brain health. You’ve probably thought about getting shredded abs or having good “gut health” (whatever that means) literally 1000 times more often than you’ve ever thought about your brain health -— which is weird because it’s your brain that does the thinking.
Brains are so selfless, you guys.
Cannabinoids are neuroprotective, which means they help protect your brain from trauma and degeneration.
On the subject of trauma, CBD has actually been shown to have several actions on the brain, however, the most impressive may be the removal of damaged cells and the improved efficiency of mitochondria. This keeps the brain healthy and functioning properly.
As you get older, the creation of new neurons in your brain slows down significantly. In order to prevent degenerative diseases, your brain needs to constantly create new cells.
A 2015 study showed that low doses of CBD- and THC-like cannabinoids encouraged the creation of new nerve cells or “neurogenesis.”
They should make a new “this is your brain on drugs” where the guy tries to crack an egg, but can’t.
6. It could improve your heart health.
The next thing on this list will not be “It helps improve your courage.” (Promise.)
CBD has been found to improve heart health in a number of ways.
The first is reducing obesity, which is a leading cause of heart disease. In a 2011 report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, based on a survey of more than 52,000 participants, it was identified that rates of obesity were about one-third lower among cannabis users.
Which seems surprising given cannabis’s infamous reputation for causing “the munchies.” And while it’s true that cannabis users identified in the survey tended to consume more calories per day, their obesity rates remained lower.
The positive effects on your heart health don’t stop there, however. CBD has also been shown to help fight the growth of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disorder involving the progressive depositing of atherosclerotic plaques. Essentially, your immune cells begin to oxidize, resulting in a build-up of plaque in your heart.
It’s a disease commonly linked to diet and lifestyle and can lead to heart disease or stroke.
What we know about atherosclerosis is that it’s your body’s response to injuries in the arterial walls’ lining of your heart. Those injuries can be caused by high blood pressure, infectious microbes, or large amounts of an amino acid called homocysteine.
You may have heard the broad term that CBD works to “reduce inflammation” and that’s actually its key value in fighting atherosclerosis, as studies have shown that inflammatory molecules stimulate the cycle leading to atherosclerotic lesions.
7. It may help you get a better night’s sleep.
I mean, I guess you could be more courageous if you got more sleep?
Just as THC indica and sativa strains affect cannabis users differently in terms of feeling sedated vs. wakeful, CBD has also been shown to affect each person differently.
One study actually found CBD to generally be wake-inducing for most subjects, though some reported better sleep a few hours after taking it.
However, if you’re someone who has trouble sleeping due to anxiety or discomfort, CBD may be able to relieve those symptoms for you, allowing you to get a better night’s rest.
One area of a restful sleep that CBD has been shown to help is in the suppression of sleep-related apnea.
Which is certainly helpful, since breathing is kind of important.