The Science of CBDWhat is CBD oil and why does it suddenly seem to be everywhere these days?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is a naturally occurring cannabinoid constituent found in cannabis plants, also known as hemp. It is one of the 104 different chemical compounds that exist within hemp plants. As old cultural attitudes toward cannabis have been changing and more state governments have taken steps to relax legal restrictions on its use, the scientific community has begun a renewed effort to studying the many benefits of this remarkable plant. It's gained tremendous momentum in the natural health and wellness world, with scientific evidence supporting the claims that it may help treat a variety of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety.
Unlike its much-better-known compound, THC, CBD is not psychoactive. However, it does offer similar pain-relieving and mood-calming effects. This makes it an appealing option for those who prefer to go a more natural route in managing their pain or anxiety without the mind-altering side effects of THC or certain pharmaceutical drugs. CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from the cannabis plant and blending with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.
So how does CBD oil work on our bodies to promote health, relieve pain and treat anxiety? Throughout mammalian nervous structures there is a network of lipid-based neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptor proteins; this system is known as the Endocannabinoid or (ECS) system. Research has shown that this system is responsible for regulating numerous physiological functions such as sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, and immune system responses. The cannabinoids act as a kind of key, binding to the receptors in our nervous system via proteins and unlocking them.
When CBD oil unlocks neurotransmitters in the brain, it triggers the release of serotonin which regulates mood and social behavior, helping to alleviate depression and anxiety. When someone smokes or ingests cannabis, THC overwhelms the ECS system, quickly attaching to cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body. This saturation interferes with the normal function and production of neurons between pre- and post-synaptic cells. Naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body regulate this function which can throw the entire ECS system off-balance. This can slow a person’s reaction time, disrupt short-term memory, cause anxiety and impair judgment. CBD does not overwhelm the ECS system and thus does not lead to any of these side effects, instead it helps to regulate chemical responses between synapses, lowering their activity like a “dimmer switch,” rather than disrupting the entire system.
The benefits of CBD are wide-ranging and including helping to stabilize mood, reduce acne, and may even lead to helping to treat certain medical conditions pending further research. Ina recent study, CBD oil has been shown to treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder. In another study it was given to a group with social anxiety disorder before a public speaking test. Those who received CBD displayed significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort during the speech compared to those who had been given placebos.
Though more research is needed, some evidence suggests that CBD may even help reduce symptoms related to cancer as well as side effects from cancer treatments. In one study, a group of 177 people with cancer-related pain were given CBD and THC together or just THC extract by itself. The ones that received both CBD and THC experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those treated only with THC. There are even test tube and animal studies that have shown that CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice.
CBD may even have some heart-healthy effects. Recent research seems to indicate that it can play a role and lowering stress which in turn helps prevent high blood pressure, reducing the risks of a number of health conditions including stroke, heart attacks and metabolic syndrome. Several animal-based studies also seem to show that CBD may help reduce inflammation and cell death related to heart disease due to its potent antioxidant properties.
Speaking of antioxidants, there’s no better way to prevent premature aging at the cellular level and CBD is full of them. These compounds seek out and destroy free radicals which can attack and damage cell and cause oxidative stress throughout the body. CBD has such a positive effect on the skin that it’s become the new wonder ingredient in the beauty industry thanks to its age-fighting properties. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and other visible signs of aging.
One of the most promising areas in which CBD may be of tremendous benefit is the brain itself. CBD’s ability to act on the ECS system as well as other brain signaling functions may help treat some neurological disorders. Though still a relatively new field, researchers have been conducting multiple studies into how CBD works for conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. One study showed that people with multiple sclerosis who were experiencing muscle spasms saw them reduced by 75%. In another study, 214 people with severe epilepsy were treated with 0.9 to 2.3 grams of CBD oil per pound of body weight and it reduced their seizures an average of 36.5%. Other findings have shown that CBD has improved quality of life and sleep for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, as well as reducing inflammation in the brain which leads to neurodegradation associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Some other promising areas of study indicate even more possible uses for CBD, including the potential to help treat psychosis, substance abuse, tumors, and in preventing diabetes. As with any scientific endeavor, more research is required but the data looks promising and new studies are being conducted all the time. Much like it’s sister compound, THC, not everyone experiences with CBD are positive and negative side effects have been known to occur in some people. These side effects include anxiety, depression, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and changes in appetite. It’s also been known to have some drug interactions so it’s highly recommended to consult a physician before using it.
The bottom line is that CBD is a viable, safe, and natural alternative for a variety of health concerns including pain, behavioral disorders and so much more. We’re learning new things about CBD every day and the scientific data suggests we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Interested in trying some? Browse our CBD products here.