Cannabidiol (CBD) can be helpful for treating many different conditions.
Marijuana contains two major chemical compounds responsible for its effects: THC and CBD. THC is the most well-known and causes euphoria and relaxation, otherwise known as the high. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive.
CBD is promising because it offers many health benefits without any psychoactive side effects. Patients with conditions ranging from epilepsy, to anxiety, to Parkinson’s disease may be prescribed CBD to treat their illnesses.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of CBD for different medical conditions.
1. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can take many forms, ranging from social anxiety to PTSD. Each type of anxiety can have a serious impact on the lives of sufferers.
Anxiety relief is one of the most commonly sought-after effects of marijuana. Many of marijuana’s anti-anxiety effects are linked to CBD. CBD has been found to decrease anxious feelings in a number of scientific studies.
A 2015 review concluded that CBD is a promising treatment for numerous forms of anxiety, including OCD, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder.
Besides evidence from studies, many anecdotal reports support the benefits of CBD for treating anxiety.
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. Depression can cause major changes to mood, thoughts and behaviour.
A 2016 study also found that CBD can specifically reduce anhedonia, a symptom of depression that makes people unable to feel joy or happiness.
Studies have found that changes in the endocannabinoid system may be involved in depression. CBD activates the endocannabinoid system by increasing levels of naturally-occurring cannabinoids, such as anandamide.
Nausea is an uncomfortable sensation that can be caused by many factors including chemotherapy, exposure to bacteria and viruses, and early pregnancy.
Marijuana has been used as an anti-nausea treatment for centuries. The study of CBD for nausea is more recent, but has shown a lot of promise.
A 2016 study has suggested that CBD may be particularly helpful in treating nausea in patients that are not getting relief from prescribed anti-nausea drugs.
One of the most well-known effects of CBD is its impact on certain forms of epilepsy, including Dravet syndrome.
Research shows that CBD has anticonvulsant effects in animal models of epilepsy. While there has not been much research conducted in humans, early reports are promising.
GW Pharmaceuticals has been conducting clinical trials for their drug Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil.
At doses between 25 and 50 mg/kg a day, Epidiolex was found to lower seizure frequency by 50% in a 12-week clinical trial. The cannabinoid also showed very mild side effects including decreased appetite, drowsiness and diarrhea.
A 2013 survey of parents of children with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy found that 84% of respondents reported reductions in seizure frequency after taking CBD.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can cause severe complications over time. These include cardiovascular disease, stroke, damage to the eyes and kidney disease.
Diabetes is also linked to inflammation, which can get worse as the disease progresses.
A 2009 study even found that CBD can stop at-risk mice from developing diabetes. Researchers believe that CBD may offer this protection against diabetes by boosting the immune system and decreasing inflammation.
Studies in both animals and humans have found that CBD can treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses related to psychosis.
A 2013 study found that CBD can help both the positive symptoms of schizophrenia (hallucinations, delusions) and the negative symptoms (lack of emotion, loss of social functioning).
Scientists believe that CBD may help treat schizophrenia by increasing anandamide, a cannabinoid that is naturally produced in the body and is decreased in people with schizophrenia.
CBD has also been found to be as effective as prescription antipsychotics in treating psychosis, with the added benefit of causing fewer side effects.
7. Alzheimer’s Disease
A 2017 study found that CBD can prevent the development of amyloid beta plaques, one of the biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study found that CBD can promote the growth of new brain cells that were lost from Alzheimer’s-related brain damage. The researchers also found that CBD can improve some of the cognitive deficits that are caused by Alzheimer’s.
Overall, scientists agree that CBD can help to treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but that more studies and clinical trials are needed.
8. Parkinson’s Disease
There is evidence that CBD can help to treat some of the complications and side effects of Parkinson’s disease.
A 2014 study found that CBD can alleviate sleep disturbances that can be caused by Parkinson’s disease.
Another study of Parkinson’s patients found that CBD can help treat Parkinson’s-related psychosis, with the added benefit that it doesn’t make motor symptoms worse.
A 2014 review concluded that CBD can likely improve quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
The evidence that CBD can treat acne is limited, but promising.
A 2014 study found that CBD applied to the skin can effectively reduce inflammation. Researchers also found that CBD can stop the production of sebum, an oil that is naturally produced by the body and can lead to the development of acne.
In 2016, the same team of researchers found that CBD can stop the development of acne, but that other cannabinoids like CBG and CBGv can actually increase it.
This means that people who are interested in using cannabis to treat acne should look for skin care products that primarily contain CBD.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes itchy, scaly patches of skin to appear on the body.
In a 2007 study, researchers looked at the potential for CBD to treat psoriasis. They found that CBD can block the spread of cells that are responsible for psoriasis patches.
CBD has also been found to act as an anti-inflammatory, meaning it has the potential to treat the redness and swelling that can also happen to skin affected by psoriasis.
Marijuana is commonly used in cancer treatment to reduce nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. But cannabinoids such as CBD may actually fight the cancer itself.
Current research suggests different cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, can prevent cancer cells from spreading in the body and also trigger cell death in cancer cells.
In a 2012 study, CBD was found to slow the formation of new blood vessels in tumors, which are needed to provide nutrients for growth. By slowing the formation of these blood vessels, CBD may also slow the growth of tumors.
Overall, there is not much research available on CBD and cancer, but early results are promising.
Marijuana is commonly used as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs to treat different forms of pain. Like over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol and Advil, the cannabinoids in marijuana can reduce inflammation.
A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that CBD can reduce the sensory perception and emotional effects of pain.
Research suggests that CBD can be effective for treating chronic pain, arthritis, and cancer-related pain.
Some evidence suggests that CBD is most effective in treating chronic and neuropathic pain, while it has limited use in treating short-term pain.
13. Heart Disease
Marijuana can cause increases in blood pressure and heart rate, which can result in cardiovascular problems. However, CBD might offer some protection against this.
In a 2010 study, CBD was found to protect cardiac cells when blood supply in the heart was blocked, such as during a heart attack. The researchers observed that CBD stopped arrhythmia in the heart, and reduced the extent of cardiac damage resulting from the lack of oxygen.
CBD may also reduce heart disease associated with diabetes. In a 2010 study, researchers found CBD could reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, scarring, and cell death in diabetic cardiomyopathy — a heart complication of diabetes.
In reviewing the effects of CBD on cardiac health, a 2013 paper stated that experimental data “appear[s] to support a positive role for CBD treatment in the heart.”
Many anecdotal reports suggest CBD may offer therapeutic benefits for people living with arthritis.
In a 2000 study, researchers looked at the role of CBD in an animal model of arthritis. They found that through its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects, CBD could block the progression of arthritis.
A 2017 study also suggests CBD has a role in treating arthritis. Using animal models of osteoarthritis, researchers found CBD can block pain and prevent nerve damage.
15. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The endocannabinoid system is believed to be involved in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This suggests that CBD and other cannabinoids which can target the endocannabinoid system may have potential in the treatment of IBD.
According to a 2011 study using animal models of Crohn’s disease, CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory drug that reduces symptoms of the condition.
A 2017 human trial found that CBD was safe, but not effective in managing symptoms of Crohn’s disease. While this finding was not promising, the researchers suggested it could be due to the small dose of 10 mg that was administered in the trial.
16. Bipolar Disorder
There is very limited research into whether CBD can help treat bipolar disorder, but some studies suggest that CBD may be able to provide mood stabilization.
CBD has been shown to help with anxiety and depression, which are usually experienced during the low phases of bipolar.
On the other hand, CBD may not be as helpful for manic phases. A small trial conducted in 2010 with two patients looked at the role of CBD in mania. Researchers found that CBD treatment did not improve acute manic episodes of bipolar.
But there is some evidence that CBD can protect against brain damage that can be caused by mania.
17. Liver Disease
Liver failure causes toxins to remain in the blood, which can then damage organs like the brain.
According to a 2011 study, CBD can reduce the extent of neurological damage and cognitive impairments caused by liver failure. In the study, CBD also restored liver function and normalized brain function.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause severe liver damage if left untreated. It is expensive to treat and the virus is sometimes resistant to drug treatments. A 2017 study found that CBD acts against hepatitis C, blocking replication of the virus by as much as 86.4%.
CBD may be able to help patients recover from a stroke, and may protect against brain damage in stroke patients.
In a 2012 study, researchers found CBD reduced two kinds of brain damage caused by a stroke in rats. The benefits were so significant that the outcome of the stroke group was comparable to the control group that did not have a stroke.
CBD may be superior to other cannabinoids in treating brain damage caused by stroke. In a 2007 study, researchers found that CBD had stronger neuroprotective effects than THC.
19. Multiple Sclerosis
Sativex, a prescription medication containing a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, can be used for treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
In a 2016 trial, patients with moderate to severe MS were found to have lower scores of spasticity-related symptoms when given Sativex, even if they were resistant to other drugs.
A 2017 study found CBD worked in an animal model of MS by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. The researchers also determined that CBD could activate an important biological pathway which is blocked in MS.
Many people with ADHD use cannabis to self-medicate their symptoms, and some studies suggest that whole-plant cannabis and Sativex can help treat ADHD.
On the other hand, not much research exists on the role of CBD in treating ADHD.
A single study published in 2012 looked into how CBD may affect hyperactivity. Researchers gave CBD to rats with ADHD-like symptoms, and found that CBD could improve hyperactivity and social interaction.
21. Sleep Disorders
Research in animal models suggests that CBD is effective in promoting wakefulness.
This effect may be related to CBD triggering increased dopamine levels in areas of the brain responsible for wakefulness.
This means CBD could someday play a role in promoting wakefulness in disorders causing excessive sleepiness, such as narcolepsy.
CBD may also benefit quality of sleep in certain disorders. In a 2016 case study, physicians observed that CBD improved the quality and quantity of sleep of a young patient with PTSD, likely due to its anxiety-relieving benefits.
22. Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries can have permanent life-altering effects, and currently there are no effective treatments available.
In a 2012 study using rats, researchers found that if CBD was applied immediately before a spinal cord injury, the animals were less likely to display problems with movement over the week following the injury.
Additionally, animals treated with CBD were found to have less extensive damage in their spinal cords. The results suggest that CBD aided in minimizing the extent of the damage and allowed for a better overall recovery from the injury.
Future research will reveal whether CBD can help human spinal cord injury patients, as well.
23. Traumatic Brain Injury
Current research suggests that CBD may be a potential candidate for future treatments of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Much like its neuroprotective effects that minimize damage in spinal cord injuries, CBD has neuroprotective effects in the brain.
Evidence from animal models indicates that CBD can protect neurons following an injury. CBD can also reduce the formation of scar tissue and may help regenerate neuronal axons.
24. Nicotine Addiction
Research has shown that CBD may be helpful in treating nicotine addiction.
In a 2013 study, 24 smokers were randomised to receive an inhaler of CBD or placebo for one week. They were instructed to use the inhaler whenever they felt a craving to smoke.
Over the course of one week, those receiving the placebo inhaler did not decrease the number of cigarettes they smoked while those taking the CBD inhaler reduced their number of cigarettes smoked by 40%.
25. Graft Versus Host Disease
In a study of 48 patients who underwent bone marrow transplant to treat a type of blood cancer, 300 mg/day of CBD was given orally from 7 days before transplant to 30 days after transplant.
Compared to a group of similar patients who did not receive CBD, the CBD-treated group were less likely to develop graft versus host disease (GvHD), a severe and serious complication of bone marrow transplant.