Is CBD Oil Really a Health Miracle? Here's What Science Says

Just a few years ago, chances are you didn't even know what CBD oil was. Now, it's all over the media and widely available in a number of forms. Research shows promise in using CBD oil to treat a number of health conditions ranging from chronic pain to anxiety, diabetes, cancer, and more.

The CBD oil boom has no doubt been facilitated by states across the country beginning to legalize both medical and recreational. However, it's important to note that CBD is not the same as THC. THC is the part of marijuana that gives you a high feeling. CBD does not cause this sensation and can actually be used to counteract the effects of THC.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of the hundreds of active compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant better known as marijuana. CBD oil is made by extracting that cannabinoid from the plant and diluting it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. The oil is derived by applying pressure to the plant.

The oil can be taken directly under the tongue, added to a tincture to make it more palatable, or when added to other ingredients, can be vaped. Other CBD based products such as CBD isolate, can be added to recipes to make a variety of CBD edibles.

How Does CBD Work in the Body?

Just like we have a central nervous system, a digestive system, and an endocrine system, and many others throughout our body working to keep us running, there is an endocannabinoid system, or ECS, that has receptors for CBD. These receptors are found in the cells. 2009 research in Neuroendocrinology Letters shows that the ECS involved in regulating several bodily functions including appetite, sleep, immune response, and pain response.

Our body naturally produces endocannabinoids. These neurotransmitters bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. These neurotransmitters interact with receptors found on Cell surfaces through our body to instruct cells and even change how they react to other neurotransmitters. 

Because everyone's endocannabinoid system is different, with some producing more natural endocannabinoids than others, getting the right dose takes a bit of time.

Research is Ongoing

In a 2019 study published in Permanente Journal, CBD may provide benefits for anxiety-related disorders. In the study, anxiety scores decreased and remained decrease during the study duration. Sleep scores improved within the first month but fluctuated over time. CBD was tolerated well in all but three of the 72 participants. Controlled clinical studies are needed. 

In a 2017 update study on the safety and side effects of CBD in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, it was determined that the majority of the studies in the review were used to address psychotic disorders and epilepsy. In these situations, the most commonly reported side effects were changes in appetite/weight, tiredness, and diarrhea. 

However, when compared to the side effects of the most commonly used treatments for these conditions, CBD offers the better side effect profile. The study indicates that while it may be helpful, additional studies to monitor effects on hormones are needed, in addition to studies with more participation and longer chronic CBD consumption.

In an August 2000 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, rats with collagen-induced arthritis were given CBD every day. The study indicated that CBD’s immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions give it an anti-arthritic effect. It is one of many rat studies that support this claim, though it is one of the oldest studies of its kind. While additional human studies are needed, many people report relief from arthritis pain when using a topical CBD cream directly on the joint that’s causing pain.

The best CBD oil on the market has also shown promise as a treatment for various types of anxiety as well as depression. A small scale study showed that a 300 mg dose of CBD oil was more effective than a 150 mg or 600 mg dose at relieving anxiety associated with public speaking. 

Several animal studies indicate that CBD may act on serotonin receptors to produce anti-depressant like effects. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and social behavior.

Beyond this, CBD has also been shown to help with insomnia and anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 91% of study participants said they, experienced a decrease in their PTSD symptom severity, with an average reduction of 28 % after eight weeks of treatment. The CBD was generally well-tolerated, with no patients discontinuing treatment due to side effects. The CBD also offered relief to a subset of patients who reported frequent nightmares as a symptom of their PTSD.

CBD also exhibits anti-cancer properties and may help with the side effects of standard cancer treatments. CBD may ease nausea, vomiting, and pain often experienced during chemotherapy. 

A study that compared the effects of THC and CBD to just the effects of CBD found that those who received the combination of THC and CBD, rather than just CBD, didn’t experience as much pain relief. The patients in the study were those that did not experience any relief with common pain medications.

There is plenty of science out there to support CBD oil as an effective treatment for a wide range of conditions. The key is continuing to conduct research so we can arrive at standardized doses for each one, making it as easy as possible for people to treat themselves with natural remedies. 

In the meantime, start with a small dose and watch how your body responds before increasing. Always speak with your doctor before getting started because it may interact with certain medications you’re already taking. Don’t swap CBD products or brands once you find something that works because not all products are the same from one brand to the next.