As cannabis has gained greater social acceptance in recent years, there’s also been renewed interest in its therapeutic potential. One compound derived from the plant that is particularly noteworthy is cannabidiol or CBD. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives cannabis users the high, CBD is non-psychoative. While that alone doesn’t make CBD a promising therapeutic substance, there has been growing evidence to support its use as a treatment aid for various health conditions. As is often the case with emerging natural treatments, some of the health benefits of CBD may be exaggerated, while the risks could be downplayed. Here’s a closer look at what we really know.
5 Potential Uses of Cannabidiol
- Natural Pain Relief
There is a growing acceptance that chronic pain and inflammation play a major role in various chronic health conditions. Treatment can be complicated because of the risks associated with OTC and prescription drugs for pain management. This has pushed researchers to find natural and safer alternatives, with the opioid epidemic only adding to the urgency of their quest. Some studies suggest that CBD may be that alternative. Findings published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggest that cannabidiol may be a viable treatment for inflammatory and neuropathic pain. While more research is needed, this is not the only study to recommend CBD and some also support its use in pain that is difficult to treat with conventional medications.
- Natural Anti-Depressant
Depression and anxiety disorders affect an estimated 1 in 5 Americans, severely impairing quality of life. What’s even more worrying is that trends show that these numbers are only rising. While pharmaceutical drugs continue to play in important role and can help significantly, they are also associated with a variety of side effects. Some are also addictive, further aggravating the problem. This is where CBD is most promising. Research shows us that CBD can lower anxiety levels and reduce cognitive impairment. These CBD benefits are now linked with the substance’s effect on serotonin receptors in the brain.
- Cancer Treatment Aid
Cannabidiol is not a miracle cure for cancer, but what we do know, suggests that it could have a role to play in treatment. At the very least, CBD can work as an adjunct therapy that reduces and relieves side effects of cancer treatments. Aside from providing symptom relief however, CBD may also help to actually fight cancer. Some studies indicate that the combination of CBDs with radiotherapy may improve survival rates. Others have found evidence that CBD could help to restrict the spread of cancer cells, possibly facilitating their destruction.
- Neuroprotective Effects
CBD has been closely investigated for its neuroprotective benefits that could help in the management of neurological conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s. One study found that the cannabinoid compound could reduce muscle spasms in MS patients, while another study found that it helped lower the frequency of seizures in epileptic patients. Researchers believe that these benefits may result from CBD’s action on brain pathways like the endocannabinoid system. Findings that CBD may help prevent cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease could also be connected to its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Potential De-addiction Treatment
While some experts do have concerns about cannabis addiction, especially psychological dependence, CBD itself may help in de-addiction treatment. Although more research is needed, the evidence so far is promising. One study recorded reduced nicotine cravings in smokers when they used CBD containing inhalers, while the other suggested benefits for those battling opioid addiction. These benefits may be connected with CBD’s beneficial effects on anxiety, pain, and insomnia, which are common withdrawal symptoms.
Side Effects of Cannabidiol
Although generally regarded as safe, cannabidiol is not free of all risk of side effects. There’s a lot that we still do not know and more long-term safety data is needed. CBD use has been found to cause diarrhea, appetite changes, and fatigue in some individuals. While those side effects may be minor, you should exercise caution, as it is also known to interact with other drugs. CBD-containing products have only been approved by the FDA for the treatment of 2 types of epilepsy, so it is advisable that you speak to your health care provider before trying any CBD-containing product.
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