Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoid molecules produced by cannabis, second only to THC in abundance.
While THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and has certain medical uses, cannabidiol (CBD) is unique because it is both non-psychoactive, whilst also having a broad range of potential medical applications. Cannabidiol (CBD)l is found inside the resin glands (trichomes) of the female cannabis plant.
These chemical compounds are known as cannabinoids, or substrates that bind to special receptors in brain cells. These cell receptors make up a larger endocannabinoid system. The human body produces compounds similar to those in the cannabis plant, called endocannabinoids. Molecules found in cannabis are technically called phytocannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of cell receptor proteins with many functions. It controls everything from mood swings, cognition, movement, appetite, immune response, sleep, ovulation, and sperm development.
Certain receptors are heavily concentrated in the central nervous system. But, others are found all over the body. They’re in our skin, digestive tract, and even in our reproductive organs.
The brain contains large numbers of highly specialized cells called neurons. Each neuron connects to many others through structures called synapses. These are sites where one neuron communicates to another by releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.
When these compounds travel through our bloodstream and enter the brain, they influence brain activity by interacting with the appropriate receptors. Brain receptors are not only sensitive to neurotransmitters produced naturally within the brain, such as dopamine or serotonin, but also chemical messengers such as cannabinoids like THC or CBD.Cannabidiol (CBD) has the ability to influence a wide range of receptor systems in the body, including not only cannabinoid receptors, but a host of others.
It has been shown to exhibit anti-cancer, neuron-protective, anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It also has a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of disorders such as depression, anxiety and addictions. Cannabidiol (CBD) has also demonstrated its ability to provide a natural anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic and antipsychotic effect.
At the American Epilepsy Society meeting in Philadelphia, researchers presented the results of trials testing the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol. In the biggest study so far, the number of seizures went down by about half, on average, among children who completed the trial.
Benefits for some of the children who took part in the trial continued even after the study was over. Dr. Orrin Devinsky, the study’s lead author and a neurologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center reported:
“In the subsequent periods, which are very encouraging, 9% of all patients and 13% of those with Dravet Syndrome epilepsy were seizure-free. Many have never been seizure-free before.”
The data represent a significant step toward the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy, a syndrome that in both adults and children causes debilitating seizures and can be especially difficult to treat.
Interestingly in Devinsky’s three-month trial, 16% of participants withdrew due to adverse side effects or after deciding the treatment was ineffective.
In a year long study of 25 patients, one participant actually experienced more frequent seizures.
The method of administration was perhaps flawed in the studies as a far better rout would have been to administer less of the cannabidiol and apply the dosage rectally in the form of suppositories.
10 amazing medical uses for CBD that you may not know
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 24 smokers were randomly chosen to receive either an inhaler of CBD or a placebo. Participants who were taking CBD saw a nearly 40% drop in their intake. Using the inhaler decreased the number of cigarettes without increasing nicotine craving. Cannabidiol greatly assisted in the withdrawal process.
Skin disorders (Acne)
Researchers used cannabidiol on human sebaceous glands and came to the conclusion that CBD acts as a highly effective sebostatic and anti-inflammatory agent by inhibiting lipid synthesis.
In a study using CBD, the development of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice was prevented. Although there wasn’t a direct effect of cannabidiol on glucose levels, the treatment prevented the production of IL-12 by splenocytes. Preventing this cytokine is important because it plays a huge role in many autoimmune diseases.
Common treatments for fibromyalgia are anti-inflammatory medications, opioid pain medications and corticosteroids. A recent study focused on CBD treatment for fibromyalgia. Half of the 56 participants used CBD, while the other half used pharmaceutical medications. Those that used cannabis saw a reduction in their symptoms and pain, while those using traditional methods saw no improvement.
Prion / Mad Cow Disease
Prions are the proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob and mad cow disease. The formation and accumulation of prions was prevented with the aide of cannabidiol during a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2007. Whilst not initially impressive the results indicated a use for CBD in treating neurodegenerative diseases. The mice that were infected increased their survival time by about a week using CBD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
CBD is known to produce anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects by slowing everything down and calming the user. Those with PTSD are often overcome with anxiety and stress, so patients frequently find relief by using cannabidiol. The antipsychotic benefits provide a stable mental environment .
Despite contrary claims that cannabis causes schizophrenia, a 2012 study in the journal Translational Psychiatry reported how the potent antipsychotic Amisulpride and CBD were compared between 42 schizophrenia patients. The two treatments were deemed effective, but the short side-effect profile of CBD was preferable to the pharmaceutical option.
Scientists report that CBD can be an effective treatment for bowel diseases such as Crohn’s Disease. THC and CBD interact with the system that controls gut function in the body and cannabis’ anti-inflammatory action helps those suffering from this condition.
Scientists at the Cajal Institute used animal models and cell cultures to find that CBD reversed inflammatory responses and served as durable protection from the effects of multiple sclerosis.
In one of the biggest studies ever carried out on children with epilepsy it was found that incidents of seizure reduced by approximately 50% in all children who participated in the trial, with some reporting ongoing relief even after the trial finished.
CBD for Pets
There has been research carried out indicating the benefits of treating animals with CBD for a variety of illnesses. Early studies reveal that most vertebrates seem to have an endocannabinoid system. Many studies done on cannabinoids use animal models, with the experimentation often done on mice and rats, which share the endocannabinoid system with humans. Dogs and horses in particular respond well to CBD treatments.
Many companies have come out with cannabinoid products directed at pets. However, U.S. state medical marijuana laws don’t apply to animals. Veterinarians are not authorized to prescribe cannabis for pets, and the FDA does not approve cannabis based products for pets, going so far as to send warning letters to companies marketing the health benefits of these products.
Until recently, clinical trials involving cannabis have been almost non existent. As a federally controlled substance, the drug has been impossible to study except with government approval.
Fortunately there is renewed interest in medical cannabis, that prior to prohibition was used to treat over 100 separate illnesses.
As a direct result information about the efficacy of cannabis in treating various ailments is now slowly becoming more available.
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