The therapeutic role of CBD in enhancing psychological well being
Historically, CBD was always a vital ingredient in medicine. The Chinese medicine armamentarium mentioned it 4,000 years ago, while ancient Indian Ayurveda has several uses for the plant. And until the late 1800s, doctors were regularly prescribing cannabis to patients. Then came the backlash against marijuana as a demon drug. Popular sentiment chilled support for medical marijuana. But, things have changed over the past 40 years. The cannabis movement is gaining widespread support, with 90 percent of Americans endorsing legalization.
Therefore, as the consensus amongst experts grows, the modern world is slowly discovering the full potential of this plant. Even celebrities are using CBD for various reasons. Kim Kardashian uses it as a relaxant. Bubba Watson swears it helps him nod off, while even Martha Stewart approves. The support for CBD has helped it grow into a flourishing American industry that may hit the $16 billion mark by 2025.
But, what is CBD?
Cannabidiol is an active ingredient in marijuana. It is a vital component of medical marijuana that does not cause a “high,” unlike THC. This quality makes CBD a viable option for patients looking for chronic pain management without the side effects. From oils, edibles, and breath sprays, CBD marketing is taking over the room.
What are the claims?
Several studies show small structural changes in the brains of CBD users. So scientists know that using CBD affects the brain, but they do not understand how it impacts the brain. The scientific studies backing up these claims are few. Scientists have to jump through several hoops to get approval for research. However, emerging evidence suggests that CBD has several therapeutic avenues.
Several thousands of people suffer from crippling anxiety that has devastating impacts on health and well-being. While many people opt for different forms of vape to stop smoking, most are prescribed medication by their healthcare providers. However, pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety have several side effects. The most common problems are drowsiness, insomnia, and headaches. So, people think of CBD as a miracle cure for anxiety disorders because it does not have extreme side effects.
Let us see how science supports this claim. According to one study in 2015, CBD interacts with fear and anxiety-regulating receptors in the brain. The authors found evidence to suggest that CBD may be effective against generalized anxiety disorders. Another study conducted in 2020 also evaluated the effect of CBD on 397 adults living in New Zealand. Patients suffering from anxiety and depression reported significant improvements in their quality of life after receiving CBD treatment.
However, the studies had considerable discrepancies in CBD doses, and many of these studies also have small sample sizes. Furthermore, evidence from other studies has not been encouraging. A double-blind study found that administrating CBD to volunteers had no change in their reaction to unpleasant images. These issues highlight the overwhelming need for more rigorous studies on CBD therapy.
Neurological disorders and epilepsy:
CBD has several benefits for neurological disorders. Several studies suggest that CBD decreases the frequency and severity of seizures. Sativex is an oral spray consisting of CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol. A 2014 research found that using the spray reduced spasms in 75 percent of the sample size. The sample consisted of multiple sclerosis patients with muscle spasticity resistant to medical intervention. Furthermore, evidence from a study on children with Dravet syndrome suggests that CBD oil significantly reduced seizure activity. But, it is vital to note that a small section of the sample in both studies also experienced adverse reactions to CBD treatment.
Research on the effectiveness of CBD intervention on other neurological diseases is also promising. For example, one study shows that CBD improves the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients Animal studies on the relationship between CBD and Alzheimer’s disease are also propitious. One such study showed a direct relation between CBD and the prevention of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
The government also tested the effects of CBD on rare, severe forms of epilepsy in three randomized clinical trials. Resultantly, 2018 was a turning point for CBD legalization. The Federal Drug Authority approved Epidiolex, a CBD extract, to treat rare seizure disorders.
Depression and anxiety are the most pervasive mental health conditions. More than 17.3 million American adults are diagnosed with depression each year. It has several underlying causes, from chemical to emotional problems. While doctors usually prescribe pharmaceutical drugs for people suffering from depression, it is a double-edged sword. Many of these drugs have debilitating side effects such as sleeplessness and mood swings. Therefore, scientists are researching alternative therapy for depression.
For many, CBD oil is gaining popularity as a possible solution for depression. CBD causes fewer side effects and reacts positively with serotonin receptors that impact emotional states. However, most of the evidence for the efficacy of CBD in depression comes from animal-based research. One 2014 review observed several animal studies show improvement in depressive activity in animals injected with CBD. Another review published in Frontiers in Immunology indicated that CBD is not as addictive as other medications. Therefore, it may become a viable alternative for depression medicines in the future.
While limited clinical trials have explored the relationship between depression and CBD, a 2019 study examined the use of cannabis-based medicine for depression. While most depression medicines take weeks to affect patients, the study found cannabis-based interventions worked fast and had a sustained effect.
But, these studies are small and inconsistent as existing CBD research contains multiple small trials with conflicting results. Furthermore, meta-analyses of these studies include marijuana and a mix of THC and CBD compounds in varying amounts. Doctors have also expressed concern that patients may consider CBD a replacement for antidepressant medications.
Scientists are researching the relation between CBD and sleep disorders. Cannabidiol has a calming effect that may help treat sleeping difficulties.
Sleep is critical for mental health and well-being. However, more than one-third of Americans do not get enough sleep at night. Insomnia patients may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Most insomniacs feel like they are in a vicious circle. Their disorder causes anxiety which increases sleeplessness.
Sleep deprivation has a well-established link with the development of depression and stress. Fortunately, CBD can help treat the external causes of sleeplessness, such as chronic pain and anxiety.
A 2019 research looked at the relationship between sleep and CBD. The study found that subjects who ingested CBD capsules reported lower anxiety levels and better sleep. Chronic pain may also interrupt sleep problems and affect mental health. Fortunately, research has proved that CBD is very effective in soothing pain. A 2018 review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology noted that CBD has a significant effect on pain and sleep disorders.
In REM sleep disorders, patients make aggressive movements during the REM stage of the sleep cycle. This disorder is common in patients with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Mercifully, landmark research in Parkinson’s patients demonstrates that CBD yields promising results. Patients who took CBD reported sleeping longer.
The data exploring the effect of CBD on sleep is severely limited. However, academic interest in CBD as a possible sleep-aiding drug is growing. New research will help us assess the efficacy and safety of CBD therapy for insomnia patients.
Is CBD safe?
While using CBD in small and slow doses is safe, doctors do not know the correct dosage. Side effects in Epidiolex trials included diarrhea, sleepiness, and fatigue. Pregnant women and children should also refrain from using CBD to avoid complications in the future. Doctors also warn against believing unsubstantiated claims hailing CBD as a miracle cure. Another cause for concern is that CBD products can contain unknown elements. This is primarily attributed to poor quality manufacturers of the product. Exposure to these additional ingredients may prove hazardous and fatal. Therefore it is important to carefully check the brand for purity and quality control issues. In conclusion, small amounts of pure CBD are safe for most people and care must be taken when purchasing it from a CBD online store.
People have been using CBD for centuries. But, the medical use of CBD was discouraged until 1996. It was not until 2015 when the consensus around CBD began to shift. Several celebrities, such as Mandy Moore and Willie Nelson, talked about using CBD to reduce stress and alleviate pain. While CBD may have some benefits, studies backing up these claims are few and far between. Most CBD-centered research is embryonic as scientists hurry to catch up to evolving public opinion. However, one thing is clear that the future of CBD will depend on facts, not fiction.