Anti-addiction. Anti-epileptic. anti-inflammatory. The list of health benefits associated with Cannabidiol continues to grow greater and greater. One could even say that CBD is pro-health!
Since its discovery in 1940, CBD has remained mostly underground, overshadowed by its psychoactive cousin THC. In the past decade, though, that’s all changed, and scientists have realized that CBD has extensive healing properties.
The above index, derived from “CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis” by Leonard Leinow and Julian Birnbaum, shows just some of the diseases CBD may help with. To do so it draws from 8,000 Pubmed studies to identify accurate trends. Lower ratings reflect possible or probable efficacy, while high ratings reflect demonstrated efficacy. Of these listed diseases, we’ll go over eight for which CBD seems to be especially transformative.
CBD has shown great promise in fighting addiction. Most of this promise, however, is still in the form of anecdotal evidence, or limited to rodent studies. It’s theorized that CBD calms down overactive ‘reward pathways’ in the brain that develop during addiction.
Once these dopaminergic reward pathways are corrected, it’s much easier to move away from harmful behavioral patterns and form new ones. Many pain management doctors are having success using CBD to phase their patients out of opioid use and abuse.
In the future, CBD might even replace the use of suboxone and methadone in breaking opioid addiction! One can only hope, given how many millions people struggle with overcoming addiction once and for all.
Both CBD isolate and full spectrum extracts are effective at alleviating the effects of anxiety. Acute anxiety, in particular, responds well to high doses of CBD, and those impacted may do best using a vaporizer to overcome anxiety attacks. Others prefer to micro-dose, taking small amounts of CBD-oil consistently through the day.
Even people without diagnosable anxiety can feel more calm and peaceful while taking CBD. A recent psychiatric study - done on anxiety-free, healthy individuals - found that CBD reduces the anxiousness that usually occurs prior to public speaking.
In general, CBD’s anti-anxiolytic effects are among its most noticeable qualities, whether a person has clinical anxiety or not. Customers have also reported related mental health benefits, like less depression and a brighter outlook on life.
Autoimmune disease represents a vast field, including things like rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Nonetheless, CBD seems to be quite effective at alleviating the effects of most diseases in this category, most of which have inflammation at their roots. The endocannabinoids that CBD boosts are potent anti-inflammatories, after all.
Speaking of endocannabinoids, studies have shown that joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis contain elevated levels of Anandamide. Could it be that the body already ‘knows’ where extra assistance is needed, and communicates this need via the endocannabinoid system? Probably so, although Western medicine is yet to fully confirm this.
Moving to broader examples, CBD regulates T-cell activity which would otherwise be imbalanced in the case of most autoimmune diseases. As one study said: “the breakdown of mechanisms assuring the recognition of self and non-self is a hallmark feature of autoimmune diseases”. CBD may help restore these T-cell mediated mechanisms, allowing for normalized immunity as a result.
CBD is anti-proliferative by nature, so it makes sense that it would have cancer-fighting properties. CBD has been shown to help the body produce ceramide, a lipid that aids in the selective destruction of cancer cells. The extent of these properties, however, is yet to be discovered.
It’s likely that CBD is particularly effective against some forms of cancers, and probably not-so-effective against others. Breast cancer, for example, responds best to different cannabinoids depending on if it’s estrogen-positive.
What we do know, with some certainty at least, is that CBD needs to be taken at very high doses to combat tumor growth. Those with cancer should consider using CBD oil in conjunction with a CBD-rich topical. Some may need more than 5 milligrams CBD per kilogram of bodyweight, per day (see our Dosing Guide for more info).
Many people who take CBD for the first time get an unexpected surprise: their blood sugar is normal again! CBD acts as a potent anti-inflammatory, which in turn allows the body to regain its natural sensitivity to insulin. CBD also promotes liver health, and it’s the liver that stores carbohydrates and secretes insulin, so these correlations do make sense.
Once a person is insulin sensitive, their blood sugar can be kept within its correct range. Some diabetics experience such an improvement from CBD that they are practically forced to lower exogenous insulin use.
CBD may be very effective at reducing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). That said, Israeli studies on the subject show that it may take awhile - so it’s important that dosage be consistent for at least two or three weeks. Those with irritable bowel syndrome tend to respond best to moderate amounts of CBD taken daily, especially in the form of CBD edibles.
CBDa, the raw form of the cannabinoid, has demonstrated antibacterial properties that likely make it just as effective against IBS as CBD itself. Ancient cultures often ate hemp raw - and they probably did so for a good reason.
Keep in mind that these qualities of CBD also make it excellent for generalized gut health, too. In the past decade the importance of probiotics, and then prebiotics, has breached mainstream culture. Could it be that CBD will be the next big thing in this area?
Simply put, CBD is great for pain relief. It’s unique in that it blocks the perception of pain - called nociception - and the cause of pain itself, inflammation.
By acting on the CB1 receptor of nerve cells (and even communicating with other systems like TRPV1) CBD ‘dims down’ pain signals. At the same time, its effects on the immune system and inflammation mean less gets damaged in the first place.
While CBD effectively reduces pain, high doses may be required to do so. A hemp topical can be used to reduce localized pain, but consistent use of CBD oil is probably most important. Some people may need close to 5 mg/kg daily to experience full relief! High dosing like this can be ramped up to slowly over time.
The endocannabinoid system has been described by pioneering researcher Vincenzo di Marzo as allowing us to “relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect”.
When it comes to helping those with PTSD, keep in mind that neuroplasticity will be a major factor. Neuroplasticity refers to how the brain is able to adapt and restructure itself throughout life, and holds the key to getting those with PTS closer to their pre-trauma state.
In other words, those with PTSD need to forget - theoretically at least. Thankfully, CBD helps with this! Countless amounts of veterans are flocking to the hemp plant for this very reason.
As a collective, our minds are already adaptive and permeable. CBD simply accentuates this process, and works in tandem with CB1 receptors in the brain to heighten beneficial feedback loops and quiet down detrimental ones. If this seems a little extreme, don’t be alarmed: the concept is firmly rooted in the latest research studies.
CBD as A Health Supplement
While this list is fairly comprehensive, keep in mind that it doesn’t include everything. Cannabidiol continues to surprise us. It’s likely that any illness linked to endocannabinoid deficiency will respond well to CBD.
Also remember that neuroprotection (which in this case means CBD’s ability to protect the nervous system from damage and stress) is one of the plant compound’s overarching qualities. So much so, that some pain management doctors have postulated that CBD might be an excellent supplement to take before surgery.
Neuroprotectives go hand in hand with antioxidants almost inherently, meaning that CBD and its internal equivalents actively fight oxidative stress. Here’s an excerpt from our article on Endocannabinoids which elaborates on this unique pairing:
Endocannabinoids, as it turns out, actively ‘quench’ the metabolic dangers of free radicals. They do this largely by boosting the production of yet another helpful endogenous molecule, a ‘master antioxidant’ called glutathione. eCB’s are among the most effective ways to boost glutathione - even more potent than vitamin C!
The US government agrees, too, having stated that “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties...useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases…” when they applied for a research patent on the subject in 1999.
These antioxidant properties make CBD just as effective as a preventative measure than anything else. Those who have a family history of chronic disease might consider taking CBD for this reason alone, if for no other. The same goes for people who’ve discovered genetic predispositions through testing.
And even if you have an illness not listed on the Cannabis Health Index, you can still have hope. There’s still so much more research to be done. On the other hand, don’t be deterred if your health problem is listed but only scored at a few stars. Inconclusive results may just mean that studies have been too limited in their scope or dosing methods. As collective sample sizes grow, so will our ability to gauge who might respond best to CBD - and how to best get them there.