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The Many Medical Uses of CBD

Medical Uses for CBD

By Anique Ali, M.D.

What is CBD?

CBD or Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis. CBD is one of more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids,” which are unique to cannabis and give it its medicinal properties.

When we talk of cannabis, what first comes to mind is the ‘high’ or intoxicating effect that is associated with it which makes it a recreational drug; but what we need to understand is that this recreational effect of cannabis is due to another compound present in it called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). When we extract pure CBD rom the cannabis plant, the intoxicating effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are no longer there and we are able to use it as a purely medicinal drug. Extensive research has gone into this compound CBD and its use as a medicine. CBD has certain neuroprotective mechanisms and also has anti-cancer properties.

How does CBD work?

There are certain cannabinoids which are produced naturally in our body. CBD works by mimicking the effects of these endogenously produced cannabinoids. Thus, CBD works by its effects on the Endocannabinoid system of the body. The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes that affect our everyday experience – our mood, our energy level, our intestinal fortitude, immune activity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more. The endocannabinoid system not only plays an important part in the nervous system but in all the systems of the body as a whole. So, CBD works to normalize the endocannabinoid system which gets disrupted in the state of disease. Some diseases in which CBD is extensively being used include epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

 

Uses of CBD

Decreases Anxiety

The anticholinergic effects of CBD go a long way in helping people with anxiety. The manifestations of anxiety which CBD can help include tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate), perspiration, blackouts, and panic attacks.

This advantage of CBD has also been proven by studies and trials. In one study, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received either 600 mg of CBD or a placebo before a public speaking test. The group that received the CBD had significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance, compared to the placebo group

Role in Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the tendency to have unprovoked seizures. A seizure or convulsion can be defined as the occurrence of signs and symptoms due to excessive or abnormal synchronous activity in the brain. During a seizure, a person may have an impairment or loss of consciousness, behavioral abnormalities, sensory disturbances, abnormal motor activity, or autonomic dysfunction. CBD has a proven role in decreasing the frequency of fits in epilepsy. It is replacing the conventional epilepsy medications due to its very few side effects.

Pain relief

Cannabis extract has been used for pain management since 2900 BC. Many researchers have found CBD to be the compound that plays a crucial role in how our body copes with pain. As explained earlier, the endocannabinoid system modulates the threshold of pain felt and perceived by our brain. Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by binding to endocannabinoid receptors in our body, thus reducing the production of neurotransmitters required for generation of pain signals.

Some researchers have found CBD and THC to be effective for treating pain in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. A study published on use of Sativex - an oral spray containing CBD and THC combination - by multiple sclerosis patients revealed improvements in pain and muscle spasms proving yet another potential use for CBD.

Neuroprotective effect

One of the most researched benefits of CBD is its role in neurological disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. For example, a study of 214 people suffering of epilepsy showed a decrease in seizure activity compared to control group by 35%. CBD has proven to be helpful in improving quality of life and sleep for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Prevention of obesity

Dietary modification with CBD oil and butter has been found to actively work as an appetite suppressant, directly hitting those growing waistlines, and controlling the unnecessary ingestion of food. Fat browning process is also accelerated by the use of CBD oil in the diet, which in turn is preventing the inessential buildup of fat in the body avoiding obesity.

CBD benefits for diabetics

Years of therapeutic research primarily showing to improve control of blood sugar in this metabolic disorder, where no system of the body goes unaffected, CBD benefits the body in the following ways:

●     Reduces inflammation

With a well-established link between chronic inflammation; a biological immune response primarily in the blood vessels, and insulin resistance; a key mechanism in prediabetes and type II DM where normals cells fail to respond to insulin stimulus, the anti-inflammatory trait of CBD directly benefits the arteries by reducing the inflammation and improving circulation in all parts of the body including the major systems like renal and gastrointestinal system.

CBD significantly reduces the level of inflammatory cytokines and other immune products that promote the process of inflammation.

●     Fights atherosclerosis

Diabetics are also at an increased risk of developing Atherosclerosis; a plaque buildup in the arteries restricting the blood circulation, infecting the area supplied. This phenomenon also puts the diabetics at an increased risk of stroke. CBD has shown the delay in this process too.

●     Decreases Insulin resistance

With the clinical trials conducted so far, CBD oil has shown to reduce insulin resistance, which is a pathological process that basically is responsible for uncontrolled glucose level in people suffering from type II diabetes. Resultantly, the body’s own insulin bonds with the cells and is capable of doing what it is supposed to do.

●     Stimulates pancreas for insulin release

Cannabidiol (CBD) acts on the endocannabinoid system in body. This system has its own set of receptors for CBD that mediate its various effects. The increasing insulin resistance decrease the ability of β-cells of the pancreas to produce insulin in body and hence in the later years of diabetes mellitus type 2, the absolute insulin deficiency develops. CBD has shown to stimulate β-cells of the pancreas to ramp-up the insulin production

Anti Hypertensive

CBD has a vasodilator effect, it improves the blood circulation by preventing narrowing of arteries. This effect is beneficial for controlling systemic blood pressure and effective in reducing dosage of anti-hypertensive medications.

Speeds up the healing process

A drug that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties will eventually speed up the process of healing of any wound, especially for a diabetic with a complication as destructive as amputation. Topical application of CBD oil significantly reduces the generalized body itching and burning sensation in extremities. CBD also aids in the process of muscle recovery after heavy workouts and other strenuous physical activity.

Other uses

The antispasmodic property in CBD helps with muscle cramps and gastrointestinal disorders caused by this chronic illness. CBD oil being used in a vaporizer, as another route of administration, is used for the treatment and prevention of restless leg syndrome.

Acne and rashes, have been seen to heal by the use of CBD as a topical cream.

Conclusion

It has been proven that CBD receptors are naturally found throughout the human body: in the brain, nervous system, and many other important sites. This shows that cannabidiol has an excellent safety and tolerability profile in humans. The topical and dietary forms of administration of CBD being available for easier use by the people suffering from a variety of disorders. CBD, with its increasing clinical trials and evidence accumulating in favor of its healing properties, can soon be a part of the lifestyle and drug regime that people can conveniently follow.

 

 

References:

Chagas, M. H. N., Eckeli, A. L., Zuardi, A. W., Pena-Pereira, M. A., Sobreira-Neto, M. A., Sobreira, E. T., … Crippa, J. A. S. (2014). Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinsons disease patients: a case series. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 39(5), 564–566. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12179

Devinsky, O., Marsh, E., Friedman, D., Thiele, E., Laux, L., Sullivan, J., … Cilio, M. R. (2016). Cannabidiol in patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy: an open-label interventional trial. The Lancet Neurology, 15(3), 270–278. doi: 10.1016/s1474-4422(15)00379-8

Hill, K. P., Palastro, M. D., Johnson, B., & Ditre, J. W. (2017). Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 2(1), 96–104. doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0017

Jourdan, T., Godlewski, G., & Kunos, G. (2016). Endocannabinoid regulation of β-cell functions: implications for glycaemic control and diabetes. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 18(6), 549–557. doi: 10.1111/dom.12646

Prenderville, J. A., Kelly, Á. M., & Downer, E. J. (2015). The role of cannabinoids in adult neurogenesis. British Journal of Pharmacology, 172(16), 3950–3963. doi: 10.1111/bph.13186

Richey, J. M., & Woolcott, O. (2017). Re-visiting the Endocannabinoid System and Its Therapeutic Potential in Obesity and Associated Diseases. Current Diabetes Reports, 17(10). doi: 10.1007/s11892-017-0924-x

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