With stories about the positive potential health benefits of medical marijuana - and more specifically cannabidiol (CBD) - entering the mainstream, CBD products are experiencing a major upsurge in popularity world-wide. CBD enthusiasts claim that the benefits and effects of hemp plants extracts include everything from helping them cope with anxiety disorders to relieving the symptoms of chronic pain and inflammation. Often without the long term side effects associated with pharmaceuticals.
But are these claims purely anecdotal or is there any scientific evidence from medical studies and clinical trials to backup CBD benefits and effects? If CBD, for instance CBD oil, is so good at helping to relieve so many different symptoms and illnesses, how does it work? What exactly are the effects of CBD and what exactly are the health benefits of a daily dose of CBD?
Read on to find out more about the body’s very own system for interacting with cannabinoids. uWeed will also tell you how CBD works in the body, as well as the various CBD benefits and effects of taking cannabis oil and more to help treat a variety of different ailments.
CBD oil effects and benefits on the endocannabinoid system
The ECS is made up of three different components: the CB-1 and CB-2 cannabinoids receptors, endocannabinoids (cannabinoids our bodies produce), and the enzymes which help to metabolize cannabinoids. All of these work together to create a perfect balance between the different biological and physiological systems within the body. And when the ECS doesn’t work properly, neither do the body’s systems, causing many of the illnesses and symptoms that we experience.
To understand how phytocannabinoids like CBD interact with the body, it is useful to first understand the fundamentals of how the messages are sent throughout the body, and how the ECS works.
Understanding neural signalling’s role in CBD effects
The body has a highly complex neurological and biochemical system that sends messages from one part of the body to another by means of something called electrochemical signalling. When a neuron is stimulated, it generates an electrical response (or message) which then needs to be sent further down the neural pathway.
Once this message reaches the bottom of the neuron, it triggers the release of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) which allow one neuron to speak to another neuron. In turn, these chemical messages generates a response by the parts of the body in which those neurons are located.
To make sure that the messages being sent do not get confusing, neurotransmitters can only bind to certain types of receptors in cells. Think of it in terms of a lock and key where one specific key is only being able to open one specific lock. So too does a specific neurotransmitter only bind to specific receptors before the neural signal can be passed along the neural pathway.
How cannabinoids receptors contribute to CBD effects and benefits
Cannabinoid receptors are one such “lock” to which cannabinoids (the key) bind in order to send messages throughout the various parts of the body. Cannabinoid receptors form a fundamental part of the ECS, and are distributed throughout the brain and nervous system, the digestive system, immune system, and limbic system to name but a few.
To date, two cannabinoid receptors have been found: the CB-1 receptor and the CB-2 receptor.
CB-1 receptors are predominant in the brain and central nervous system but are also present in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys regulating appetite and digestion, motor control and even in reducing drug seeking behaviours. Scientists also believe that, when cannabinoids bind with CB-1 receptors, it can help to reduce pain and inflammation, anxiety and aggression as well as short-term depression.
CB-2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system but also the spleen, tonsils, thymus gland, and even retinal cells. Because of this scientist theorize that CB-2 receptors are involved with immune function and response, making these of particular interest in treating gastrointestinal illnesses which are caused by intestinal inflammatory responses (e.g. Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, and ulcerative colitis).
Cannabinoids and CBD positive effects and benefits
Cannabinoids are special types of chemical messengers or neurotransmitters which bind specifically to the cannabinoid receptors found in the bodies of all vertebrates. Commonly there are three types of cannabinoids; those produced by our bodies called endocannabinoids; those produced by plants which are called phytocannabinoids; and synthetic cannabinoids which are produced in the lab.
When cannabinoids act as neurotransmitters, they become quite special. This is because, unlike most other neurotransmitters which only send signals down the neural pathway, cannabinoids act as retrograde neurotransmitters which also allow signals to go back up the same neural pathway. Because of this, they have the ability to modulate messages between cells, basically working like a “dimmer switch” by telling the “sender” cells to turn down the signal.
It is this ability of cannabinoids to act as retrograde neurotransmitters that is one of the reasons why cannabinoids such as CBD is so effective in helping people experience reduced pain, inflammation, decrease seizure activity as well as reduced feelings of anxiety and stress.
Metabolic enzymes and their role in CBD effects and benefits
Unlike other types of neurotransmitters, cannabinoids do not stick around, nor are they stored for later use. This is one of the reasons why overdosing on cannabinoids is almost impossible. Instead, metabolic enzymes are responsible for breaking down excess cannabinoids, helping to maintain a state of homeostasis. To date, two major endocannabinoid enzymes having been identified to date. These are Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
The entourage effect is critical in defining CBD effects and benefits
The cannabis plant contains over 400 chemical compounds, consisting of amongst other things, cannabinoids and terpenes. The entourage effect is the theory that these compounds work together in a synergistic way, with the sum of the total being greater than the parts. Simply put, scientists believe that all these compounds work better together than each compound would do on its own.
Currently there are two main classes of entourage effect; cannabinoid-cannabinoid and cannabinoid-terpene.
The cannabinoid-cannabinoid (CBD) entourage effects and benefits
Cannabinoid-Cannabinoid entourage effect synergies are widely reported in the scientific literature, with the interaction between CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) being the most widely studied.
For instance, evidence suggests that THC with CBD reduces many of the unpleasant side-effects associated with psychoactive effects of THC when used on its own. Similarly, using CBD with THC is a more effective treatment of symptoms such as spasticity, neuropathic and central pain in multiple sclerosis patients, while clinical trials showed an increased therapeutic and anti-cancer effect when used together are greater than for each alone.
The terpene-cannabinoid (CBD) entourage effects and benefits
Things get a bit less definitive when it comes to Cannabinoid-Terpene interactions. Despite many people believing that cannabinoids and terpenes work together synergistically, there is surprisingly little research that has been done to support this idea. However, this does not mean that the effect is not present. For instance, linalool is a known sedative while myrcene is an analgesic and muscle relaxant. Why would these terpenes not help to amplify these qualities of cannabinoids when used together?
CBD benefits and CBD oil effects for various medical conditions
CBD is probably one of the most researched cannabinoids for the treatment of a variety of different symptoms and illnesses. And there is a growing body of evidence that suggests CBD is an effective treatment option for a range of different ailments, ranging from serious conditions such as epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, to the less conditions such as acne.
Here we discuss a few of the symptoms evidence suggests CBD can be an effective treatment option for.
CBD oil effects and benefits against pain and inflammation
When the body is injured, several different types of compounds are released to not only send a pain signal, but it also releases compounds called prostanoids. One type of prostanoid are prostaglandins which are thought to be responsible for inflammation. Analgesics and anti-inflammatories like CBD work by inhibiting the release of these chemical compounds, potentially making it powerful alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
CBD oil effects and benefits against acne
Research has shown that CBD can help to reduce the overproduction of skin oils (sebum) while helping to reduce inflammation. But what is more as that CBD is also thought to lower the production of a specific type of sebum that is thought to be specifically responsible for the formation of acne.
CBD oil effects and benefits against addictions and alcoholism
Scientist found that, because CBD interacts with the same neuroreceptors that many addiction causing drugs such as opioids, nicotine and amphetamines do, it can help treat addiction. CBD not only has the ability to reduce the “reward effects” addicts feel during intoxication, but it can also help them deal with symptoms of withdrawal such as nausea, cramping, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.
CBD oil effects and benefits against anxiety
CBD has been shown to target the same serotonin receptor type that is often targeted by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft. Just like SSRIs, researchers found that CBD works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, helping brain cells transmit more serotonin signals. In turn this reduces the symptoms of anxiety disorders and relieve depression, while boosting overall mood.
CBD oil effects and benefits against Crohn’s disease
Because the cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, treatments are primarily focussed around symptom relief and reducing inflammation. CBD is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory with a review study showing that it is a highly promising therapy for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease.
CBD oil effects and benefits against Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is a type of immune system disorder which destroys pancreatic cells that leads to an inability to produce insulin and in the long term, pancreatic damage. Because cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the immune system, CBD is thought to help with relieving autoimmune conditions. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, this animal study showed that CBD reduces both the inflammation caused by the invasion of immune cells as well as also reducing the overall occurrence of the disease. While this is not proof and more human studies are needed, the preliminary evidence shows promise.
CBD oil effects and benefits against erectile dysfunction
Although CBD is now becoming popular in sexual lubricants to help increase sensation, CBD has also been shown to help with the treatment of erectile dysfunction. When there is less blood flow to the penis and tissue damage present, a build-up of a toxin called dioxin occurs. Amongst the many other effects of CBD, it also has the ability to flush dioxin from the body, helping to restore function. Similarly, a recent study showed that endocannabinoids might also play an important role in orgasm, sexual response cycle and potentially helping with the treatment of sexual dysfunctions.
CBD oil effects and benefits against epilepsy
Dravet syndrome and Lennox‐Gastaut syndrome, both forms of epilepsy, and the use of CBD oil as an effective treatment first became popularised by a girl named Charlotte Figi. Since then, the anti-convulsant, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, especially in the context of treating epilepsy have been researched extensively. Although scientists are not sure exactly how the anti-convulsive effects of CBD works, some think it is due to CBD’s ability to reduce neuronal excitability and neuronal transmission by inhibiting adenosine reuptake, a chemical traditionally considered to be an inhibitor of neuronal activity and a regulator of cerebral blood flow.