Animal studies have shown that CBD has a positive effect on serotonin levels in the brain, and serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to play a key role in mood as well as pain. 11
CBD has also been investigated for use in other forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy, usually in addition to conventional epilepsy medications. Results varied, but several trials showed CBD significantly reduced seizure frequency by almost 44% in most people. 3
Unfortunately, few human trials investigating the use of CBD as a single agent to relieve pain exist, with most trials using a combination of CBD and THC to relieve pain. Notably, Health Canada has approved a combination medication that contains both THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio for the relief of central nerve-related pain in multiple sclerosis, and cancer pain that is unresponsive to optimized opioid therapy.
31% of people taking CBD for other conditions such as anxiety or non-cancer-related pain reported improved sleep with CBD. 8
In a large case series of 72 people, 48 patients (66.7%) reported an improvement in sleep scores within the first month, but these fluctuated over time. 9
Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties and will not give you a “high”. There is no evidence it has any abuse or dependence potential and to date, there is no evidence that it is associated with any serious side effects, according to the World Health Organization.
Research suggests people with ALS can benefit from the entourage effect created by the combination of THC and CBD, similar to people with PTSD. In a 2019 study, patients received a combination of THC and CBD in varying doses depending on their needs and preferences. Those with mild, moderate or severe spasticity (muscle tightness and stiffness) due to ALS reported high levels of satisfaction with the treatment, and those with moderate to severe spasticity reported higher satisfaction rates than those with mild spasticity.
Arthritis involves the deterioration of the tissues in and around your joints. There are several types of arthritis, and symptoms include pain, stiffness and loss of motion. Arthritis treatment usually targets pain relief and improved joint function.
Several preclinical studies suggest CBD can produce beneficial effects against Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Huntington’s disease and cerebral ischemia were also tested, although significant positive results were not recorded. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm CBD’s benefits when used as a treatment for these disorders.
6. Relieve Unmanageable Pain
Some studies—both preclinical animal and human clinical trials—suggest CBD could be used to help treat people who are dependent on opioids.
In a small 2018 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11 people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) received CBD along with routine psychiatric care for eight weeks in an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Ten of the 11 experienced a decrease in their PTSD symptoms. CBD was generally well tolerated, the researchers write.
In one such study, researchers administered CBD to people with heroin use disorder. Over the course of a week, CBD significantly reduced heroin users’ cue-induced cravings, withdrawal anxiety, resting heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. No serious adverse effects were found.
CBD is often extracted from the cannabis sativa plant in oil form and mixed with an inert carrier oil like hemp seed oil for consumption. In recent years, CBD oil has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to its purported calming effects. It can now be found in a range of products from simple oil tinctures to CBD-infused potato chips.
CBD shows promise in the treatment of anxiety disorders, suggests a 2015 review of studies in the journal Neurotherapeutics. According to the investigators, CBD demonstrated potent anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) effects in animal research, albeit with counterintuitive results.
Proponents claim that CBD oil can treat a wide variety of health problems, including:
CBD oil should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics warned women to avoid marijuana during pregnancy due to the potential risks to a baby’s development. Although it is unclear how CBD contributes, CBD is known to pass through the placental barrier.
CBD is the short name for cannabidiol, one of the two chemicals—among the dozens in cannabis—that have the most health benefits. The other, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produces the psychoactive effects described as being “high.” CBD oil generally does not contain THC, although some trace amounts may be present in products sold in certain states.
Here is just some of what the current evidence says.