Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a natural and restorative compound used to remedy a number of conditions.
CBD is one of the many compounds known as cannabinoids found in cannabis and has grown in popularity recently as people discover its therapeutic effects and good safety profile.
If you’re wondering what is CBD oil used for, you’ve come to the right place. There are a number of CBD oil uses that can help people gain a better quality of life, but the sheer number of people talking about this substance means a lot of misinformation and confusion can be spread.
Unlike THC, the most common cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD is non-intoxicating and won’t get users “high” like many tend to associate with cannabis. While CBD may improve mood, reduce anxiety, and have many other effects on the brain, it will not have the same mind-altering effects as THC.
The non-intoxicating aspect of CBD is crucial for people who want to naturally relieve their pain or afflictions without pharmaceuticals, but do not want to experience “getting high.”
CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from cannabis and then diluting it with an oil that is used as the carrier.
CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system, a series of receptors that take directions from endocannabinoids (cannabinoids created in the human body). The endocannabinoid system maintains balance and regulates many processes. It can be acted upon by external cannabinoids like CBD as well.
The list of CBD oil medical uses is long, so let’s get started:
Relief from chronic and acute pain
Inflammation is the root of many conditions, including both temporary and long-lasting pain.
A headache, a bumped knee, or muscle soreness are all examples of acute pain, and they all stem from inflammation. Chronic pain can be a number of ailments, from arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and more. These conditions all have inflammation in common.
Researchers have found that CBD increases anandamide, a neurotransmitter that binds to cannabinoid receptors, and is sometimes referred to as “the bliss molecule.”
According to a 2006 study, “anandamide acts in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility,” among other processes. So, anandamide is a crucial aspect of regulating pain but tends to break down quickly. Taking CBD can help preserve anandamide, reducing the body’s perception of pain.
Another study evaluated the effects of CBD on the endocannabinoid system found that CBD is an agonist for a cannabinoid receptor called CB2. When CBD interacted with this receptor, it produced an anti-inflammatory response.
When CBD enters the body, its actions on neurotransmitters cause an analgesic effect against cytokines, which are small, pro-inflammatory proteins. In a study about the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids, researchers found “CBD-treated mice exhibited significant reduction of plasma levels of the proinflammatory cytokines.”
Taking CBD can reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is responsible for both acute and chronic pain, as well as suggested to be the source of many diseases.
Improve your skin
Another common application of the many CBD oil uses is using cannabidiol to improve skin. Many skin conditions from acne to psoriasis to eczema are linked back to, you guessed it, inflammation.
One study found that CBD decreases excessive production of sebum (oil), which can improve acne. Researchers used a model that closely mimicked human sebaceous glands, and found that upon the application of CBD, the lipogenic action of anandamide was completely prevented, thus reducing oil production.
A 1998 study found that CBD and THC are both neuroprotective antioxidants, meaning CBD has the ability to prevent oxidative damage to the skin. Another study compared the functions of various antioxidants in preventing cell death, and found “cannabidiol was superior to both alpha-tocopherol and ascorbate in protective capacity.” Antioxidants help to limit free radicals, keeping the skin from showing signs of aging.
Many inflammation-related skin conditions may be treated with CBD. One study found that CBD inhibits the proliferation of epidermal cells which, according to the researchers, supports the role of CBD in psoriasis treatment.
The management of depression and anxiety
Of the many CBD oil medical benefits, improving mental health is a big one that many seek its help for.
CBD plays a role in inducing neurogenesis, which essentially means the brain firing off new connections with neurons and strengthening existing connections. While antidepressants were once believed to work just by increasing serotonin, researchers now know that neurogenesis is a crucial part of why antidepressants work.
Since CBD can stimulate neurogenesis, it can help users strengthen their brain and find relief from depression and anxiety.
Antidepressants, as well as some anti-anxiety and antipsychotic drugs also target a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. Acting on this receptor is a crucial aspect of managing mental health disorders.
In one study, nine people with untreated panic disorder and 17 healthy volunteers underwent a scan to trace the 5-HT1A availability in their brains. Researchers found that patients with untreated panic disorder had significant reductions in their 5-HT1A availability.
A 2016 study using mouse models of depression found that administration of CBD reversed the induction of hyperactivity and anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure). In vivo results showed that CBD also significantly raised serotonin levels.
CBD is sometimes used to help with side effects related to cancer treatments.
Pressure on the organs and nerve injuries are common for those going through cancer treatment, and because CBD is so beneficial for relieving pain, it can be useful to incorporate to manage treatment-related side effects.
But, does CBD oil do anything to prevent or treat cancer? The current research is promising. For example, a 2012 report found CBD to be a potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancer.
CBD has also been described as anti-proliferative, able to stop, slow, or reverse cancerous tumor growth. The U.S. National Library of Medicine also describes CBD as anti-angiogenic, preventing the generation of new blood vessels that allow the growth of cancerous tumors.
CBD is also pro-apoptotic, inducing cellular suicide for cancerous cells.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Some are surprised to hear about CBD oil used for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, but these two conditions are rooted in inflammation, making them an easy target for CBD.
Cannabidiol was found to be beneficial for inflamed guts, in a 2009 study. Researchers injected mice with a colitis-inducing mix to inflame their colons. They evaluated the inflammation levels of the mice after CBD and found that cannabidiol reduced colon injury, preventing colitis in mice.
A review on CBD and inflammatory bowel diseases found that CBD interacts with the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, a nuclear receptor found in the colon. This receptor has been recognized as an important target for intervening with inflammatory bowel conditions.
CBD oil may also benefit your heart health by helping the circulatory system and heart function better.
In a study with 10 healthy men dosed with 600 mg of CBD oil, researchers found that resting blood pressure was reduced with CBD compared to placebo. Reducing high blood pressure is a key part of maintaining heart health, as high blood pressure is linked to problems with damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, and more.
Researchers also found that after exposure to stress tests meant to increase blood pressure, patients experienced a lower increase after taking CBD.
In a 2013 report on CBD and the cardiovascular system, researchers concluded that the direct application of CBD reduced vascular tension of preconstricted arteries. They also concluded that CBD can reduce the damaging effects of restricted blood supply to tissues in models of stroke because CBD helps maintain cerebral blood flow.
Neurological disorders are those of the brain, spine, and connecting nerves. This can include Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis among many others.
One of the most widely-understood CBD oil uses is for neurological disorders like epilepsy. In fact, the FDA has approved a cannabidiol-based prescription drug for two rare forms of epilepsy because it is so effective.
CBD may also have neuroprotective effects for several other conditions. A 2011 study found CBD diminishes nerve damage and inflammation in mice. CBD has also been found to reduce microglial activation, an inflammatory response of the central nervous system that is linked to several neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
Improving sleep and wake cycles
CBD is biphasic, meaning it has opposite effects in high and low doses. This is a key aspect to understanding how to use it for improving sleep.
In a study where subjects took a range of CBD doses from 40, 80, and 160 mg, subjects receiving 160 mg experienced longer sleep and reduced dream recollection. Less dreaming signifies deeper sleep.
CBD may also improve deep sleep by signaling anandamide, a neurotransmitter that interacts with cannabinoid receptors. In rodent studies, subjects given anandamide experienced an increase in instances of deep sleep.
Small doses of CBD may have the opposite effect, causing users to be energized rather than sedated. In a study on young adult humans, 15 mg of CBD caused awakeness-promoting effects, effectively energizing subjects rather than making them sleepy.
With the biphasic nature of CBD, users could potentially tweak their sleep cycle by promoting alertness during the day with small doses, and using higher doses at night to help regulate sleep cycles and experience longer deep sleep.
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With so many CBD oil uses, you may be wondering if there are any negative effects of taking cannabidiol. While CBD has a good safety profile and fewer side effects than many pharmaceuticals, it’s still important to be aware of the potential side effects.
Some reported side effects of CBD oil are:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
CBD could potentially interact with other medications, so it’s important to discuss using cannabidiol with your doctor if you’re taking anything else.
Final thoughts on CBD oil uses
CBD oil is a promising alternative to pharmaceuticals for a number of afflictions from chronic pain to acne, neurological conditions, cardiovascular diseases, mental health conditions, and more.
If you’re taking other medications, it’s important to speak with a doctor first because CBD may interact with other drugs.
While there is still a lot to learn about the therapeutic effects of CBD and what is CBD oil used for, it has a promising role in treating a number of conditions and many people have found success using it.
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