what is cannabidiol cbd oil used for

A Compound From the Cannabis Plant

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many active ingredients derived from the plant species Cannabis sativa. There are several strains of the Cannabis sativa plant, with the two most common being marijuana and hemp. Industrial hemp has a high percentage of the phytocannabinoid CBD and a very low concentration (less than 0.3%) of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the psychoactive, mood-altering component associated with the “high” of marijuana. CBD is not associated with psychoactive effects and does not have the same risk of abuse or dependency. CBD is growing in popularity and was most recently approved by the FDA for very specific medical uses.

Legal Status of CBD

Though federal law prohibits the cultivation, sale, and use of marijuana, several states and territories have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and recreational use. Some states only approved the use of CBD alone for medicinal purposes.

In December 2018, the Hemp Farming Act was signed into law in the United States. This act removed the Schedule I controlled-substance classification from hemp (THC less than 0.3%) and classified it as an agricultural product. CBD products derived from the industrial hemp plant are now available in all 50 states in many different formulations, and they are touted to treat a wide range of conditions from pain and inflammation to depression and epilepsy. CBD is available in oil, tincture, vaporization liquid, and pill forms and can be purchased both in stores and online. The Hemp Farming Act does not apply to products and formulations derived from the marijuana plant, which is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government.


The most common side effects reported with the use of CBD include appetite alteration, sleepiness, gastrointestinal disturbances/diarrhea, weight changes, fatigue, and nausea. Uncommon or rare adverse events include thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets), respiratory infections, and alteration of the liver enzymes.

CBD can inhibit the body’s ability to metabolize certain drugs, leading to an overall increase in processing times and higher-than-expected drug levels in the blood. Interestingly, CBD oil is not alone in its effect on drug metabolism. Grapefruit, watercress, St. John’s wort, and goldenseal all have a similar impact on drug metabolism. If you are taking a medication affected by CBD, you should consult with your doctor to make sure that it is safe for you to supplement with CBD or to discuss adjusting the dosage on your medications so that you can use both products safely.

FDA-Approved Formulations for Epilepsy

On June 25, 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol), a highly purified pharmaceutical CBD formulation, as a treatment for seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients aged 2 years and older. Epidolex is the first FDA-approved treatment for Dravet and is considered a significant advancement for this patient population. The exact mechanism of action for the treatment of seizure is unknown.

Experimental and Anecdotal Uses

A growing body of evidence suggests that CBD has properties that can improve overall health and manage specific conditions. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial for arthritis and other pain. It is also shown to have effects on brain chemistry, which may be helpful for those suffering from depression, anxiety, or insomnia. Finally, early human studies suggest CBD could play a role in treating opioid addiction and other types of substance abuse.

With all of the promising therapeutic applications for CBD, caution should be exercised when using CBD for medical therapy. Since CBD is considered a supplement and not a drug, it is not held up to the same level of scrutiny when it comes to purity and dosing, or in proving efficacy and safety. It is unclear which doses and which dosage forms work for best for each condition, making dosing recommendations a guess, at best.

What Is CBD? Every Question About the Buzzy Weed Derivative, Explained

Is cannabidiol really the anxiety and pain-relief miracle the world has been waiting for?

This article was medically reviewed by Raj Dasgupta, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine and a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on July 19, 2019.

Several weeks after a hysterectomy last spring, Bo Roth was suffering from exhaustion and pain that kept her on the couch much of the day. The 58-year-old Seattle speech coach didn’t want to take opioid pain-killers, but Tylenol wasn’t helping enough. Roth was intrigued when women in her online chat group enthused about a cannabis-derived oil called cannabidiol (CBD) that they said relieved pain without making them high. So Roth, who hadn’t smoked weed since college but lived in a state where cannabis was legal, walked into a dispensary and bought a CBD tincture.

“Within a few hours of placing the drops in my mouth, the malaise and achiness that had plagued me for weeks lifted and became much more manageable,” she says. She took the drops several times a day and in a few weeks was back to her regular life.

If you haven’t been bombarded with CBD marketing or raves about it from friends, get ready. This extract—which comes from either marijuana or its industrial cousin, hemp—is popping up everywhere. There are CBD capsules, tinctures, and liquids for vaping plus CBD-infused lotions, beauty products, snacks, coffee, and even vaginal suppositories. Already some 1,000 brands of CBD products are available in stores—and online in states that don’t have lenient cannabis laws. This is a tiny fraction of what’s to come: The CBD market is poised to exceed $22 billion by 2022, per the Chicago-based research firm Brightfield Group.

The reason so many people are interested in cannabis products that don’t make them high, proponents say, is that CBD helps with everything from pain and nausea to rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and dementia. CBD is anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antibacterial, immunosuppressive, and more, says Joseph Cohen, DO, a cannabis doctor in Boulder, CO.

Such broad claims might sound like a snake oil sales pitch, but preliminary research does suggest that the compound may have wide-ranging effects on the body. So, is CBD the wonder product its advocates claim it is? Is it safe? And though it’s available everywhere, is it even legal? The answers are more complex than you might imagine.

What is CBD, exactly?

Along with its better-known counterpart, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces the marijuana high), CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of more than 400 compounds found in the oils of cannabis plant species, which include marijuana and hemp.

Does CBD get you high?

Unlike THC, CBD will not make you high. That said, this doesn’t mean CBD is not at all psychoactive, as many assert, says Jahan Marcu, PhD, director of experimental pharmacology and behavior at the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health in New York City: “CBD does change cognition. It affects mood, which is why people take it for anxiety. And some find that it makes them more alert.”

What does CBD do to the body?

In addition to acting on the brain, CBD influences many body processes. That’s due to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was discovered in the 1990s, after scientists started investigating why pot produces a high. Although much less well-known than the cardiovascular, reproductive, and respiratory systems, the ECS is critical. “The ECS helps us eat, sleep, relax, forget what we don’t need to remember, and protect our bodies from harm,” Marcu says. There are more ECS receptors in the brain than there are for opioids or serotonin, plus others in the intestines, liver, pancreas, ovaries, bone cells, and elsewhere.

Our bodies are thought to produce endocannabinoids by the billions every day. “We always thought the ‘runner’s high’ was due to the release of dopamine and endorphins. But now we know the euphoria is also from an endocannabinoid called anandamide,” its name derived from the Sanskrit word for bliss, says Joseph Maroon, MD, clinical professor and vice chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We produce these natural chemicals all day, but they fade quickly because enzymes pop up to destroy them. That’s where CBD comes in: By blocking these enzymes, CBD allows the beneficial compounds to linger.

This is why Amanda Oliver, 31, a career consultant in Charleston, SC, pops a CBD gummy bear each night before bed. “I used to lie there tossing and turning as my mind raced from work projects to whether I had set the home alarm,” Oliver says. One piece of candy with 15 milligrams (mg) of CBD is enough to shut off her brain and facilitate sleep. She also swears by the CBD oil she takes at the height of her period, which she says quells her debilitating cramps.

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What is CBD used for? Does it really have health benefits?

Success stories like Oliver’s are everywhere, but there’s not a lot of data to back up those results. That’s because CBD comes from cannabis and, like nearly all other parts of the plant, is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule 1 drug—the most restrictive classification. (Others on that list: heroin, Ecstasy, and peyote.) This classification, which cannabis advocates have tried for years to change, keeps cannabis-derived products, including CBD, from being properly studied in the U.S.

That leaves those touting CBD’s effectiveness pointing primarily to research in mice and petri dishes. There, CBD (sometimes combined with small amounts of THC) has shown promise for helping pain, neurological conditions like anxiety and PTSD, and the immune system—and therefore potentially arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and more.

Wait, so can CBD really help with pain?

Most human studies of CBD have been done on people who have seizures, and the FDA recently approved the first CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, for rare forms of epilepsy. Clinical trials for other conditions are promising, but tiny. In one Brazilian study published in 2011 of people with generalized social anxiety disorder, for example, taking a 600-mg dose of CBD (higher than a typical dose from a tincture) lessened discomfort more than a placebo, but only a dozen people were given the pill.

Dr. Cohen has found that chronic conditions including autoimmune diseases and pain syndromes can be helped with a 6-mg under-the-tongue tincture (the fastest delivery system) or a 25-mg capsule taken twice a day. Dosages for topical products like lotions are especially hard to determine—there’s no clarity on how much CBD gets into the system through the skin.

What about anxiety? Can it help me relax?

Without much research, doctors in states where cannabis is legal are learning through trial and error. Dr. Cohen says thousands of his patients swear that CBD helps their inflammation, pain, and anxiety. He himself started taking 50 mg a day in the hope that it might prevent later dementia—and his migraines immediately disappeared.

Scott Shannon, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado, recently sifted through patient charts from his four-doctor practice to document CBD’s effects on anxiety. His study, as yet unpublished, found “a fairly rapid decrease in anxiety scores that appears to persist for months,” he says. But he says he can’t discount a placebo effect, especially since “there’s a lot of hype right now.”

Is CBD safe?

Without high-quality trials, experts don’t know how much is best for a given purpose. The staff at Roth’s dispensary told her, “Try some once or twice a day and see what happens.” (Half a dropper’s worth was a good amount for her.)

One thing scientists feel confident about is that CBD is not dangerous. It won’t damage vital organs even at doses as high as 5,000 mg a day, Marcu says, and nobody has died from simply overdosing on a cannabis product.

What about CBD side effects?

Dosage is important, because CBD can have side effects—the most common are tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight—so it’s best not to take more than you need. As CBD becomes more prevalent, says J. Michael Bostwick, MD, a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, “I’m reasonably certain new kinds of side effects will emerge.”

Lisa Hamilton, a jeweler and doula in Brooklyn, NY, knows about the side effects. She recently tried CBD for the shoulder pain that plagued her five years after an accident. Her doctor certified that she was in chronic pain, which under New York State law allowed her to buy from a state dispensary. One Friday, she swallowed two 10-mg capsules, the amount recommended at the dispensary, then took another two on Saturday. “By Sunday, it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. Every muscle and joint ached,” Hamilton says. She cut back to one pill a day the following week, but still felt hungover. She stopped after that.

Can CBD mess with your medication?

Another concern is about medications with which CBD might interact. This won’t be an issue with most drugs, says Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, a palliative medicine physician and scientist who studies cannabis and integrates it into his Seattle medical practice.

The exceptions are blood thinners, IV antibiotics, and other drugs whose exact dosing is crucial and must be monitored closely, he says. Of course, if you have a health problem, talk to your doctor before using CBD, and never take it instead of seeing your physician for a serious condition.

But is CBD completely legal?

Under federal law, cannabis (from which both CBD and marijuana are derived) is illegal everywhere, although the laws against it aren’t generally enforced in states that have legalized marijuana. Some manufacturers claim that CBD culled from legally imported industrial hemp, which has little to no THC, is fine to ship across the U.S., but many experts disagree, noting that because hemp comes from the same species as marijuana, cannabis sativa, all CBD falls under the DEA’s Schedule 1 designation. “This creative interpretation of the law runs afoul of reality,” says the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC, think tank.

To make matters more confusing, nine states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) let residents buy cannabis-based products with or without THC. Nearly two dozen other “medical marijuana states” allow the sale of cannabis, including capsules, tinctures, and other items containing CBD or THC, at licensed dispensaries to people whose doctors have certified that they have an approved condition (the list varies by state but includes chronic pain, PTSD, cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis). Sixteen more states legalized CBD for certain diseases.

But because all these products are illegal according to the federal government, cannabis advocates are cautious. “By and large, the federal government is looking the other way,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the Washington, DC–based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but until federal laws are changed, “this administration or a future one could crack down on people who produce, manufacture, or use CBD, and the law would be on its side.”

For more information on your state specifically, check out this guide from Americans For Safe Access.

So, should you try CBD?

The answer depends on where you live and your appetite for the unproven. Despite the promise of CBD, the industry is currently “the Wild West,” Armentano says.

Where to buy CBD oil

If you live in a state where CBD is legal for your condition, it’s best to buy it from a state-regulated dispensary. But even there, oversight is uneven. “I feel safe being a cannabis consumer in Colorado, since the state tracks everything from seed to sale, but I didn’t the first few years after cannabis became legal,” when the rules were still taking shape, says Robyn Griggs Lawrence, the Boulder author of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, which features recipes for cannabis edibles.

Buying online is less reliable still because there’s no regulation or standardization. What you see on the label may not be what you are getting. A 2017 study in JAMA found that of the 84 CBD products researchers bought online, 43 percent had more CBD than indicated, while 26 percent had less, and some had unexpected THC.“There’s a 75 percent chance of getting a product where the CBD is mislabeled,” says Marcu, one of the study’s coauthors.

Quality is a particular concern, because cannabis plants easily soak up heavy metals from pesticides and other contaminants, Marcu says. If you are buying online, look for a company that documents how it tests its products. (If the website doesn’t indicate this, call and ask.)

“Buying from a reputable manufacturer is crucial, because it matters how the plant is cultivated and processed,” Dr. Maroon says. One clue that a company is cutting corners: too low a cost. Good CBD is pricey—a bottle of high-quality capsules is sold in Cohen’s office for $140. But for many, it’s worth the money. Roth spent $60 on her tiny bottle. But when her energy returned the day she started taking CBD, she decided that was a small price to pay.

What to look for in a quality CBD oil

Choose products made with American hemp

Although CBD oils aren’t regulated by the FDA, purchasing products stateside from one of the nine states where recreational and medical cannabis use is legal will likely result in a higher-quality product than buying one made with hemp-derived CBD oil imported from abroad, says Martin Lee, director of Project CBD, a nonprofit that promotes medical research into CBD.

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Look for “full-spectrum” or “broad-spectrum”

These terms mean that all or most of the components that can be extracted from the hemp plant are concentrated in the oil. The wider the range of components included, versus just CBD, the greater the potential medicinal benefit of the product, says Lee.

Note the amount of CBD and THC per dose

There’s no definite amount that’s appropriate for everyone, but the ratio of CBD to THC will indicate how psychoactive the product is and if it’s legal in your state. The more CBD compared with THC, the less of a high, and vice versa. “Managing psychoactivity is key to successful cannabis therapy,” says Lee. “Amounts should be made clear on the label and lab-certified so people know what’s helping them and what’s not.”

What Are Cannabidiol and CBD Oil & How Is CBD Used in Medicine?

Cannabis contains over 500 constituents. The most important of these are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), which both belong to the cannabinoid group. Unlike THC, CBD does not make you high. It does however offer great medicinal potential. That’s one of the reasons that we have seen a real boom in CBD over the last few years.

The volume of research into CBD and its medical benefits continues to increase. At the time of writing, the National Institutes of Health (PubMed) service has included over 2,600 studies on CBD in its index. It is the first time in history that such an abundance of research into cannabinoids such as CBD has taken place. This has lead to a clearer picture of how CBD can be used as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of varying conditions.

CBD vs. THC: The issue of psychoactivity

After THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabidiol (CBD) is the most studied natural cannabinoid and is under a lot of scientific scrutiny for its therapeutic potential. Of all cannabinoids present in cannabis, CBD and THC are present in the highest concentrations. CBD and THC, although differing in properties, have an interdependent relationship in which the two potentiate and mediate the therapeutic benefits of each other.

THC causes the psychoactive effect of cannabis, whereas CBD is non-psychoactive. This means that it does not produce sensations of intoxication. In fact, CBD is even considered to be anti-psychotic in its effects, mediating and neutralizing the psychoactivity of THC when the two are used together.

For this reason, recreational strains of cannabis generally contain higher levels of THC, while medicinal cannabis might focus on either CBD or THC, depending on the condition being treated.

One of the biggest hurdles for the medicinal cannabis movement in recent years has been the psychoactivity of THC. The advent of CBD research and understanding has helped to mitigate this problem, demonstrating the possible therapeutic benefits of cannabis in the absence of psychoactive compound, THC. The understanding and popularization of CBD has had a profound impact on the way the medical community and the public interpret cannabis and its place in medicine.

Doctors and healthcare professionals are becoming more open to the prescription of CBD products in the treatment of certain illnesses. The lack of psychoactivity, minimal side effects and the sustainability of CBD production are all reasons that CBD has received positive attention from the medical community. CBD has been legalized almost everywhere in Europe (with the exception of some countries such as Slovakia), in the USA and Australia, and the US government has even patented the medical use of CBD.

CBD and the endocannabinoid system

There are mainly two types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the human body, present most abundantly in the central nervous system (CB1) and the immune system (CB2).

These cannabinoid receptors, along with endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids produced in the human body) make up the human body’s endocannabinoid system. THC’s interaction with the CB1 receptor is arguably what leads to the psychoactive effect of THC. CBD, on the other hand, does not have a strong affinity for CB1 receptors, and it exerts its effects in more peripheral manners.

Instead, CBD affects the endocannabinoid indirectly by modifying the cannabinoid receptor’s ability to bind to both phytocannabinoids and endogenous cannabinoids. It also acts indirectly on certain enzymes responsible for the breakdown of endocannabinoids. One such example is that CBD inhibits anandamide degradation by enzyme, FAAH. This leads to increased serum levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid vital to human health.

The endocannabinoid system impacts a wide range of physiological functions because its main objective is to maintain physiological homeostasis. It moderates the function of the brain, the endocrine system, the integumentary system and the immune system. When the endocannabinoid system is stimulated, either by endogenous cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids such as CBD, many different aspects of physical and mental function are affected. This is why CBD, along with other phytocannabinoids, is a potential treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.

Dr Ethan Russo, PhD and cannabis researcher, hypothesizes that a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system is at the root of many treatment-resistant diseases such as migraine, fibromyalgia, IBD and other syndromes. At the basis of his research is an explanation as to why CBD and the endocannabinoid system are such vital targets in the treatment of these particular conditions.

Until the 1960s, it was not even known that the human body contained an endocannabinoid system or that such a physiological phenomenon existed. Since this discovery, the endocannabinoid system has been associated with the human body’s healing and recovery processes. This has been an enormous driver of cannabis and CBD research.

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Understanding different varieties of cannabis and their CBD:THC ratios

Modern cannabis has, for the most part, been grown with the ultimate goal of increasing THC levels. This is because THC is usually what recreational users search for in cannabis, and until medicinal cannabis was legalized, increasing CBD levels was not an objective. However, since the dawn of medicinal cannabis, there has been a focus on increasing levels of CBD in certain varieties of cannabis.

The hemp variety is naturally more abundant in CBD than the marijuana variety. For this reason, most of the CBD products available on today’s market are manufactured from hemp. However, marijuana strains are also sometimes used to manufacture products that have a balanced ratio of THC to CBD. Much of it depends on the target audience of the product.

For example, Charlotte’s Web is a high-CBD strain of cannabis that was created for the specific purpose of treating a paediatric patient with epilepsy. This strain has a 12:1 CBD:THC ratio. Although the product contains THC, it leans heavily towards CBD. Sensi Seeds has also developed high CBD strains, one with CBD:THC 30:1 and another with CBD:THC of 6:1.

On the contrary, recreational strains such as Northern Lights usually have higher THC levels than CBD. This does not mean that high-THC strains have no medical significance, as THC has medical properties of its own. The modern cannabis market provides strains with as little as no THC to a perfect 1:1 balance of CBD:THC, to strains that have almost no CBD and contain only THC. The cannabis market caters for just about all needs.

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CBD has a wide range of medical benefits

The number of uses for CBD as a medicine continues to grow to the point where we have virtually never come across such a versatile substance before. The pharmaceutical industry until how has not developed a single medicine that has as many applications as CBD. And yet outside of Epidiolex in the treatment of pediatric seizures, there are no other FDA approved uses of CBD because of the lack of double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized data.

CBD is being researched for its potential antiemetic, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, tumour-inhibiting, anxiolytic, and antidepressant qualities. Some of these qualities have been heavily investigated while others are still in the initial stages of research. In any case, the sheer number of medical applications warrants further investigation into the effects of CBD and how it can be applied medically.

1. CBD as medicine for epilepsy

The treatment of epilepsy (especially refractory paediatric epilepsy) is arguably the most researched medical application of CBD. As many as 20-40% of epilepsy patients are resistant to traditional treatment, and in light of this, a lot of research has been carried out as to how CBD can help.

74 children and adolescents aged 1–18 for whom traditional epilepsy treatment methods failed were treated in Israel in 2014 with CBD-rich cannabis. On average, the patients took CBD oil for 6 months. The CBD:THC ratio was 20:1, and the substances were dissolved in olive oil. They took 1–20 mg / kg per day of body weight.

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The seizure rate during the study was observed and recorded by the patients’ parents. The study results were as follows: in 89% of the patients (66 out of 74), the rate of seizures reduced. The parents of 13 children (18%) indicated that the rate of epileptic seizures fell by 75–100%. Twenty-five patients (34%) had 50–75% fewer seizures; 9 (12%) had 25–50% fewer seizures; and 19 (26%) had less than 25% fewer seizures. In 5 (7%) of the 74 patients, it was reported that the severity of their seizures increased with the administration of CBD, so the drug was discontinued.

The Israeli study is not the only one of its kind. In March 2016, the British company, GW Pharmaceuticals announced it had completed a Phase 3 trial on the drug, Epidiolex, with clinical significance. In all, 171 people took part. Half received the CBD-based drug, and the other half were treated with a placebo. In the patients undergoing Epidiolex treatment, there was a median reduction in monthly seizure rate of 44%. For patients receiving the placebo treatment, the equivalent figure was 22%.

2. CBD may replace opioids in the treatment of chronic pain

Chronic pain is a symptom of many illnesses: diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV, rheumatism, and many others. The treatment of pain plays a role in improving the quality of life of patients. Depending on the severity of the pain, people use over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol, and/or prescription analgesics such as opioids. Many of these drugs are associated with possible side effects after prolonged use.

Back in 2007, researchers found in animal models that the daily administration of CBD resulted in a reduction in hyperalgesia (excessive sensitivity to pain and reaction to a painful stimulus).

Another non-controlled, open-label prospective study conducted in 2016 by Israeli researchers confirmed that cannabis use reduces pain and opiate use and improves the quality of life of the patient. All in all, 274 patients took part in the study, although it ought to be mentioned that the patients weren’t administered pure CBD, but a medicinal cannabis preparation that also contains THC. Nevertheless, the results are very promising:

After six months, the pain symptom score had fallen from a median of 83.3 to a median of 75.0. The pain intensity score also improved. Opiate requirement reduced over the course of the observation period by approximately 44%. Long-term effects of chronic CBD use on pain have not yet been established.

3. CBD as a tumour-fighting agent

In a 2016 review published in the journal, Current Oncology. Both THC and CBD were evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Both cannabinoids have properties that cause tumours to shrink, with CBD being the more active of these two cannabinoids. The authors suggest that CBD should be researched further as an effective anti-cancer drug in the management of neuroblastoma.

Another study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2012 supports these findings. Researchers of this study found that CBD effectively inhibits the growth of various types of tumours. In addition, it down-regulates some pro-angiogenic signals by glioma cells.

The research into the effect of CBD on tumours is still elementary and with very early results. Much more research is required before any conclusive statements can be made about CBD as an anti-tumour agent.

4. CBD in the treatment of depression and anxiety

There is plenty of anecdotal and observational evidence to suggest that CBD is an effective treatment for mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. In certain research, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in the onset of anxiety and depression symptoms, whereby endocannabinoid deficiency can lead to anxiety and depression.

Other research suggests that CBD acts directly on the 5HT1A serotonin receptor. This is important because many common pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety and depression target the serotonin signalling system. In one Spanish study conducted on animal models, CBD was faster acting on the serotonin signalling system than SSRIs, the type of drug commonly prescribed to patients with anxiety and depression. This suggests that CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug.

Interestingly, CBD may also support hippocampal neurogenesis. In brain scans of people with major depression disorder, hippocampus size was smaller relative to normal brains, suggesting this as a target for treatment of depression. In another animal study, CBD was found to assist chronically stressed mice by encouraging the regeneration of neurons in the hippocampus.

5. CBD as medicine for neurodegenerative disorders

For patients of Multiple Sclerosis, CBD may be able to help in managing muscle spasticity as well as neuropathic pain associated with this condition. The same has been hypothesized for Parkinson’s disease. Aside from having neuroprotective properties, CBD is hypothesized to assist in non-motor control symptoms for those with Parkinson’s by targeting the serotonin signalling system.

For Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia and stroke, inflammation also plays a crucial role. CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities may be among the most important in the treatment of these conditions.

6. CBD in the management of schizophrenia and psychosis

Medicinal cannabis for the treatment of schizophrenia, psychosis and other psychiatric conditions remains one of the most controversial applications of CBD. Although there is preclinical evidence to warrant further investigation, the scientific and medical community are reluctant to state anything conclusively.

CBD differs to THC in that it is non-psychoactive and even has anti-psychotic effects. The reason that CBD deserves attention for schizophrenia is that up to 30% of patients do not respond to two or more trials of dopaminergic antipsychotics, which are the primary line of treatment. Furthermore, the medical community has, until now, not yet identified the cause of most psychiatric illnesses and are still in the beginning stages of understanding how to properly treat them.

Researchers discovered in 2012 that CBD improves anandamide signalling and that the increase in serum anandamide levels helps to relieve the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. The results of this study suggest that inhibition of anandamide deactivation may contribute to the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol, potentially presenting a completely new target in the treatment of schizophrenia.

In 2014, the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals started testing a drug called GWP42003, whose main cannabinoid is CBD. Initial investigations showed antipsychotic effects in schizophrenia patients. However, CBD was administered as a supplement to antipsychotic drug treatment already being taken by patients in the study.

7. More therapeutic qualities of CBD

As demonstrated, CBD has been under scrutiny for its possible treatment in a wide range of conditions. However, many people simply use CBD as a nutritional supplement for the wide range of physiological effects it has, even in the absence of illness. Some other therapeutic qualities of CBD might include:

Fundamentally, these qualities can be considered to improve the quality of life, especially of patients with chronic illnesses. Though CBD has not been shown to improve sleep in any randomized, controlled clinical trials, it is often reported by users to assist with sleep latency. It is often underestimated how much a good night’s sleep can improve the health of a patient with a chronic illness, and this is why CBD is often used as a supplement to traditional lines of treatment.

What is CBD oil and how is it made?

CBD oil refers to a concentrated extraction of the hemp or marijuana plant that contains high levels of CBD, and usually negligible levels of THC. Most modern extraction of hemp is achieved with a technique called CO2 extraction, whereby high-pressure CO2 is pumped through a vessel containing hemp plant material. The final product is an oily substance rich in terpenes and cannabinoids.

Certain manufacturers take an extra step after CO2 extraction to isolate CBD. This is called fractional distillation, and results in a near pure CBD powder. This powder is then mixed into MCT oil and sometimes even hempseed oil, creating a pure CBD product devoid of other cannabinoids and terpenoids. This may have benefits for those who, for whatever reason, would prefer to avoid ingesting other cannabinoids altogether.

However, it is usually considered more beneficial to consume a full-spectrum CBD product (has not undergone fractional distillation), as a full-spectrum CBD oil also contains other remedial substances such as terpenes. Furthermore, full-spectrum products have the added benefit of the entourage effect, whereby all the compounds present in a cannabis specimen work together to create the therapeutic effect.