Cannabidiol (CBD) is emerging as a powerful supplement, a safe anti-inflammatory that can help several previously untreatable diseases. CBD oil can help fight cancer and irritable bowel disease, improve schizophrenia symptoms, relieve anxiety and help you get more sleep.
I’ve personally helped over 1,000 clients suffering from issues like brain fog and headaches, all the way to chronic autoimmune disorders and infections. CBD oil is one of the most beneficial substances I’ve found that has worked for people across a spectrum of different illnesses.
What is CBD?
CBD and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are the 2 main active compounds found in the cannabis plant and the most well recognized and studied.
Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means it won’t cause all the negative effects linked to THC, like paranoia, anxiety, and memory problems. Instead, it seems to naturally protect against the marijuana high [R, R].
CBD has shown promising benefits for a variety of conditions, many of which are otherwise not treatable [R].
Although CBD counters the THC high in normal doses, large amounts of CBD could enhance the effects of THC (in monkeys). High doses of CBD may mimic serotonin, which seems to boost THC’s psychoactive effects [R].
Health Benefits of CBD/Cannabidiol
1) Anti-Cancer Properties
CBD and other chemicals from cannabis show promising cancer-fighting properties. Although THC has similar cancer-fighting effects, its use in high doses causes too many psychoactive side effects.
In fact, cannabinoids similar to THC were first used to reduce nausea, pain, and improve appetite in cancer patients. Some synthetic cannabinoids are still used for this indication. But only recently did researchers uncover more about natural cannabinoids like CBD and their ability to combat various types of cancers [R].
Overall, CBD is safe, non-psychoactive, and has strong anti-tumor effects. It could be used to improve the efficacy of standard treatments, or potentially even as an anti-cancer substance on its own [R].
Although these studies are exciting, most of the research so far is limited to cells. It’s unknown if taking CBD will help combat cancer in humans.
- CBD decreases energy production in cancers, triggering their death [R]
- CBD makes cancer cells more sensitive to tumor-killing white blood cells (lymphokine-activated killer cells) [R]
- It makes cancer cells kill themselves (apoptosis), stopping both cancer growth and spreading [R]
- CBD may act on new non-cannabinoid cancer pathways [R]
- It also blocks a newly discovered cannabinoid cancer pathway (GPR55) [R, R]
2) Inflammation and Autoimmunity
CBD is a very promising remedy for a variety of inflammatory and pain-associated conditions. It acts on the body’s cannabinoid system to reduce inflammation, balance the immune system, and protect from oxidative stress [R].
Our immune system has sensors for the cannabinoids our own body produces, as well as for those we take in. This internal cannabinoid system can become unbalanced in autoimmune disease and inflammation, which was something scientists had no clue a couple of decades ago [R].
CBD acts on the immune cells to trigger a host of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant reactions:
CBD Can Blunt Th1 and Th2 Dominance
CBD reduced inflammation and pain in mice [R].
It also decreased the production of inflammatory substances in immune cells (Th1: TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and IL-6; Th2: IL-4 and IL-8) [R].
CBD Helps with Th17 Dominance
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3) Neurodegenerative Diseases
In a small study (open-label) of 5 patients with movement disorders, CBD reduced uncontrollable muscle twitching, higher doses having a stronger effect. The patients received 100 to 600 mg of CBD per day over a 6-week period. 2 of the included patients with Parkinson’s disease did not do well with doses over 300 mg per day, however [R].
A combination of CBD and THC consistently relieved muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis in one study of 219 participants [R].
However, CBD combined with THC did not improve symptoms in a study of 17 patients (DB-RCT) with Parkinson’s disease [R].
CBD protected from brain damage in animals (reducing beta-amyloid toxicity), which could potentially help in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease [R, R]. It was able to reverse poor cognitive function in animals with Alzheimer’s disease [R].
CBD is a stronger antioxidant than vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or vitamin E (α-tocopherol) in cells [R].
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, CBD holds promise for helping those with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and possibly prolonging their life [R].
Overall, it seems that CBD may protect the brain from damage and inflammation, but does not beneficially affect all movement problems that are a result of brain damage.
4) Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Cannabinoids may relieve symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). In a study (open-label) of 66 patients with MS and chronic pain, a combination of CBD and THC reduced pain over 2 years. The patients determined the dosage by themselves, taking as much as they felt was needed to alleviate the pain [R].
A combination of CBD and THC helped with muscle tightness, pain, sleep disturbances, and bladder control in 189 people with multiple sclerosis over 6 weeks (DB-RCT). The CBD/THC combination was tolerated well [R, R, R].
In another study of 50 MS patients, a CBD/THC combination somewhat reduced muscle tightness and helped with sleep. Lower doses had a weaker effect, so some patients with MS may need higher doses to get relief [R].
5) CBD Potentially Benefits Schizophrenia
While the psychoactive THC in cannabis seems to trigger psychotic episodes, especially in those with schizophrenia, CBD has opposite, antipsychotic effects. More and more studies are pointing to CBD as a natural alternative to antipsychotic drugs, but with far fewer side effects [R].
People who experience psychosis may produce too much or even too little cannabinoids (from overactive dopamine receptors). CBD is milder than our internal cannabinoids and helps to re-establish a balance of cannabinoids in the brain. CBD also helps lower inflammation, which is often increased in schizophrenia. THC, on the other hand, is stronger than our internal cannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG), this way potentially triggering psychosis [R+, R].
In 42 patients with acute schizophrenia (DB-RCT), CBD (up to 800 mg daily) improved all symptoms after 4 weeks. It worked as well as a strong antipsychotic (amisulpride) but was much better tolerated. Interestingly, CBD also reduced the breakdown of anandamide (by blocking FAAH), which was linked to the beneficial effects [R, R].
Many animal studies also support the antipsychotic benefits of CBD [R+].
It seems the cannabinoid system is not that straightforward, and we have yet to understand much about it. In the meantime, the evidence for CBD helping hard-to-treat schizophrenia symptoms is promising.
6) CBD May Reduce Seizures
In a 3-month study (observational) of 23 children and young adults (3-26 years of age) with treatment-resistant epilepsy, a purified 98% oil-based CBD extract reduced seizures by half in 39% of the participants. The maximum used dose was 25 mg/kg/day, which would be 1,750 mg per day for a person weighing 155 lbs [R].
CBD also reduced seizures in another trial of 214 children and adults with epilepsy (open-label). CBD was safe even at the maximum dose, which was double of the previous study (50 mg/kg/day) [R].
In one survey, parents of children who suffer from treatment-resistant epilepsy and use CBD were asked about the benefits. 19 parents were included, 84% of which said that CBD reduced the frequency of seizures. Two parents said that CBD completely resolved seizures. Parents also reported improved alertness, sleep, and mood. Some side effects were drowsiness and fatigue [R].
In 15 patients with epilepsy who didn’t respond to drugs, 200 – 300 mg of cannabidiol per day over 4.5 months reduced seizures. 7 out of 8 patients who took CBD improved (while only 1 patient in the placebo group did) [R].
7) CBD Reduces Anxiety
A single CBD dose of 400 mg reduced anxiety in a brain imaging study of 10 people with seasonal affective disorder (DB-S). CBD reduced blood flow to parts of the limbic system that are often overactive in anxiety. It increased blood flow to another region important for cognition and motivation (the posterior cingulate cortex) [R, R].
In a study of 10 healthy volunteers (DB-CT), 300 mg of CBD reduced anxiety after a stressful task (public speaking) [R]. In 24 patients with social anxiety (DB-RCT), 600 mg of CBD given before public speaking reduced anxiety and discomfort while improving cognition [R].
In 8 volunteers, CBD prevented anxiety from THC use (DB-CT) [R].
With more studies, the benefits of CBD could be expanded to people with various types of anxiety (including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder) [R].
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8) CBD Relieves Pain
We have receptors for cannabinoids in the whole body, but the first type – CB1 – are very dense in the pain pathways of the brain, spine, and nerves. The second type – CB2 – is more important for the immune system but is also involved in inflammation. By gently acting on both pathways, our internal cannabinoids and CBD can balance both pain and inflammation [R+].
In a large analysis (SR of 18 RCTs and 766 participants), cannabinoids strongly and safely reduced various types of chronic pain (neuropathic, arthritis, fibromyalgia, HIV and multiple sclerosis pain). In another (SR-MA) of almost 2000 participants, the benefits of using cannabis-based medicines to combat pain outweighed any risks [R, R].
A CBD/THC combination reduced pain in several studies of patients with MS and chronic pain (open-label and DB-RCT, 66 and 189 participants). It was tolerated well and used regularly for up to 2 years [R, R, R, R].
CBD offers benefits compared to synthetic cannabinoids, and even THC, because it’s not psychoactive. Many people want to avoid the “high”, paranoia, and drowsiness that THC can cause [R].
And importantly, neither CBD not THC seem to cause tolerance long-term (after 2 years), unlike opioids and most other painkillers [R].
Since cannabinoids like CBD don’t mix well with water, they have to be formulated as oils. However, the amount of CBD that’s absorbed from the gut can vary, and large amounts can remain unabsorbed. New products like CBD/cannabinoid patches, nose sprays, and lozenges are being developed for better absorption [R].
9) CBD May Be Beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis
As natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, cannabinoids may provide relief of joint pain and swelling. They could also help decrease joint destruction and disease worsening in inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis [R, R].
A CBD/THC combination (Sativex) reduced arthritis symptoms (including pain) in the first study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (DB-RCT, 58 participants). Over 5 weeks, this combination reduced pain on movement and at rest, improved sleep quality, and inflammation with no serious adverse effects [R].
CBD protected the joints from damage, reduced inflammation, and improved symptoms in mice with arthritis [R].
10) Cannabidiol May Relieve Nausea and Increase Appetite
For cancer patients, a balanced THC/CBD combination may be the best option for increasing appetite and reducing nausea. The “high” of THC is usually too strong, and CBD can help reduce these psychotropic effects but doesn’t reduce the appetite stimulation [R].
CBD oil helped me greatly reduce my food sensitivities. If you struggle with food sensitivities, I’d recommend experimenting with CBD oil as well as the Lectin Avoidance Diet, a diet specifically designed to help you pinpoint the exact foods that give you a reaction so you can start eating worry free.
11) Cannabidiol May Lower Diabetes Risk
Although marijuana use is known to increase appetite and calorie intake, it has been linked to lower BMI, less obesity, and reduced chance of diabetes [R].
In one study (observational) of 4,657 adult men and women, past and current marijuana users had lower fasting glucose and insulin levels (by 16%), lower waist circumference and BMI, lower insulin resistance (by 18%), and higher HDL. Since all these factors are connected to the onset of diabetes, marijuana seems to offer protection [R].
Cannabidiol could prevent and delay the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in a mouse study. It could also reduce inflammatory cytokines in these diabetic mice, shifting the immune response from Th1 (autoimmune) to Th2. This would be especially important for type I diabetes, which has a strong autoimmune basis [R].
CBD is known to be safe in humans. But it may be used to prevent both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially at the early disease stages, if more clinical studies confirm these findings [R].
12) Cannabidiol May Protect the Heart
So far, some animal and cellular studies suggest that CBD could protect the heart by relaxing blood vessels, reducing inflammation, and combating oxidative stress.
CBD relaxed the arteries and protected blood vessels from damage in animal models of heart disease [R].
CBD can influence different blood cells. In platelets, it reduced the clumping that can contribute to the clogging of blood vessels. In white blood cells, it reduces inflammatory processes. Both add to its heart-protective effects [R, R].
However, more studies would need to show if CBD can prevent heart disease in humans.
13) Cannabidiol May Reduce Depression
14) Cannabidiol May Help with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
So far, several animal and cellular studies point to CBD as beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is not surprising, having in mind its proven anti-inflammatory effects that can be extended to the gut. Human studies have yet to confirm these benefits, though.
The combination of CBD and THC reduced inflammation and IBD-causing symptoms in tissue models of IBD. It may help with as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and reduced appetite [R].
15) Cannabidiol May Protect Against Bacteria
CBD showed some microbe-killing activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), which often causes tricky, difficult-to-treat, hospital infections [R].
16) Cannabidiol May Protect Against Mad Cow Disease
Studies show cannabidiol inhibits prions, the proteins that cause fatal brain diseases (such as mad cow disease). It increased the survival time of infected mice by almost a week [R].
17) Cannabidiol May Enhance Bone Growth
Although much less known, our bones also have little-researched receptors for cannabinoids.
CBD could enhance the healing of broken limbs in mice. Both CBD and THC were tested, but only CBD activated genetic pathways that also increase collagen structure [R].
18) CBD May Help Movement Disorders (Dyskinesia)
Dyskinesia is a type of movement disorder and causes involuntary movements. These movements can become so severe that it makes daily life difficult. It’s most common as a side effect of Parkinson’s disease or schizophrenia therapy. Sometimes the mood disorder is not connected to any other disease.
CBD did not improve movement disorders based on the studies mentioned in the Neurodegenerative Benefits (4th) section of this post.
CBD did reduce the symptoms of dyskinesia in mice, though [R].
- CBD reduces the production of inflammatory markers
- CBD decreased enzymes that contribute to dyskinesia [R]
CBD (together with a TRPV-1 antagonist) reduced dyskinesia via the cannabinoid system (CB1) and inflammation pathways (activating PPAR gamma, reducing COX-2 and NF-kB) [R].
19) Cannabidiol May Help with Insomnia
Research suggests taking CBD before bed improves sleep in people with insomnia. It helped a 10-year-old girl struggling with insomnia, anxiety and PTSD [R].
It could help with sleep due to its relaxing, anxiety-reducing effects [R].
It actually appears to have benefits over THC, which can worsen sleep quality long-term [R].
In fact, cannabis users with insomnia prefer strains much higher in CBD as a sleep aid and are less likely to become dependent (according to a survey of 163 adults purchasing medical cannabis) [R].
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20) Cannabidiol May Help with Substance Use Disorders
In those suffering from chronic pain, cannabis use, in general, reduces the use of opioid painkillers [R].
There is a lack of effective and safe treatments for the growing number of people suffering from opioid use disorder. CBD is a promising, safe alternative [R].
21) Cannabidiol May Help with Quitting Smoking
Research suggests that inhaling CBD may help reduce or quit smoking. In a pilot study of 24 smokers (DB-RCT), cannabidiol reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by about 40%, without increasing cravings for nicotine [R].
22) Cannabidiol May Reduce Acne
CBD decreases the production of oils (sebum) by the skin’s oil-producing glands and reduced the number of these glands in a study on human skin (tissue study). It also had anti-inflammatory effects, all of which would be very beneficial for acne. We’re hoping to see more research and more CBD-based skincare products soon [R].
23) Cannabidiol May Play a Role in Psoriasis
CBD reduces excessive division of skin cells (keratinocytes), which could be beneficial for psoriasis [R].
- CBD activates the serotonin system (activating 5HT1A receptors, and to a lesser extent, 5HT2A receptors) [R]
- CBD reduces nausea and vomiting, depression, appetite, anxiety, sleep and addictions via activating 5HT1A receptors, [R, R, R]
- CBD protects the brain from lack of oxygen, at least in part, via 5HT1A receptors [R]
- CBD plays a role in the perception of pain and inflammation by activating the TRPV-1 receptor [R]
- CBD has the ability to increase anandamide (activates cannabinoid receptors) by blocking the FAAH enzyme, which helps for anxiety and depression
Side Effects & Safety
CBD is generally well tolerated, and safe at high doses, and with chronic use in humans [R].
Joe’s Experience With CBD
Lower functioning cannabinoid receptors are a fundamental issue of mine. I believe they were chief contributors to my food sensitivities, so fixing those are my top priority.
In addition, I suspect there are other pathways and epigenetic factors that make it work even less well. This may be why I do well on CBD.
Since taking CBD regularly, I have been able to introduce some foods back into my diet without any inflammatory symptoms.
CBD dosage can vary anywhere from 100 mg up to even 3 g per day, depending on the health issue being targeted.
For protecting the brain (such as in Alzheimer’s) and reducing inflammation and muscle twitching (MS), doses of 100 to 600 mg of CBD were used in clinical studies. In some studies, patients took as much CBD oil as they needed to feel pain or muscle spasm relief.
Doses up to 800 mg CBD daily were used for psychosis and schizophrenia.
The highest CBD doses used in studies were up to 3.5 g of CBD oil daily for very severe drug-resistant seizures in children and young adults with epilepsy.
300 mg per day was enough to reduce anxiety in clinical studies.
Joe recommends taking 150 mg of CBD oil 2X a day for anxiety and inflammation relief.
Overall, at higher doses (somewhere over 400mg), CBD becomes less effective for anxiety but better for pain relief. At higher doses, CBD activates TRPV1, which can cause anxiety and increased body temperature, while also decreasing pain (R, R).
Sativex is a THC/CBD combination spray approved in Canada. It contains 2.7 mg delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 2.5 mg cannabidiol (CBD) per spray (100 µL). The typical starting dose is 2 X per day, and the maximum 12 X per day. It’s used to relieve pain, as well as to reduce muscle spasms in MS.
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