CBD is popping everywhere these days. CBD oils, drinks, edibles, and topicals with their potential benefits and healing properties make more and more people recognise the effectiveness of this unique compound. In more recent years scientific research, public interest and media reporting have focussed on the legal status of cannabis and CBD. Advocates of the benefits of CBD oil have set out to educate the population on the differences between medical cannabis, cannabis-derived products such as CBD and cannabis used for recreational purposes.
A recent report by the BBC suggested that consumer interest in products containing CBD have soared recently with an estimated 11% of the population having tried a CBD product in the last year. The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) suggests that the consumer market has exploded with an estimated £300,000,000 currently being spent on CBD products and that at its current rate of growth it will be worth £1B by 2025. But why is CBD so special, and what effects can CBD products offer the users? Let’s delve into this question in his article.
First Thing First: What Is CBD?
Media interest and speculation around CBD and cannabinoids could lead us to believe that the use of cannabis products as medicine is relatively new. On the contrary, the therapeutic use of marijuana can be traced back to 2900 BC.
Cannabidiol (or just CBD) is a natural compound that works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to provide various health advantages without addiction or changes in a state of mind. CBD oil is delivered from the flowers of the cannabis plant and does not contain the psychoactive substance THC. CBD infused products can be sold in the UK as a food supplement but not as a medicine and is regulated by the Food Standards Agency as a novel food.
Several high-profile cases such as Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, both children who suffered from refractory epilepsy brought the issues to the forefront and prompted a change in the medicinal cannabis law. This change also helped to raise the profile of over the counter CBD products and set out guidance for the quality and effectiveness of these products.
Health benefits and relief from unwanted symptoms of certain illnesses are well documented, and the list is growing. Life-altering diseases such as epilepsy, neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain and symptoms associated with autoimmune disease such as MS and chronic fatigue syndrome, acne, cancers, Type 1 Diabetes and mental illness among many others. Growing scientific evidence suggests that CBD has a number of effects that help to relieve symptoms associated with these conditions. So, what are the potential positive effects of using products infused with CBD?
Relief For Nausea
Chronic nausea can be associated with conditions such as migraine, medications such as chemotherapy, gastrointestinal disorders, acquired brain injuries, chronic pain, or emotional disorders.
CBD is proven to interact with serotonin releasing receptors, and when given in relatively small doses has been shown to help soothe both nausea and vomiting. What’s more, CBD can be effective in reducing anxiety, which can help patients manage the angst of chronic nausea. When you consider that it is evaluated that migraine alone affects between 2.6 and 21% of the population, the potential of the use of CBD as an antiemetic is huge.
Potential Cancer Treatment
Cancer Research UK states that there has been a lot of interest into whether CBD might be useful as a cancer treatment. They suggest that the scientific research done so far has been laboratory research, with mixed results. Therefore more research is needed to know if cannabinoids can treat cancer in people.
However, results have shown that different cannabinoids can cause cell death, block cell growth, stop the development of blood vessels needed for tumours to grow, reduce inflammation, and reduce the ability of cancers to spread. There is a growing body of evidence to believe that cannabinoids can reduce tumour growth in animal models of cancer and that CBD may also enhance uptake or increase potency and that cannabinoids can have advantages in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.
In June 2018 The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies produced a review of the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis-based products. This review looked at the benefits of using cannabis‐based products toward a variety of different medical conditions, including epilepsy. Following this, the British Paediatric Neurology Association developed guidance on behalf of NHS England.
There is good quality clinical evidence including recommendations from the World Health Organisation that CBD has an antiepileptic effect in two severe epilepsy syndromes (Dravet Syndrome and Lennox‐Gastaut Syndrome) and evidence from open‐label studies and animal studies that it is likely to have an antiepileptic impact on the epilepsies in general.
Remedy For Mental Disorders
Since one in four individuals in the UK suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, one of the popular reasons for using CBD oil for anxiety and stress.
Evidence from several study domains suggests that CBD has some potential as an antipsychotic treatment and has also shown promise for treating certain mental health disorders.
Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviours relevant to multiple disorders with a notable lack of anxiogenic effects. Anxiety is typically treated with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs); however, in recent years, CBD oil has increased in popularity due to its natural properties. CBD has the ability to imitate serotonin by binding to the receptors, which can increase the feeling of happiness and satisfaction, in theory reducing anxiety.
CBD is also known as a powerful antioxidant. Due to its chemical structure, CBD can inhibit oxidation within the body. Oxidation produces free radicals which can induce a ripple effect by stealing electrons from vital proteins and even DNA molecules. Free radicals and oxidative stress have identified associations with ageing, cancer, and numerous neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Therefore, the ability of CBD to prevent this process can make it an effective method of battling these diseases.
More research is required to confirm that the use of CBD can impede the development of diseases that cause dementia. However, there is evidence that supports CBD’s effectiveness at reducing behavioural symptoms associated with the disease.
In comparison to the many benefits that CBD oil can provide, there have also been some negative side effects associated with its use. At present, research is limited as to the long-term side effects; however, there are unwanted effects which may outweigh the benefits for some people. As previously mentioned, for example, CBD can be used to treat anxiety and depression but could also cause an increase in both. Use of CBD can lead to low blood pressure which in turn lead to dizziness and fatigue.
More trivial side effects are diarrhoea and changes in appetites, which can be explained through CBD link to serotonin. In extreme cases, hallucinations are also a possibility. This, along with the chemical’s association with cannabis, leads to many users being hesitant to experiment with its medicinal qualities. Often, users of CBD can suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and insomnia; however, this is not linked to the addictive qualities of cannabis and THC.
It is clear that while there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence surrounding the benefits of CBD, further large scale research is needed to support the regulated growth of the industry and allow people to make informed choices as part of a recognised treatment plan.
Steve Moore, founder of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis is quoted to say ‘the wave of popularity around CBD, which offers a great opportunity for the UK itself, now needs to be grounded on a strong foundation of research, proportionate regulation and quality standards.’
Additionally, the release of the plans for the new Association for the Cannabinoid Industry Safety Certification programme launched on 31st March 2020 is hoped to give consumers and retailers new confidence in CBD enriched products on the market in the UK.