Benefits of CBD, An Alphabetical List

By Marc Lewis

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis. CBD interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates appetite, anxiety, mood, and pain. Scientists identified the impact of cannabinoids on our health in the early 90s, and lately these curious compounds have garnered serious attention from an increasingly diverse group of people seeking relief.

Part of the excitement around cannabinoids relates to their anti-inflammatory potential. Inflammation is linked to many health issues—from mild pain and discomfort to depression and anxiety, to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

But the potential applications of cannabis are much broader.

First, let’s look at four health benefits commonly associated with CBD.

1.     Relieves pain: CBD has analgesic effects and the side effects associated with cannabis are less than many over-the-counter and prescription pain killers. The risk of dependency is also lower.  

2.     Relieves anxiety: Studies have shown CBD can reduce social anxiety. There is also evidence supporting CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

3.     Aids in the treatment of cancer: Cannabis has long been used to help relieve symptoms associated with chemotherapy, including nausea and vomiting. But increasingly scientists are studying how cannabinoids like cannabis might inhibit the growth of tumors.

4.     Prevents seizures: The first FDA-approved medication containing CBD is Epidiolex, which is indicated for the treatment of two rare forms of pediatric seizures. While the FDA warned that more research is necessary before people start attributing more health claims to CBD, the approval of this medicine was decades in the making.

Keep in mind that experts we speak with express enthusiasm and skepticism.

Researchers speak of remarkable outcomes. They are eager to discuss decades of research on the positive impact cannabis may have on health. Most also admit regulations, funding, and opportunities for studies limit conclusive answers.

Alphabetical list of potential health benefits of CBD

Here we’ve included

  • The condition
  • A summary of findings
  • And a Cannabis Health Index (CHI) score for each condition. The CHI uses a 5-point system to note the efficacy of cannabis (not just CBD) in a condition. 1 point notes a possibility of efficacy, while 5 points represents demonstrable efficacy.
Condition Evidence CHI Score (1-5)
ADHD CBD may make more dopamine available to the brain, much like stimulant medications prescribed to treat ADHD. The 1:1 CBD/THC medicine Sativex was shown to improve cognition and behavior in adults with ADHD.

 

 

2
Addiction CBD may dull the “reward” an addicted brain gets from opioids. It also may alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid overdose deaths were almost 25% lower in states with medicinal cannabis laws.

 

2.5
Alzheimer’s Disease CBD has shown promise in neutralizing free radicals, reducing inflammation in the brain, and combatting oxidation, thus having neuroprotective potential.

We spoke with a researcher who suggests a “puff a day might keep Alzheimer’s away.”

 

2.5
Anxiety Cannabis has been used to reduce anxiety for centuries. Though THC may increase feelings of unease, CBD has shown positive impacts on generalized anxiety, social anxiety, OCD, and PTSD.

 

 

3
Arthritis CBD can help reduce inflammatory pain associated with arthritis.

 

2.5
Asthma CBD may help combat airway hyperactivity and asthma.

 

2.5
Autism In addition to combating seizures, CBD may help with aggressive behavior, repetitive behaviors, and hyperactivity and social issues.

 

2.5
Autoimmune Disorders CBD may reduce pain associated with inflammation, but can also contribute to balance in the immune system.

 

 

4
Cancer CBD can help manage symptoms associated with chemotherapy, but is also showing promise in inhibiting tumor growth and metastases.

 

 

1-4
Concussions, Head Trauma CBD has neuroprotective properties and may help healing after brain trauma.

 

 

2.5
Depression, Mood Disorders CBD may increase the body’s access to serotonin and dopamine, helping combat feelings of sadness. Research has also shown a link between brain inflammation and mood disorders.

 

 

2.5
Diabetes Cannabis has shown promise in regulating weight, preventing obesity, and stabilizing blood sugars. CBD may also help with pain or improve circulation to off-set symptoms associated with diabetes.

 

 

3.5
Eating Disorders Research supports a profound connection between the endocannabinoid system, the brain, and eating disorders. CBD may help prevent obesity or encourage weight gain in cases of anorexia.

 

2.5-3
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Anti-oxidants help gut inflammation. Also a healthy endocannabinoid system can help regulate inflammatory responses in the body. This points to CBD as a promising treatment for IBS.

 

 

3.5
Migraines Some research has connected migraines with endocannabinoid deficiencies and abnormal inflammatory responses, both of which CBD may treat.

 

3.5
Multiple Sclerosis Sativex has shown promise in treating symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis.

 

 

3
Nausea, Vomiting Cannabinoids are anti-emetic.

 

 

3
Neurodegenerative Diseases, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s With neuroprotective properties, CBD may help prevent or delay the on-set of some neurodegenerative diseases.

 

2-3
Pain Cannabis, in all its forms, has been used to treat pain for centuries. Evidence supports cannabinoids as an analgesic.

 

3
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Cannabis may help the mind eliminate traumatic memories, or help a person cope with those memories. CBD shows promise as it does not encourage dependency or abuse, as marijuana can.

 

3
Schizophrenia CBD can help reduce stress and may have antipsychotic potential.

 

2.5
Seizure Disorders CBD may reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of seizures.

 

3
Skin Conditions, Acne, Psoriasis CBD may help balance the immune system, control inflammation, and potentially prevent outbreaks.

 

2.5
Sleep Disorders CBD may help treat insomnia, though for some CBD can contribute to alertness.

 

 

3.5

Preventative Benefits

In addition to treating certain conditions, CBD may have preventative health benefits. This chart is a round-up of those potential benefits with links to relevant medical studies on each area of the body or condition.

Area of Body/Condition Benefit
Bone
Cancer
Diabetes
Heart
Inflammation
  • Cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties, which could guard against conditions such as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety
Mind
Weight

You will find suggestions across the web that cannabis is a magic antidote, poised to help humankind were it not for an obstructive government. This type of evangelism is great for driving up excitement, but less helpful to your health. It’s important to keep in mind that research is on-going and human trials are limited. You should always consult a healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any medication. That said, CBD has also shown promise in treating several health conditions. Those benefits range from helping your body achieve balance to relieving symptoms, which allows you to get well.

Risks and Side Effects

The World Health Organization suggests CBD is relatively safe. Also, the side effects of CBD are less than many of the side effects associated with drugs traditionally prescribed to treat the same conditions.

But there are risks associated with taking CBD or other cannabis derivatives.

The most common side effects are:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Here are a few questions to ask your doctor about CBD.

  1. Is CBD a possible treatment option for my condition?
  2. What are the risks associated with taking CBD or other cannabis derivatives to treat my condition?
  3. Would a cannabis derivative like CBD interfere with any of the medications I’m currently taking?
  4. How do the costs of cannabis-derived treatments compare the medications I’m currently taking?
  5. Are there journals or publications you can recommend where I can find additional information or hear more about the experiences of patients like me?

Key Considerations

Keep a few things in mind before you make a decision regarding your health and treatment options.

  • There is evidence to suggest CBD may have a positive benefit on your health.
  • More studies are needed to understand the potential and risks associated with CBD.
  • Do not stop taking or change your medications without first speaking to your doctor.

Additional Readings

In addition to the wealth of information available online and the researchers we’ve profiled, one book was tremendously helpful in compiling our charts and lists. CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis by Leonard Leinow & Juliana Birnbaum is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more.

 

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