Three Medical Benefits of CBD
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Scientific evidence has indicated the effectiveness of CBD in treating childhood epilepsy conditions, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which often don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In many studies, CBD helped reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, stopped them altogether. Epidiolex contains CBD and, in 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for the treatment of Dravet Syndrome.
CBD is recognized for its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and, over the years, clinical trials and other studies have dug deeper into its therapeutic properties and effects. From this, we know it can support the treatment of many other conditions.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric conditions; the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 19.1% of US adults experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year. When consumed, CBD interacts with several receptors known to regulate fear and anxiety behaviours: the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and the transient receptor potential (TRP) vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptor.
Early scientific research, preclinical evidence, and randomized clinical studies support the potential use of CBD in reducing anxiety. While the evidence is less advanced than that related to the treatment of epilepsy, a growing body of research is dedicated to understanding how CBD can address the acute and long-term effects of anxiety disorders. Therefore, manufacturers must continue to invest in human studies to understand its true effects and benefits.
The US has seen an unprecedented epidemic of opioid addiction in the last decade, yet few treatments for heroin-use disorders are currently available. Several studies have suggested that ingesting regulated amounts of CBD consistently can help reduce withdrawal-induced cravings. As well as this, it can ease the restlessness, anxiety, and irritability that come with transitioning away from substance abuse.
Human studies are limited in this area but the evidence we do have largely comes from randomized clinical trials. For example, a study of 42 participants that were either given a CBD medication or a placebo found that those receiving a non-psychoactive CBD treatment reported less craving after being exposed to drug cues compared with the placebo group. Individuals receiving CBD also reported less anxiety after being exposed to drug cues compared with those receiving the placebo.
Psychotic disorders, such as Schizophrenia, cause hallucinations and delusions, distorting a person’s perceptions and thoughts. According to NIMH statistics, around 3% of people in the US experience at least one psychotic episode during their lives, and CBD is being touted as a potential treatment.
While existing antipsychotics, such as Haloperidol, block dopamine receptors in the brain, CBD works partly by modulating the endocannabinoid system, a group of proteins and molecules produced in the human body responsible for many cellular and physiological functions. Although scientific research is yet to result in a clinically approved CBD-based antipsychotic treatment, there is a growing body of animal and human studies looking into its effects on the symptoms of psychotic conditions.
Let’s take the time to reflect on existing evidence into medicinal uses for CBD and what further evidence is needed to ensure regulatory confidence and approval. With medicinal cannabis now approved for the treatment of some of the cruellest epileptic conditions, the door is open for its use in addressing many other disorders, including anxiety, depression, and the effects of substance abuse.