Conclusion: CBD may help with depression but more trials are needed.
Instead, CBD has been credited with relieving numerous medical conditions, such as epilepsy, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia, and pain. Although “credited” does not mean proven. Because of the historical regulatory landscape, there are hardly any well-conducted trials backing up those claims, although research is expected to ramp up now that laws distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of over 200 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in cannabis. It is the second most prevalent active compound found in cannabis, behind THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in cannabis that has psychoactive properties and gives people a high. 2
6. Sleep disorders
Conclusion: CBD is beneficial for treating certain types of epilepsy.
Conclusion: Topical CBD may be beneficial at relieving arthritis but no high-quality human studies prove this.
CBD can interact with other medications used for epilepsy and some serious side effects have been reported, notably, a decrease in liver function when given to people already taking valproate.
Animal studies have shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and works on the endocannabinoid and pain-sensing systems to relieve pain.
CBD oil is an extract of Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa—the same plants that, when dried, make marijuana. CBD oil is believed by some to treat pain, reduce anxiety, and stimulate appetite in the same way that marijuana does, but without its psychoactive effects. CBD has also shown promise in treating certain types of seizures.
The tricky part is calculating the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL (or more).
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Part of this response could be explained by the way that CBD acts in the brain. In low doses, CBD may act as an agonist to several receptor sites, meaning it acts similarly to surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor, enhancing the signalling of those receptor sites. At higher doses, however, too much activity at the receptor site can lead to an opposite effect, negating the beneficial effects of CBD.
CBD oil should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics warned women to avoid marijuana during pregnancy due to the potential risks to a baby’s development. Although it is unclear how CBD contributes, CBD is known to pass through the placental barrier.
Since some CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC, you should avoid driving or using heavy machinery when taking CBD oil, particularly when first starting treatment or using a new brand.
Evelyn Nussenbaum, the mother of the first patient to receive Epidiolex, remembered reading a study about treating seizures with CBD in (you guessed it) rats in 2011, and thinking, “My son needs access to that.” Her son Sam became part of a one-person trial at the University of California-San Francisco. His seizures were drastically reduced without side effects, and in 2015, the doctor overseeing his care co-authored a study of 214 patients with severe childhood-onset epilepsy that showed a 36.5% median decrease in seizures over a 12-week treatment period with oral CBD.
(In this bonkers and somewhat upsetting 2012 study, scientists observed the behavior of mice, some of which were pre-treated with CBD, after a wild boa constrictor was introduced to an “arena” with them. Spoiler alert: “In no case did a snake eat an experimental mouse.” But the CBD-treated mice did exhibit fewer “panic-like” responses, such as freezing, urinating, or attempting an “explosive escape,” when faced with the snake. Researchers concluded the CBD-treated mice were experiencing less fear than those who got the placebo, despite this truly terrifying scenario. So there’s that.)
It could if it’s mixed with THC. A small human study showed that nabiximols (brand name Sativex) an oral spray which contains an approximately 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD and is prescribed outside the US for muscle spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis, also helped to reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Oh yeah, nausea. Could CBD help that?
For Epidiolex’s manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals to receive FDA approval for the drug, clinical trials were imperative. In one such double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 120 participants, CBD reduced the number of seizures by about half in 40% of patients—and eliminated them completely in three cases.
If you’re still reading this, you might like to know that the rats who were given CBD regularly for two weeks seemed to experience some relief over that time period, suggesting that CBD could help with chronic pain. (An acute dose wasn’t effective.)
But as Cooper notes, “to understand cannabidiol’s effect on anxiety, you want to test it in a population that has anxiety, and look at what happens when they’re using cannabidiol every day for a couple of weeks.” In this study, each subject only got a single dose.
“There really isn’t very much evidence in humans with respect to its effectiveness,” says Ziva Cooper, the research director at the University of California-Los Angeles Cannabis Research Initiative. “And when I say evidence in humans, I’m really talking about rigorous, double-blind placebo-controlled studies.” On the other hand, Cooper says, there’s also not much research showing that cannabidiol doesn’t work for things. “There is just a general lack of studies—period.”