Until recently, most cannabis research focused on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, clinical and laboratory researchers have since changed their focus to CBD as a more promising therapeutic agent. They now know that CBD’s actions within the human body are quite different from those of THC.
This article will offer an overview of what scientists and doctors know about CBD’s effects on the human body in 2020.
Is CBD a Therapeutic Compound?
For those who have never tried cannabidiol, it’s worth briefly discussing what CBD feels like before moving on to how it works. The first thing to understand is that CBD is not psychoactive. According to researchers Robert E. Vann et al., CBD may even “ameliorate adverse effects” associated with THC use .
Most consumers who use CBD report experiencing feelings of increased calm and relaxation. Those who struggle with chronic pain, anxiety, or other underlying conditions may notice a lessening of their symptoms, typically without adverse side effects. Even high doses of CBD are generally well-tolerated.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD operates indirectly on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Unlike THC, which binds directly to the ECS’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD harnesses the endocannabinoids produced in the human body to balance the ECS naturally.
When CBD is introduced into users’ systems, it blocks anandamide’s reuptake, a key endocannabinoid responsible for regulating the ECS. To understand why that’s such a vital function, readers will need a basic understanding of the ECS and how it works.
The ECS is responsible for maintaining a state of homeostasis in the body. It impacts everything from mood and cognition to the perception of pain, sleep-wake cycles, and even hunger. The ECS’s ability to control multiple bodily systems helps explain why CBD has such broad therapeutic effects.
Scientifically-Proven Applications for CBD
Initially, most research into CBD focused on its ability to control seizures in pediatric patients with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy. The FDA approved the first drug containing CBD for this purpose in 2018, but there is little reason to believe it is any more effective than pure, hemp-based consumer products.
CBD research has expanded in the past decade to study the cannabinoid’s effect on diverse other physical and mental health conditions.
Researchers now believe CBD could help with treating or managing:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- Anxiety disorders
- And many other common issues
Readers should now have a better idea of CBD’s potential as a therapeutic agent. It’s time to take an in-depth look at how these scientifically-proven benefits could be applied in the real world.
How CBD May Improve Mental Health
Researchers Alline Cristina Campos and Francisco Silveria Guimaraes believe CBD’s anxiolytic effects may be more complicated than previous studies implied. It may not be just CBD’s ability to inhibit anandamide metabolism that reduces anxiety and psychosis and improves mood.
During a lab study of CBD’s anxiolytic effects, Campos and Guimaraes found that “CBD interacts with 5HT1A receptors”  in the dorsolateral periaqueductal gray (dlPAG) midbrain structure. They note that the test subjects also produced noticeable responses in the ECS.
By identifying the 5HT1A receptor as a potential site of action, Campos and Guimaraes showed that CBD’s mood-enhancing effects might also result from the compound’s activity on the serotonergic system.
How CBD May Help With Physical Health Conditions
In addition to potentially reducing epileptic seizures, CBD’s actions on the ECS and other systems may help with diverse other health conditions. One of the most promising avenues for research today is studying the link between CBD and cancer.
Researchers Brigitta Kis et al. composed a comprehensive review of extant scientific literature on CBD’s potential anti-cancer effects. The research under review includes both in vitro and in vivo studies.
According to Kis et al., CBD has “anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties”  that may help control tumors’ spread. The researchers also believe CBD’s anti-invasive, cytotoxic, pro-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative effects may play a role in fighting the spread of cancer.
The possibility that a natural herb could help to fight cancer is arguably the most attention-grabbing of CBD’s effects on the body. However, it’s far from the only physical benefit of CBD. Other research indicates that CBD could improve heart health, manage chronic pain, reduce the symptoms and severity of sleep disorders, and more.
How CBD May Reduce the Effects of Aging
CBD doesn’t just reduce the symptoms of age-related physical diseases and disorders like arthritis. It may also act as a neuroprotectant. Researchers Javier Fernandez-Ruiz et al. believe it is not the molecule’s indirect action on the ECS that causes these effects as much as its ability to activate “metabotropic receptors for serotonin or adenosine” .
The combined effect of ECS regulation and CBD’s impact on serotonergic and adrenergic systems could slow or even stop neurodegenerative disease progression. Researchers also believe that CBD could help the body naturally regenerate neurons and neural pathways following acute brain injuries.
CBD as a Wellness Supplement
Not everyone who uses CBD struggles with underlying physical or mental health disorders. Many otherwise, healthy consumers take it as a daily wellness supplement.
CBD’s efficacy as a daily wellness supplement varies based on the state of a consumer’s ECS. Since CBD is an adaptogen, its primary mechanism is to optimize the functioning of the ECS. This adaptogenic action helps to explain why not everyone responds to CBD.
Wellness enthusiasts who already have perfectly balanced endocannabinoid systems may notice few effects when they use CBD. If their bodies are already producing optimal levels of anandamide and metabolizing it at slow rates, CBD may not have much of an impact.
That said, the majority of people experience at least some ECS dysregulation. Even in the absence of clinically diagnosable anxiety disorders, most Americans share a lot of stress, which may negatively impact ECS function. CBD may help to reduce stress and keep the ECS functioning at optimal levels.
Is CBD Worth Trying?
CBD is generally considered a very safe herbal supplement. It helps to improve daily wellness and reduce the severity of a variety of underlying diseases and disorders. There is little reason not to try CBD, as the vast majority of users report beneficial results.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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