An A to Z of CBD

An A to Z of CBD
Image © Tinnakorn jorruang/Shutterstock

Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is medical grade cannabis and while it doesn’t offer a high, it is causing quite a buzz as a tool for managing pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant, AKA marijuana.

In a recent interview with Pure Health Hub, Dr Laurence Kemp, Head of Medical at CanniHelp, pointed out that cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years but prohibition throughout most of the 20th Century meant it was something that wasn’t used commonly by the medical community.

While scientific studies into the efficacy of CBD are still in their infancy, evidence has overwhelmingly demonstrated that CBD is a safe, user-friendly natural chemical that may assist with a wide variety of health issues, including pain, addiction management, epilepsy, depression, and anxiety, as well as offering protection against neurodegenerative diseases.

How is cannabidiol different from marijuana?

CBD is found in marijuana, but they’re not the same. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis, but  unlike its wayward sibling, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has strong psychoactive effects, CBD does not alter consciousness or trigger a high. Indeed, it is thought to have an anti-psychoactive effect and has been demonstrated to aid anxiety, depression, and seizures. A 2018  World Health Organisation report stated, “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”

Where and how can I source it?

Australia joined dozens of other countries including but in no way limited to, New Zealand, Germany, Canada,  United Kingdom and the USA, in legalising medical cannabidiol in 2015 as a Schedule 4 Prescription Only treatment (some low dose cannabidiol preparations will move to Schedule 3 Pharmacist Only Medicine in 2021).  Unfortunately, at this time no products have been approved for sale In Australia and it is not available without a prescription.

The reported health benefits of cannabidiol

Historically and anecdotally, cannabinoids have been used as analgesic agents and some recent studies have demonstrated its anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic effects.

While cannibidiol  has demonstrated several potential areas of benefits, particularly in addiction, sleep disorders, digestion, chronic pain and inflammation, muscle and nerve function, mental health disorders, motor strength dysfunction and seizures, its effectiveness for some medical conditions does require further research.

  • CBD for pain and inflammation

Ongoing scientific research shows a moderate amount of evidence to support the use of cannabidiol as effective treatment for the relief of chronic pain. Studies show that the analgesic effect of cannabinoids include inhibition of the release of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides from presynaptic nerve endings, modulation of postsynaptic neuron excitability, activation of descending inhibitory pain pathways, and reduction of neural inflammation.   Further studies have found that CBD may provide a safe and useful treatment option for the joint pain associated with osteoarthritis while a systematic review and meta-analysis of the use of cannabinoids for chronic neuropathic pain caused by damage to the nerves (common in diseases such as multiple sclerosis), also found that CBD had an analgesic effect.

  • CBD for Mental health 

Research into the therapeutic role of CBD in mental health have demonstrated promise.  A systematic review of case reports, case series, open-label trials, non-randomised and randomised controlled trials published in 2020 found that CBD and CBD-containing compounds have proven helpful in alleviating psychotic symptoms and cognitive impairment in patients with a variety of conditions. Initial studies on CBD as a treatment for depression and anxiety, have also shown promise, with research suggesting CBD exhibits anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, as CBD interacts with receptors in the brain known to regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviours.

  • CBD for Epilepsy

Clinical trials of the efficacy of cannabidiol as a treatment for epilepsy showed impressive results with those administered pharmaceutical grade CBD experiencing a significant drop in seizure frequency (39 percent decrease), compared with the placebo group.  The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia reports limited but high-quality evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis products in epilepsy when used as an adjuvant to other anti-epileptic drugs.  Studies in the United States indicate there is evidence that cannabis can be helpful in controlling seizures in some cases, especially for difficult to control syndromes like Dravet Syndrome in children and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS).

  • CBD for addiction management and treatment

Some experts suggest that CBD can help modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction.  Preclinical studies suggest that cannabidiol may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, while a systemic review of preliminary data also suggests that it may benefit cannabis and tobacco addiction by reducing cue-induced cravings and anxiety.

  • CBD and cancer

With research in its infancy, it is too early to lay claims on the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for cancer, however initial small pilot studies are showing some promise. There has also been anecdotal evidence that cannabidiol can help manage pain and decrease anxiety related to cancer and its treatment. CBD acts indirectly on CB2 receptors, providing potential pain relief via a reduction of inflammation, in cases when the administration of traditional pain relief isn’t effective.

Possible side effects

Clinical trials of Cannabidiol (CBD) indicate it is well tolerated and has relatively few serious adverse effects, with the main low level toxicity issues drowsiness, diarrhoea, and vomiting. However, interactions with other medications should be monitored carefully.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health, seek immediate medical attention.