The endocannabinoid system (ECS) helps regulate many bodily functions, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, pain, and immune system response. It produces endocannabinoids – neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system and improve how they function. Cannabidiol (CBD) stimulates these cannabinoid receptors into producing more endocannabinoids. But CBD is also non-psychoactive, unlike THC, making it an attractive option for those who want physical and mental relief without getting high. Here’s a quick rundown of the three most well-researched cannabidiol effects.
Research suggests that CBD may be useful in treating symptoms of neurological disorders.
In particular, CBD oil has been shown to significantly reduce seizure activity in children with severe and treatment-resistant epileptic conditions. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for CBD’s effects on epilepsy too.
Several studies have found some evidence that CBD treatment improved quality of life and sleep quality for people with Parkinson’s disease.
And a few studies have observed a link between CBD and slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Research has been able to draw a link between CBD and pain relief. CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain responses, both notoriously difficult types of chronic pain to treat. It, therefore, has practical applications for:
- Arthritis pain, inflammation and sleep quality
- Sciatic nerve pain and inflammation
- Multiple sclerosis-related spasticity
Anxiety and insomnia
Unlike THC, which can be known to trigger feelings of paranoia, CBD may help reduce anxiety.
CBD was found to help children from a 2016 study with PTSD-related insomnia and anxiety.
Some scientists also believe it can relieve:
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Other cannabidiol effects
CBD is believed to help more conditions, although for many of them, more human scientific evidence is needed. These include:
- Psychotic disorders e.g. schizophrenia
- Substance addiction
- Heart problems – including high blood pressure and heart disease
- Side effects of cancer treatment
- Growth of some cancer cells
As with any substance, some users will experience side effects. These are generally uncommon, especially when compared with conventional medicines. Reported side effects include:
- Mood swings
- Dry mouth
- Appetite changes
Liver disease patients should only use CBD under guidance from their doctor, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it entirely. CBD can also interact with certain medications.
Image credit: Eric Ward on Unsplash
Can CBD help your pets?
Although evidence on CBD’s benefits for cats and other pets is lacking, it has been praised for how it interacts with dogs.
No formal scientific study on how CBD affects dogs exists. However, anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggests it can help treat:
- Pain – especially neuropathic
- Low appetite
- Heart issues
Side effects have been found to include dry mouth, a temporary drop in blood pressure, and drowsiness. Therefore, if you’re thinking of treating your pet with CBD, it’s critically important to avoid any product that includes THC, as this is toxic to animals.
Should you consider CBD treatment?
Sometimes it’s very difficult to know exactly how much CBD is in a product. A study in 2017 found that labeling was inconsistent with actual CBD content, and products sometimes even contained THC when they had claimed not to. CBD is still classed as a dietary supplement, and the FDA doesn’t regulate the safety and purity of these.
The most important thing to note about cannabidiol effects is to exercise caution when treating yourself and loved ones (human or animal), and always start with a low dose.