Cannabidiol (CBD) has been gaining popularity as a potential treatment for a variety of medical conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, and epilepsy. Recent studies have shed light on the potential benefits and risks of CBD use, which have sparked a lot of interest and debate in the medical community. As more research is conducted, our understanding of CBD's effects on the body and its potential therapeutic applications continues to evolve. In this blog, we will explore some of the latest research on CBD and its potential benefits and risks.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is one of over 100 cannabinoids present in the plant, which also includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the plant's psychoactive effects. However, unlike THC, CBD does not produce a "high" and has been found to have potential therapeutic benefits.
CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating various bodily functions such as sleep, appetite, mood, and immune response. CBD does not directly bind to cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, but instead, it modulates their activity, which can have an impact on the body's response to various stimuli. While further research is needed to fully understand the extent of its effects, CBD has gained significant attention in recent years for its potential as a natural alternative to traditional medications.
Is CBD Legal?
In the United States, the legality of CBD depends on its source and the state in which it is being sold or used. CBD derived from hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC content is legal under federal law, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the list of controlled substances. However, CBD derived from marijuana plants is still considered a Schedule I substance under federal law, although some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.
Studies to Date
There have been several studies done on the effects and potential benefits of CBD. Here we have compiled some of the studies that explore CBD for several different medical conditions and situations.
CBD for Depression
The potential of CBD in alleviating symptoms of depression has been studied on animals, with promising findings. In a 2019 study, CBD exhibited antidepressant-like effects in rats genetically predisposed to depressive behavior, while a separate 2019 study showed a single dose of CBD had a rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effect in mice. CBD also improved anhedonia, a common symptom of depression, in rats with depressive-like symptoms in a 2016 study. Researchers believe that CBD activates serotonin 5-HT1a receptors, which play a crucial role in anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health conditions.
CBD may help with depression by influencing the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates our moods and contributes to our mental health. An imbalance in the ECS can cause depression and anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Studies suggest that the ECS can support healthy stress responses, promote neurogenesis, and mental plasticity.
Clinical research on CBD and depression is limited, but promising findings include a 2020 case report of a 16-year-old boy with severe depression, social phobia, and multiple substance abuse disorder, who saw improvements in anxiety and depression after taking CBD capsules for eight weeks. Similarly, a 2018 study showed improvements in depressive and psychotic symptoms and cognitive functions in chronic cannabis users who took pure CBD capsules daily for 10 weeks.
In a 2018 study of 2409 CBD users, depression was the third most common medical condition for which CBD was used, and 36% of respondents reported that CBD treated their condition "very well by itself." However, rigorous clinical trials using placebo groups in depression patients are needed to fully understand the potential of CBD in treating depression.
CBD for Anxiety
Initially, much of the research on the anxiety-reducing properties of CBD involved conducting behavioral tests on animal models.
In 1990, a groundbreaking study was conducted where rats were given 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg/kg doses of CBD to determine its effects on their behavior in an elevated plus-maze, a common tool used by researchers to study anxiety-related disorders such as PTSD.
Elevated plus mazes consist of open and closed sections, with anxious animals typically spending more time in the closed sections. At low doses (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg), the rats were found to be more exploratory and willing to enter the open spaces, indicating a reduction in anxiety.
These effects were similar to those produced by a 2 mg/kg dose of diazepam, also known as Valium, a widely-used drug for anxiety and calming effects in humans.
Since then, over 30 animal studies have confirmed the anti-anxiety effects of CBD through various behavioral tests. These studies have demonstrated that while high doses (~ 100 mg/kg) had no effect, lower doses (~ 10 mg/kg) were effective in reducing anxiety.
Additionally, some animal studies have suggested that CBD can also reduce stress, fight-or-flight responses, and compulsive behaviors. As a result, CBD is being investigated as a potential treatment for certain phobias and PTSD.
Animal studies have shown that CBD has anti-anxiety effects, which has led to numerous clinical studies being conducted on humans. As early as the 70s and 80s, double-blind studies found that CBD could reduce the anxiety caused by THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. Recent studies have further examined the use of CBD in treating anxiety disorders, with promising results.
In a 1993 study, participants who took 300 mg of CBD before a public speaking challenge reported feeling less anxious compared to those in the placebo group. This effect was comparable to known anti-anxiety medications. Another double-blind study in 2019 confirmed the anti-anxiety effects of CBD in everyday individuals, with those taking 300 mg reporting significantly lower anxiety.
A 2019 study on 72 patients with anxiety or sleep disorders found that after just 1 month of taking CBD, the majority of patients reported reduced anxiety, with few adverse effects reported. In a case study, CBD was found to be useful in reducing anxiety caused by PTSD in a 10-year-old girl.
Studies have also investigated the use of CBD in treating social anxiety disorder, with one study finding that those who took CBD reported significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during a public speaking challenge. Ongoing clinical trials are investigating the use of CBD for phobia-related anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.
Overall, these studies suggest that CBD may be a promising treatment option for anxiety disorders, but further research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness and optimal dosage.
Ways to Use CBD
Research has found that oral ingestion of cannabinoids can provide longer-lasting effects with fewer severe side effects, despite a delay of around 120 minutes before reaching peak concentration in the body. One way to increase the amount of cannabinoid absorbed is to use an oil-based formulation such as CBD oil. When using CBD oil, holding it under the tongue for at least 30-60 seconds and swishing it around the mouth can help absorption through the mucous membranes.
Using full or broad-spectrum CBD products instead of pure CBD can increase the effects of CBD, as these whole-plant extracts contain all of hemp's cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active ingredients. Working together, these compounds can enhance CBD's beneficial impact and create what researchers call the "entourage effect."
While less efficient, some people may find CBD capsules and soft gels to be a useful way to take CBD, especially if they are already taking prescription pills or other supplements daily.
Inhaling CBD is a great option for immediate relief. By inhaling vaporized CBD flower, consumers receive the full spectrum of cannabinoids along with experiencing the entourage effect. Those looking for a safe and effective way to consume CBD flower should check out the elon® device by E1011 Labs. The device pairs with prefilled and predosed flower pods known as stelo™, making it easy and convenient for users to get their dose of CBD whenever they need it.
What Does the Research Say?
In conclusion, while CBD has shown promising results in some studies related to anxiety and depression, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand its effects and potential benefits. As with any treatment, it is crucial to speak with a healthcare professional before incorporating CBD into your regimen, especially if you are currently taking any medications or have underlying health conditions. With further research, CBD may prove to be a valuable tool in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression, offering hope for those seeking alternative treatments.