What Are The Uses And Benefits Of CBD?
Many people living with chronic conditions like pain, anxiety, problems sleeping and digestive issues are looking for new ways to manage their symptoms. Some have found help from CBD.
Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD acts on a system in the body called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS regulates a number of functions such as pain, appetite, immune system response and sleep. Unlike the compound THC, CBD does not have a psychoactive effect. This makes it an option for those who want to treat symptoms without the “high” side effects THC causes.
Patients with chronic pain are often prescribed opioids or drugs with strong side effects. Many look to CBD as a supplement to help them reduce their use of pharmaceuticals. Studies show that CBD may help patients manage pain from conditions like arthritis, migraine, multiple sclerosis and cancer treatment. It does so in a number of ways:
- CBD can act on the ECS to reduce pain-causing inflammation.
- Studies show CBD can reduce glutamate levels in mice, which are associated with the transmission and sensation of pain.
- In humans, CBD has been known to improve anandamide signaling. Healthy levels of anandamide are linked to feelings of well-being and happiness.
Because both humans and animals have an endocannabinoid system, CBD’s uses can extend to pets. Many pet owners use CBD oil for dogs to treat chronic conditions like cancer pain, arthritis and seizures.
Anxiety and Depression
Scientists are still working to understand how CBD affects receptors in the brain. However, it is believed CBD may alter levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates social behavior and mood. Low levels of serotonin are sometimes associated with depression and anxiety.
CBD can help with related disorders. Multiple studies show CBD can help treat PTSD symptoms like recurring nightmares and rehashing bad memories. These studies explore CBD as a standalone treatment for PTSD as well as a companion to cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. In a 2011 study, CBD showed promise in treating seasonal affective disorder by reducing anxiety levels.
Preliminary studies on rats show CBD can affect weight by acting on receptors in lymphoid tissue and the brain. These receptors are believed to regulate metabolism and food intake. The studies showed significant weight reduction in rats injected with CBD. While initial animal research is promising, more human studies need to take place to support the findings.
Because CBD helps the ECS balance functions in the body, it can both suppress and boost the immune system, depending on how the body regulates it.
Inflammation is normally the body’s way of responding to infection, as it isolates infected areas and prevents toxins from spreading. In patients with autoimmune diseases, however, the body responds with too much inflammation. Studies show that CBD can suppress inflammation in patients with autoimmune disorders like arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
In patients with immunodeficiency, CBD can help the body increase white blood cell production, boosting the immune response in patients with conditions like HIV. It does so by adjusting the secretion or functioning of cytokines, proteins secreted by the immune system that help regulate immunity, white blood cell production and inflammation.
CBD can help balance the ECS receptors that regulate the sleep/wake cycle, helping to restore a healthy sleep pattern. It can reduce daytime sleepiness, reduce insomnia and increase sleep amounts.
Many conditions can interfere with the ability to sleep, such as:
- Chronic stress
- REM behavior disorder in patients with Parkinson’s disease
Because CBD helps the ECS restore balance to body functions and reduce these symptoms, CBD can help people sleep by reducing the conditions that interfere with normal sleep patterns.
Scientists are still learning how CBD works with the body, but many studies point to the ability of cannabidiol to help with chronic conditions. If you’re considering CBD treatment, talk to your doctor to learn if it’s right for you.
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