Cannabidiol, or CBD is one of the major active ingredients in cannabis after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana has a mixture of both of these compounds in varying proportions. However, CBD and THC differ a lot when it comes to their properties.
While THC is a highly psychoactive compound, CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive. This is because THC imitates endocannabinoids – a type of neurotransmitters in the body – by activating CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, whereas CBD doesn’t act directly on these receptors, but enhances the levels of endocannabinoids. For this reason, THC is responsible for mind-altering or euphoric effect, which is actually not the case with CBD.
Mostly, medically suitable CBD is found in hemp, which is the least processed form of cannabis plant. CBD or cannabidiol accounts for about 40% of the plant’s extract and is available in the form of oil. It is abundantly found in almost every part of the cannabis plant, viz., in flowers, seeds and stalk, and this makes this compound easier to extract. It is an organic compound but can also be synthesized in laboratories.
Though not approved by the U.S. FDA, CBD has gained substantial popularity in the last couple of years; probably due to its claimed medicinal benefits. However, it too has some side effects, but not severe enough to deter a person to give up its consumption. Let’s discuss both in detail.
Health Benefits of CBD
Anti-Inflammatory and Natural Pain-Relieving Properties:
In a mice study, CBD is found to remarkably reduce pain and inflammation. Researches suggest that CBD can be a new way to treat chronic pain and inflammatory disorders in humans.
Helps Quit Smoking:
Researches suggest that CBD can actually help people quit smoking. It is found that smokers, who inhale CBD have decreased craving for nicotine.
Reduces Withdrawal Symptoms:
Studies suggest that CBD helps decrease or eliminate withdrawal symptoms like, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia and so on.
Beneficial in Epilepsy and Schizophrenia:
CBD can be used to treat the symptoms of epilepsy. Although researches are still going on to better understand how CBD reduces the frequency of seizures and how safe it is. In a recent study, moderate dosage of CBD (2-5 mg) reduced seizures by 36.5%, but around 12% patients experienced severe side effects.
Another study found that CBD and atypical antipsychotic drugs have similar effects and suggested that CBD can be used to treat patients with schizophrenia.
Effective in Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Cannabis provides relief from joint pain and swelling due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that regular, controlled use of cannabis for five days can reduce the intensity of pain, improves the quality of sleep and decrease inflammation.
According to National Cancer Institute, CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body and helps increase the appetite.
Helps Fight Against Cancer:
CBD is known for its anticancer and antitumor properties. According to a review, CBD checks the spread of cancer cells around the body. The review suggests that CBD kills cancer cells, especially in case of leukemia and colon cancer, and can be used for the treatment because of its low toxicity level.
It is also found to reduce glioma cell growth which indicates its usefulness as an antitumor agent.
Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is caused due to inflammation when immune system attacks the pancreatic cells. Researches suggest that CBD decreases the inflammation in the pancreas by inhibiting or delaying the production of inflammatory cytokines, and the destruction of insulin-producing cells.
CBD proves to be very helpful in treating acne. It helps combating acne by lowering down the production of sebum – an oily secretion from sebaceous glands in the skin responsible for acne.
Beneficial in Alzheimer’s Disease:
According to an article published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, CBD prevents the development of social recognition deficit in the patients of Alzheimer’s. This serves as the first evidence of CBD’s potential in preventing the symptoms of the disease.
Relief from nausea and vomiting is a major function of cannabis. Researches suggest that in low doses, CBD helps in reducing nausea and vomiting induced by toxic drugs.
Side Effects of CBD
A responsible consumer is always curious to know about the repercussions of a product before using it. Although CBD is known to cure various conditions, it has several side effects as well.
CBD causes an irritating feeling of dry mouth. This is because CBD inhibits the functioning of salivary glands. According to a study, the activation of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2, present in saliva-producing submandibular glands, by CBD leads to alteration of saliva production, which results in mouth dryness.
High doses of CBD could aggravate muscle movement and tremor in Parkinson’s disease. However, proper dosage is helpful in combating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Low Blood Pressure:
CBD leads to low blood pressure when taken in high doses. Lowering of blood pressure occurs usually within a few minutes of taking CBD. In such a situation, one may feel lightheaded. A patient suffering from abnormal blood pressure is advised to take doctor’s recommendation before taking CBD.
If taken in high doses, CBD can make you feel drowsy. In such a case, driving or operating machinery must be avoided. However, CBD act as a wake-inducing agent in most of the cases.
Some other possible side effects of CBD are:
- Appetite changes
- Reduced fertility
- Worsening of symptoms in HIV patients