Cannabidiol (CBD) is an organic chemical
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an organic chemical compound produced by the Cannabis plant. It has been found to have many therapeutic effects including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective. These properties make CBD useful in the treatment and prevention of a wide variety of conditions. Additionally, CBD is non-toxic and non-psychoactive, meaning users will not feel the “high” typically associated with smoked cannabis.
The Science behind CBD oils
Cannabis has been at the center of one of the most exciting – and under reported – developments in modern science. Research on the effects of cannabis led directly to the discovery of a hitherto unknown biochemical communication system in the human body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience.
The discovery of receptors in the brain that respond pharmacologically to cannabis – and the subsequent identification of endogenous cannabinoid compounds in our own bodies that bind these receptors – has significantly advanced our understanding of human biology, health, and disease.
It is an established scientific fact that cannabinoids and other components of cannabis can modulate many physiological systems in the human brain and body. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors. In addition to phytocannabinoids produced by the plant, there are endogenous cannabinoids (anandamide and 2AG) that occur naturally in the body, as well as synthetic cannabinoids created by pharmaceutical researchers.
Extensive preclinical research – much of it sponsored by the U.S. government – indicates that CBD has potent anti-tumoral, anti-oxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. CBD directly activates serotonin receptors, causing an anti-depressant effect, as well.
In recent years, scientists associated with the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) have described a number of molecular pathways whereby CBD exerts a therapeutic impact. A preclinical study by Dr. Sean McAllister and his colleagues at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reports on how CBD kills breast cancer by down-regulating a gene called ID-1, which is implicated in several types of aggressive cancer. Thus, silencing the ID-1 gene is an excellent strategy for a cancer treatment.
“Cannabidiol offers hope of a non-toxic therapy that could treat aggressive forms of cancer without any of the painful side effects of chemotherapy,” says McAllister.
Clinical studies conducted outside the United States have shown that CBD is an effective painkiller – particularly for peripheral neuropathy associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Sativex, a whole plant cannabis extract with equal levels of CBD and THC, is an under-the-tongue spray produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company. Administered in repeatable, measurable doses, Sativex is clinically effective without causing psychoactivity. It has been officially approved as a medication for neuropathic pain in Great Britain, Canada, and more than 20 other countries. It is currently undergoing phase III clinical trials in the United States.
GW scientists determined that CBD is most effective therapeutically when administered in combination with whole plant THC. Cannabidiol interacts synergistically with THC. CBD enhances THC’s painkilling impact, while muting THC’s psychoactivity. CBD can also neutralize unfavorable effects that THC may cause, such as anxiety and rapid heartbeat.
Scientific and clinical studies underscore CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrated neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere.
Scientific research has shown that CBD may be therapeutic for many conditions, including (but not limited to) chronic pain, cancer, anxiety, diabetes, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, sleep disorders, alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, and various neurological ailments.
In compiling a list of conditions for which there is evidence that CBD-rich medicaments might be helpful, we examined hundreds of peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Relevant reports have been culled primarily from PubMed, the online service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. To these highly technical reports, we have added articles from O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice, and a few stories from general interest publications, such as Time and the Daily Beast.
Most of the PubMed material consists of abstracts on preclinical research involving single cannabinoid molecules, test tubes, petri dishes, animal experiments, and in some cases human cell line studies.
Although all mammals have cell receptors that respond pharmacologically to cannabinoid compounds, data from animal experiments and other preclinical research is not always applicable to human experience.
GW Pharmaceuticals has conducted successful clinical trials of Sativex, the whole plant CBD-rich cannabis extract, mainly for people suffering from neuropathic pain; summaries of this research are also included. There have been additional clinical studies with synthetic CBD in Brazil and Israel. Unfortunately, political constraints stemming from cannabis prohibition have obstructed clinical-oriented CBD research in the United States.
Most of the reports that follow pertain specifically to cannabidiol. Occasionally these articles examine the therapeutic potential of other plant cannabinoids – THC, CBDA (cannabidiol in its raw acid form), THCV, CBG, and CBDV, for example. We’ve also included a few PubMed studies that illuminate various aspects of the endocannabinoid system without focusing on CBD.