If you’ve been reading the news or learning about cannabis, you’ve probably already heard all about CBD and its incredible health benefits. These include: promoting relaxation, focus, memory, pain relief, and improved sleep.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of claims being thrown around about CBD’s benefits that aren’t linked to actual science. I know when I first started researching CBD, I found all kinds of blogs and websites reporting on benefits of CBD that just aren’t backed by the research – often with no citations or sources to support their claims. So, if you aren’t a CBD researcher, you might find yourself confused and wondering, “what can this cannabinoid actually help me with?”
Despite all the hype out there, scientists are discovering several ways that CBD can help people. Impressively, it can help with some of the most common issues that impact the everyday person’s functionality. From getting a better night’s sleep to relieving pain and anxiety to improving cognitive function, this chemical compound from the cannabis plant can make significant differences in your life.
If you are feeling confused about what CBD can do, fear not. We’ve compiled the data for you. Read on to discover what the science has to say about CBD’s benefits:
One common use for CBD is as a pain reliever, and the science does support this use.
Studies show that CBD can interact with our natural endocannabinoid system to produce pain and inflammation-reducing effects 1. In fact, scientists even understand how this works. CBD interacts with our serotonin receptors in a way that signals to the brain to reduce pain sensations 2. CBD is so effective at pain relief, it can even relieve pain at the site of the pain when used in a topical formulation 3.
Because of these studies and others, the World Health Organization created a full review of the previous medical literature on CBD 4. They reported that the current science supports the claim that CBD can help with pain management. They also added that it is particularly helpful for neuropathic pain, which is resistant to other treatments.
This makes CBD an excellent alternative to more dangerous or addictive pain-killers. Most notably, because the WHO also reported it was safe, non-addictive, and without any known adverse side effects.
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Another common claim about CBD is that it can help with anxiety – and the research supports this claim as well. The WHO review on CBD also reports that CBD can help with anxiety and it’s symptoms 5. Specifically, they found evidence that CBD could aid in the reduction of muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, social anxiety, and problems in concentration. Another review on CBD for anxiety found that evidence supports its use as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, OCD, and PTSD 6.
As with pain, CBD pulls off this relaxing trick by activating serotonin receptors to boost serotonin levels 7. This makes it function much like an SSRI (a conventional treatment for anxiety). Interestingly though, CBD works faster than SSRIs at boosting serotonin, which could make it an even more effective option.
When tested on humans, CBD can actively reduce stress and anxiety even in stressful circumstances. One study examined this by giving subjects CBD before a public speaking task 8. Compared to the controls who took a placebo, those who used CBD had reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort in their speech, and feelings of anticipatory alertness.
Studies have also indicated the CBD can be helpful for rest. In a 2017 review of the literature, researchers found that CBD could be beneficial for REM sleep behavior disorder (where people act out their dreams physically during REM sleep). It can also alleviate excessive daytime sleepiness 11. Interestingly, some studies say CBD promotes alertness 12. This suggests that part of its ability to help with sleep issues is in its ability to keep people alert and awake during the day. Its impact on pain and anxiety may also help to improve sleep by removing these obstacles to it 13. In clinical studies, many patients report sleep improvements from using CBD 14.
Finally, CBD also shows promise as an aid for cognitive functioning. For one thing, it can help those who also use high-THC cannabis to avoid impairments to cognition. Studies show cannabis patients using added CBD had improvements in attention, learning, and memory, relative to those using cannabis alone 15. But it’s not just for those using THC. Studies on using CBD for conditions that negatively impact cognition also show CBD improves cognition in people with schizophrenia, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, neuro-inflammatory conditions like meningitis, sepsis, and cerebral malaria and neurological disorders like brain ischemia 16.
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