The Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabidiol
Political, cultural and legal acceptance surrounding the therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD) and other products derived from cannabis is rapidly changing. Not only does the shift in acceptance benefit those already seeking CBD treatment options, it also allows much more space for scientists to conduct more rigorous clinical trials on its various applications.
Up until recently, research was made quite difficult due to the often-conflicting regulations covering work with CBD. Scientists had been able to contact numerous pre-clinical trials, often on animals, but there was little large-scale research available on CBD treatment's potential for people. That being said, there are literally countless anecdotal experiences of patients currently using CBD to treat a host of illnesses.
What success stories have been discovered so far for CBD treatments, either through the available research or through significant anecdotal evidence? It’s becoming apparent that the treatment potential of cannabidiol is not just specific to one area of the brain or body. It has already been shown to have a wide variety of applications; anything from anxiety disorders, cancer treatment to pain relief. It also is being pursued for treatment in children and for pets.
The strongest therapeutic options, with the most research backing it, are discussed below. Often in these cases (such as animal studies, lab research and anecdotal evidence) which show extremely positive results. Now that the regulations regarding human clinical trials of CBD are relaxing, scientists are eagerly and actively doing large-scale trials.
This is perhaps the most well-known of all CBD treatment potentials. It has often been highlighted in the news, as desperate parents have turned to it to treat their children who suffer from intractable seizure disorders. It has been studied in preliminary research using animal models and has the backing of anecdotal evidence and some small clinical trials. These trials have all shown that CBD treatments reduce the quantity and severity of seizures.
The good news is that some epilepsy treatment centers in the United States have been given approval by the Food and Drug Association, on a trial basis, to treat formerly drug-resistant forms of epilepsy with Epidiolex (a CBD derived product). These have only been approved on a compassionate basis but with that in mind, the ongoing trials have been very positive. Seizure rates reduced by 54% in 137 patients out of 213. In specific forms of epilepsy, there were reports of even higher success rates.
Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief Effects
There are many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease, which have proven receptive to CBD therapy in small trials and animal studies. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD have been recorded in mice with arthritis and in a study by cardiologists at Hebrew University which found that CBD was able to reduce infarct size by 66% if given immediately following a heart attack.
Many patients suffering from painful disorders (Alzheimer's, MS, and Parkinson’s as some examples) who use CBD treatments have reported a significant reduction in their pain levels, and also reported a higher quality of life. Although CBD does not cure any of these diseases, it does seem to have a significant effect on the severity of the symptoms and therefore provide relief for those in pain, especially when traditional medications have failed. This is particularly true for patients who have developed a resistance to opioids.
One of the most promising potentials being researched now by large scale, industry-funded, clinical trials, is CBD’s possible anti-tumor effects. Cannabidiol has already been proven to reduce tumor growth, stop metastasis, kill cancer cells and reduce cell viability in animal studies. Many cancer patients have already turned to what are, at least for now, unregulated CBD treatments in order to avoid the toxic chemotherapy and radiation treatments usually offered.
Cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy and other severe traditional treatments may often choose to treat the side effects they experience with CBD. It has been shown to reduce pain, increase appetite, reduce nausea and vomiting, thereby improving quality of life.
Naturally, marijuana contains both THC and CBD. Just as THC can potentially trigger psychotic symptoms in some people, CBD found in cannabis acts as an antipsychotic balance. While THC binds directly to receptors (CB-1 in the brain), CBD triggers the receptor to release the THC molecule much more quickly. This can reduce the severity and length of the psychotic effects of cannabis.
There are ongoing trials to determine if CBD can be used to treat other varieties of psychosis, such as schizophrenia and severe Parkinson's related dementia. There is hope that it may offer a healthier and more natural alternative to what is currently being offered, which tends to be extremely harsh and mood altering.
Another area with significant promise, showing positive findings in both animal and small clinical trials, is the ability of CBD to treat anxiety. Cannabidiol reduces many of the physical symptoms related to increased levels of anxiety, such as increased heart rate. It also has been shown to reduce behavior issues related to anxiety, as shown in one trial of people assigned to give a stressful public speech.
It may also prove useful in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, helping patients disassociate the severity of traumatic memories with the memory itself. There needs to be more in-depth research done to understand exactly how CBD affects anxiety levels and traumatic memories.
Substance Abuse Treatment
Finally, CBD treatments (sometimes in conjunction with THC treatment) have shown initial results in treating drug addictions. In the available information, there seems to be potential applications for treating cocaine, heroin, opioid, psychostimulant, tobacco and marijuana addictions. The idea being pursued by current studies is that CBD helps to regulate the various neuronal circuits related to drug abuse.
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