CBD is one of many cannabinoids (compounds) in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the possible therapeutic uses of CBD.
Two of the compounds in marijuana are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. These compounds have different effects.
Until recently, THC was the best-known compound in cannabis. It is the most active constituent, and it has a psychological effect. It creates a mind-altering “high” when a person smokes it or uses it in cooking. This is because THC breaks down when a person applies heat and introduces it into the body.
CBD, in contrast, is not psychoactive. It does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it. However, it may produce significant changes in the body, and it is showing some significant medical benefits.
Find out more about the differences between CBD and THC.
Where does CBD come from?
CBD comes from the cannabis plant. People refer to cannabis plants as either hemp or marijuana, depending on how much THC they contain.
The FDA note that hemp plants are legal under the Farm Bill, as long as they contain less than 0.3%Trusted Source THC.
Over the years, marijuana farmers have selectively bred their plants to contain high levels of THC and other compounds that suited their interests.
However, hemp farmers rarely modify the plant. CBD oil comes from these legal hemp plants.
How CBD works
All cannabinoids produce effects in the body by interacting with cannabinoid receptors, which form part of the endocannabinoid systemTrusted Source.
The body produces two receptors:
CB1 receptors are present throughout the body, particularly in the brain. They co-ordinate movement, pain, emotion, mood, thinking, appetite, memories, and other functions.
CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.
THC attaches to CB1 receptors but CBD stimulatesTrusted Source the receptors so that the body produces its own cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids.
For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.
CBD may benefit a person’s health in various ways.
According to a 2018 studyTrusted Source, reasons for taking CBD oil include:
- chronic pain
- arthritis or joint pain
- anxiety and depression
- sleep disorder
- cluster and other headaches
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- allergies or asthma
- epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- lung conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
There is some evidence to support some of these uses.
How does CBD help relieve pain? Learn more here.
Natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
Conventional drugs can help relieve stiffness and pain, but some people see CBD as a more natural alternative.
There is growing evidenceTrusted Source that the non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, could provide a new treatment for chronic pain.
In 2018, mouse studies showed that CBD reduces inflammation by preventing the release of compounds that trigger inflammation in the body.
A 2019 study showed that pure cure oil applied to the skin as an ointment significantly reduced inflammatory skin disease and scarring.
Quitting smoking and drug withdrawal
A 2013 pilot studyTrusted Source found that smokers who used inhalers containing CBD smoked fewer cigarettes than usual and stopped craving nicotine. This suggests that CBD may help people quit smoking.
A 2018 study found that CBD helped reduce cravings during withdrawal from tobacco because of its relaxing effect.
Authors of a 2015 reviewTrusted Source found evidence that specific cannabinoids, such as CBD, may help people with opioid addiction disorders.
The researchers noted that CBD reduced some symptoms associated with substance use disorders. These included anxiety, mood-related symptoms, pain, and insomnia.
Research continues to support CBD’s use in managing withdrawal symptoms.
After years of research into the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, the FDATrusted Source approved the use of Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD, in 2018.
They approved it for treating the following in people aged 3 years and over:
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
- Dravet syndrome
These rare forms of epilepsy involve seizures that are difficult to control with other types of medication.
ScientistsTrusted Source are beginning to understand how CBD prevents seizures without the sedating side effects of medications used previously. Synthetic drugs are not yet available that target the endocannnabinoid system as CBD does.
Learn more here about Epidiolex (cannabidiol).
Numerous studies have looked at the effect of CBD on Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2014, a rodent studyTrusted Source showed that CBD might help people retain the ability to recognize familiar faces. People with Alzheimer’s can lose this ability.
One 2019 review found that CBD might help slow the onset and progress of Alzheimer’s disease. More research is underway to understand the dosage better. Some scientistsTrusted Source believe a treatment involving both THC and CHD may be more effective.
Other neurological symptoms and disorders
Research suggests that CBD may also help treat complications linked to epilepsy, such as neurodegeneration, neuronal injury, and psychiatric diseases.
A 2012 studyTrusted Source found that CBD may produce effects similar to those of certain antipsychotic drugs and that the compound may provide a safe and effective treatment for people with schizophrenia. However, further research is necessary.
Authors of a 2012Trusted Source review found evidence that CBD may help prevent the spread of some types of cancer. The compound appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells and promote their destruction.
The researchers pointed out that CBD has low levels of toxicity. They called for more research into how CBD could support standard cancer treatments.
A 2020 review article discusses adding CBD to chemotherapy drugs to improve the immune system’s response to cancer treatment.
Other research has been looking at how CBD might help:
- prevent the growth of cancer cells
- reduce anxiety
- improve the action of chemotherapy
- lessen the side effects of conventional chemotherapy