CBD oils are the concentrated liquid extract of cannabis sativa, which is a certain type of cannabis plant containing high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD). In recent years, CBD has been shown to have a wide range of health benefits, and they have even shown to be helpful for people with no specific health issues due to their relaxing effects. However, it can sometimes be challenging to work out what the health benefits actually are, and how much evidence there is for their existence. With this in mind, we’ve compiled 15 them into a digestible list, with reference to specific peer reviewed studies, to help you decide for yourself if you should try CBD oils.
To avoid confusion, it should be noted that CBD is just one of over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis and it isn’t psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t get you ‘high’. It is actually THC, a completely separate cannabinoid, that produces the mind-altering affects that you may associate with cannabis use.
CBD oils may contain trace amounts of THC (usually less than 0.3%) but this is not nearly enough to produce any effect.
So, let’s just jump right into it….
- 1. Treating Epilepsy
- 2. Treating Depression
- 3. Treating Social Anxiety
- 4. Reducing the Risk of Diabetes
- 5. Treating Insomnia
- 6. Chronic Pain and Inflammation
- 7. Fighting Cancer Cells
- 8. Neuroprotection
- 9. Bone Protection
- 10. Skin Protection
- 11. Acne
- 12. Increasing Focus and Wakefulness
- 13. Addiction Recovery
- 14. Fighting Schizophrenia
1. Treating Epilepsy
CBD has been found to have remarkable anti-seizure properties, and so arguably the most effective use of CBD is treating epilepsy. A study conducted in 2016 in which 74 epileptic children were given CBD enriched cannabis oil with doses of CBD ranging from 1 to 20mg had very promising results; 66 reported a significant reduction in seizure frequency, with 13 of those reporting a reduction in frequency of 75-100%.
This is massively significant as all children had already been found to be resistant to over 7 antileptic drugs and 49 of them had at least already failed a ketogenic diet or a vagal nerve stimulator. Some of them had failed both.
2. Treating Depression
Over 16 million adults suffer from Major Depressive Disorder in the US, but many wait a long time before getting treatment. The safety of some of the drugs used to treat depression is also questionable to say the least, with many antidepressants shown to be highly addictive.
However, there is evidence that suggests CBD can be useful for treating it due to its interaction with the HT1A serotonin receptor, an important neurotransmitter which affects mood. Numerous studies have shown that they interact, including this one by researchers from the University of San Paulo and King’s College London which was conducted 2014. This is very promising as the HT1A receptors ability to improve mood is undoubted, and so far, there has been no evidence that shows CBD to be addictive.
The suggestion is also backed up by a study from the same year which found CBD improved motivation among “depressive-like” Wistar-Kyoto rats, and enhanced their desire to explore, further indicating that CBD could treat depression.
3. Treating Social Anxiety
It is estimated that Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) affects 6.8% of the U.S. population, yet, again, many wait far too long before getting any treatment. The National Institute for Health actually found that a massive 36% of those with the disorder experience symptoms for 10 years before seeking help. However, due to CBD’s aforementioned interaction with the HT1A receptor, this is another metal health issue that can potentially be treated with CBD.
For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in which subjects were administered either a 400mg dose of CBD, or a placebo, found that those who were given the CBD dose experienced “significantly decreased” social anxiety in comparison with those given the placebo.
Another study the same year by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology which focused on the public speech performance of people with SAD found that those pre-treated with CBD carried out their speech with significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort. Consequently, they too proposed that CBD can effectively reduce social anxiety.
4. Reducing the Risk of Diabetes
The link between Cannabis use and a reduced risk of diabetes has been well documented for many years, an example being a study in 2011 by the American Journal of Epidemiology which found that rates of obesity are around one third lower among cannabis smokers. So, what causes this unlikely link? Well, the evidence points to CBD.
According to a report in Neuropharmacology back in 2008, the administration of CBD significantly reduces the incidence rate of diabetes in non-obese diabetes prone (NOD) mice. The results of their study were that diabetes was diagnosed in only 32% of the mice in the CBD-treated group, compared with 100% in the untreated group.
5. Treating Insomnia
Cannabis users frequently site insomnia as a main reason they use the drug, which should come as no surprise given the sleepy “stoner” stereotype that is so prevalent in today’s pop-culture. It should also come as no surprise that many scientists say CBD could be one of the primary causes of this, especially given CBD’s relaxing effects along with its aforementioned anxiety and pain-relieving properties, both issues which can contribute to insomnia.
So, does CBD improve your sleep? The research on the subject is limited, with the only study in which research was conducted directly on humans being from 1981. It involved the administration of CBD in doses of 40mg, 80mg and 160mg to 15 insomniac volunteers, and a control group of insomniacs who were administered no CBD. The notable results were that those who received the 160mg dose reported sleeping for much longer than the those who didn’t receive any CBD.
More recently, similar results have been obtained from mice. For example, one study from 2013 in which doses of 10mg/kg and 40mg/kg of CBD were given to mice found that the mice slept considerably longer than the untreated mice, further suggesting that CBD oils can be an effective sleep aid.
6. Chronic Pain and Inflammation
There is now ample studies that suggest CBD can be effective for treating pain, making CBD oils a potentially useful health supplement for the 50 million American adults who experience some form of pain daily.
In one study in 2015 researchers showed that the cannabinoid reduced pain in mice, brought about by PAC-induced neurotoxicity, again by its interaction with the HT1A serotonin receptor. Another study found that CBD can reduce chronic pain by interacting with glycine receptors (GlyRs), which are important targets for nociceptive regulation at the spinal level.
On top of this, researchers found that CBD can also desensitize TRPV1, a protein responsible for inflammation. Not only did the study demonstrate that CBD was effective in reducing the pain brought about by inflammation, but the CBD also reduced the inflammation itself, suggesting CBD oils, or perhaps CBD creams, could be used for this purpose.
7. Fighting Cancer Cells
This is another area of limited research, and anyone who may be trying CBD oils for this issue should dedicate some time to review for themselves what has been proven and what hasn’t, as there may be a large amount of misinformation online.
However, there have been some very promising studies by reputable researchers. For example, a study in 2011 by the American Association for Cancer Research found that, in certain circumstances, CBD can kill breast cancer cells, and another study the following year found CBD can inhibit lung cancer cell invasion. This is significant as lung cancer is a notoriously difficult form of cancer to treat.
That being said, those wishing to use CBD oil as a way to fight cancer cells should consult with their GP to ensure the CBD won’t negatively interact with other ongoing treatments, although this is very unlikely.
The myth that cannabis “kills brain cells” has long been dispelled, but what many people don’t know is that CBD has actually been proven to be neuroprotective in more than one way.
For instance, Alzheimer’s disease is widely held to be associated with oxidative stress due, in part, to the membrane action of β‐amyloid peptide aggregates. One study in 2004 using brain cells afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrated that treatment of the cells with CBD significantly elevated their chances of survival by exerting a combination of neuroprotective, anti‐oxidative and anti‐apoptotic effects against β‐amyloid peptide toxicity.
Another study in 2006 shown that CBD reduced hyperoxide toxicity in neurons and demonstrated that CBD was effective in neuroprotectivity against toxic levels of glutamate. Toxic levels of glutamate can cause a number of neurological issues, including MS, Alzheimer’s, depression and epilepsy.
9. Bone Protection
Another health benefit of CBD which has a surprising amount of evidence is bone protection. One study from the Journal of Mineral and Bone Research from 2015 for instance, demonstrated that CBD can stimulate enzymes that contribute to the production of bone tissue, and this is just one of many. Consequently, CBD is now considered one of the most promising drugs for medical research in regard to bone protection, regeneration and transplantation.
10. Skin Protection
Given that the skin has the highest concentration of cannabinoid (CB) receptors in the human body, it comes as no surprise that this is another area of promise for CBD. For instance, one study found that, through interacting with the CB1 receptor, CBD upregulates melanogenesis, which is essentially the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is vital for protecting the skin from UV radiation from the sun, which can cause skin cancer.
Following from this, there is evidence that CBD can fight acne, however this isn’t through interacting with cannabinoid receptors. A study in 2014 by the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that cannabidiol can help lower the amount of sebum the body produces, partly due to its anti-inflammatory properties, as previously mentioned. Sebum is an oily substancace which, when overproduced, causes Acne.
12. Increasing Focus and Wakefulness
While CBD has been shown to improve sleep, there is also some evidence that, in lower doses, it can increase focus and alertness. This is actually one of the most widely reported side affects among CBD users, and is commonly observed in studies relating to different benefits/affects of cannabidiol. For example, the epileptic children in the study mentioned at the start of this article were overserved as being more alert while they were being treated with CBD.
More specifically, one study in 2006 found that CBD increased wakefulness in rats during the lights-on period by enhancing certain forms of brain activity in waking‐related brain areas such as hypothalamus and dorsal raphe nucleus (DRD). This indicates CBD oils could be effective for combating somnolence.
However, those wishing to use CBD oils for this reason should be perhaps be careful not to consume too much. Factors such as age and body weight should be considered when dosing, so readers should think about this when determining an adequate dose.
13. Addiction Recovery
Using CBD to recover from substance addiction may come as a surprise to some readers, and to be completely honest, clinical research in this area is limited.
However, earlier this year Neuropsychopharmacology published a study which had promising results to say the least. It involved administering transdermal CBD to rats with alcohol and cocaine self-administration histories. The subjects involved all exhibited characteristics of relapsing addicts, such as dependency, impulsivity, and anxiety. After being treated with CBD for just 7 days, the rats stopped developing these behavioural characteristics and were deterred from relapsing for 5 months. This is particularly important to note as long-lasting benefits are vital for addiction recovery.
On top of this, a study conducted back in 2013 demonstrated CBD’s potential for fighting cigarette addiction. Out of 24 smokers, researchers gave 12 of them vaporizers with a placebo and the other 12 vaporizers containing CBD. Over the course of a week, the smokers with CBD vapes managed to reduce the amount of cigarettes they smoked by around 40%, while there was no reduction by those using the placebo vapes, suggesting CBD is useful for fighting nicotine addiction.
14. Fighting Schizophrenia
This is another use for CBD which may come as a surprise to a lot of readers. While it is widely accepted that cannabis can induce schizophrenia earlier in life for those who are already predisposed to the condition, and make the condition worse, it also widely accepted that this is due to the THC in the plant. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is actually considered to be an anti-psychotic, and as such can actually reduce the mind-altering affects of THC.
In regard to schizophrenia, a study in 2012 found that CBD was effective in alleviating psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic people by inhibiting the degradation of the endocannabinoid anandamide, high levels of which correlate with such symptoms. In this study, CBD was used in a double-blind trial with amisulpride, a potent antipsychotic. Researchers concluded that both were effective but CBD had a much better side-effect profile, and stated that cannabidiol may represent a “completely new mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia.”
Alexandre S, J., Derenusson, G. N. et al. (2011). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(1), 121–130
Berezow A (2018) Who Is Hurting? The Prevalence Of Chronic Pain In America: https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/09/14/who-hurting-prevalence-chronic-pain-america-13407
Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, de Oliveira DC, De Martinis BS, Kapczinski F, et al. (2011) Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology 36:1219–26. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.6
Bornheim L, Borys H, Karler R, et al. (1981) Effect of cannabidiol on cytochrome P-450 and hexobarbital sleep time, Biochemical Pharmacology, Volume 30, Issue 5, Pages 503-507, ISSN 0006-2952, https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-2952(81)90636-5.
Burstein S, (2015) Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogues: a review of their effects on inflammation, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, Volume 23, Issue 7, Pages 1377-1385, ISSN 0968-0896, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059
Costa, B., Giagnoni, G., Franke, C., Trovato, A. E., & Colleoni, M. (2001). Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. British journal of pharmacology, 143(2), 247-50.
Gonzalex-Chuevez G, Martin-Fardon R, et al. (2018) Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle. Neurpsychopharmacology, 2036–2045.
Hampson, A. J., Grimaldi M, et al. (2000), Neuroprotective Antioxidants from Marijuanaa. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 899: 274-282. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2000.tb06193.x
Hoval G, Shbiro L, Hershkovitz L, et al. Prohedonic Effect of Cannabidiol in a Rat Model of Depression. Neuropsychobiology 2016;73:123-129. doi: 10.1159/000443890
Iuvone, Esposito T. et al. (2004), Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non‐psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on β‐amyloid‐induced toxicity in PC12 cells. Journal of Neurochemistry, 89: 134-141. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2003.02327
Kogan N. M., Melamed E, et al. (2015) Cannabidiol, A Major Nonpsychotropic Cannabis Constituent, Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts, Journal of Mineral and Bone Research 30, no. 10: 1905–1913.
Leweke F M, Piomelli, D et al. (2012) Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Transitional Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2012.15
Murillo-Rodriguez E, Millán-Aldaco D, et al. (2006) Cannabidiol, a constituent of Cannabis sativa, modulates sleep in rats. Febs Letters, DOI 10.1016/j.febslet.2006.04.102
N Chagas, M. H., Alexandre S, J., Zuardi, A. W., C Hallak, J. E., Paulo Machado-de-Sousa, J., Hirotsu, C., et al. (2013). Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(3), 312–316. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881112474524
Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., Pál, B., Ambrus, L., Kloepper, J., Camera, E., Ludovici, M., Picardo, M., Voets, T., Zouboulis, C. C., Paus, R., … Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of clinical investigation, 124(9), 3713-24.
Ramer R, Bublitz K, Freimuth N, Merkord J, Rohde H, Haustein M, Borchert P, Schmuhl E, Linnebacher M, Hinz B (2012) Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1. The FASEB Journal 26:4, 1535-1548
Schier, A. R., Ribeiro, N. P., Silva, A. C., Hallak, J. E., Crippa, J. A., and Nardi A.,E., et al. (2012). Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 34(Suppl. 1) S104–10. doi: 10.1016/S1516-4446(12)70057-0
Shrivastava A, Kuzontkoski P. M., Groopman J, Prasad A (2011) Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-1100
Strat Y. L., Foll B. L (2011) Obesity and Cannabis Use: Results From 2 Representative National Surveys, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 174, Issue 8, Pages 929–933, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwr200
Tzadok M, Uliel-Siboni S, Linder I, et al. (2016). CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy. The current Israeli experience. Seizure. 35. 10.1016/j.seizure.2016.01.004.
Weiss L, Zeira M, et al. (2008) Cannabidiol arrests onset of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice, Neuropharmacology, Volume 54, Issue 1, Pages 244-249, ISSN 0028-3908, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2007.06.029.
Whang Y. S., Kim Y, et al. (2017) Cannabidiol upregulates melanogenesis through CB1 dependent pathway by activating p38 MAPK and p42/44 MAPK, Chemico-Biological Interactions Volume 273, Pages 107-114
Xiong, W., Cui, T., Cheng, K., Yang, F., Chen, S. R., Willenbring, D., Guan, Y., Pan, H. L., Ren, K., Xu, Y., … Zhang, L. (2012). Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(6), 1121-34.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics