Is Cannabidiol Safe?

Is Cannabidiol Safe?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound found in the hemp plant. Hemp, unlike marijuana, doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, making it legal in 50 states and therapeutic for many health concerns. The World Health Organization estimates that 2.5% of the world’s population uses cannabis. Despite the popularity, cannabidiol (a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis)  still carries the marijuana stigma as an unsafe gateway drug. So begs the question, is cannabidiol safe?

The short answer is, yes, CBD is safe and effective. This article will discuss the safety of cannabidiol, the therapeutic effect of CBD on many health conditions and diseases, and any possible side effects.

Cannabidiol Research

CBD research began back in the 1940s, but it really didn’t have a substantial impact until an Israeli doctor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Raphael Michoulam, outlined the CBD compound’s chemical structure in 1964. He classified CBD as a cannabinoid, and differentiated it from THC, in that it had anti psychoactive effects.  Further studies in the 80s revealed that CBD reduced epilepsy in patients.

When California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996, opening up public support for cannabis research, in particular CBD and THC, both phytocannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant variety.


In the past few years, CBD clinical trials targeting the reduction of different health conditions have shown promising results. The majority of the studies have been for epilepsy and psychotic disorders, but everything from anxiety and depression to pain reduction has now been studied to some degree.

Recently, industrial hemp became legal to grow and sell to consumers without a  prescription, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. More research into CBD will follow, now that cannabidiol has shown to be a natural remedy with few safety concerns.

Cancer

One potential treatment for breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and cancer-related symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and rapid weight loss is CBD oils. One study showed that the active ingredients in cannabidiol helped reduce aggressive breast cancer cells. Two other studies in tumor-bearing mice showed cancer tumor reduction of 60 percent after using CBD. Also, cannabidiol had fewer side effects than other FDA approved medications for cancer, proving it’s efficacy and safety.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is described as chronic, searing pain resulting from a malfunctioning nervous system. People with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis,  Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease all report acute and chronic pain. Research suggested there are many benefits of CBD oils for neuropathic pain management including muscle spasms and reducing searing sensations. The reason is that CBD is an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing swelling in the brain, muscles, and joints.

Epilepsy

Dr. Raphael Michoulams groundbreaking research into the benefits of CBD concerning epilepsy showed that high concentrates reduce and in some cases eliminate seizures. Also, the profound example of Charlotte Figi in 2012 shook the medical establishment norms on hemp marijuana use for epileptic patients. Charlotte, born with a rare and deadly form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome, experienced 300 grand mal seizures per week. For two years, she ate through a tube, unable to move or speak. Her parents, desperate for a cure, turned to medical marijuana. Along with a group of cannabis growers in Colorado, her parents helped develop Charlotte’s Web; a strain of pure CBD used to treat Charlotte’s seizures with no adverse effect. The landmark case proved alternative medicine, such as CBD, works.

Mental Health

Research suggests that CBD products have positive effects on mental health. Since cannabinoids help balance emotions and promote relaxation those with anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders or depression can find relief with cannabidiol to reduce fear, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms.  Studies have shown that CBD has the potential to treat the bodies response to stress. Stress and worry are directly connected to anxiety disorders and depression. CBD lowers blood pressure and stress-related symptoms. Discuss with your healthcare provider before treatment to ensure positive results.

Memory

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are common after age 65 with women carrying higher risk. Losing one’s memory causes emotional and physical stress for the sufferer and family. While high amounts of THC, found in marijuana plants have been shown to impair memory, CBD has the opposite effect on the brain. Alzheimer’s is caused by the swelling of neural tissue. Eventually, the swelling leads to irreparable damage and memory loss of everyday activities and short term memory. Since CBD reduces swelling, supplementation slows down the progression of the disease, making it an alternative Alzheimer medication. Research shows that CBD has much lower side effects than other medicines used to treat the disease.

Another critical component of Alzheimer’s disease is the release of reactive oxygen and oxidative stress. Both are tied to an inflamed immune system causing free radicals to circulate. This results in a loss of neurons in the brain, leading to memory loss. CBD is an antioxidant, helping to combat free radicals by reducing inflammation in the immune system and brain.

Heart Health

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke account for 1 in every 3 deaths in the U.S.  Heart health depends on many factors including genetics, diet, and lifestyle. The cardiovascular system (lungs, heart, and blood vessels)  is responsible for transporting nutrients, hormones, and oxygen through the bloodstream. If the system becomes imbalanced, severe, life-threatening problems occur.  CBD relieves inflammation and has an antioxidant effect on the body, and research shows these therapeutic benefits play a huge role in heart health. CBD can produce vasorelaxation, a tension in the blood vessel walls. A 2017 paper published by the American Society of Clinical Investigation discussed that a single dose of cannabidiol reduced blood pressure for healthy volunteers in a randomized cross over study.

Cannabidiol is a safe and effective way to treat disease and infection. Current medical studies illustrate its potential to help control and provide relief for chronic pain, cancer, and mental health conditions, amongst others. CBD’s seat at the medical table to treat illness has arrived, making it a viable and smart choice for healthy living.

Cannabis and the Controlled Substances Act. (2017, December 14). Retrieved February 21, 2019, from https://www.capimpactca.com/2017/10/cannabis-controlled-substances-act/

Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research,2(1), 139-154. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034

Johnson-Sasso, C. P., Tompkins, C., Kao, D. P., & Walker, L. A. (n.d.). Marijuana use and short-term outcomes in patients hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0199705

Neuropathic Pain Causes, Treatment, and Medication. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/neuropathic-pain#1

Skogar, O., & Lökk, J. (2016). Pain management in patients with Parkinson’s disease: Challenges and solutions. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare,Volume 9, 469-479. doi:10.2147/jmdh.s105857

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