CBD Research: What We Know

cbd research

CBD Research – Many people tout the benefit of CBD but lack a firm understanding of research on the subject. Yes, CBD may provide exciting therapeutic benefits, but how so, and is it as reliable of a solution as many suggest? Today, we’ll discuss the status of current CBD research and use that information to frame what we know about the unique element.

Discovering CBD

Harvard-trained chemist Roger Adams was the first to extract CBD from cannabis in 1940. Soon after, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (a.k.a.  “The godfather of cannabis research”) turned his focus to cannabidiol, outlining its chemical structure in 1963. He outlined THC’s chemical structure a year later, thus distinguishing the psychoactive properties of the later from the non-psychoactive properties of the former.

Cannabinoid research continued for decades, reaffirming the distinction between psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD. Then, in the 1980s, CBD research took an exciting turn when Mechoulam et al began studying CBD and epilepsy. Importantly, researchers noted that CBD produced profound anti-epileptic qualities. The FDA approved CBD (specifically, the CBD-based drug, Epidiolex) to treat some forms of pediatric epilepsy in June 2018.

Potential Therapeutic Benefits of CBD

Researchers have been investigating far more than CBD’s effect on epilepsy. In fact, many CBD research studies include discussions about its effect on things like pain, sleep, mood problems, digestion, and more. To date, the US National Library of Medicine has completed more than 200 CBD clinical trials, with another 200+ still in the works. The following is a brief summary of what we know so far.

CBD and Pain

One of the most common cannabinoid-related search terms is for CBD and pain. Indeed, many specialists believe that CBD may help relieve generalized pain. In fact, one survey reported that 70 to 94 percent of participants either reduced or ceased using other pain medications following regular CBD consumption. Though experimental research about CBD and pain is limited, one recent study found that CBD significantly reduced “pain unpleasantness,” but did not alter intensity or tolerance. 

CBD and Inflammation

CBD is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, with numerous studies delving into the subject. For example, this 2011 study found that CBD reduced both active inflammation and remission in rats with induced intestinal inflammation. Another study found that CBD reduced airway inflammation in rats suffering from allergy-induced asthma. Yet another study found that oral CBD administration reduced swelling in rat paws by controlling free radicals in plasma.

CBD and Mood

Current CBD research suggests that cannabidiol may exhibit anti-anxiety and anti-depressive qualities, though the exact mechanisms by which it does so are unclear. According to one study, CBD may boost mood because it slows the degradation of anandamide, an endocannabinoid commonly called the “bliss molecule.” With higher anandamide levels in the brain, one can theoretically remain calm and blissful for longer.

Others suggest that CBD’s positive impact on other areas of wellness could indirectly improve someone’s mood, as well. Unfortunately, current research about CBD and mood is inconsistent, highlighting the importance of further CBD research.

CBD and Sleep

As a non-psychoactive chemical, CBD does not necessarily cause sleepiness or lethargy. However, it may help those prone to other health issues sleep better. For example, this study suggests that CBD may help reduce feelings of worry or stress, which may inadvertently help someone sluff away the day’s stress to fall asleep easier. Alternatively, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help someone rest easier to fall asleep more comfortably. Another study found that acute CBD administration appeared to speed the onset of sleep and increase total sleep time.

Topical CBD Research

One of the most exciting things about CBD is the many ways there are to consume it. Notably, CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including those located just under the skin’s surface. In fact, research suggests that transdermal CBD helps reduce pain and swelling in rats with arthritis. It also displays antibacterial properties and may improve symptoms associated with dermatological disorders like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Are CBD Products Safe?

The biggest concern regarding CBD consumption is not its effectiveness, but rather the safety of CBD products on the market. Ever since the Farm Bill legalized CBD for commercial sale, an influx of sub-par CBD products have donned the market. In fact, the FDA has issued many warning letters to CBD companies for inaccurate claims, inconsistent CBD levels, expired COAs, and more.

To avoid this concern, companies must source their CBD from reliable distributors. Product manufacturers should include all relevant information regarding a product’s potency, manufacturing processes, testing results, and so on. This is not a time to cut corners; doing so is not only dangerous to the consumer (and CBD research) but could be detrimental to the brand, as well.

Closing Thoughts About CBD Research

CBD research is incredibly promising but is by no means conclusive. As such, CBD sellers may not imply that their products will exert these specific benefits.

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