Are you motivated to find out how CBD can help you or a loved one? Once you know the basics of CBD (Cannabidiol), it can be valuable to focus on the specific benefits and uses of CBD.
In this article, we will summarize and simplify the effects of CBD. We will also explore the scientific and medical evidence supporting the uses of CBD. If you have a specific area of interest, click the button below to skip to that section.
If you are looking for a more general overview, check out our CBD Introduction Guide or What is CBD. To dive straight into information about a specific mental or physical health condition use these quick links:
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Why do people use CBD?
CBD is mainstream. There are stories of people trying CBD and experiencing a wide range of physical and mental wellness benefits. When asked why CBD is so popular, Dr. Bhattacharyya¹ a King’s College (London) neuroscientist replied, “The fact that CBD may be useful across a range of conditions may explain why many are trying it”.
The list of medical conditions that people are trying CBD for is much longer than the list at the start of this article. With all the optimism for CBD, the amount of research is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years. However, we only want to highlight those conditions that currently have promising scientific research to support them.
Does CBD Work?
Yes. There is a long list of research studies on the benefits of CBD. As of January 2019, there are over 10,000 published studies or reviews related to CBD in the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central Database². More than half of these studies have been published in the last 5 years. While more clinical research is needed to prove CBD as an effective treatment for specific health conditions, there is significant evidence for these properties of CBD:
- Reduces frequency or counteracts seizures
- Decreases social anxiety and relieves stress from a long day
- Helps support movement and healthy joint functions
- Reduce painful aches from over-exertion
- Promotes brain health and helps with memory problems associated with aging
- Promotes stable mood and a healthy, normal mindset
Side Effects of CBD
Many people believe that there is almost no downside to taking CBD. The World Health Organization³ states that CBD is safe and non-toxic. In addition, it is non-addictive, doesn’t get the user high, and has minimal side effects. There are no withdrawal symptoms when users stop taking CBD. Plus, CBD has zero documented overdoses. In clinical safety trials⁴, the human body tolerates doses up to 1500mg (60x the common daily usage).
Although rare, some individuals report minor CBD side effects. These side effects included: changes in appetite, mood, anxiety, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and fatigue. Clinical trials⁵ have demonstrated that the side effects of CBD are fewer and less severe than some prescription drug alternatives.
Types of CBD Research & Studies
Evidence for CBD’s effectiveness primarily comes from these types of studies:
- Exploratory Medical Research – Observations in a lab environment including cell studies, biological assessments, biochemical testing, and imaging.
- Pre-Clinical Research – Research that studies animal models to identify if a treatment will be effective for human subjects.
- Clinical Research – Studies using humans to identify if a new treatment is effective for a specific medical condition. There are multiple phases to clinical studies. The early phase of research focuses on small clinical trials with healthy subjects to determine side effects and safety. Later phase clinical trials focus on larger groups of patients, typically comparing against a placebo or comparable treatment.
The recent popularity of CBD has resulted in significantly more research than many pharmaceutical medicines that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In contrast to the 10,000 studies on CBD, an analysis of the FDA’s approval of new prescription drugs⁶ from 2005-2012 showed that 36.8% of new treatments were approved after a single clinical trial.
CBD Reduces frequency or counteracts seizures
Most publicized stories of CBD focus on how it greatly helps reduce seizures. There are many videos showing children and families who have found seizure relief with CBD. But these stories are not the only evidence of CBD’s anti-seizure properties.
In fact, the FDA recently approved a CBD drug⁷ (Epidiolex) for the treatment of two forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. To be approved by the FDA, the CBD drug had to pass multiple, rigorous, phases of studying including double-blind trials to prove its effectiveness.
Seizures are surges of electrical activity in the brain that can cause changes of consciousness or uncontrolled physical movements. Reoccurring seizures are one of the main symptoms of epilepsy. Research indicates that CBD has therapeutic potential for three of the four major types of seizures: grand mal, cortical focal, and complex partial seizures.
When patients cannot find a cure for seizures, it can take over their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The first research into CBD’s anti-seizure effects dates back to studies in the late 1970s. More recent studies using CBD for seizure control are focused on seizures that are not effectively managed with other treatments.
A large 2016 clinical trial⁸ of 214 patients validated the anti-seizure effects of CBD. This trial indicated CBD decreased seizure frequency by 48% compared to the baseline. It also showed a decreased seizure frequency of 71.1% for patients diagnosed with Lennox Gastaut syndrome. Children involved in this study⁵ also reported having improved quality of life while taking CBD.
In May 2018, a CBD report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report focused on a clinical trial of Epidiolex (99% pure CBD), prior to its approval by the FDA. Data showed patients taking 20mg/day of Epidiolex experienced 42% fewer seizures.
The evidence for CBD’s effectiveness as an anti-seizure and anti-epileptic is certainly qualified. Yet, more research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of CBD in large clinical trials for all forms of seizures.
CBD Decreases social anxiety and relieves stress from a long day
Most people experience a feeling of anxiety at some point. It can be expressed as unease, nervousness, stress, or fear. Anxiety is a common symptom of many mental health disorders. For people diagnosed with anxiety disorders, their condition represents life-altering mental anguish.
CBD is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative for common anxiety. Recent scientific reviews demonstrate the potential of CBD as a treatment for everyday anxiety and daily stressors. The anxiety-reducing effects of CBD have been shown in studies using animal subjects, healthy volunteers, and patients with anxiety disorders. A medical review⁹ authored by four members of the NYU School of Medicine states that CBD improves anxiety control for:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
CBD’s Anxiety Research
A 2011 study¹⁰ using brain imaging found that CBD reduces anxiety in individuals with generalized social anxiety disorder. The brain scans signaled that CBD’s benefits are caused by changes in the chemical uptake and blood flow in the brain. In another study⁵, 24 people with social anxiety received CBD or a placebo before a public speaking test. The subjects that received the CBD experienced significantly less anxiety and discomfort in their speech performance.
Evidence from over 50 studies² supports the anxiety-reducing effect of CBD. But, CBD will need further research on the chronic effects to become a recognized anxiety disorder treatment.
CBD Helps support movement and healthy joint functions
CBD may offer a new opportunity for helping support movement and healthy joints. The effects of CBD that can support joint health have been demonstrated across numerous studies and show impressively wide-ranging therapeutic potential.
A 2009 study¹¹ concluded that CBD suppresses the body’s inflammatory response by acting on multiple anti-inflammatory pathways. Another study¹² used a CBD cream on animals with arthritis. The researchers concluded, “the data indicates that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects”. This makes CBD especially effective because it can be ingested and/or applied as a topical cream. Future research will likely explore using CBD’s supportive effects for arthritis, inflammation, sports injuries, and more.
Inflammation is a major symptom of the following medical conditions:
CBD For Inflammation From Exercise and Sports
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently removed CBD from its list of banned substances for athletes. This rule change has allowed athletes at the highest levels to switch to CBD for reducing swelling and inflammation. Many have started the switch from ibuprofen because they experience less adverse side effects with CBD¹³. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation through mechanisms different than typical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or Tylenol.
CBD Relieves the trigger points of pain after over-exertion
Pain can drastically reduce the quality of life, decrease productivity, and increase healthcare costs. For some people, CBD has become an alternative replacing more dangerous, habit-forming medications like opioids when they experience unexpected pain. For the millions of Americans that suffer from chronic pain, finding relief is a priority. To manage severe pain, many people explore a multi-pronged approach, trying pain medications, surgery, and alternative therapies.
Currently, the bulk of CBD’s pain management evidence is from studies that pair CBD with THC. The most prominent is from Sativex, a drug that is equal parts THC and CBD. Numerous clinical studies have shown Sativex’s effectiveness¹⁴ in addressing pain caused by multiple sclerosis, intractable cancer pain, and arthritis. Sativex has since been approved as a prescription drug for pain management in several countries.
Evidence for CBD’s Pain Relief Properties
Can CBD be effective for pain management without THC? Early research is showing promising results. A 2014 study¹⁵ focused on CBD’s effects on managing chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathic pain (CIPN). CIPN can be intense enough that cancer patients stop or seek alternative treatments. Paclitaxel, a chemotherapy medication, is often associated with this type of pain. The results of the study concluded that CBD may be effective in the management of CIPN for patients taking Paclitaxel.
Another small study in 2018¹⁶ observed children with a rare skin condition and found that all patients reported increased pain tolerance with CBD. Plus, multiple animal studies¹⁷ show evidence of CBD reducing surgical incision pain, sciatic nerve pain, arthritic pain, and neuropathic pain. These examples show promising results for CBD as a potential solution for chronic pain management in the future.
CBD Promotes stable mood and a healthy, normal mindset
CBD does not get the user high or have an intoxicating effect. It is actually shown to have mood stabilizing effects. The results of the first person to receive CBD for psychosis (a symptom of various mental disorders including schizophrenia and delusional disorder) were reported in 1995¹⁸. This report laid the groundwork for additional studies on CBD’s mood stabilizing properties.
A 2016 study¹⁹ concluded, “CBD behaves in preclinical and clinical studies as an atypical antipsychotic, improving psychotic-like symptoms”. In simple terms, this study is saying that CBD had a positive impact in this study and worked in a unique way compared to drugs commonly prescribed for mental health conditions.
Research On CBD’s Effects on the Mind
Another study²⁰ performed a double-blind, randomized clinical trial of CBD against a potent antipsychotic for patients with schizophrenia. This is the gold standard for research. The results showed “either treatment was safe and led to significant clinical improvement, but cannabidiol displayed a markedly superior side-effect profile.”
Other Studies¹⁸ have also focused on the effectiveness of CBD for schizophrenia and delivered similar conclusions. The opportunities for CBD are particularly interesting because most FDA approved antipsychotic drugs are not effective for everyone, unfortunately.
Future research into the effects of CBD is promising and exciting. Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, a neuroscientist at King’s College London, is testing if CBD can impact the potential of young people developing psychosis. Dr. Bhattacharyya¹ is quoted, “Our results have started unraveling the brain mechanisms of a new drug that works in a completely different way to traditional antipsychotics”. More research is still needed to understand the potential of CBD for specific conditions related to psychosis and mood.
CBD’s effect on brain health and memory problems associated with aging
In recent decades, there has been great progress in understanding the human brain. But, there are still significant gaps in the knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of brain functioning. As medical knowledge increases, so will the research into the factors that improve brain health. CBD is of particular interest when studying brain health due to its wide-ranging influences on neurological functions and lack of side effects.
Evidence for CBD’s effects on Brain health
Research has shown that CBD is a promising tool to help maintain and regulate healthy brain functioning. Various studies²¹ have observed these benefits through an extensive list of brain pathways. CBD’s effects on brain health are attributed to the removal of damaged cells, improving the efficiency of mitochondria, preserving cerebral circulation during ischemic events, reducing toxicity, and maintaining stasis of nerve cell stimuli.
According to a 2017 study on the neurological aspects of medical use of cannabidiol, “Pre-clinical evidence²² largely shows that CBD can produce beneficial effects in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis patients, but its employment for these disorders needs further confirmation from well designed clinical studies.”
In 2016, researchers at the University of Miami began a five-year study²³ to examine the effects of CBD for sports-related concussions. Researchers hypothesized that the properties of CBD can be combined with an anesthetic to reduce symptoms associated with concussions. The findings of the pre-clinical testing were strong enough to move into the next phase of human testing. Additional research, such as the University of Miami study, is still needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which CBD helps specific neurological and degenerative diseases.
Unproven Effects of CBD
There are many other effects that people are claiming about CBD. Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence at this time to support these claims. If you are curious about these additional effects and uses of CBD, we will list them here and update them as more research is published. Please note that there is not qualified information that supports the following claims:
- Heart Health & Cardiovascular Disease
- Helps Quit Smoking
- Bone Strength & Protection
- Gastrointestinal Diseases
Specific Uses of CBD
Based on the evidence of the proven properties of CBD that are explained above, it makes sense why people are using CBD for a wide range of wellness reasons. Some people are even giving CBD to their pets!
Are you or a loved one interested in the effectiveness of these evidence-based benefits of CBD? If so, you can read more detailed information about how CBD can potentially help a health condition by clicking the links below.
Note: If you are considering CBD products, talk to your doctor to see if it is a good fit for you. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD
People from all walks of life are crediting CBD with a variety of health and wellness benefits. Research is still ongoing to evaluate all the potential health benefits of CBD. However, the results from thousands of CBD studies on humans and animal models are very promising. As more studies are published and more data is available we will be able to better evaluate the therapeutic uses of CBD. Yet, it is reasonable to say that based on the existing evidence that CBD is not a fad, not snake oil, and it isn’t a trend that will fade quickly. CBD has the potential to make a significant impact on the health and quality of life for millions of people in the future.
How to Take CBD
- Taking CBD oil as a sublingual under the tongue (commonly in 500mg, 750mg, or 1500mg bottles of CBD oil)
- Taking it as a capsule or tablet
- Adding CBD oil to food or smoothies
- Applying CBD creams/lotions directly to the skin
- Eating CBD premade edibles, such as candies or gummies.
- Vaping it in e-cigarettes or vape pens
(You don’t have to smoke anything to get CBD)
If you or a loved one are ready to buy a CBD product, check out our online store for high quality and trusted CBD wellness solutions.
¹Bisson, R. (2018, August). Cannabis extract helps reset brain function in psychosis. King’s College London.
²CBD. (2019). PMC – US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
³Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Report. (2018, June). World Health Organization.
⁴Taylor, L., Gidal, B., Blakely, B., Tayo, B., & Morrison, G., (2018). A Phase I, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Single Ascending Dose, Multiple Dose, and Food Effect Trial of the Safety, Tolerability, and Pharmacokinetics of Highly Purified Cannabidiol in Healthy Subjects.
⁵Bergamaschi, M. (2011, May). Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients.
⁶Downing, N. (2014, January). Trial Evidence and FDA Approval of Novel Agents.
⁷Office of the Commissioner. (2018, June). Press Announcements – FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.
⁸Devinsky, O. (2016, March). Cannabidiol in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: an Open-Label Interventional Trial.
⁹Blessing, E. (2015, October). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.
¹⁰Crippa, J. (2011, January) Neural Basis of Anxiolytic Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder: a Preliminary Report.
¹¹Nagarkatti, P. (2009, October). Cannabinoids as Novel Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.
¹²Hammell, D. (2016, July). Transdermal Cannabidiol Reduces Inflammation and Pain-Related Behaviours in a Rat Model of Arthritis.
¹³Zurier, R., & Burstein, S. (2016, November). Cannabinoids, Inflammation, and Fibrosis.
¹⁴U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, April). Sativex for Relieving Persistent Pain in Patients with Advanced Cancer (SPRAY III)
¹⁵Ward, S. (2014, February). Cannabidiol Inhibits Paclitaxel-Induced Neuropathic Pain through 5-HT(1A) Receptors without Diminishing Nervous System Function or Chemotherapy Efficacy.
¹⁶Chelliah, M. (2018, May). Self‐Initiated Use of Topical Cannabidiol Oil for Epidermolysis Bullosa.
¹⁷Xiong, W. (2012, June). Cannabinoids Suppress Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain by Targeting α3 Glycine Receptors.
¹⁸Zuardi, A. (2012). A Critical Review of the Antipsychotic Effects of Cannabidiol: 30 Years of a Translational Investigation.
¹⁹Rohleder, C. (2016, November). Cannabidiol as a Potential New Type of an Antipsychotic. A Critical Review of the Evidence.
²⁰Leweke, F. (2012, March). Cannabidiol Enhances Anandamide Signaling and Alleviates Psychotic Symptoms of Schizophrenia.
²¹Maroon, J., & Bost, J. (2018, April). Review of the Neurological Benefits of Phytocannabinoids.
²²Mannucci, C. (2017). Neurological Aspects of Medical Use of Cannabidiol.
²³Concussion Pill’ Shows Promise in Pre-Clinical Pilot Study. (2018, July). University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.