Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive derivative of the marijuana plant.
First isolated in 1940, cannabidiol has been the subject of much medical research recently. You may have first heard of CBD oil when theFDA announced the first ever approval of a drug (Epidiolex) made from an active ingredient in marijuana (CBD).
CBD’s non-psychoactive properties make it attractive to people hoping for relief from mental and physical disease (1). In today’s article, we examine 3 conditions that CBD’s showing to improve: inflammation, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, we investigate the reported side effects of CBD.
As inflammation is centrally involved in most diseases, it makes sense to explain CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties first.
Inflammation is at the heart of today’s deadliest diseases. Put simply, inflammation = more free radical production. As stated in our last article, free radical production alters our DNA, proteins, and is linked to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease (2). More free radical production = higher oxidative stress (3). Higher oxidative stress = extremely unhealthy.
Much research has honed in on the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. According to a study conducted by a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, “cannabidiol, which may interact with the endocannabinoid system but has actions that are distinct, offers promise as a prototype for anti-inflammatory drug development” (4).
In addition, David Perlmutter M.D., a renowned American neurologist, asserts that “CBD has wide ranging activity in terms of reducing inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals. Specifically, CBD modulates the function of the immune system. Research would indicate that overall, the effects of this modulation seem to be quite positive” (5).
Cannabidiol is also showing promise in mitigating depression and other mental health disorders.
In a study done by researchers at the University of Newcastle, “tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) variously combine antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiolytic, analgesic, anticonvulsant actions, suggesting a therapeutic potential in mood and related disorders” (6).
Furthermore, a 2016 rat model study conducted by Columbia University (NYC) showed promise in CBD’s treatment of clinical depression (5). Similarly, an analysis done at the University of Mississippi demonstrated that CBD exhibited significant anti-depressant like effects at 20 and 200mg/kg, respectively (7).
This phenomena makes sense. The link between inflammation and depression is increasingly recognized (8). Inflammation in the brain is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease, as discussed below:
Your hippocampus is your brain’s memory center. Unsurprisingly, hippocampal deterioration is a central element of Alzheimer’s disease.
CBD has been found to be neuroprotective, to prevent hippocampal and cortical neurodegeneration, to reduce tau hyperphosphorylation, and to regulate microglial cell migration (9). In particular,, CBD has shown promise in reducing NO release and iNOS protein expression (10). NO is a free radical and central to inflammatory and degenerative conditions in the brain. In addition, iNOS has been implicated in many chronic inflammatory conditions. Reducing the presence of these free radicals is an important step in treating neurodegenerative disease.
The role of CBD in preventing Alzheimer’s is especially important given the aging population of the world, particularly in the United States.
Cannabidiol Side Effects / Issues:
The majority of CBD studies were performed for the treatment of psychotic and epileptic disorders. Here, the most commonly reported side effects were tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite/weight (11)
Many other studies suggest that CBD is non-toxic in non-transformed cells and does not induce changes on food intake. According to does not induce catalepsy, does not affect physiological parameters (heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature), does not affect gastrointestinal transit and does not alter psychomotor or psychological functions (12).
Generally, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties appear to come without many of the side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), like Advil.
Best Cannabidiol Brands:
Not much to say here as we’ve only tried one brand: Sabaidee (we’re not affiliated with the company in any way).
Sabaidee’s CBD oil is tested in-house then sent to an independent third party laboratory. This was an important feature after reading that nearly 70% of CBD oil companies have mislabeled their products CBD content (13).
Speaking strictly from personal experience, Sabaidee’s CBD has helped most with sleep quality. Applying sublingually (holding beneath tongue for 1 minute) has worked best and gives us a uniquely energizing feeling in the morning (could be confounding factors, impossible to say). As always, consult your doctor before considering taking CBD or other supplements.
We will continue to emphasize this: everything is connected, particularly in your body. Inflammation is the epicenter of many diseases.
As CBD offers anti-inflammatory properties, it’s no surprise CBD’s showing promise in relieving cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and other diseases. For instance, the same way the hippocampus (brain’s memory center) atrophies in clinically depressed patients, the degeneration of the hippocampus is one of the primary features of Alzheimer’s disease.
Quality of Research on Cannabidiol:
Much of the aforementioned research is suggestive rather than conclusive.
What we mean is the above research can identify therapeutic benefits (anti-inflammatory, etc) of CBD but can’t eliminate confounding factors or explain the mechanisms producing these effects. Therefore, more research is needed to validate the potential benefits of cannabidiol and document its long term effects. Specifically, trials with larger number of participants and long-term usage of CBD would further validate the cannabis compound.
Again, the information in this article is based off our research into the subject. We are not doctors or toxicologists. We present this article which consists of our opinions based on our research to promote discussion and scientific discourse and are open to comments and feedback from all of you.
Look forward to hearing from you!
- //www.fasebj.org/doi/pdf/10.1096/fj.201600646R, pg. 3687