In the past decade alone, there have been over 20,000 studies conducted on cannabidiol (CBD), the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), and the potential benefits of using CBD to promote ECS balance. The efficacy of CBD has been demonstrated in both human and animal studies, and the conclusion is clear: CBD works under a variety of conditions, and it delivers a variety of outcomes.
How Does CBD Oil Work?
CBD oil is thought to work by promoting balance across the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This natural network extends throughout the body’s major organ systems, including the brain, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells.
Along with eating well and minimizing stress, scientists believe ECS balance can be achieved by supplementing with exogenous cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD). According to this model, CBD oil provides a source of extra cannabinoids that bind to the body’s existing cannabinoid receptors, much like a key fits into a lock. This improves the ability of the ECS to communicate and maintain biological stability within the body.
By increasing cannabinoid levels—and thus, more keys fitting into more locks—research shows a variety of health outcomes can be achieved.
Are There Studies That Show CBD Works?
Most studies that examine the safety and efficacy of CBD can be found online at the National Institutes of Health. The following are among the most exciting findings that demonstrate how CBD works to improve health and biological function:
Inflammation. Cannabinoids, like CBD, have been found to suppress persistent inflammatory pain in both mice and rats (i).
Epilepsy. In 2017, cannabidiol (CBD) passed stage 3 clinical trial for treatment of epilepsy in children. One hundred and twenty children received CBD over a 14 week period (CBD was given to 61 children, while the rest received a placebo). Compared to placebo, children who received CBD experienced a 39% reduction in seizures (ii).
Autism. Later in 2017, a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that CBD reduced seizures in laboratory mice that suffered with a type of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome (DS). This mirrored the findings in the study above. However, scientists expanded the study to analyze social behaviors as well. In doing so, they found that CBD normalized social behavior while increasing preference for social interaction. Following publication, this study has been viewed as the first controlled study to demonstrate CBD’s potential for treating autism in children (iii).
Fear and PTSD. Also in 2017, Brazilian researchers conducted a study to examine the effects of CBD on fear and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers exposed 277 laboratory mice to a small electric shock. The furry subjects were treated with CBD afterward, and researchers noted the cannabidiol reduced “the conditioned fear expression, and fear generalization,” (iv).
Performance and public speaking. In a unique and exciting double-blind study, researchers examined 60 people as they engaged in an act that most fear more than death: Public speaking. During presentations, researchers monitored participants’ blood pressure and heart rate. After speaking to the group, each participant self-reported their feelings of anxiety. In the end, participants who received CBD reported greater anti-anxiety effects compared to those receiving a placebo (v).
CBD, THC, and feeling high. It is often said that CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it does not cause the user to feel intoxicated. Scientists investigated this notion in a new study published by Cannabis and Cannabiniod Research, stating that ” Cannabidiol (CBD), a major cannabinoid of hemp, does not bind to CB1 receptors and is therefore devoid of psychoactive properties,” (vi).
Getting off opiates with CBD. To date, there has not been a long-term study on CBD and opiate use. However, the National Institutes of Health just awarded the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System a five-year, $3.8 million grant to study how cannabis might reduce opiate use among patients who suffer with chronic pain (vii).
Seizures. For over 1,000 years, both pre-clinical and clinical evidence suggests that cannabinoids, like CBD, can be used to effectively reduce seizures (viii).
Neurological enhancement. CBD has been found to have “neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects,” (ix).
Skin health. In vitro studies indicate CBD may reduce inflammation and the appearance of acne (x).
Liver steatosis. CBD treatment has been shown to reduce the symptoms of alcohol-induced liver steatosis in mice (xi).
However, consumers are wise to approach online retailers and social media influencers with a healthy level of skepticism. Not all CBD products are created equally. Some use isolate, while others use full spectrum formulas. Some are organic, some are not, and many retailers peddle hemp seed oil as CBD (no, they are not the same).
How Long Does It Take for CBD Oil to Work?
To work, it is believed that CBD oil must be taken long enough to have a positive effect on the user’s ECS. This has led doctors to speculate that better outcomes can be achieved when CBD oil is integrated into a holistic approach to health (xii). This might include combining CBD oil with a clean diet, exercise, and a stress management routine. When taken alone, CBD oil may still work, however the benefits may take longer to realize. For best results, consumers are advised to consult a licensed medical professional to devise a comprehensive treatment plant for improving health with CBD oil, diet, and exercise.
Learn more by visiting our guide to the best forms of CBD oil.
(i) “Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.” Published June 4, 2012. Read this study.
(ii) “Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome.” The New England Journal of Medicine. Read this study.
(iii) “Cannabidiol attenuates seizures and social deficits in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Read this study.
(iv) “Cannabidiol disrupts the consolidation of specific and generalized fear memories via dorsal hippocampus CB1 and CB2 receptors.” Neuropharmacology. Read this study.
(v) “Inverted U-Shaped Dose-Response Curve of the Anxiolytic Effect of Cannabidiol during Public Speaking in Real Life.” Fronteirs in Pharmacology. Read this study.
(vi) “A Conversion of Oral Cannabidiol to Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Seems Not to Occur in Humans.” Cannabis and Cannabiniod Research. Read this study.
(vii) “First Long-Term Study on Medical Marijuana’s Impact on Opioid Use for Pain.” Albert Einstein College of Medicine. News Release. Read this study.
(viii) “Cannabinoids and Epilepsy.” Published October 12, 2015. Read this study.
(ix) “Cannabidiol: Pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders.” Published January 11, 2016. Read this study.
(x) “Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes.” Published September 2, 2014. Read this study.
(xi) “Cannabidiol attenuates alcohol-induced liver steatosis, metabolic dysregulation, inflammation and neutrophil-mediated injury.” Published September 21, 2017. Read this study.
(xii) “Endocannabinoid Diet and Activities.” Visit this web page.