CBD Benefits – 11 Reasons Why CBD Is Good For You
Is CBD really worth it? Why the sudden surge in popularity? And are there any legitimate CBD benefits you need to know about?
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about cannabidiol or CBD and chances are you’ve already come across some kind of CBD product or probably even used one yourself.
CBD is being infused in literally almost anything you could think of nowadays – potato chips, toothpicks, beer and even in lube and suppositories.
Yes, CBD is everywhere and there are so many touted claims but are any of those things true and is CBD really good for you?
Before we dive into any CBD benefits, let’s take a brief look at what CBD is and how CBD works.
What is CBD?
The Cannabis plant has been around for a lot longer than you and I will ever remember.
But what many people are unfamiliar with and where a lot of the confusion happens is the fact that there is a difference between Hemp vs Marijuana.
Hemp and marijuana come from the same (cannabis) plant and both can produce high amounts of CBD but the difference between both of them is in the amount of THC each one contains.
Hemp is part of the Cannabis family that contains 0.3% or less THC content.
Marijuana on the other hand contains more than 0.3% THC and is what induces a “high”.
So when you hear anyone talking about Cannabidiol (CBD) what they’re really referring to is a derivative of the hemp plant.
There are over 100 active compounds present in the hemp plant and CBD is one of the main active ingredients and obviously the one that’s been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years.
To be clear, CBD and THC are 2 completely different compounds.
For starters CBD does not contain any of the psychoactive properties you’ll find in THC (so CBD does not get you high) and studies have shown that CBD in a few cases can actually suppress some of the euphoria caused by THC.
And that’s just one of the associated benefits of CBD.
- CBD (Cannabidiol) comes from the hemp plant
- Hemp contains less than 0.3% THC
- CBD won’t get you high
How CBD Works
Cannabinoids (the compounds found in the cannabis plant) have the ability to interact with the brain and the body through the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The ECS is an extremely complex system and many studies still need to be done for us to understand the full extent of how it helps regulate the body.
But it has 3 components you need to be aware of:
- Endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced naturally by the body)
- Endocannabinoid Receptors
- Enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids
**Endo means originating from the body**
Of all 3, what we’re interested for the purpose of this post are the Endocannabinoid receptors.
There are 2 main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 – found in the central nervous system
- CB2 – found in the peripheral nervous system
THC has the ability to bind to both of those receptors while CBD on the other hand has very little binding affinity to either CB1 or CB2.
CBD works by stimulating the ECS so that the body can produce its own cannabinoids (aka endocannabinoids).
CBD also inhibits the enzyme FAAH and also works on numerous molecular pathways in the body.
- Cannabinoids interact with the ECS which is responsible for homeostasis in the body
- The ECS has 3 main components – endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors, and enzymes
- There are 2 main endocannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2
- THC can bind with both receptors while CBD does not
- CBD works by stimulating the body (the ECS) to produce its own cannabinoids
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
I’ve touched on this a little but I’m going to break it down a little bit further so you can really understand how the whole thing works and why CBD is beneficial.
The ECS as I mentioned plays a key role in maintaining regulatory balance in several bodily functions.
Some of the functions we know so far are:
And all of these functions happen in large part thanks to the interaction between the 3 main components of the ECS.
The endocannabinoids which are the messengers and are produced throughout the body, the receptors where those messengers attach themselves to and the enzymes which help break them down at the appropriate moment so they can be used by the body.
The 2 main receptors are CB1 which are most commonly found in the brain and play a role in a healthily functioning brain and you also have CB2 which plays a role in our immune system.
CBD and THC are referred to as Phytocannabinoids.
Phyto meaning they come from a (cannabis) plant.
They too have the same means of interaction as your endocannabinoids i.e. they attach themselves to the CB1 or CB2 receptors.
Well technically speaking THC is the only one that binds to the CB1 receptor and causes the psychoactive effects or high we’re all accustomed to.
CBD works differently.
It does not “attach” itself directly but instead modifies the receptor’s ability to bind to other cannabinoids (the messengers).
And we’ve also seen that the CBD phytocannabinoid can also influence other receptors in the ECS to stimulate the production of natural endocannabinoids.
Those 2 latter reasons are why CBD is gaining so much prominence in the health, wellness and food industries amongst many others and why many more studies are being done to understand the full benefits of CBD.
What about the CB2 Receptor?
Glad you asked.
What I didn’t mention in the previous section is there are 2 prominent endocannabinoids in the body – Anandamide and 2-ArachidonoylGlycerol (2-AG).
Studies have shown 2-AG has a strong affinity for CB2 but not so much anandamide.
As far as what it does, CB2 receptors are typically activated during any kind of brain inflammation or injury.
Although we’re beginning to understand some of the different roles of the ECS & CB1 receptors, many studies still need to be done on the involvement of CB2 receptors.
Here’s a worthy read – CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors as a Therapeutic Target—What Does the Future Hold?
And with that, let’s take a look at 11 legitimate CBD benefits backed by science.
11 CBD Benefits (Backed by Science)
Just so we’re explicitly clear, this conversation you and I are having is not a replacement for medical or professional advice.
I enjoy talking about CBD, clearly love to write about it and there’s a lot of promise in the cannabis industry but the CBD benefits I’m going to list on here are not meant to serve as a replacement for any medical regimen or treatment from your physician.
What you should do instead is read through the list and if anything applies to you or catches your attention then you should have an open conversation with your doctor.
Solid professional advice is always 100% better than doing things just for the sake of it.
1 - Epilepsy Treatment
The only health condition officially recognized and for which there is an FDA-approved CBD drug is epilepsy.
In 2018 the FDA approved the use of Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures in people 2 years of age and older with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).
After years of studies it was shown that CBD can inhibit the action of GPR55 receptors (among other things) which are often the main cause of seizures in epilepsy.
Those studies showed a 32-47% decrease in seizures depending on the dosage the participants took.
Epidiolex contains about 98% purified CBD and has proven to be very effective in patients with those rare forms of epilepsy.
2 - Alleviates Depression and Anxiety
It’s no secret that many people struggle with a lot of anxiety and depression, and when you add in all of the troubles we had to endure with the COVID-19 pandemic, it should come as no surprise that the numbers definitely increased.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental disorders and a staggering 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression .
A small scale study in the U.S showed the prevalence of depression in adults was 3 times higher during the pandemic.
Of course there are plenty of resources and different treatment regimens available but CBD is also proving to be a valuable tool in the fight against depression.
Some of the studies being done have shown that deficits in the ECS could lead to anxiety and depressive behavior and that the use of drugs to stimulate endocannabinoid action could actually help reduce the symptoms.
A 2018 study suggested that CBD can be an excellent therapeutic antidepressant based on how it interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain.
Serotonin if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a key hormone that affects our overall mood and happiness.
Higher serotonin levels lead to more happiness and a better mood.
What those studies are showing is appropriate doses of CBD can induce antidepressant-like effects by influencing how your brain reacts to your serotonin levels.
Keep in mind many of these studies are still in the animal trial phase.
3 - Reduces Pain
One of the very first articles I wrote on this blog was the 10 best CBD roll-ons for pain.
And that’s because a CBD roll-on happened to be my very first encounter or better yet the very first time I actually used a CBD product – and Yes, it worked!
Well it should come as no surprise that one of the reasons CBD is so popular is because of the role it plays in alleviating pain.
From athletes, to steel workers, to brickmasons and even grandma’s arthritis, I’m sure you’ve heard countless stories about how effective CBD is in reducing pain.
A 2017 review did show that selective cannabinoids could indeed provide a some analgesic relief in patients with chronic neuropathic pain and several other studies like this one and this one have shown CBD’s potential as a useful treatment in arthritis.
And this 2018 review also showed that the action of cannabinoids on multiple pain receptors has proven effective in the management of chronic pain.
I get that the marketing has far outgrown the science but animal trials and human trials (albeit in small scale) have shown promising results.
And there is plenty of subjective evidence that CBD is effective in reducing pain.
4 - Helps With Drug Addiction
The fact that almost 128 people in the U.S alone die from drug overdose should tell you that opioid addiction is real and is definitely something we need to be well aware of.
Even though we’re years removed from the 2017 Opioid Epidemic, prescription misuse still continues at an alarming rate.
Many people dealing with chronic pain understandably rely on some of those medications but the downside is it can sometimes lead to addiction.
If you know of anyone or have come across someone who’s heavily dependent on heroin or morphine or any other substances then you know too well how deteriorating it can be.
Evidence shows CBD is a potentially effective therapeutic regimen in the prevention and treatment of drug addiction.
A 2015 study on both animals and humans showed preliminary evidence that CBD could be useful in the treatment of addiction disorders.
Another recent study in 2018 added further support and evidence to the efficacy of CBD in treating drug addictions.
Many of these studies show that the action of CBD on the ECS, its effect on opioid receptors and its ability to regulate stress and mood are all the different reasons why its so beneficial for drug abuse.
5 - Lowers Blood Pressure
Appropriate doses of CBD can help lower your resting blood pressure and even stress-related high blood pressure.
In a 2017 controlled test, nine healthy participants were each administered 600mg of CBD and then given a number of stress tests to increase their heart rate.
The resulting data gotten at rest and after the stress test all showed similar results:
- A decrease in blood pressure & stroke volume
- An increased heart rate (no arrhythmias)
- Maintained cardiac output
Animal studies have also shown CBD could prove to be potentially helpful in increased blood flow during a stroke.
All in all, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects has shown significant cardiovascular benefits.
**Goes without saying, if you’re already on blood pressure medications then please consult with your physician first before taking any CBD products.**
6 - Fights Insomnia
If you’re someone who has a hard time falling asleep then CBD is an excellent alternative to help you fall and stay asleep without all of the sleeping pills.
There are 2 manners in which CBD can help improve your sleep – External factors and its direct action on the Endocannabinoid system.
External factors includes things like:
- Late night eating
- Poor sleep schedule (to name a few)
We’ve already seen the role CBD plays in alleviating pain, anxiety and depression.
So if your insomnia is caused by those kinds of external factors then CBD could come in very handy in reducing those symptoms and improving your overall quality of sleep.
As far as the ECS goes, we’ve seen the role CBD plays in regulating our bodies and maintaining homeostasis.
Well, proper sleep is one of those things we need to function properly.
Research shows that CBD has the ability to interact with the receptors that affect our sleep/wake cycle making it an effective treatment for insomnia.
And a 2014 study also showed that cannabidiol could improve REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
7 - Prevents and Eliminates Acne
Research shows that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to inhibit oil production could prove to be an effective acne treatment.
To have a better understanding of how CBD can help eliminate acne, we need to know what causes acne in the first place.
Our bodies produce a natural oil known as Sebum which we need to coat, moisturize and protect our skin.
But just like with many other things in life, too much can sometimes be a problem.
In this case, excessive production of sebum in the body leads to acne and that’s where you get all those hideous pimples and unattractive blackheads from.
Studies have shown that CBD oil could trigger anti-inflammatory actions in the body and inhibit the activation of inflammatory cytokines which cause acne.
Leaving you with clear, beautiful and natural skin.
There have also been promising results for other skin conditions such as psoriasis, itchy (or sensitive) skin, wrinkles, as well as CBD’s antibacterial and antifungal properties.
8 - CBD Reduces and Prevents the Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
Studies have shown that CBD has indeed proven to be helpful in the management of symptoms caused by alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Neuroinflammation is one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease and the research concluded that CBD can reduce or remove the inflammation and its antioxidative properties can prevent the impact of oxygen build up and brain cell damage.
In fact those 3 main mechanisms of action (reducing inflammation, preventing oxygen build up and acting as a neuroprotectant) are the same ones that have proven CBD can be effective on other dementia-related conditions such as:
- Vascular Dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
9 - Antipsychotic Effects
Not that it didn’t matter in any of the previous points we just took a look at, but this is one where you really need to be careful about what kind of cannabis product you’re actually taking.
Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t get you high and the only legal-to-sell CBD products should contain less than 0.3% THC.
THC is what causes the high and those psychotic-like symptoms.
One way to prevent or reduce said high is by taking some unadulterated CBD but in this case, it’s proven to also be helpful in other forms of psychosis.
Recent studies showed significant improvement in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) after they were treated with high doses of CBD as an adjunct to conventional antipsychotic medications.
And not only did the symptoms improve, but so did their overall cognitive function and there were fewer adverse side effects.
While there’s still a lot of ongoing research on the direct mechanism of action, there are currently 2 suggested theories as to why CBD is an effective antipsychotic adjunct:
- Its ability to regulate anandamide levels in patients with psychosis. (Here are some more excellent studies from the British Journal of Psychiatry and PubMed Central)
- Its ability to facilitate hippocampal neurogenesis and increase neuroprotection.
So appropriate doses of CBD alongside antipsychotic meds could prove to be a powerful one-two combo in the treatment of psychosis.
More CBD Benefits (Ongoing Studies)
Even though I’m including these last 2 points on this list, a lot more (human) research is still underway in these particular areas to figure out CBD’s full potential and efficacy.
But the promise in both fields makes them worthy of mention.
10 - Its Role in Diabetes
Specifically with diabetic-related inflammation.
In many Type 1 diabetics, you often find swelling of the endocrine tissue (islets of Langerhans to be specific) and subsequent damage of the pancreatic cells – a condition known as insulitis.
A study done on mice showed CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects could help reduce the swelling and ease the pain caused by the nerve damage.
Unfortunately there haven’t been many human trials just yet and there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done here so its likely any results (as of the time of this writing) might be purely subjective.
Another related area where there’s ongoing research is the role of CBD in the management of blood glucose and HDL cholesterol levels.
11 - Its Therapeutic Potential in Cancer
Before I go any further, I’m going answer the question you already have in mind.
And that answer is No, there isn’t any current evidence that CBD can cure cancer.
Even though some animal studies have shown promise in tumor reduction, much of the ongoing research is aimed more at figuring out CBD’s potential role in alleviating some cancer symptoms and the side effects of cancer treatments (chemo, radiation, etc).
There are currently no approved CBD drugs to manage any cancer symptoms however the FDA has approved 2 THC synthetic drugs to treat certain cancer-related conditions.
Those drugs are:
- Dronabinol – used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy (also used to treat appetite and weight loss in people with AIDS)
- Nabilone – a man-made drug similar to THC which is also used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemo.
As a word of caution, CBD should NEVER replace any current form of cancer treatment but as we make further advances in the research, there is certainly some promise in this tough area.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of CBD
CBD is literally everywhere.
Drive a mile in any direction from where you’re currently at and I guarantee you’re going to run into it in some shape or form.
Personally I believe CBD is an amazing product with amazing potential and that’s why I chose to write about these CBD benefits.
But on the same token it’d be naive of me to say CBD is the answer to everything or to buy into every unsupported claim out there.
I’m well aware that there are some people creating worthless CBD products to take advantage of the hype and of people who don’t know any better.
But the fact that you’ve read this far tells me you’re a lot smarter than that.
Despite the claims, it is important to understand that some of the current studies have their limitations and further research needs to be done to understand the full potential of CBD.
Regardless of which CBD product you end up using, you should always ask questions and read the labels carefully to make sure you’re actually getting what you paid for.
And I hate to put this in all caps but you should also know that CBD IS NOT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER MEDICAL CARE.
Yes CBD has its benefits and even though it has worked well for others on numerous occasions I won’t disagree that there needs to be better regulation and until we get FDA approval, you should always seek professional or medical advice first.
CBD Benefits - FAQ
Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers related to the benefits of CBD.
Is CBD safe?
Generally speaking CBD is safe and can be tolerated well by most people.
But it is very important that you pay close attention and read the labels of any CBD product you’re taking.
Also keep in mind that no CBD products (besides Epidiolex) have been approved by the FDA just yet.
Does CBD have any side effects?
This is basically an extension of the previous point and even though it is generally considered safe, some side effects to look out for include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Light headedness
- Low blood pressure
- Skin sensitivity with topical products
Some other instances where you need to be particularly careful are in expecting moms, children or anyone with liver disease.
Does CBD work for everyone?
The simple answer is No.
No matter how popular CBD gets, that doesn’t mean it will solve every single problem or work for everyone.
That’s just plain science.
There’s no drug or medication with a 100% efficacy rate.
Unfortunately this is one of those claims that is (not so) subtly being promoted in the CBD industry for false advertisement and scammy marketing.
Even regular tylenol doesn’t work the same for everyone.
Is CBD oil legal?
Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are considered federally legal in the U.S.
That said, your local and state laws may still apply so it is important to check with those laws as applicable.
To help you out, here’s a great chart from Leafly you can refer to – Is CBD legal in your state?
I hope you found this article useful and hopefully you’re now well aware of some these amazing CBD benefits.
As always please use sound judgement when taking any CBD products and defer to medical or professional advice before doing so.
If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.