Cannabidiol (CBD) is the cannabis compound that doesn’t have psychoactive properties, which means it cannot make you “stoned”. Over the past few years, the medicinal benefits of the cannabinoid as an isolated substance have been documented in journals, and now mainstream society is catching on to CBD’s remarkable potential.
CBD products are being recommended for a variety of troublesome mental and physical conditions, many of which have no obvious cures or a lack of evident treatments. The internet has given power to pretty much anybody to share their anecdotes about CBD, and since there’s no “high” and no addiction risk, an increasing number of people are picking up a bottle of e-liquid or a tub of infused cream and trying it for themselves. Although it should be noted that plenty of clinical research on humans still needs to be done to confirm these apparent uses.
As medical cannabis legislation progresses around the world, more funding will be made available so that cannabinoid science can be studied more extensively. In 2017, Oxford University announced a potential £10 million cannabinoid biomedicine research programme, to enhance our understanding of the body’s endocannabinoid system and the beneficial properties of the many cannabinoids in cannabis.
But CBD is already on the market, and people are already using it to improve their lives. Here are five ways that CBD may make life easier.
Keep calm with CBD
Anxiety affects all of us to varying degrees – it’s natural to feel nervous before an important moment in our lives or about something that we haven’t done before. For some, that edginess is controllable, but for others, these negative thoughts can manifest destructive self-doubt when we need it least.
Thankfully, CBD has some powerful anxiolytic properties to help us nail that job interview or public speaking task at work, and the benefits can be derived much more quickly than with traditional anti-anxiety drugs, which can take two weeks or longer to kick in. With CBD vape oil and e-liquid, these racing thoughts can be dissolved in just a few minutes, keeping the user calm and in the present moment. Staying present will also help to improve performance, as the mind can stay focussed on what’s actually happening, instead of becoming trapped in defeatist thought patterns.
CBD’s anxiety-reduction effects are complex, but studies have boiled them down to two areas. Firstly, the compound boosts activity of mentally-soothing GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. And secondly, CBD partially agonises the 5HT1-A receptor, which reduces anxiety-like behavior by normalizing serotonin activity.
CBD: the new social lubricant
There is a ton of peer pressure in Western society to drink alcohol on a night out. The belief is that this helps us to relax and have a good time. But the downside of alcohol, as anyone who’s had a heavy night knows, is that it impairs judgement, causes a hangover the next day and can even lead to long-term cognitive decline.
Smoking cannabis is also a popular way for friends to chill out, but the psychoactive effects don’t sit well with everybody. CBD, however, allows us to maintain mental clarity, while reducing self-consciousness and inhibitions. And there’s no booming headache to worry about in the morning. This all makes it an intriguing social lubricant.
Strengthen the immune system
The immune system is vitally important, as it is the body’s frontline defense against viruses, bacteria and parasites. A strong immune system helps to keep us healthy, and deal with these threats more easily. Those with weak immune systems are prone to fevers, night sweats, malaise and even warts.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, cold showers and moderate consumption of alcohol all help to strengthen the immune system but supplementing the body with CBD appears to provide some key benefits, too. CBD is as an anti-inflammatory, but while it does reduce inflammation when required, studies suggest the cannabinoid is also an immunomodulator.
The body needs inflammation to protect itself from threats, but an excessive amount results in damage to various tissues and organs. CBD helps find a happy medium, by ensuring endocannabinoids send the appropriate messages to the immune system through CB2 receptors. CBD’s immunomodulatory properties are rare and promising, since medical researchers have found it challenging to develop effective anti-inflammatories which don’t cause volatility.
Enjoy better skin quality with CBD
The largest organ in the body is not the heart, the liver or even the brain, but the skin. As the body’s only external organ and the coating for our internals, it’s crucial that we take good care of it, so we receive maximum protection from outside threats. Cannabinoid receptors have been found in abundance in the skin, an indication that CBD-infused topicals can help maintain its quality.
As an anti-inflammatory, CBD’s indirect regulation of the immune system can reduce symptoms of acne by soothing the sebaceous glands and treat psoriasis by calming down overactivity in the skin cell cycle. The cannabis skincare market boasts a wide range of products, including CBD creams, face masks, eye serums, massage gels, balms, salves and even lipsticks.
The free radical aging theory proposes that the aging process is accelerated by exposure to uncharged molecules, or ‘free radicals’ – these are present in smog, smoke, alcohol, fried foods, pesticides and environmental pollutants. The concept has been criticized, the antioxidants in CBD offer protection from free radicals, which may slow the progression of wrinkles and age spots.
Reduce dependency on addictive prescription drugs
Scientific and technological advancements have delivered many benefits for medicine, and we have them to thank for longer life expectancy and the higher quality of life we enjoy over our ancestors. However, pharmaceutical-grade prescription drugs are not infallible, as is clear with opioid-based painkillers, and multiple classes of antidepressant drugs.
The former is notorious for being high-risk and extremely addictive, because the body becomes tolerant to the effects. Over time, doses of ever-increasing strength are required for the same pain relief, which presents an overdose risk with drugs like fentanyl. Antidepressants, meanwhile, may not be physically addictive, but some users become mentally dependent on them.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to take any drugs, and this is what CBD products may help achieve. The effect that CBD has on opioid receptors is little-studied, but there are signs that the cannabinoid interferes with the pleasure-reward mechanisms which makes opioids addictive.
In 2018, researchers carried out a rodent study on CBD and the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain implicated in depression. The results showed that CBD helped to repair broken neuronal circuitry from the first dose, and that the rats continued to benefit from treatment for up to a week after the last dose was given. Research, also in rodents, has shown that CBD can reverse volume loss and repair structural damage in the hippocampus, a part of the brain which controls emotion.
However, please do not stop taking prescription drugs before consulting a doctor.