Cannabidiol is becoming an alternative natural remedy used for common ailments. There is a stigma surrounding CBD-derived products, being that they are associated with the cannabis plant which is a government-regulated substance. Therefore, it’s easy to understand why in the past, there hasn’t been much evidence of CBD products being used. As public information and evidence regarding these products becomes more accessible, the nutrients and benefits that they can provide will become more well-known and we believe that the stigma will fade away. However, in order to break through this barrier, the companies that are pushing this product must be trustworthy, and provide not only high quality, but safe products. Oil is made by extracting CBD from the hemp plant, then diluting it with carrier oil like coconut oil. Products like these are gaining momentum in the health and wellness community, with some scientific studies confirming they may ease symptoms of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety. Many peer reviewed articles mention that hemp has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C.
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions within the human body such as sleep, appetite, pain and the immune response system. The human body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. Numerous studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters.
In Great Britain during the 1500's, hemp was valued for its rot-resistance and salt-water resistant properties before being widely cultivated for its CBD. The long and strong fibres of hemp make it particularly useful in the production of sails and thick ropes for the navy. Without hemp, Europe’s ships would be stuck hugging its coasts.
In 1963, the first breakthrough towards understanding the effects of individual cannabinoids was made by Dr Raphael Mechoulam when he successfully identified the stereochemistry of CBD (Pertwee, 2006). In his study, they administered daily doses of 300mg of CBD to a group of 8 subjects who suffered from epileptic fits. Within four months of treatment, half of these subjects stopped having seizures while the other remaining volunteers exhibited a decrease in the frequency of their seizures. As research progressed, there was a breakthrough in the 1978 Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act when New Mexico passed a bill which legally recognised the medicinal value of cannabis. (Genaro, et al., 2017) study into its medicinal value, found that CBD injections reduced pain response to surgical incision in rats. While another rat study found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation.
Unfortunately, the discovery made by Dr Mechoulam was not made public or regarded as a breakthrough due to the stigmas towards cannabis during that time. However, the work of Dr Mechoulam and the other early pioneers within the cannabis research community would not go in vain as today, the benefits of cannabinoids are becoming more widely recognised. Further evidence of CBD’s benefits is the fact that they have been recognised by the Scottish government who have approved the first medicinal cannabis clinic in Scotland.
(Khan, et al., 2020) investigated the clinical outcomes and limitations for the use of CBD and nabiximols (whole plant extract) from cannabis sativa classifying the studies examined in grades of evidence quality. The evidence from their research favours CBD use for patients with schizophrenia and psychosis in Parkinson’s disease in four out of the seven studies, except in treatment resistant cases. Nabiximols and CBD were beneficial in cannabis-related disorders in almost all studies with Grade B recommendation, resulting in a decreased risk of withdrawal symptoms and dependence among participants. One open-label trial in the study suggested favourable evidence for the use of cannabinoids CBD and Δ9-THC for hyperactivity, self-injurious behaviours, and anxiety symptoms in patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In this study, CBD’s positive effects on those suffering from anxiety and/or insomnia were also identified, particularly with patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder, which is in line with previous research.
(Larsen & Shahinas, 2020)’s study into the dosage, efficacy and safety of cannabidiol in adults to deal with certain disorders enhanced the existing information that is available about CBD. They state that CBD has had a positive effect on anxiety, schizophrenia, tobacco addiction and minor effects or no effect on primary outcome measures for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, dyslipidemia and cannabis use disorder. All observational studies (skin disorders, ADR following HPV vaccine and epilepsy) reported positive effect of CBD when compared to baseline measures.
Furthermore, they identified that there were no previous studies that reported adverse effects with acute administration and mild to moderate adverse effects with chronic administration. However, they also identified that there is a need for longer term safety data and systematic/uniform reporting of adverse effects to better weight benefit and harms in future reviews even though the comprehensive review by (Bergamaschi, et al., 2011) including animal and clinical studies reported a favourable safety profile of CBD in humans. It is important to note that the main method of administration for the (Larsen & Shahinas, 2020) review was oral. Moreover, it is likely that the use of a single cannabinoid may be inferior to the extract where other components synergize with CBD to obtain the desired effect, known as the “entourage effect.”
The (Shannon, Lewis, Lee, & Hughes, 2019) study into the effects of CBD on sleep and anxiety found that their clinical report support the existing scientific evidence of physiology and neurologic pathways benefiting with anxiety-related issues. They also saw no evidence of a safety issue that would limit future studies. In their evaluation, CBD appears to be better tolerated than routine psychiatric medications. Furthermore, CBD displays promise as a tool for reducing anxiety in clinical populations.
It is clear to see that there has been vast usage of CBD throughout the years. As the world became more regulated, in CBD's case over-regulated, it went through stages where CBD use was prohibited. The government implemented the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920. The Act controlled the import, export, sale, distribution, and possession of drugs such as morphine, cocaine, heroin, and raw opium. Species of cannabis such as hemp was also included in the list as an addendum by 1928.
Despite its many practical uses, it was marginalised due to concerns around the plant’s psychoactive effects. It was even portrayed as a menace to society during the International Drug Conference in Geneva. It was this argument that might have contributed to the inclusion of cannabis in the Act that year.
Still, hemp derivatives continued to be available on prescription for medicinal purposes, while recreational use continued for decades. It even soared in popularity during the flower power era of the 1960s. Fast forward to 2023 and CBD is widely used by millions of people. CBD edibles are approved for sale as a food supplement and as are topical creams & gels. As knowledge of CBD increases so does the knowledge of its benefits. While legally you can't make any claims about its medicinal benefits, its uses are becoming well-documented and the general population are starting to think more independently, trying products for themselves and making their own decision. The CBD industry is on an upwards trajectory and the companies who can deliver the consistently good products are the ones who will give their customers the best value.