Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs after a person has experienced a scary, shocking, or dangerous event. It’s totally normal for someone to feel fear whenever they find themselves in a hazardous situation. That feeling of fear is what triggers a human’s natural fight-or-flight response, or their immediate decision in the face of danger to run away or stay and fight. This reaction is deeply embedded in humans and has been an important part of survival for thousands of years. What triggers concern for PTSD is what occurs after a traumatic event takes place.
Immediately after the event, almost everyone will experience some sort of emotional response, yet most will naturally recover from those feelings on their own over time. The people who are unable to rebound from those devastating feelings, however, may find themselves experiencing long-term emotional problems and ultimately find themselves diagnosed with PTSD. Those who suffer from PTSD often find themselves feeling stressed or frightened over the course of a normal day, when there is no actual danger presenting itself to them. Or they could be easily triggered by things that are seemingly unrelated to the previous trauma, or very closely related. This can obviously have debilitating results on a person’s ability to lead a comfortable life.
Signs and Symptoms
Anyone can suffer from PTSD after a traumatic event and it’s important to look for the signs if PTSD is suspected. It’s also crucial to realize that a person doesn’t have to suffer from a dangerous event to be susceptible to PTSD. Events like the unexpected death of a loved one can also cause someone to experience short-term or long-term PTSD. Some common symptoms of PTSD are:
Staying away from things that are reminders of the traumatic event
Avoiding thoughts related to the traumatic event
Being easily startled
Trouble remembering the traumatic event
Negative thoughts about the world or oneself
Distorted feelings of guilt
Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within a few months of the bad event, but occasionally the symptoms won’t present themselves for years, surprising a person with emotions they didn’t know were sitting dormant. In general, the symptoms must last more than a month and be distracting enough to interfere with daily life for the condition to be considered post-traumatic stress disorder. Most people recover from PTSD within 6 months or so, however some may find themselves suffering for much longer. When that happens, PTSD is considered chronic and extended treatment options should be explored.
Anyone can experience PTSD at any age, including children. It’s found in people who are veterans of war, and those who have been through physical assault, abuse, accidents, or disasters. In fact, about 7-8% of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives . It is a condition that can take over a person’s life and cause extended periods of distress and emotional turbulence. Finding relief for this condition is an important endeavour. Recently, scientists have been exploring how the body handles PTSD and what chemical processes might be involved. That has led them to dig deeper into the physiology of the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an important part of the human body. It’s responsible for maintaining the body’s homeostasis and managing the processes that go along with that. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will activate and control the situation to make sure all systems it controls remain at an optimal level. This is an important function of human physiology. All the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are naturally produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. The endocannabinoids the body produces, and any cannabinoids ingested will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
Enzymes: After the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has achieved stabilization in the body, enzymes start breaking down the endocannabinoids to avoid a possible overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
One of the endocannabinoids produced naturally by the human body is anandamide. This compound is also known as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to cause humans to feel euphoric for short periods of time while it’s activated. It is only a short-term molecule, however, because quickly after it has been activated, it is broken down by a fatty enzyme that is released at the same time as the anandamide. However, as scientists have found, if that enzyme isn’t activated, it won’t be able to attach itself to anandamide and would obviously be unable to remove the “bliss molecule” from doing its work. This means humans could potentially be able to feel good for longer periods of time.
The study mentioned above concluded that anandamide plays a role in the human process of fear extinction, which is what helps our brains forget trauma . To support this, researchers decided to investigate what would happen if anandamide was restricted in test subjects. They found a chemical that reduced production of anandamide enough to test what would happen when the naturally-occurring cannabinoid was depleted dramatically. The researchers then tested behavior in mice with normal levels of anandamide and in those with reduced levels. They noticed that mice with restricted levels of anandamide experienced much more stress than the mice with normal levels of the endocannabinoid. The mice with lower anandamide levels also held onto their conditioned fear for much, much longer than the mice with normal levels.
This discovery itself is very specific, but also very important as it is the first study to explore the idea that reducing anandamide levels has a negative effect on emotional behavior. It also provides some insight into how PTSD develops, possibly because people who are susceptible to it do not produce enough anandamide to keep their emotions balanced, especially in regards to trauma. It would also suggest why people with severe PTSD experience such visceral flashbacks; they lack the correct molecular balance to forget those memories.
CBD and PTSD
Since endocannabinoids and cannabinoids from cannabis plants are so similar chemically, it’s possible for cannabinoids like CBD to attach themselves to the receptors in the same way the naturally occurring endocannabinoids do. CBD has the ability to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Once attached, CBD acts as an antagonist, or blocker, binding to receptors and dampening their signals.
When cannabinoids are introduced to the CB1 and CB2 receptors they prompt the system to produce neurotransmitters that help promote happiness and memory. For example, CBD works to inhibit the FAAH enzyme which specifically breaks down anandamide. Since anandamide produces a calming, or euphoric feeling, keeping the enzyme from destroying this compound produces a naturally therapeutic effect that should be felt immediately and have lasting therapeutic benefits .
Along those same lines is the idea that CBD will increase the amount of time anandamide stays active at increased levels in an attempt to help those suffering from PTSD have some relief from their chronic emotional distress. The theory is if the anandamide levels in a person with PTSD are increased, the likelihood of them experiencing the benefits of that cannabinoid should be enough to help them recover from their PTSD symptoms. Research has found that the cannabinoids help those with PTSD by preventing traumatic memories and nightmares, while also helping boost emotional wellbeing .
Along with most other therapeutic uses for CBD, it is a new area being heavily studied and every day we’re seeing new information released to the public. While the research is still relatively new, the possibilities are exciting and are giving those suffering from PTSD optimism for their future.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the number one cause of death in the world, accounting for more than 30% of all deaths globally . CVD can be a genetic condition, but it is most commonly caused by unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse. The most common signs of cardiovascular disease are increased blood pressure and raised blood glucose and lipids. Cardiovascular disease is a blanket term that covers many different conditions related to the heart. They include:
Angina (Coronary Artery Disease)
Angina is actually a symptom of coronary artery disease, a condition where a blockage occurs in one or more arteries feeding the heart. As the artery becomes more blocked, the heart reacts by demanding more blood flow than is able to pass through the obstructed area. Angina can cause symptoms that are close to those of a heart attack, including pain and discomfort in the chest and left arm as well as nausea. It also causes tightness in the chest, which can last for a few minutes before clearing up on its own. Most of the time, however, none of these symptoms present themselves until the blockage has hit around 70%, making it extremely important to get checked regularly and attempt to prevent it from occurring at all.
Angina is a sign of serious heart disease and having this condition dramatically increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Atrial fibrillation means a person has an irregular heartbeat, or heart palpitations. This condition causes the feeling of a missed heartbeat or feeling like extra beats were fit into the normal pattern. Atrial fibrillation is caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the heart, and while most cases of atrial fibrillation are not directly life threatening, they do increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack later in life.
Atrial fibrillation is caused by damage to the heart tissue, menopause, old age, anxiety, or genetic and congenital defects.
Cardiomyopathy affects the function of the heart muscle by negatively impacting its ability to contract and force the movement of blood through the cardiovascular system. There are many causes of cardiomyopathy and they all depend on what caused them in the first place, but all will result in a reduction of the heart’s ability to oxygenate the blood in the human body.
Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is a condition that is present at birth. It is most often caused by a problem during fetal development and can result in varying degrees of dysfunction throughout a person’s life. Depending on the severity, it is a condition that might require in-depth treatment like surgery, but certainly life-long medical treatment.
Congestive Heart Failure
After the heart has been injured it runs a high risk of going into congestive heart failure. This usually happens after a heart attack or after years of stress from pumping against hardened arteries due to high blood pressure. Congestive heart failure means the heart is unable to pump blood effectively through the body.
Whichever side of the heart has taken the damage is the side of the body that will experience the most symptoms. If the right side of the heart is damaged, blood will pool in the lungs. This will cause pulmonary edema, coughing, and shortness of breath. If the left side of the heart is damaged, a person will experience blood pooling in the rest of the body, including the arms and legs.
Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
When the flow of blood that feeds into the heart is blocked by plaque, a heart attack occurs. The heart muscle is so strong it demands a constant supply of oxygen to beat properly, so even a slight disruption of that process can have dangerous results. The specialized heart cells can die off causing immediate damage and death if it’s not treated immediately.
Often the extent of the damage to the heart during a myocardial infarction is too much for the body to repair effectively and there is permanent damage to the heart and an overall reduced quality of life for the victim. Heart attacks are usually the stepping stone for congestive heart failure and arrhythmias.
Causes of Heart Disease
There are many causes of heart disease, some more common than others. As mentioned above, some heart conditions are genetic and unavoidable. Many, however, are caused by lifestyle choices. The most common causes of cardiovascular diseases are:
Excessive alcohol consumption: this varies per person, but the general rule is anything over 8-15 drinks per week or prolonged binge drinking is considered excessive .
Atherosclerosis: a disease that causes the arteries to collect fatty material, or plaque, on the inner walls.
Autoimmune disease: a condition that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy cells.
Bacterial infections: caused by microorganisms invading healthy tissue.
Diabetes: a disease that is the result of too much sugar in the blood.
High blood pressure: this condition is the result of too much blood force against the artery walls.
High sodium diet: the American Heart Association recommends adults eat 1500 mg or less of sodium a day. The average American actually consumes around 3400 mg of sodium per day .
High trans fat diet: the American Heart Association recommends limiting the intake of trans fats completely, instead using monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats for all food .
Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat in the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Recreational drug use: ingesting these harmful substances may be associated with the deterioration of the cardiovascular system .
Sedentary lifestyle: this means little to no physical activity during a normal day.
Side-effect of medication: prescription drugs can help people manage their acute or chronic conditions, but often they come with risks.
Smoking: smoking raises the triglycerides in the blood and lowers the good cholesterol of the body. It also causes the blood to thicken and become more likely to clot, while also damaging the cells that line the blood vessels .
Stress: the connection between stress and heart disease is still under investigation, but because stress puts the body on constant high alert, often people turn to bad behaviors to try to reduce their stress. Whether this is increased alcohol consumption, cigarettes, drug use, or food, they can all lead to increased risk of heart disease.
Viral infections: while rare, it is possible for a virus to weaken the system enough for a heart condition to form.
Common Treatment Options
Many current treatment plans include dietary and lifestyle changes, like healthy eating and daily exercise. This is usually combined with a medication plan and sometimes means daily medication for life and a totally altered diet and lifestyle. It is important to make these changes while also working to reduce overall stress in order to keep the bad behavior triggers away. Some patients are learning more about CBD, though, and the effect it can have on their current treatment plan or how it can enhance what they already do on a daily basis. Many are interested in it as a more natural option to a treatment that will have to be maintained for years and years. Let’s take a look at what CBD can do for cardiovascular health.
CBD and the Cardiovascular System
High Blood Pressure
There are many causes of high blood pressure, including genes and diet, but research is starting to show that stress is also a trigger for high blood pressure. In a study on rats, scientists observed increased blood pressure and heart rate in the animals that were exposed to stressful situations. The study also found that giving the rats a dose of CBD lowered their blood pressure and heart rate quickly . Another study that used human volunteers concluded that a single dose of CBD was more successful in reducing their blood pressure than the placebo .
A stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking blood flow to the brain, and clots can form for a number or reasons. Recent studies on animals, however, have shown that CBD may help protect stroke patients from possible brain damage while also increasing brain function, helping stroke victims recover faster . It has also been found to help increase cerebral blood flow during a stroke, meaning there could be less damage overall and a more positive recovery outlook .
Myocarditis is the inflammation of the muscular tissue around the heart. A recent animal study found CBD beneficial in reducing myocarditis and general myocardial dysfunction and overall heart failure. This result is largely due to CBD’s apparent anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic properties .
Myocardial Ischaemia and Arrhythmia
Ischaemia is an inadequate supply of blood to an organ or part of the body, the heart muscle in particular. Ischemia is often a cause of arrhythmias in humans. If blood isn’t carried to the entire body, the affected areas will be denied the necessary nutrients and risk necrosis. A study performed on rats concluded that CBD appeared to have cardioprotective effects. After administering CBD to the animals, researchers found CBD to suppress arrhythmias caused by ischaemia .
Heart disease can be extremely distressing and usually means a lifetime of management and lifestyle changes. Prevention is crucial in cardiovascular health and there is evidence that CBD can be helpful in that pursuit. Heart disease is a sensitive balance of medication and lifestyle adjustments, so always consult your doctor before adding any new supplement to your treatment plan.
CBD was discovered in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until much more recently that it gained the attention it’s currently enjoying worldwide. While it has many similarities to THC, the biggest difference is its lack of psychoactive properties, making it especially interesting for medicinal benefits. Besides not having any intoxicating effects, it is also non-habit forming, easily tolerated by the human body, and full of potential therapeutic benefits that people with a variety of conditions could potentially enjoy . For these reasons CBD is a great option for clinical trials and exploration, and is why it is currently one of the most studied cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant.
CBD has already been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties , its anti-psychotic abilities , as an analgesic , and for its anti-epileptic benefits . Besides the psychotropic differences, CBD is different from THC on a molecular level too. When compared to THC, CBD shows less attraction to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), meaning it doesn’t activate the receptor directly but instead alters the effectiveness of anything attached to those receptors. This can range from a stimulation of acidic release process to inhibiting an enzyme from breaking down a specific molecule.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an important part of human physiology. It’s responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will start working to make sure everything in the body remains at a stable and optimal level. This is an important function of the human body. All the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are naturally produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD. The two main endocannabinoids in the ECS are called anandamide and 2-AG.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. The endocannabinoids the body produces, and any cannabinoids ingested will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems. The two main types of cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2.
Enzymes: After the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has achieved stabilization in the body, enzymes start breaking down the endocannabinoids to avoid a possible overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively. The two enzyme types are called FAAH and MAGL and each is specific to a particular endocannabinoid.
As researchers become more interested in the medicinal possibilities of CBD, more studies on its potential abilities become available. A recent review looked at how CBD could be used to help treat somatic and psychiatric disorders. The review itself consisted of 25 studies, all of which were peer-reviewed and published in full length articles in scientific journals. These studies included 538 men and 389 women. 22 of the review studies were performed as controlled clinical trials and three were observationally designed. The studies came out of five countries.
It should also be noted that formulations, dose, and dosage schedules varied between each study. The dosage rate varied from a single dose all the way to 48 weeks of continued usage. Most studies used the purest form of CBD, with the exception of two that used seed CBD oil and CBD botanical extracts. Most CBD was taken in capsule form, but some were also vaporized or administered as oil droplets under the tongue. Because of the varied doses and formulations, many of these studies must be taken with a moderate level of bias assumed. Without everything being equal, those reviewing the results must be prepared for a margin of error and prejudice present in reviews such as these.
11 of the studies were focused on anxiety disorders, consisting of 358 participants. Most participants were given 150-900 mg of CBD in the form of gelatin capsules. These studies examined different anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD). The studies reported that by giving those suffering from SAD a dose of CBD before public speaking, their anxiety was reduced in preparation and during their speaking engagement , allowing them the possibility to be more comfortable and confident during their presentation. There was no effect discovered, however, on physiological measurements like heart rate or blood pressure. Another study showed that CBD decreased anxiety and increased mental sedation in those suffering from chronic anxiety or paranoia disorders . This would indicate a more calm mind in situations that might normally produce increased anxiety levels. Finally, another study came to the conclusion that CBD could be helpful in reactions to negative stimuli, like situations that cause fear. When participants were given CBD they were more likely to take the time to think about an appropriate reaction in the face of fear rather than acting on impulse and instinct alone . Humans, and most other creatures, have a basic level of fight-or-flight that they default to when faced with fear. This study showed that in the moment when fear would normally take over, leaving the participant to rely on their base instincts only, the addition of CBD allowed them to take a moment to survey the situation and make a more informed decision, one not based solely on instinct.
For CBD’s effect on psychosis, specifically schizophrenia, four studies consisting of 196 participants were analyzed. For these trials, CBD was administered orally using gelatin capsules in the doses of 600-1000 mg. While CBD showed no observable difference in treating cognitive function and psychotic symptoms in these patients, it did show itself to be just as effective as a potent prescription medication commonly used as an antipsychotic for schizophrenia. CBD was also found to be more tolerable and safe than that same prescription medication, and with all the same benefits of improved psychotic symptoms. When used in conjunction with this medication, the results were heightened and the prescription medication was found to have more potency, even in a reduced dosage .
Substance Use Disorder
When used to help those addicted to smoking, research has found that an inhaled pure dose of CBD over the course of one week did produce positive results in those with nicotine addictions. These results were measured by the number of cigarettes smoked per day by the group of participants who were ready and willing to quit smoking . Studies also found that if administered after an overnight time frame without any nicotine, participants found cigarettes less important and pleasurable than they did without the CBD. This indicates CBD could potentially have an effect on the actual motivation to smoke in nicotine addicts, causing them to look unfavorably at tobacco products, therefore reducing the odds that they would be tempted to reach for one of these products to satisfy a current craving .
Most of the studies reviewed showed the best benefits of CBD at the dosage levels ranging from 300-600 mg. Many of the studies were performed on healthy adults, with the exception of the SAD trials which were performed on clinical patients. These studies also used a comparative placebo group to evaluate the effectiveness of the results.
Research is still ongoing and the exploration of CBD and other cannabinoids will be something scientists study for years to come, but early information is giving those suffering from psychosomatic disorders hope for a treatment plan that has the potential to move away from prescription drugs, or the ability to modify their prescription medication plan with a more therapeutic approach. Just like every person is different, so is every psychosomatic disorder. What works for one person or in one study may not hold true for another person or another research project. After reviewing more than 20 cases, this review holds high hopes for the benefit of CBDs and other cannabinoids in the fight for mental health.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is gaining popularity for its potential to assist many conditions, both chronic and short-term. CBD is a cannabinoid molecule produced by the cannabis plant. It can be consumed naturally in marijuana or hemp products, or removed through a process of extraction and made into a variety of CBD products like oil, edibles, or salves.
One area that researchers are interested in is the potential of CBD to help neurological conditions. With research compounding and new studies being conducted regularly, scientists are finding more and more interesting benefits of CBD and the way it interacts with the brain. However, understanding how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the brain is a complicated undertaking. The brain itself is incredibly complex and contains a wide variety of receptors, conducting a multitude of interactions every second. As complex as the research is, it’s already showing positive results and many are hopeful for what more years and more research can bring to the problem.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis. If a disturbance happens in the body, the ECS will work to make sure everything remains at a stable and optimal level, correcting whatever imbalance first triggered its response. This is an important function of the human body because all internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
The endocannabinoids are chemical compounds the body naturally produces but are structurally similar to endocannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis.
The cannabinoid receptors, which are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are both able to attach to these receptors allowing them to communicate with a variety of systems inside the body. This communication is what enables the ECS to detect and correct instability.
Enzymes work to break down the cannabinoids and endocannabinoids after they’ve attached themselves to the receptors and after homeostasis has been achieved. At the core, enzymes are there to make sure the cannabinoids do not create an overcorrection once the risk has been effectively corrected.
How CBD Interacts with the Brain
Inside the brain are highly specialized cells called neurons which connect to other neurons through structures called synapses. By releasing chemicals known as neurotransmitters, neurons are able to communicate with each other. These neurons have their own receptors. The receptors respond to chemicals produced by the brain (dopamine, serotonin) as well as chemicals produced outside the body, like cannabinoids.
Since cannabinoids from cannabis plants are so similar to naturally produced chemical compounds within the body, it’s possible for the CBD compound to attach itself to the receptors in the same way as endocannabinoids. CBD has the ability to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Once attached, CBD acts as an antagonist, or blocker, binding to receptors and dampening their signals.
For example, CBD works to inhibit the FAAH enzyme which breaks down the anandamide endocannabinoid the body produces. Anandamide produces a calming feeling, so by keeping the enzymes from destroying this compound a naturally therapeutic effect should be felt immediately .
Benefits of CBD
Many neurological disorders have one thing in common: neuroinflammation. Researchers have linked inflammation to neurodegenerative diseases like depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and epilepsy . Recent studies on mice have suggested that CBD slows down an overactive inflammatory response, even reducing neuroinflammation after a stroke . With the possibility of reduced inflammation in the brain, CBD may have the potential to alleviate some devastating symptoms of many neurological conditions.
Just like the rest of the body, keeping the brain healthy is essential to living a long life. As humans age, memory or learning abilities may slow down. That’s a natural part of life. However sometimes the brain degenerates at a more rapid rate than expected. This can be due to genetics or lifestyle habits, but it’s also linked to a decrease in neuroplasticity where memory and learning take place, and neurogenesis, the process that creates new brain cells. One study has found that CBD works to increase neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in mice , a promising result for the future of brain science and aging brains.
Oxidative stress and free radicals can be causes of age-related brain decline. Free radicals are part of everyday life and a consequence of living. Humans make free radicals when they eat, breath, and sleep. Production of these molecules can increase due to exposure to stress, pollution, and a poor diet. The best defense against free radicals is antioxidants . Research has shown that CBD may have powerful antioxidant properties, possibly comparable to those of vitamin C and vitamin E , hinting at its potential to be an essential part of the battle against free radicals.
As mentioned earlier, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that communicate signals between the brain and body. They are used to instruct a variety of systems on the steps needed to function in a healthy way. They direct the lungs to breathe and the stomach to digest. Healthy neurotransmission is essential to a functional human body. If an imbalance does happen there are any number of effects that can be felt. Mood changes, appetite changes, and the disruption of sleep can all be caused by unhealthy neurotransmitters. Stress, diet, toxins, and even medications can all throw neurotransmitters out of balance. Studies on animals have shown that CBD increased serotonin levels and glutamate in depressed test subjects . Serotonin is responsible for controlling mood and personality, while glutamate is a transmitter released by nerve cells and plays an important role in memory and learning. Both are important factors for mental health.
Currently the only FDA approved CBD medication is for the treatment of epilepsy, a chronic disorder that causes often debilitating seizures. The drug, called Epidiolex, is made from a CBD isolate and is used in the treatment of two specific forms of epilepsy. Clinical studies on humans have shown CBD to be very effective at reducing seizures, although it is currently unknown if this is directly due to CBD or because of CBD’s ability to work effectively with other medications to enhance their benefits . Since the effect of CBD as an anticonvulsant is one of the most researched in cannabis studies, society will continue to see further studies and evidence about these properties and how they relate to CBD.
CBD is quickly becoming a popular supplement in the United States. Due to its supposed neurological benefits, people are adding it to their daily lives to help with a variety of mental concerns. CBD has been studied for its assistance in easing anxiety, particularly general and social anxieties. The study showed that CBD may have helped those with anxiety feel more at ease when faced with a normally stressful circumstance: public speaking .
Along with its apparent anti-anxiety properties, CBD has also shown potential to help with depression. Studies on mice have shown that CBD exhibited both anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in the animals . Research is still very new and more studies on humans need to be conducted, however early research shows its potential, as do anecdotal reports from users around the globe.
Dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinon’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia, and Huntington’s disease all have the potential to be helped by CBD. Research conducted at the Salk Institute in California suggests that cannabinoids such as CBD have the potential to remove the toxic protein associated with dementia from the connections between the brain cells while also increasing those same connections to assist in cognitive stability. Research has shown this particular toxin to cause inflammation in the brain and higher rates of neuron death. Scientists were able to conclude that introducing cannabinoids reduced the levels of this toxin, thus eliminating the inflammatory response which allowed the nerve cells to survive .
These types of studies are still very new and evolving, but the potential is there and researchers are working as fast as they can to see how CBD and other cannabinoids can help treat the terrible disorders associated with dementia and other brain dysfunctions.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that affects the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Unfortunately it’s a long-lasting disease without a cure. It is, however, not a fatal disease. Most of the 2.3 million people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis  have a normal life expectancy and manage their MS with lifestyle changes and medication. The disease can be quite devastating, however, so treatment plans are necessary to give patients the best quality of life possible.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that has the ability to cause the body to malfunction and attack its own cells. With MS, the immune system strikes the body’s myelin, a protective substance that covers the nerves. When this substance is broken down and the nerves are left unprotected, they are quickly damaged and unable to function properly. The damaged nerves cause a variety of symptoms, each at different levels of severity.
The symptoms of MS can vary from person to person and they can range from mild to debilitating. They can also remain constant or come and go over time. The most common symptoms of MS are numbness and tingling in one or more of the arms, legs, or on one side of the face. Some may experience weakness, tremors, or clumsiness in the legs and hands. Partial loss of vision, double vision, or eye pain are also common first symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Other common symptoms include fatigue, bladder and bowel dysfunction, weakness, cognitive changes, acute and chronic pain, muscle spasticity, and depression.
Unfortunately, multiple sclerosis can also affect cognitive function. The damage MS does to nerves causes those with the condition to eventually have the inability to concentrate, problem-solve, or successfully navigate their bodies in relation to their surroundings. This, understandably, also leads to frustration, anger, and depression from the patient.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that often comes with treatment involving relapse and remission. While the periods of remission are free of any symptoms of the disease, they often come back for extended periods of time. These periods are called relapses, or exacerbations. Some are lucky enough to experience years of remission, but that doesn’t mean their condition has been cured, they are simply being granted a temporary remission based on whatever therapy they used. The results of the therapy could change over the years, becoming less effective in handling MS symptoms.
CBD and the Human Body
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the 113 identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD is the most prominent cannabinoid extracted from the plant. It produces no psychoactive results and is used primarily for therapeutic purposes. It’s currently undergoing lots of scientific research for its abilities to provide its users with therapeutic benefits with new information being released yearly. CBD doesn’t have any euphoric effects and is a safe option for those who don’t enjoy feeling intoxicated or legally cannot consume THC products.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an important part of the human body. It is responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis. If a disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will start working to correct the problem and make sure everything in the body remains at a stable and optimal level. This is a critical function of human physiology. All the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system. The first are endocannabinoids, the compounds that are naturally produced by the body and very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis. The second elements are the cannabinoid receptors, which are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids will bind to these receptors. Binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the endocannabinoid system maintain an equilibrium in each system. The final elements are the enzymes. After the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has achieved stabilization in the body, enzymes break down the compounds to avoid a possible overcorrection.
Since endocannabinoids and cannabinoids from cannabis plants are so similar chemically, it’s possible for cannabinoids like CBD to attach themselves to the receptors in the same way the endocannabinoids do. CBD has the ability to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Once attached, CBD acts as an antagonist, or blocker, binding to receptors and dampening their signals.
For example, CBD works to inhibit the FAAH enzyme which breaks down the anandamide endocannabinoid the body produces. Anandamide produces a calming feeling, so by keeping the enzymes from destroying this compound a naturally therapeutic effect should be felt immediately . Researchers have found that CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in immune cells, which indicates they are both used in regulating inflammation and immune response . Because CBD can attach itself to both these receptors, it could prove to be effective for treatment of multiple sclerosis.
How CBD Can Help
Since MS is a disease that has no cure, many patients find themselves trying a variety of therapies and medications to try and control their symptoms. Some of these treatment plans work and some do not. Some are only helpful temporarily and which leads sufferers to seek new treatment options when their current plan fails. This has led many to investigate what CBD can offer in the way of relief.
CBD has been known to exhibit both anti-inflammatory  and neuroprotective  properties, so researchers are interested in what effects it might have on multiple sclerosis. The benefits of CBD on MS are still being researched, but a recent study suggests that CBD with an equal part THC may help relieve pain and muscle spasms for some MS patients . With reduced pain and muscular issues can come decreased fatigue for MS patients, a common and upsetting symptom of MS . This can give those suffering from multiple sclerosis improved mobility, allowing them a reprieve from one of the most debilitating symptoms of the disease.
Evidence from studies performed on animals also suggests that CBD could be used effectively as an antidepressant, treating depression in patients . While CBD doesn’t change the chemical compounds in the brain, researchers found that it does change the way those chemicals are processed by its ability to attach itself to receptors, allowing the ECS to stabilize different systems.
It also has the potential to help those taking prescription drugs to lower their daily dosage of those medications. Studies have found that CBD can be used alone or in combination with other medications to heighten their usefulness and reduce the required dosage needed to get the same benefits . Since many medications have harmful side effects. Patients often deal with side effects like nausea, drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, and anxiety. Having the ability to reduce dosage and the side effects associated with the drug can make all the difference to patients sensitive to medications. This also helps cut down on the risk of addiction to painkillers or other prescribed medications which are often common in a multiple sclerosis treatment plan.
While there has been no evidence of serious drug interactions with CBD, there is always a risk of complications that could go along with adding anything new to a medication treatment plan, so those looking to add CBD or cannabis products to their therapy should check with their doctor before making any decisions.
CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids are quickly becoming more well known and widespread. After the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal in the United States, researchers were finally able to more easily test the capabilities of the cannabis plant and the compounds it produces. From help with seizures 1 to powerful anti-inflammatory properties 2, medical science is uncovering the powerful components of a plant previously considered an illegal narcotic. Cannabis and CBD research is still new and ongoing, but studies have shown CBD to be helpful in the treatment of a variety of common skin conditions.
The Function of Skin
It is common knowledge that skin is the largest organ in the human body. Not only is it the largest, it’s also one of the most complex. Skin acts as a protective barrier against environmental elements, but is also a source of hormones, contains a number of sensory nerves, and even has its own immune system.
The skin is made of three layers:
Epidermis: The outermost layer of skin is made up of keratinocytes, cells that form together to make the epidermis waterproof and to provide protection against UV radiation, microbes, allergens, chemicals, and hot or cold temperatures.
Dermis: The second layer of skin is made of collagen and elastic fibers, giving skin its distinct elasticity and strength. Inside this layer of skin also reside hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands. Assisting the epidermis, this layer also provides a waterproof barrier and regulates temperature. The dermis is responsible for producing hormonal steroids and vitamin D. This is also the layer where the skin’s immune system is located. Inside this layer of skin live immune cells that activate when the skin has been damaged. Along with the immune system, the dermis also houses a dense arrangement of nerve fibers.
Subcutis: The third layer of skin is made up of fats that hold the fuel, insulation, and cushion for the outer two layers.
How CBD Can Help
CBD interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis, meaning if some form of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will work quickly to stabilize and correct the system, maintaining optimal functions. All the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium for the human body to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are naturally produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. The endocannabinoids the body produces, and any cannabinoids ingested will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body.
Enzymes: After the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has achieved stabilization in the body, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids to avoid a possible overcorrection.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating several of the most important bodily functions, including the skin system. The ECS works to maintain the balance of skin functions such as production, differentiation, and immunity. Hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and other cell types located in the epidermis create endocannabinoids, which affect all components of the skin and are responsible for its proper function.
Common Skin Conditions and CBD
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to grow and divide at an accelerated rate. The division of these cells causes skin to become inflamed and red, with scaly plaques forming around the irritation. The inflamed skin can be sore and itchy, and may crack and bleed. There is currently no cure for psoriasis, but there are a number of therapies that have shown positive results. Besides maintaining a balanced diet and reducing exposure to the sun, CBD has also become a popular natural remedy for psoriasis. Studies have shown that CBD can help contain the acceleration of skin cell division and also provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits 3.
Acne is a skin condition that can affect any person at any age. Often thought of as just something suffered as a teenager, acne is also seen in adults and can be painful and embarrassing. Acne is caused by an increased secretion of sebum and a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. While sebum is important for skin protection, if too much is produced it can cause acne. Studies have found that CBD helps reduce the formation of sebum in sebaceous tissues 4.
As an additional benefit, CBD has been shown to have antibacterial 5 and anti-inflammatory properties making it especially useful against the bacterium that causes acne. Acne is often inflamed and painful, so the additional anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD could be quite soothing to those who suffer.
Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
While this is a condition that usually occurs in children, it can be experienced in adults as well. Atopic dermatitis is more traditionally known as eczema and is more common in the colder months, resulting in red itchy rashes. Corticosteroid creams are prescribed for this condition, however steroids have some less than desired side effects and users often see the issue return after the corticosteroid treatment has ended.
Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease, so CBD and it’s apparent anti-inflammatory properties have the potential to be effective during treatment. And because the skin has its own ECS system, CBD creams applied topically to the skin can be quickly targeted and distributed to ease any discomfort.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that usually affects the face and scalp area. It presents itself in the form of red scaly patches of skin around the hairline, often showing up behind the ears and sometimes in the elbows and knees. Seborrheic dermatitis is mainly caused by increased production of sebum in the sebaceous glands.
Much in the same way CBD can help with acne and psoriasis, it can also help seborrheic dermatitis by slowing the sebum secretion and slowing down the reproduction rate of the sebocytes, cells that make up the sebaceous glands 6.
Rosacea is a common skin condition with symptoms that cause facial redness accompanied by small pimples. It’s also responsible for causing red and watery eyes, dry and swollen skin, and even a burning or itching sensation. It’s also a highly visible condition, so it can be embarrassing to those who suffer. Like other skin conditions, rosacea has no cure and is typically controlled with oral or topical antibiotics and steroid creams.
Because of CBD’s potential to work as a powerful anti-inflammatory, it can be an essential addition to a treatment plan for rosacea. As an added bonus, CBD has been found to help with stress and anxiety 7, two known triggers for rosacea flare ups.
How to Use CBD
CBD for the skin is best used topically. While CBD does have other therapeutic benefits for the rest of the body, ingesting CBD with the intention of using it to assist in skin conditions is not an effective use of the product. Instead, find a quality topical product that can be applied directly to the affected area. As with any skin product, make sure to test it out first. Do a small skin test for a few days before applying the product to a larger area.
It’s also important to check the label on any potential product. Reputable companies will disclose how much CBD is found within their products and even provide a COA, or certificate of analysis, upon request, on the product packaging, or on their website.
As CBD gains popularity, so do other products trying to ride on its coattails. One such product is often called “cannabis sativa oil.” While it is a cannabis product, it is not CBD. It is actually just hemp oil, which contains only tiny amounts of CBD. Unless you’re just interested in it for moisturization, pass on this oil and look for CBD oil instead.
Finally, make sure to check state laws. While CBD is legal federally, there are some states that have imposed specific restrictions on the possession or transportation of cannabidiol. Check your local regulations before making a purchase.