- Numerous scientific studies have tested the effectiveness of cannabis as a remedy for multiple diseases and pathologies.
- The main reason behind it is its high content in cannabidiol, better known by its initials, CBD. This component acts as an anxiolytic, relaxing and anti-inflammatory substance that can be of help in some cases of multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression or chronic pain. Here below, we detail its most common uses according to the different pathologies.
CBD is, along with THC, one of the most important components of cannabis. Its molecular structure is very similar to that of its partner, tetrahydrocannabinol, with the difference that THC has psychoactive effects, something that does not happen with CBD. Its low toxicity makes this substance the key element in marijuana to treat numerous diseases.
According to a study published in the Pharmacology & Pharmacy journal, CBD-rich cannabis plant extract is more efficient than CBD used in its pure chemical form. This is due to the presence of other cannabinoids and molecules in the plant which enhance its properties due to the so-called "entourage effect." Now, what are the medicinal uses of CBD and what diseases is it used for? Here are several examples:
1. Reducing pain caused by arthritis and rheumatism
Joint diseases can be due to two main reasons. On the one hand, to wearing and consequent inflammation, as in the case of osteoarthritis or osteoarthritis; On the other hand, to an autoimmune disease or infection, as it occurs with rheumatoid arthritis. These types of ailments come along with strong associated pains for which the use of CBD is a very effective solution. The nerves responsible for carrying pain signals from the joints to the brain are replete with cannabinoid receptors.
In this sense, CBD acts with an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the swelling and relieving the patients' pain. It can be taken orally or topically in creams or ointments that act directly on the localised pains. Some studies even suggest that the compound slows the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, it being a substance that is responsible for the modulation of the immune system.
2. Alleviating the symptoms of chemotherapy
According to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, cannabidiol contains antiangiogenesis agents. This means that it inhibits the creation of new blood channels necessary for the growth of tumours. Thus, cannabidiol slows the proliferation and invasion of harmful cells in some types of cancers such as breast, lung or brain cancer.
Likewise, since CBD has antiemetic properties, it serves to fight nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy sessions these patients go through.
3. Fighting Seizures of Epilepsy
Several clinical studies have shown that CBD has anticonvulsive properties and is an effective way to treat epilepsy. It is considered as an effective remedy especially in children with Dravet, West or Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. These rare diseases cause longer attacks and, therefore, an increased risk of irreversible brain damage.
The provision of the CBD slows down these attacks by protecting patients from their consequences. In addition, there have been cases in which CBD has been the only valid treatment for seizures, as it is the case of Charlotte Figi, an American girl who suffered up to 300 epileptic seizures a week and managed to reduce them by 99% thanks to the intake of CBD.
Now Charlotte can sleep and can eat alone; Even the severe autism she suffered from her illness has been reduced. Its excellent results, endorsed by a growing number of experts, served to encourage thousands of patients with epilepsy to take CBD. One of the most famous CBD-rich cannabis strains even has her name: Charlotte's Web
4. Reducing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis
The main characteristic of multiple sclerosis is the inflammation of the neuronal tissue, something that CBD is able to reduce thanks to its anti-inflammatory agents. Throughout history, numerous studies have endorsed these benefits, which have served to create the world's first drug based on cannabis, Sativex.
The neuronal inflammation produced by multiple sclerosis triggers a number of neurological symptoms, including loss of motor control, muscle weakness and spasms, an unstable mood and fatigue. These can also be reduced by CBD consumption, because this substance also has anxiolytic and antispasmodic qualities.
It has also been proven that CBD helps controlling the pain associated with the disease. In a clinical trial, a CBD-based medicine administered under the tongue in the form of a spray proved to be more effective than placebo in reducing pain and sleep disorders in multiple sclerosis patients.
5. Combatting inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
According to the Spanish Observatory of Medical Cannabis, CBD is a potent remedy against ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Both are caused by inflammation of the intestine, which CBD can help fight and reduce with its anti-inflammatory agents.
Thus, many patients suffering from acute and chronic inflammation in their intestines have benefited from the treatment with cannabinoids to improve their quality of life. However, in this type of disease, as in others, experts say that more scientific studies are needed in order to know the right doses indicated for each pathology.
6. Protecting against neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer's
Neuroscience researchers in Australia have suggested that CBD may have therapeutic potential for specific cognitive disorders associated with Alzheimer's. This is because CBD would reduce the aggregation of beta-amyloid plaques, a disease-indicating protein, and decrease phosphorylation (chemical process of phosphate addition) of Tau proteins, another biological indicator of this condition. This would lead to the degeneration of neurons leading to cell death.
CBD, because of its many qualities, would also reduce neuronal inflammation and favour the creation of new brain cells that would help to curb the disease. Thus, CBD acts as a preventive neuroprotector.
7. Stopping the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Likewise, CBD has proven to have beneficial effects on major neurodegenerative diseases that compromise portions of the basal and mitochondrial ganglia of the brain. One of these diseases is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS; in many cases, medical cannabis has slowed down and stopped its progression.
Cannabinoid receptors are associated with appetite, pain sensation and mood. Thus, when activated with the presence of CBD, they release neuroprotective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that also reduce the symptoms of ALS.
8. Help in relieving depression and anxiety
CBD also stands out as an efficient anxiolytic, allowing to regulate mood and avoiding depressive phases. It also produces a sense of relaxation and psychic well-being that helps with anguish and panic attacks, according to a study published in the journal Current Neuropharmacology in 2016. Unlike its cousin the THC, CBD does not cause psychoactive effects, which enables it for the treatment of diseases related to mental states.
9. Controlling the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia
CBD also works against schizophrenia. It has been found that patients who fail to keep their symptoms under control with standardised antipsychotic medications have achieved this thanks to CBD.
These symptoms can be alterations in perception, cognition, and functions of the ego, will, affectivity, motivation and even the psychomotor function. All of them improve with CBD consumption. In addition, the endocannabinoid system regulates the patients' emotions, sleep, reward system and aversive memory, while CBD achieves a positive effect on the metabolic, anti-inflammatory and stress-related components of schizophrenia.
10. Avoiding Acne
Interestingly, CBD can also be used to fight off acne. Its sebostatic effect, together with its anti-inflammatory one, reduces the formation of sebum in the skin thus preventing the development of this pathology, which affects mostly adolescents.
With these medical applications we can state that CBD is a medicinal asset to treat different diseases. Even so, many experts demand more research on its properties in order to take advantage of all its medical and scientific qualities.