In the recent decade, researchers have made some major discoveries about CBD. The compound is currently being investigated in the following seven medical conditions.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the therapeutic potential of CBD is far-reaching, and these few conditions only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of the cannabis compound.
Here are seven medical conditions that may respond to CBD:
Research on CBD for epilepsy is by far some of the most advanced in terms of clinical research. Already, one biopharmaceutical company has created a CBD-based anti-epileptic drug called Epidiolex.
Invented by Britain's GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex contains isolated CBD. Thus far, it has been successful in phase 3 clinical trials in both Dravet’s Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
Both conditions affect pediatric patients and are often unresponsive to conventional pharmaceutical treatments. These conditions often lead to premature death and can cause dozens of seizures each day.
Successful phase 3 trials are the final steps in approving new epilepsy drugs for medical use.
In one trial, researchers tested the effects of CBD on 120 children aged two to 18. The peer-reviewed study was published in 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The trial found that CBD successfully reduced seizures in 43 percent of the test subjects by greater than half. On average, those given CBD experienced a seizure reduction from 12.6 to 5.9 per month.
That given placebo went from 14.9 to 14.1 per month.
Five percent of patients given CBD had their seizures disappear completely. This did not happen at all with the placebo group.
A growing body of preclinical evidence and one early trial suggests that CBD has potent anti-cancer properties. In laboratory and rodent models of breast cancer, the cannabis compound has successfully caused tumor cells to self-destruct.
This occurs through a process called apoptosis, which can be described as “cell suicide”.
Normal cells will undergo apoptosis naturally if they are damaged or diseased. However, for some reason, cancer cells stop responding to signals that trigger cell suicide. This means that cancer cells can continue to grow and proliferate.
CBD is expected to be most effective for breast cancer cells, though several other types of cancer cells have responded to the cannabinoid in preclinical research.
In early 2017, GW Pharmaceuticals again tested the effects of a cannabis-based drug on 21 patients with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The participants were treated with a drug that contained both psychoactive THC and CBD.
Patients in the study also received chemotherapy.
The phase 2 clinical trial found that those treated with the cannabis-based drug had a one-year survival rate of 83 percent. Those given a placebo had a one-year survival rate of 53 percent.
Patients treated with the cannabis medicine survived a median number of 550 days compared with only 369 days for those given placebo.
3. Psychiatric disorders
Feeling blue or overly anxious? CBD might help.
Research suggests that CBD may be a useful tool in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Preclinical studies have found that CBD has anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties.
However, early clinical trials have also found that CBD-based medications have shown signs of success in treatment-resistant schizophrenia.
While psychoactive THC is not considered helpful for those with psychotic disorders, CBD is non-psychotropic. In fact, preclinical research suggests that CBD may actually dampen the psychoactive properties of THC.
These same characteristics are perhaps what makes CBD a compound of interest in schizophrenia research.
Yet again, GW Pharmaceuticals has successfully completed a phase 2 clinical trial testing the effects of CBD in 88 patients with schizophrenia. CBD was given as an adjunct treatment along with conventional antipsychotic medications.
The trials found that the CBD-based drug successfully reduced both positive and negative symptoms of the disorder, as well as improved cognition when paired with conventional treatments.
4. Inflammatory disorders
Inflammation is a culprit in a wide variety of diseases, yet it is particularly problematic in autoimmune disease. Amplepreclinical research suggests that CBD may be useful in the treatment of various inflammatory disorders.
Experimental research suggests that the endocannabinoid system is an emerging player in the area of inflammation.
While researchers are still unraveling the complex entanglements between the ECS and the immune system, the preliminary evidence provides positive signs that CBD may successfully reduce inflammation that contributes to several different diseases, including:
A phase 2 trial published in Diabetes Care tested the effects of cannabinoid-based drugs in 62 patients with type 2 diabetes. The drugs contained both CBD and another cannabis compound, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
Researchers found that CBD reduced resistin, which is a compound that contributes to the buildup of belly fat.
CBD also increased levels of a compound called glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide. This peptide is thought to boost insulin secretion. In type 2 diabetes, cells stop responding to insulin and patients need to supplement with the hormone in order to maintain blood sugar levels.
The overall results of the study did not reach the clinical goals. However, these findings suggest that there is still reason to continue to explore CBD in diabetes research.
In rodent models, CBD treatment has been found to lower insulin resistance in non-obese mice, as well as halt the development of autoimmune diabetes in non-obese mice.
6. Neurological conditions
The stress-fighting and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD may make it particularly useful for neurological conditions and diseases of aging.
Preclinical research suggests that CBD may be helpful in slowing the progression and treating symptoms of neurological and degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Already, a prescription drug containing both psychoactive THC and CBD is available for multiple sclerosis patients in many countries. The drug is Sativex and it was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals.
Sativex has been found to be effective in easing pain and reducing spasticity and tremors associated with MS. MS is a degenerative disorder that causes the fatty lining of nerve cells in the brain to deteriorate.
Research suggests that CBD may provide long-lasting protection against the deterioration of nerve cells by reducing inflammation.
7. Brain trauma
Believe it or not, the U.S. government has a patent (US6630507) on the use of cannabinoids as neuroprotective antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent damage to cells and DNA.
As a neuroprotective antioxidant, CBD may be useful in checking back damage caused by brain injuries. These neuroprotective qualities also make the compound useful in the treatment of the neurodegenerative disorders mentioned above.
Currently, the biopharmaceutical company Kannalife Science has exclusive rights to the U.S. patent and hopes to develop therapies to both prevent and help patients recover from brain damage.
While investigations are still underway, preclinical evidence suggests that pretreatment with CBD may reduce the damage caused by traumatic brain injury. Additional evidence suggests that CBD treatment post-stroke may improve recovery after the event.