THE BENEFITS OF CBD
Over recent years, CBD has gained widespread visibility both in mainstream culture and in scientific research for its diverse health benefits. In scientific studies and anecdotal reports, CBD has exhibited incredibly promising results not only as an aid for symptom management, but also as a holistic treatment that has allowed many individuals to improve or regain their quality of life.
Studies suggest that CBD produces wide-ranging benefits for our physical and mental health. But what exactly are the benefits of CBD, and what evidence exists to support them? In this article, we provide an overview of CBD and its benefits to illustrate how and why this cannabinoid has such an incredible impact on human health.
The statements herein have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and any information herein is not intended to aid any reader in the diagnosis, treatment, curing or prevention of any disease or other medical condition.
What is CBD?
CBD is a phytocannabinoid endogenous to the hemp plant, which synthesizes cannabinoids in reaction to heat and light under natural growing conditions. CBD accounts for about 40% of the hemp plant, accompanied by hundreds of other therapeutic compounds–“minor” cannabinoids and terpenes–that synergize with CBD to enhance its benefits and potentiate its effects.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD produces its benefits through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, the body’s “master regulatory system” that is responsible for nearly all aspects of our physical and mental health. The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors and neurotransmitters that spreads throughout the body and brain; cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the central nervous system, internal organs, peripheral tissues, immune system cells, and skin.
The endocannabinoid system controls the physiological processes responsible for nearly all of the bodily functions and physiological processes that are crucial to our physical and mental health. Though it would be nearly impossible to list all of the systems that the endocannabinoid system controls, below we have provided just a few examples of the physical and psychological processes that it regulates:
- Dermatological health
- Immune system health
- Ocular health
And much, much more.
When the endocannabinoid system was discovered in the 1990s, scientists realized that the human body actually needs cannabinoids to thrive. The human body partially fulfills this need by producing its own, naturally-occurring endocannabinoids, which are designed specifically to bind with cannabinoid receptors and unlock the systems they control–through this binding action, endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors establish equilibrium and ensure that the systems controlled by the ECS are functioning properly.
Yet often, we become endocannabinoid deficient due to common lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, diet, and so forth. Endocannabinoid deficiency has been hypothesized by researchers as the root of many ailments and symptoms, and results in the deregulation of the endocannabinoid system. When cannabinoid levels in the body are too low, the endocannabinoid system–which is responsible for keeping us physically and mentally healthy by maintaining physiological balance–ceases to function properly, and the systems it controls (i.e., the systems mentioned above) become dysfunctional. As a result, we experience symptoms in response to this negative impact upon our physical and mental health.
This is where CBD comes in. CBD and other cannabinoids assume the same shape as endocannabinoids when they enter the human body, and mimic the behavior of endocannabinoids to bind with cannabinoid receptors and ensure that our physiological systems are balanced and functioning properly. In other words, endocannabinoid deficiency can be treated by using CBD to restore our endocannabinoid levels, which restores proper function to the ECS and allows it to re-balance the systems responsible for our physical and mental health.
When functioning properly, the endocannabinoid system strives to establish homeostasis: a state of internal balance despite changing external factors–one in which all of our physiological systems and bodily processes are functioning properly despite changes in circumstance, environment, and so forth. Although the ECS cannot maintain homeostasis when we are endocannabinoid deficient, consumers can promote homeostasis by using CBD to replenish cannabinoid levels and promote endocannabinoid system health.
As aforementioned, CBD produces its benefits by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, the body’s “master regulatory system” that plays a crucial role in nearly every aspect of our physical and mental health. As a result, CBD provides a wide-ranging variety of benefits for body and mind; it exhibits the ability to relieve symptoms related to numerous ailments, while improving overall well-being to improve many consumers’ quality of life.
CBD, Symptom Relief, and Physical Health
CBD is also believed to offer tremendous benefits for physical health. CBD binds with cannabinoid receptors on immune system cells, peripheral tissues, the skin, and the internal organs. In doing so, it may relieve various forms of discomfort, such as inflammation, stiffness, soreness, aches, and pains. CBD is also believed to strengthen the immune system and promote digestive health. CBD is believed to soothe stress in the body and mind, and may aid the management of muscle tension.
Below are just a few examples of the ways in which CBD may benefit our physical health and relieve symptoms to promote bodily wellness:
- Inflammation. Studies suggest that CBD may have anti-inflammatoryproperties, and some researchers believe that it has the potential to boost the body’s defenses against inflammation. Others suggest that it may reduce inflammation-related pain by modulating the way in which the body responds to painful stimuli caused by inflammation. Research suggests that CBD may reduce inflammation by binding with cannabinoid receptors in the joints, internal organs, muscles, and elsewhere throughout the body.
- Pain. CBD and other cannabinoids are hypothesized to reduce pain through a variety of mechanisms. CBD increases levels of anandamide, a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid that modulates our sensitivity to pain. Meanwhile, CBD and other cannabinoids intervene in the neurotransmission–or chemical signalling–between the brain and the body, which may reduce the level of pain we experience, and reduce the severity of painful sensations.
- Immune System Health. CBD binds indirectly with CB2 receptors, which are found on immune system cells; as a result, CBD is suggested to improve immune system health, which may enhance various aspects of our overall health and wellness.
- Digestion. CB2 receptors are also found throughout the digestive tract, and CBD is believed to soothe internal inflammation and pain while promoting healthy digestion.
- Muscle Relaxation. CBD is thought to reduce muscle spasms, promote muscle recovery, and relax the muscles, often resulting in relaxation, tension reduction, and pain relief.
Again, these are just a few of the countless benefits that research suggests CBD may offer for our physical health. CBD may also act as an antioxidant, promote a healthy heart, provide neurological benefits, strengthen the immune system, modulate metabolism, and provide various other health benefits. With such a wide range of therapeutic properties, CBD has something to offer for everyone.
CBD and Mental Wellness
CBD is believed to promote mental wellness through various mechanisms of action, and this cannabinoid may promote healthy sleeping cycles, aid focus, support a balanced mood, reduce stress, and much more.
CBD may benefit the following aspects of our mental health:
- Mood. CBD is suggested to improve mood by triggering the release of neurotransmitters associated with positive emotions. These include anandamide, or the “bliss molecule,” which is associated with feelings of happiness and euphoria, and regulates sleep cycles while maintaining a healthy appetite. Increased anandamide levels, in turn, are thought to trigger the production of dopamine and serotonin, which control mood, emotional balance, energy, motivation, focus, stress, and much more.
- Stress. CBD has become widely popular as a potential anxiolytic, and this compound is hailed for its ability to reduce stress. CBD modulates stress reactions in the brain, which control how well we are able to handle stress and stressful situations. Meanwhile, CBD operates through several mechanisms of action to release or inhibit neurotransmitters related to stress and anxiety, while balancing systems responsible for these feelings by binding with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system.
- Sleep. Various studies have suggested that CBD is a highly effective sleep-aid. Unlike typical sleep-aids, CBD does not induce sleep by making consumers drowsy. Rather, it works at an in-depth level to target the root cause of sleeping problems, and to restore healthy sleeping patterns in the long term. Researchers suggest that CBD improves sleep by stabilizing our circadian rhythms, or setting our internal “body clock” to the right time; as a result, we become naturally tired when our body tells us it is time to fall asleep, while we exhibit increased early-morning wakefulness when we have slept sufficiently and our body tells us that it is time to wake up. CBD is also thought to improve REM sleep, prolong sleep duration, facilitate sleep onset, and reduce sleep disruptions that cause nighttime waking.
These are just a few of many mental health benefits associated with CBD, while studies suggest that it relieves various symptoms, and increases feelings of overall well-being to improve consumers’ quality of life.
The full range of benefits attributed to CBD by a massive number of research studies, would, for the sake of brevity, be impossible to include in this article–yet through these examples, we hope to demonstrate the scope and profundity of CBD’s countless therapeutic properties, and to illustrate the depth of its impact on the body and mind.