The reported benefits of CBD oil are widely-discussed in the wellness world. Some say it has helped them get a better night’s, while others have hinted that it boosts their sex life. The fact is, however, that the oil’s effects are still under the magnifying glass, with experts testing and learning what the compound is truly capable of.
**Here, we highlight four benefits of CBD oil that scientists have studied (and continue to study), from pain relief to the easing of anxiety… **
1. For Neuropathic and Inflammatory Pain
There are two types of pain we deal with. The first is neuropathic pain, which can feel like a stinging, a stabbing, a numbness or a burning sensation that we, as humans, can’t tolerate. Then, you have inflammatory pain. This could be a dull ache or a persistent stiffness. We can live with this pain but it’s uncomfortable, and has the potential to become chronic.
The effect of CBD oil on pain is one of the most widely researched topics in published human and animal studies. In fact, the extent of the research here and the initial findings led the World Health Organisation to state that CBD may indeed have a positive impact on pain — albeit not clinically proven.
Dr Daniela Tonucci is part of Cannaray’s Scientific Advisory Board, specialising in pain management and working with CBD and other cannabinoid therapies as part of her treatment plan for patients suffering from chronic pain. Here we speak to her to understand how she is using CBD as part of pain management therapies with her patients.
What Does the Research Say About CBD’s Impact on Pain?
"Whilst there’s no definitive outcome, from what we understand in studies to date, CBD appears to target both neuropathic and inflammatory pain in quite different ways. CBD works on your endocannabinoid system,” says Dr Tonucci, “but our understanding is that it works centrally for neuropathic pain, and peripherally for inflammatory pain.”
She explains: “In practice, when looking at calming neuropathic pain, we have been testing whether CBD may help to stop the nervous system from over-firing, which in turn could centrally ‘soothe’ the nervous system. This ‘soothing’ of the nervous system is what a lot of the conventional pain medications do.
“However[CBD oil’s] anti-inflammatory effect is understood to be more focused at the source. If it’s joint pain or arthritic pain, the pain receptors are in the joints themselves, rather than being located centrally.”
“The research of CBD’s abilities here is in its early stages, of course, and the studies to date are not yet clinically proven, but with little innovation in pain management therapies over the years, the potential for CBD to help here is incredibly exciting for patients and doctors alike.”
Can You Take CBD Oil for Pain?
As for how to take CBD oil for pain, Dr Tonucci adds that, because the effects of CBD on pain are unproven, it works best as an adjunct therapy. This means you use it alongside prescribed pain medication. For those who don’t tolerate prescriptions well, such alternative therapies as CBD oil may mean your doctor can reduce your dosage, helping to manage side effects. Just remember to take CBD 2 hours either side of prescription medication to avoid potential drug to drug interactions and always check with your GP or medical practitioner to ensure CBD is safe to take alongside your medication.
2. For Inflammatory-Based Diseases
In the same way that CBD oil is believed to have an effect on inflammatory pain, studies indicate the compound may also impact inflammatory-based diseases. Early research reveals a link between CBD oil and rheumatoid arthritis, demonstrating antiarthritic effects both independent of, and in relation to, cannabinoid receptors.
Clinical human studies are required to determine the true extent of its impact. However, early signs may be positive for those experiencing joint pain. The Arthritis Foundation notes that the oil is not a replacement for prescribed medication, but it can be trialled as an adjunct therapy with advice from your doctor.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
While it is yet to be confirmed whether cannabinoids, such as CBD, may ease IBD, medical cannabis is proving popular amongst patients of inflammatory bowel disorders. A small study that compared inhaled cannabis to a placebo found that, over the course of eight weeks, 90% of cannabis users’ symptoms improved. Only 40% of those taking the placebo saw an improvement. That said, we’re awaiting quality clinical trials on the effects of CBD oil. So, while cannabis may help with IBD, it remains to be seen whether THC-free CBD would hold similar benefits.
3. For Psychological Issues
The link between CBD and anxiety is a hot topic in the wellness world. Many believe that it could have a calming effect, helping you wind down and maybe even sleep better. Dr Tonucci nods to this when she talks about anxiety and depression as a common side effect of pain, and studies reveal this reported benefit may have some clout.
For example, one study looked at the application of CBD over the course of three months, and how it impacted 72 patients who were dealing with anxiety and/or sleep disorders. After the first month, 79.2% of patients reported lower anxiety scores, while 78.1% said they were still experiencing a reduction in stress after two months. Interestingly, 66.7% also said their sleep had improved after the first month. So, not only were these patients feeling more relaxed, but they were able to get better rest, too.
While psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are typically treated with prescribed medication, scientists are also exploring the potential impact of CBD. There is accumulating evidence that the endocannabinoid system may play a role in the pathophysiology of psychosis. And, as we know, this is the same system CBD oil is said to interact with.
This insight intrigued scientists enough to test the impact of CBD on 33 people, all of whom are antipsychotic-naive and at clinical high risk for psychosis. 16 of these subjects received a single oral 600mg dose of CBD, while 17 were given a placebo. The results seemed positive, showing that a single dose of CBD normalised brain function in regions where high-risk individuals showed abnormal activation under placebo conditions. Now, controlled studies are required to explore these findings further.
Want to know more about the purported benefits and effects of CBD oil? Read our complete guide to CBD and sleep, as we delve into the research that really matters.