How popular is CBD and what are its health benefits?
Martha Stewart has jumped on the bandwagon, Mandy Moore uses it to get through high heel torture on the red carpet, and Dr Sunjay Gupta gave it his seal of approval on the Dr Oz Show. It’s clear: CBD is getting more attention and more popular every day.
This naturally derived chemical compound, which not so long ago existed within a pretty niche market has now exploded onto store shelves, into cafes, and as part of recommended therapeutic treatments. You can now get CBD as an additional extra in your coffee, a supplement for your post-workout smoothie, as well as a herbal, non-medicinal option for a variety of conditions both physical and mental. It’s no wonder then CBD has gained so much traction in the last five years, being well on course to take a prominent place in the mainstream wellness industry.
A Growing Industry
In 2018 around $620 million worth of CBD oil products were sold in the US; in 2019 this figure grew exponentially to $4 billion, and with these numbers projected to climb to $24.4 billion by 2025 there are no signs of this industry slowing any time soon. Combine these estimates with the fact that retail giants like CVS and Walgreens continue to introduce CBD products into their stores, and it’s plain to see that this natural molecule is going mainstream.
According to some recent surveys, an estimated 64 million Americans have used CBD in the last two years, whilst around a third of Americans have used it at least once or more. An interesting fact behind these figures is that it’s not just one single demographic that’s responsible either: the use of CBD cuts across all age groups. 40% of twenty-year-olds have tried CBD, but so have 15% in the 60+ age category, with adults in the over 50’s market being the fastest-growing segment at 25% just last year.
So what’s the reason for this huge growth in popularity? Whilst CBD comes from the cannabis plant, it doesn’t make you high, and as such, its medical use far outweighs the recreational side. Indeed a study found that the vast majority of clinicians (92%) have said a patient has mentioned using CBD for a medical conditions, so it’s no surprise this health segment continues to dominate the CBD market with many people taking it to manage a suite of various conditions. So what exactly are CBD’s top health benefits?
What Are the Health Benefits of CBD?
1. Pain and Inflammation
Researchers believe that CBD stimulates the activity of a cell-signalling system in the body (the endocannabinoid system or ECS) in a way that relieves pain and reduces inflammation. A study from 2020 involved applying topical CBD to patients with neuropathic pain (i.e. related to nerve damage) in their legs. After one month, “researchers noted a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, cold and itchy sensations in those using CBD oil”, all without side effects. Many sufferers of arthritis and chronic pain take CBD on a regular basis, finding it an effective way to alleviate symptoms whilst avoiding some of the adverse reactions that usually occur when taking conventional drugs.
2. Reduces Anxiety and Depression
A Consumer Report survey from 2019 found the most popular use of CBD was to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression is often treated with powerful pharmaceuticals that can be addictive as well as the cause of many unpleasant side-effects such as insomnia, sexual dysfunction and migraines. CBD on the other hand has been found to significantly reduce stress, treat insomnia and decrease levels of anxiety in children with PTSD and with less extreme side-effects. This is again related to CBD’s reaction with the ECS, but also its positive effects on the hippocampus, the part of the brain largely responsible for our emotions and mood.
There are a number of neurodegenerative diseases for which CBD can help reduce symptoms. Various studies have shown a correlation between CBD dosages and improved ALS, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis symptoms, mostly based on the fact that CBD can help reduce the neurological damage associated with all of these conditions. More studies are needed, but so far the outlook is hopeful.
4. Manages insomnia
Many advocates of CBD use it to gain a better night’s sleep. The underlying cause of a person’s insomnia could be any number of conditions: anxiety-induced, as a result of Parkinson’s disease, or chronic pain. With these conditions being ones that can be calmed by CBD, it follows that it could help you sleep better too. Even without those conditions however, certain studies have shown that CBD will help you sleep better and improve your insomnia condition regardless of the cause. Whether you have insomnia or not, high cortisol levels in the body at night are associated with a broken night’s sleep, and one study showed that taking CBD reduces cortisol levels, suggesting it acts much like a natural sedative.
Epidiolex was the first FDA-approved CBA-based medication, and prescribed for patients with two rare forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The drug went through all the proper channels of rigorous testing and clinical trials and has found to be effective in reducing and controlling seizures. Further studies are also looking into the possibility of adding CBD to common antiepileptic (i.e. anti-seizure) drugs and seeing how successful they are against treatment-resistant epilepsy suffered in children.
6. Acne and Other Inflammatory Skin Conditions
As we’ve seen, CBD oil displays strong anti-inflammatory effects, interacting with the endocannabinoid system to achieve positive results.The ECS is also found on the skin, and as such CBD has been shown to improve associated skin problems such as psoriasis, acne and itchy skin. More studies are taking place but early research shows CBD can also interact with the sebaceous glands to prevent or improve acne.
CBD is used by millions across the world for a variety of reasons, and find it an effective natural product that either supplements or replaces traditional drugs that could otherwise cause more severe side-effects or lead to serious addictions.
Whether it’s for pain relief, managing seizures or reducing anxiety levels, it’s apparent that CBD has a number of applications. Studies are still ongoing about its helpfulness in other treatments, but should you have any questions about using CBD in relation to a condition, it’s always recommended to speak with a doctor for further information.