Cannabidiol – CBD for short – is derived from hemp. Hemp is a plant with a long history of practical and ornamental use, and is a member of the extensive Cannabaceae family. Many think of it as the plant which is used to make hashish and marijuana, but this does not do it justice.
Nowadays, hemp is also used as a medicinal plant / medication, as science has long been aware of the many positive properties of the plant. In this article, we will discuss the effects of CBD and the various uses of cannabidiol, which is one of the cannabinoids found in the plant.
How does CBD work?
CBD is taken against a variety of complaints and illnesses. And this has been the case for some time. For thousands of years, in fact, people have valued the healing powers of hemp. What is new, however, is the great interest that exists in the scientific community. All around the world, researchers are investigating the effects of CBD on the human body in studies. It has been demonstrated that cannabidiol has:
effects. Many people also take CBD against chronic pain. Here is an overview of possible indications for cannabidiol products:
- CBD for Fibromyalgia
- CBD and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- CBD for sleep disorders
- CBD and Schizophrenia
- CBD for Migraine
- CBD for social anxiety disorder
- CBD for epilepsy
- CBD for diabetes
There are even reports from users who take CBD against stage fright. Current studies are investigating further possible applications, such as cancer and chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. Crohn’s disease).
But how does that work?
How does cannabidiol affect the body?
The endocannabinoid system forms part of the nervous system of the human body. Amongst other components, this system has receptors which react to endogenous cannabinoids (i.e. those produced by the body itself), as well as to cannabinoids of external origin.
In addition to cannabidiol (CBD), a number of other cannabinoids also exist (more than 100 in total). The five which have been the subject of the most research thus far are:
- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- cannabichromene (CBC)
- cannabigerol (CBG)
- cannabidiolic acid (CBDa)
- cannabinol (CBN)
The two most important receptors for CBD are cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CNR1 or CB1 for short) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CNR2 or CB2 for short).
The CB1 receptor is part of the central nervous system. It can be found in the branching network of nerves in the intestinal nervous system, in the cerebellum and in the basal ganglia (striatum and globus pallidus), as well as in the hippocampus. In contrast, CB2 receptors are mainly found on surface of the cells of the immune system and of those cells which are responsible for bone formation.
It is also thought that there are at least three other cannabinoid receptors, which are known as the G-protein-coupled receptors. The precise mechanism and function of the endocannabinoid system is not yet known. However, it has been proposed that the CB1 receptor influences learning and movement processes and the CB2 receptor influences the immune system.
- The effects of CBD are made possible by the body’s own endocannabinoid system. The most important receptors are the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
- thought to activate the receptors, achieving their effects through natural mechanisms.
When can I expect to feel the effects of CBD?
As already mentioned, there will not necessarily be an immediate or even a medium-term effect. In general, however, there are a few points which should be kept in mind:
- start with low doses
- increase the number of drops only bit by bit and at regularly-spaced intervals
- pay attention not only to symptoms but also to your general well-being
- “treatment” should take place over a long period of time
- try out another product if need be
With the help of these tips, you can find out whether CBD is effective for you over the short, medium or long term. Above all, it is important that a reasonably long period of time be permitted for observation. One of the reasons for this is that, under certain circumstances, the receptors still have to be freed of any “residual load”. The body is a complex and sensitive system, after all. So, try to give the cannabinoids the time they need!
Graphic: CBD duration of action by product type
As an educational portal, we have developed a graphic which describes the duration of CBD effects of different products. The following products are available:
How reliable are the effects of CBD?
Generally speaking, it must be said that CBD does not work equally well for everyone.
The effects of CBD are never guaranteed, and they also vary between individuals. There are very many reasons for this. The receptors of the endocannabinoid systems of some people react much more sensitively than those of others. Due to the effects of medical treatment or illness, some people have much less of a reaction to cannabinoids than expected, or react differently.
Here again, existing studies are too few in number, nor are they comprehensive enough. It is therefore important that where CBD is being sold, no promises should be made regarding efficacy. CBD products are natural remedies which are sold as food supplements or similar. Natural remedies are one of nature’s great blessings and everybody has the right to test their effectiveness, but there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, it is heartening to see that CBD is effective for many people and for all sorts of illnesses, as the many positive reports on CannaTrust show.
Diseases in which CBD can be effective
Even though research on the body’s endocannabinoid system is still in its infancy, it is already clear that medicinally, for example, cannabidiol oil works in a variety of different ways. For instance, CBD not only has pain-relieving, antispasmodic, anxiety-relieving, anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to all this, CBD is also effective against nausea. On the basis of these properties, CBD can be used to treat various diseases and problems. Many people also take CBD for chronic pain.
Effectiveness of CBD against anxiety and panic attacks
Anxiety disorders are now more widespread in our society than people might think. These developed as a survival mechanism, and are firmly anchored in human nature, nevertheless, the disorders which can develop are a great burden and can bring about serious limitations to people’s lives. The risk of unemployment, relationship crises and divorce, and ultimately that of suicide, are significantly increased in such cases.
It is not so much that there is one specific anxiety disorder, but rather that there are many different forms of anxiety. Social anxiety disorders, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and panic attacks are common, as is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The effectiveness of CBD oil against anxiety has been demonstrated in scientific studies.
Conclusion: Through its mechanism of action, CBD oil can regulate and alleviate anxiety.
CBD oil for pain relief
The kinds of painkillers which are freely available in the UK generally help in cases of mild to moderate pain. For severe and chronic pain, various opiates are often prescribed. The most well-known of these are morphine and oxycodone. All of the painkillers prescribed by conventional medicine are known for the side effects they can bring about, which are often severe. Above all, they often have enormous potential to become addictive.
An Israeli study from 2016 shows that cannabis significantly reduced the use of opiates in chronically ill patients. It is now thought that similar results can be achieved using CBD oil.
Within the body, the cannabidiol contained in CBD oil binds to what are called vanilloid receptors. It is thought that the TRP (transient receptor potential) channels are prevented from transmitting the pain signals to the pain centre of the brain.
The effects of CBD can be helpful for the following pain-related conditions:
- neuropathic pain 
- cancer pain
- postoperative pain
- musculoskeletal pain
- rheumatoid arthritis
Use of cannabidiol against depression
Today, conventional medicine continues to treat depression using various kinds of medication (antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, ketamine and reuptake inhibitors). However, these drugs often have moderate to severe side effects (sleep disorders, stomach problems, weight gain, etc.) and, in the worst cases, can even make the depression worse.
The use of CBD oil against depression presents a promising alternative.
A team from Syracuse University in New York state dubbed cannabis a “feel-good chemical” in 2018 (source: Syracuse University New York).
This feel-good factor definitely applies in the case of CBD as well. Behavioural tests with rats and mice have already established that the effect of CBD can be just as strong as those of antidepressants.
The internet is full of statements made by patients affected by depression which confirm this. The fact is, cannabis has been used as a mood-enhancer for centuries. Cannabidiol has a similar effect, but it also provides a soothing effect.
For patients, it is important to understand that although CBD oil can be extremely helpful against the symptoms of depression, depression itself needs its own treatment. This treatment depends on the cause of the depression.
CBD for stress and burnout
Fundamentally, stress is not harmful, and should not automatically be considered an illness. Positive stress (known as eustress) is in fact important, making it possible for people to remain active and able to carry out their tasks. Permanent or frequent negative stress (known as distress) inevitably leads to illness, of which occupational burnout is the most common.
Anxiety, panic and depression are closely associated with negative stress, are often triggered by it, and can arise when stress pushes the body past its limit.
Given the demonstrated effect of CBD against anxiety, panic and depression, it only makes sense to investigate the effect of CBD on stress and burnout as well.
For most people, cannabidiol can help relieve the symptoms of chronic stress. By taking CBD oil, for example, the body becomes more resistant against the negative effects of stress.
However, it is wrong to think that cannabidiol itself will reduce stress. For a true cure it is necessary to fight whatever it is that is causing the stress.
Giving yourself breaks, enjoying your work, the avoidance of alcohol, nicotine, medication and other drugs, as well as a healthy diet and regular (moderate) exercise are the best remedies for stress. Under certain circumstances, if occupational burnout syndrome has already manifested, some kind of therapeutic treatment will also be necessary.
However, cannabidiol is well suited to a support role in stress management. Periods of peak stress are alleviated and symptoms are relieved.
Read more: CBD and stress
CBD for MS (multiple sclerosis)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the worse autoimmune diseases. Put simply, the body’s own T cells attack the nerves. This results in severe inflammations in the spinal cord and brain. To the present day, multiple sclerosis is considered incurable.
Relapses are usually treated with multiple high doses of cortisone or with chemotherapy. The very worst of the associated symptoms just have to be accepted. During these phases, the focus is simply on maintaining quality of life. True therapy, never mind a cure, is not possible in the case of MS.
As already mentioned, the active substance cannabidiol can help against pain and relieve anxiety. Symptoms of psychological stress, worries and fears about the future can thus be alleviated in those affected. Any chronic pain associated with MS is also reduced by CBD.
According to the reports of many patients, the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD can also alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Other reports show that the spasms associated with multiple sclerosis are also reduced. It is clear that further research is needed in this area. However, as CBD is legal and can be bought over the counter, there is no reason why it should not be used to support the treatment of MS.
Use of cannabidiol against Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the intestine. The disease can occur at any age, but in most cases, it first affects people when they are still children or young adults.
The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramps, weight loss and severe fatigue. Due to the associated inflammations, blood is frequently found in the stool. Whilst some patients suffer from these symptoms on a permanent basis, others experience them only every few weeks or months.
In conventional medicine, various medications are used for Crohn’s disease, all of which have serious side effects. The aim is always to reduce the inflammation in the intestine. In order to achieve this, cortisone, steroids and immunosuppressants are used. Diets, sometimes entirely liquid-based, are intended to alleviate the pain of Crohn’s disease. If it is possible to determine precisely where in the intestine the inflammation is located, this section of the intestine is removed, in an attempt is made to get the disease under control.
In a study conducted at Meir Hospital and Kupat Holim Clinic in Tel Aviv, Israel, under the direction of Dr Timna Naftali, (specialist in gastroenterology), it was shown that cannabis can significantly improve the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
However, it also became clear that the intake of cannabis did not help against the inflammation. The exact cause of the improvement in symptoms requires further research and a larger group of patients.
Nevertheless, it is astonishing how effective CBD is against Crohn’s disease. The cannabinoid significantly improves the symptoms in many patients, greatly helping those affected.
Given the strong side effects of other medications (cortisone, immunosuppressants and steroids), CBD oil, for example, can be a good supplement when it comes to the treatment of Crohn’s disease.
CBD – effective against cancer?
Cancer was a scourge in the 20th century, and continues to be so in the 21st. Whilst some types of cancer are now quite treatable, others are still treated using cancer-specific standardised therapy (e.g. chemotherapy or radiation) in the hope that this might have an effect.
Chemotherapy, in particular, often has serious side effects, as does radiation therapy. This is where CBD can be used in order to lessen the negative consequences of chemotherapy for many patients. In particular, a positive effect against nausea, which frequently occurs following chemotherapy, is often reported. But people’s general condition improves too. Anxiety and any pain which might occur are reduced to a tolerable level.
Patients who are already excessively thin as a result of cancer therapy should exercise caution in using cannabidiol. Its use in such cases would be counterproductive, as one of CBD’s effects is to naturally reduce the appetite.
Does CBD shrink tumours?
There are also several studies which suggest that another effect of CBD may that of lowering the viability of tumour cells. Studies in this area are still quite thin on the ground and one should by no means rely exclusively on taking CBD to heal tumours. Rather, the course of therapy proposed by the medical professionals involved should be followed faithfully. There are very few cases, however, where it would do any harm to try out the effect of CBD as a complementary therapy for cancer treatment.
CBD, obesity and being overweight
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), those who have a BMI (body mass index) between 25 and 30 are classified as overweight. Those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese (class 1 obesity). At this stage it is already considered a disease. Based on this definition, a question arises: can CBD help with weight loss?
One effect of CBD which has been demonstrated is appetite suppression. However, whilst CBD oil, for example, does provide help as part of a complete change in diet, it is by no means a cure-all for obesity by itself.
Nevertheless, for people who are otherwise healthy but who are overweight or obese, there is no reason why cannabidiol should not be used to support a diet.
Read more: CBD for weight loss
CBD and rheumatism
Rheumatism is a very painful disease of the joints. In addition to standard rheumatism, there are also diseases similar to rheumatism, such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, which are also associated with regular inflammation and pain.
In an interview from 19/02/2019 published on the website of Rheumaliga Schweiz (a Swiss charity supporting the interests of those with rheumatism), Dr Manfred Fankhauser even recommends cannabidiol combined with THC for cases of inflammatory rheumatism. Whilst one effect of CBD is the reduction of inflammation, the THC is intended to combat pain. In his opinion, the optimal approach is to take all the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant together. If, however, the doctor involved does not wish to prescribe THC, Dr Fankhauser also considers CBD to be effective when prescribed on its own.
Dr Fankhauser also explains that CBD has very minimal side effects and can be used for long periods without causing any problems. What is important is getting the dose right.Generally speaking, it must be said that CBD does not work equally well for everyone.
- CBD has numerous different mechanisms of action. As the number of studies increases, more and more possible applications are coming to light. However, cannabidiol is not a panacea
How does CBD oil work?
CBD oil contains CBD. This is absorbed by the body, e.g. through the oral mucosa. Next it enters the body via the endo-cannabinoid system and its receptors. This is where it can take effect. Among other things, it relieves pain, inflammation and cramps.
How fast does CBD hemp oil work?
The duration and onset of the effect depends on your own body. For some people it takes only a few minutes, for others several weeks. Allow your body time. Pay close attention to changes.
Do studies exist on the effects of CBD?
There are several studies on the effects of cannabis, and also CBD. Please use our list of sources and look explicitly into the linked study results. We report neutrally and independently.
Taking products containing cannabinoids may result in interactions with various medications. If you are already taking medication, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.