CBD is a compound found in cannabis that might just revolutionize how people view medicine and their medical treatment options. In fact, CBD has already come a long way in establishing itself as a medical phenomenon. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing number of studies done on cannabis, and more specifically on CBD and its potential to help treat various medical conditions.
Over the past year, plenty of CBD-related studies have been conducted across multiple countries and institutions. Many of these studies contribute to the growing understanding and acceptance of CBD. Here are ten medical research studies from this year that have made a significant impact on the medical community.
1. Transdermal CBD for the Treatment of Non-Opioid Addictions
Over the past few years, CBD has emerged as a potential treatment option for various types of addiction. Whether it’s tobacco, opioids, or hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, CBD may just help addicts to overcome their addiction.
In a recent study that was published in March of this year, researchers looked at the ability of CBD to protect against factors that promote relapse to cocaine and alcohol use. Profound withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and heightened impulsive behavior are some of the factors that promote relapse into drug seeking behaviors. Since CBD isn’t thought to have any addictive properties, it could possibly act as an anti-addiction tool if it helps to reduce the anxiety and impulsive decision making that come as a result of drug withdrawal.
What made this study unique was that CBD was administered transdermally, i.e., similar to a gel or patch in humans, which is different from the standard injection method that is often used in rodent research. Unsurprisingly, scientists found that CBD had the potential to reduce impulsive decision making and anxiety, which are two core behaviors that promote drug relapse.
2. CBD’s Fast-Acting, Long-Lasting Antidepressant Effects in Rodents
Over the last few years, CBD has emerged as a somewhat promising antidepressant. It is estimated that 20% of the world’s population is affected by clinical depression. The problem is that most of the current treatment options are sub-par. Shockingly, close to a third of patients don’t respond to treatment, and if they do, it can take weeks for the therapeutic effects to kick in.
This is where CBD comes in. In June this year, scientists in Brazil published the most comprehensive report to date on CBD and how it works in preclinical rodent models of depression. As part of the study, a range of behavioral tests was done on different strains of rats and mice, some of which were prone to depression. The study found that CBD reduced some of the behaviors associated with depression.
This was the first study to establish CBD’s antidepressant benefits across a range of behavioral and rodent models, and to give a mechanic insight for its effects. The antidepressant qualities displayed by CBD were associated with changes in brain chemistry in regions that are linked to the disorder. Levels of the brain chemical BDNF found in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex was increased by CBD. It also increased the number of connections between brain cells. These are both factors that are reduced by depression and restoring them is a hallmark of effective treatment.
3. CBD Treats Brain Changes Caused by Regular Cannabis Use
This study is one of the most interesting to date. CBD may treat brain changes that are caused by cannabis, the very plant that CBD originates from. Using THC-rich cannabis regularly could change the way that the brain functions, and unfortunately these changes are not always positive and often occur in a particular region of the brain known as the hippocampus. Changes in this part of the brain can affect cognitive performance, resilience to stressors, and control over anxiety.
On the positive side, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that CBD could protect the brain against the effects of THC. Thus, CBD may prevent THC-induced changes by acting as a protective tool. In a study conducted by neuroscientists in Australia, it was discovered that CBD affected hippocampus anatomy in regular marijuana consumers. As part of the study, subjects were administered four 50 mg capsules of CBD each day. At the beginning of the study, parts of the hippocampus were smaller in cannabis users when compared to participants that didn’t use cannabis. However, ten weeks after the CBD treatment, many of those regions increased remarkably in size.
There are a number of reasons why the ability of CBD to recover hippocampal size is so significant, one of the most relevant being that CBD could act as a promising preventative or therapeutic tool to combat a few of the long-term negative consequences associated with the use of THC.
4. CBD May Help Curb the Frequency of Epileptic Seizures
In a 2018 study that was published in Neuroscience, researchers provided further evidence suggesting that CBD is effective in reducing seizures in people with epilepsy. CBD was studied in a new large-scale, controlled, and randomized trial to significantly reduce the number of seizures in patients who suffered from a severe form of epilepsy, known as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome.
As part of the study, two doses of CBD were compared to a placebo. The researchers reported a 41.9% reduction in “drop seizures”, which is a type of seizure that results in severe loss of balance and muscle control, by those patients who took a 20 mg dose of CBD, a 37.2% reduction in those who took a 10 mg of CBD, and a 17.2% reduction in those who took a placebo.
This new study has added extensive evidence of the effectiveness of CBD to reduce seizures in a severe form of epilepsy and is the first study of its kind that offers more information on proper dosing. The study looked at an investigation liquid – an oral formulation of CBD – known as Epidiolex. This is a product that is manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, who funded the trial.
5. CBD Oil Can Help Increase Comfort and Activity in Dogs with Osteoarthritis
A new pharmacokinetic and clinical study* that was recently conducted at Cornell suggests that 2 mg of CBD oil administered twice daily could help to increase the comfort and activity in dogs who suffer from osteoarthritis. The study was headed by Joe Wakshlag, who is a section chief of nutrition and associate professor at Cornell. The objective of the study was to determine the safety, the basic oral pharmacokinetics, and to assess the efficacy of CBD oil in dogs who suffer from osteoarthritis.
The study tested two different doses of CBD – 2 mg and 8 mg and determined the elimination half-life to be 4.2 hours at both doses. There were no adverse side effects noted at either dosage, but serum chemistry showed that alkaline phosphatase activity increased. As part of the study, dogs received either 2 mg of CBD oil every 12 weeks, or they received placebo oil. The dogs were treated for four weeks with a two week washout period. The veterinary assessment found that the CBD oil significantly reduced pain and increased activity level.
6. CBD from Marijuana Combined with Chemotherapy Tripled Cancer Survival Rates in Mice
According to a new study published on Oncogene on 30 July 2018, mice with pancreatic cancer who were treated with a combination of CBD and chemotherapy survived nearly three times longer than those who were treated with chemotherapy alone.
CBD has already proven to improve some of the side effects of chemotherapy like vomiting and nausea, and the latest results are providing more justification for testing in humans. According to the study, pancreatic cancer is among the deadliest types of cancer in the world when it comes to the overall survival rate.
While this study has not yet been replicated in humans, the research results highlight the importance of conducting further research into the cannabis compounds and more specifically, CBD.
7. CBD May Reduce Pain in Patients with Kidney Transplants
In one of the latest 2018 studies* on the medicinal effects of cannabidiol, research was done using CBD to treat chronic pain in kidney transplant patients in Uruguay. The study assessed the safety, effect, and possible drug interactions in kidney transplant patients who were treated with CBD for chronic pain.
As part of the study, patients were administered doses of CBD that increased from 50 to 150 mg twice a day for three weeks. Blood count, liver enzymes, liver function, creatine, and drug levels were looked at every 48 hours for the first week and once a week thereafter.
The results found that, out of the seven patients who were studied, two patients had total pain improvement, four had a partial response in the first 15 days, and one experienced no change. The adverse effects that were experienced were dizziness, dry mouth, and nausea. However, during the follow-up process, CBD was well-tolerated, and there were no severe side effects.
8. CBD May Be Helpful in Schizophrenia According to Clinical Study
In a randomized controlled trial conducted this year and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry*, it was found that CBD has positive effects in patients with schizophrenia.
Researchers assessed the effectiveness and safety of CBD in patients who have schizophrenia, and as part of the study, patients with schizophrenia were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive CBD or a placebo alongside their antipsychotic medication. After six weeks of treatment, the group who had been treated with CBD had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms when compared with the placebo group. This group was also more likely to be rated as improved and as not severely unwell by the treating clinician.
The findings strongly suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia. The CBD was well tolerated by patients, and the rates of adverse effects were similar between CBD and the placebo group.
9. A CBD-rich Cannabis Extract May Be Useful in Children with Autism
A 2018 study* published in the journal Neurology assessed the tolerability, safety, and efficacy of CBD-based medical marijuana, as a potential therapy for behavioral problems in children with autism.
As part of the study, sixty children with ASD were treated with oral CBD and THC at a ratio of 20:1. Following the cannabis treatment, it was found that behavioral outbreaks were either much improved or very much improved in 61% of patients. The anxiety and communication skills were much improved or very much improved by 39% and 47% respectively. Disruptive behavior was improved in 29% of patients.
10. CBD May Be Helpful in Tobacco Dependency
A study* published by Hindocha C. et al. in the Addiction Journal has found that CBD may be a promising novel smoking cessation treatment due to its anxiolytic properties, minimal side-effects and research showing it could modify drug cue salience.
As part of the study, a total of thirty non-treatment seeking, cigarette dependent smokers were recruited from the community. Either an 800 mg oral dose of CBD or a matched placebo was administered to participants. Craving, side-effects, withdrawal, blood pressure, and heart rate were assessed repeatedly.
Tobacco abstinence was increased in patients who received the placebo when compared to satiety. When compared with a placebo, CBD reduced explicit pleasantness of cigarette images. Craving and withdrawal were also affected by CBD. Ultimately, it was found that a single 800 mg dose of CBD reduced the pleasantness and salience of cigarette cues when compared to placebo after overnight cigarette abstinence in dependent smokers.
Final thoughts on top 10 studies on CBD for 2018
It is clear that research into CBD is expanding rapidly and becoming a lot more extensive. These studies have displayed a broad spectrum of findings, ranging from the treatment of serious medical disorders such as schizophrenia to tobacco dependency. Ultimately, these aren’t the first studies to be done on the efficacy of CBD, and they surely won’t be the last.
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