Cannabidiol or CBD which constitutes nearly 40 percent of the cannabis plant has medicinal properties and can easily be tolerated by humans when taken in small dozes. Though cannabidiol is being used for treatment of health problems like schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, it is also used by palliative care clinics for treatment of cancer patients and to ease chronic pain and nausea. It is also orally administered as a drug for treatment of Dravet Syndrome and other illnesses due to its antioxidant properties. Though there is no direct evidence to show that Cannabidiol can reduce progress of all types of cancers, its compounds are used to reduce nausea and pain in cancer patients. The compound does not affect neuro-physiological functions of patients and its therapeutic effects are ideal for treatment of diverse conditions like dementia and psychiatric disorders.
Though it gives relief from pain, cannabis has side effects like lack of focus, depression and constant dizziness that can dull the brain if consumed constantly. To reduce these side effects scientist are working to develop a cannabidiol combination that will give desired pain relief without affecting the brain. The two most popular cannabinoids that are used for medicinal purposes are delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC and cannabidiol or CBD.
Effects of Cannabidiol :
- Effect on epileptic patients – Administration of oral cannabidiol to patients of epilepsy did not show any serious side effects but helped calm the patients down. Children with epilepsy are given several medications to numb their minds, among which, CBD is found to be the most effective, even though doctors warn against its extensive use since research is still undergoing in this field. The process of using THC and CBD to control epilepsy was recommended by Stanley brothers when they were able to crossbreed different strains of marijuana and industrial hemp to enhance their medical properties.
2. Positive effect on brain aging – Synthetic compounds that are similar in composition to THC have properties that can prevent and reverse brain aging. Experiments carried out on lab animals have shown that cannabinoids reduce inflammation of the brain and improve memory by triggering release of anti-oxidants from the brain. With age, new cells brain cells stop growing, leading to degenerative brain problems. But with introduction of cannabinoids, damaged cells are removed and power of mitochrondria gets activated. Cannbinoids lead to increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which promotes growth of new cells and also protects critical brain cells. So sustained injection of cannabinoid to the brain can help to protect it from neurodegeneration. Increase of BNDF slows the natural degeneration and inflammation of human brain leading to reduction in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.
3. Relief from chronic pain and spastic movements– Due to chemotherapy cancer patients suffer from constant nausea which is followed by chronic pain and tremors. Cannabidiol has a soothing and appetite enhancing effect on these patients. During the final stages of cancer regular pain medications do not work effectively and at this time, some patients self medicate themselves with cannabis. The research on the use of cannabidiol for pain relief shows that it reduces pain by inhibiting the brain neuronal transmission pathways that transmit pain. But if the level of pain is relatively high like paroxysmal pain, which is followed by anxiety and depression. TIn such cases THC was found to be ineffective
4.Effect on cancer cells– CBD inhibits growth of cancer cells and kills them by destroying the receptors that regulate cancer cell development. Studies done by Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Madrid shows that THC inhibits growth of tumor cells and when cannabinoids are delivered safely, it does not have any psychoactive effect. Three cannabinoid compounds were used on aggressive human breast cancer cells and have been found to be effective.
5.Effect of hemp seed oil on skin problems – To reduce symptoms of eczema and psoriasis when the skin turns extremely dry and gets inflamed because of water loss, products like petroleum jelly and hemp seed oil are used. These work as a barrier for trans-epidermal loss of water and keep the skin hydrated due to existence of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties which help in regulating the production of hormones and proteins and maintain dermal health.
6. Effect on obesity and anorexia – The ability of cannabinoids to increase appetite has been recorded in the past and only recently, its weight reducing properties have come to light. The CB1 receptor in the brain that controls central appetite can be modulated with use of cannabinoids to increase appetite or reduce food intake. Obese people can be treated with rimonabant to reduce weight and also reduce risks related to cardiovascular disease. The drug will control weight loss in HIV and cancer patients and also improve appetite.
7. Effect on different types of sclerosis – The combination of THC and CBD are used for treatment of multiple spasms and tremors that are the side effects of multiple sclerosis. The cannabinoids reduce side effects like muscle spasticity by working on the brain receptors. Atherosclerosis is another inflammatory disease which causes heart disease and stroke in people that can be controlled with low doses of THC given as oral medicines. This medicine will reduce progression of apolipoprotein, which in turn reduces inflammation and works as antioxidant.
Studies and research are being conducted by private and public bodies to find out the medicinal uses of cannabidiols in treatment of neural disorders and pain relief. Since it has relatively low side effects on the human body, both in-vitro and in-vivo tests are done to check its cytotoxicity and metabolic effects. Most studies using CBD have been done on animals and certified clinical studies on humans are not widespread. Treatment of chronic diseases like cancer and epilepsy with CBD has potential but different compounds are still in experimental stages and more tests have to be performed. For other neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome, the potency of CBD as a potential therapy technique is being studied too.