Cannabidiol, or sometimes referred to as CBD, is one compound that's derived from the cannabis plant and is seeing a surge in popularity in natural and alternative medicine. Recent studies have shown it offers many benefits to the human body, and there is heated debate whether it can be used to treat cancer. The short answer is no, not yet. Or at least, further research needs to be done to understand how CBD affects the body entirely. But to know how this once-taboo compound reached this level of popularity, let us understand what it is first, and its main claimed health benefits.
CBD: Definition and Origin
Cannabis, or commonly called marijuana, was originally from Central Asia before it spread all across the globe. In many countries like the United States, it is a controlled substance, but in recent years, many states have decriminalized its medical use as well as the possession of any of its products.
The plant gained popularity (or notoriety) because of the resin that it produces which contains psychoactive compounds called cannabinoids. History of criminalization and banning has made clinical research about the plant very limited, but because more and more authorities around the world are rethinking their stand about the drug, researchers will have more opportunity to conduct further studies on cannabis plants.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical that's derived from the cannabis plant. It occurs naturally and is used as oils or made into edibles. It is known to enhance relaxation and calmness for most people. Unlike the other chemical compounds that come from the cannabis plant, CBD is not psychoactive; it doesn't induce the feeling of being high.
In recent years, CBD has seen a lot of attention, especially in the natural medicine world. In fact, a derivative of the compound, called Epidiolex, has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy. More research is currently underway to understand the full benefits of this compound to the human body.
CBD: Other Benefits and Side Effects
The safe use of cannabidiol is another concern that many people have regarding this cannabis compound. Some of the side effects related to CBD use are fatigue, irritability, and nausea. CBD has also been shown to increase the blood levels of Coumadin, a blood thinner. It can also raise the levels of other medications in the blood the same way that grapefruit does.
The problem lies in the labeling of CBD. It is marketed as a supplement and not as a medication. The FDA does not regulate the purity and safety of any dietary supplements. So there is no telling if the products bought have any active ingredients at the dosage that's listed on the label. And because of the lack of research, we still don't know the most effective dosage of CBD to entice any health benefits on the body.
Pain management has been a recurring reason for people to use CBD. Patients who have experienced chronic pain and used CBD products for its treatments have reported needing fewer pain killers to manage their pain.
A study conducted by the European Journal of Pain has shown that CBD helps to lower pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. There are also claims that the compound is effective in lessening the symptoms of anxiety. People who suffered from insomnia and used CBD has also attested of its effectiveness in treating the disorder.
There was also a study done that involved healthy volunteers as well as animal models. In the study, it showed that while cannabis does have some effect on anxiety, it also confirmed to have promising effects on people with depression. It is particularly helpful for those people suffering from a social anxiety disorder, something a lot of people suffer from. It can also help people who suffer from panic disorder since CBD can induce a feeling of calmness and relaxation. People who have post-traumatic stress disorder may also benefit significantly from using CBD.
Is CBD the Hope for Curing Cancer?
Cannabidiol, as a cancer treatment, has been a long-standing debate in the medical industry but poorly understood. It is essential to know that using CBD as a complementary therapy for cancer patients has been widely recognized. People use it to stimulate the appetite of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. CBD, along with a little THC, has been proven to increase the appetite for cancer patients and help them maintain a healthy weight during their therapy.
As mentioned earlier, CBD can be used to help those suffering from chronic pain. This is especially true for cancer patients whose therapy and the illness itself causes a lot of pain. In some instances, when the pain felt is unresponsive to opioid pain relievers, people have turned to CBD and has reported positive effects.
There have been many talks about CBD as a cancer prevention substance. While there is no conclusive research to justify this claim, many people are taking the compound in hopes of preventing cancer from developing. There was, however, research that was conducted to connect CBD use and the occurrence of prostate cancer. The researchers concluded that male users of cannabis have a 45% lower risk of developing the disease. But the general claim that CBD can prevent cancer is still inconclusive and hotly debated.
As for the treatment of cancer, there is still no large clinical trials currently done to investigate this bold claim. Small scale pilot studies are being done, but all are still in their early stages and have yet to reveal any results.
A 2016 study, however, revealed that cannabinoids might have some effects in preventing the development of cancer. The researchers reported that CBD might inhibit cancer growth for different types of tumor cells. But a caveat has also been reported that increasing the dose of CBD can lead to the suppression of the immune system, which can promote the growth of cancer.
It all boils down to this: there is no conclusive evidence to show that CBD has any effect in preventing or eradicating cancer in the body. There are some claims that it can, but further research needs to be done to prove all these claims. CBD can be used as a supplementary treatment for cancer. It's been known to help in many cancer-related issues such as anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia. But without quality research that focuses on the effect of the compound on the human body, plus some constraints by many authorities about the legality of the cannabis plant, it is difficult to know precisely how cannabis, and CBD for that matter, affects human health.
What we can take away from all these is that while the full effects and benefits of cannabis, as well as CBD, remain a mystery, we are seeing promising development that may lead to more research being done on the matter. The biggest hurdle that scientists face currently is the tight grip that many governments around the world still has on the cannabis plant, making it harder for research to be done. But we are seeing a lot of deregulation and decriminalization that has been sweeping all across the globe, and in time we may see complete freedom to study and use the plant. And who knows, maybe CBD will be revealed to be the cancer cure that many people have been claiming all this time.