What is Cannabidiol? A Look at the Potential Benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds found in Cannabis sativa L, known collectively as cannabinoids. It is non-psychotropic, meaning it does not cause the “high” associated with marijuana consumption. Research has shown CBD to have anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety, and anticonvulsant properties as well as homeostatic properties (maintains healthy balance in cells).

What are Cannabinoids?

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), “Cannabinoids are active chemicals in Cannabis that cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system1.” Every cell in the body has receptors for cannabinoids, and they influence activity in cells involved with homeostasis and metabolism. This in turn impacts inflammation, immune function, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, memory, and brain function and development. Modern diets lack in these vital cannabinoids.

Potential Benefits of CBD products

  • Cancer: The NCI explains that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth, while protecting normal cells, and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy. CBD products with THC can be useful in reducing nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite and improving weight gain in cancer patients1.
  • Withdrawals: A study published in Addictive Behaviors found smokers using CBD inhalers smoked 40% fewer cigarettes than smokers not using inhalers and were better able to control their cravings2. Another study published in Neurotherapeutics found CBD helped people struggling with substance abuse by reducing symptoms like anxiety, mood symptoms, insomnia and pain3.
  • Epilepsy and neurological disorders: A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that CBD decreased the frequency of seizures in patients with a severe form of epilepsy (Dravet syndrome) but increased the risk of sleepiness and the flourishment of liver enzymes that may cause inflammation and liver damage4. However, another study found the risks to be minimal compared to other drugs 5. In June 2018, the FDA approved the Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome) alluding to positive research regarding the benefits of CBD6. Other research supports the role of CBD supplements in autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impairments in social functioning.
  • Anxiety: A study in Neurotherapeutics showed that “preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)… with a lack of anxiogenic (anxiety-producing) effects, minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile7.”
  • Diabetes: A study published in 2016 found that CBD lowered the incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice8. Another study published in the same year found that CBD along with THC “could represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes9.”
  • Acne: A study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found “due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris10.”
  • Pain Relief: A literacy review published in January 2018 found that “the evidence appears to support the safety and efficacy of short-term, low-dose cannabis vaporization and oral mucosal delivery for the treatment of neuropathic pain11.”


CBD is extracted from hemp and marijuana plans. It is then formulated into an oil, powder, salves, creams, or capsules and taken orally, applied to the skin, or taken as an inhaler or vaped. Anyone who may be drug tested should ensure that their CBD products do not contain THC.


  1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq
  2. https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogfr/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CBDcigarettes.pdf
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13311-015-0373-7
  4. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1611618
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707667/
  6. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm611046.htm
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27767974
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27573936
  10. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/64628
  11. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11916-018-0658-8
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