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Article “Cliff Notes”: The Health Benefits of CBD: What the Research is Showing
* Neuroprotective and Antioxidant Effects
* Anti-Anxiety & Mood Enhancement
* Anti-Inflammatory & Pain Reduction
* Nausea, Diabetes, Epilepsy and More
* Potential Anti-tumor Effects on gliomas and breast carcinomas (in vitro)
CBD has an affinity for activating serotonin receptors (specifically 5-HT1A), which control anxiety, calmness and mood; vanilloid receptors, which control and modulate how we experience pain; adenosine receptors, which control the quality and depth of our sleep; and indirectly influences endocannabinoid receptors, which control memory, energy levels, stress levels, pain tolerance, body temperature and appetite, among many others things.
Read on for article excerpts and links to peer-reviewed, medical research studies.
The Health Benefits of CBD: What The Research is Showing
So just what is so great about CBD oil’s benefits that is causing so much interest and research in both the scientific and medical communities? To understand that properly, it’s important to understand how CBD works in the body and mind.
1. Neuroprotective and Antioxidant Effects
Of all CBD’s reported effects one of its most novel and interesting is neuroprotection, which is believed to stem from its ability to act as a powerful antioxidant in the brain. Neuroprotection loosely refers to the ability of Cannabidiol—as shown in a number of animal studies—to a) prevent, mitigate, reverse or interrupt many of the processes that lead to the breakdown of neurons in the brain and nervous system believed to cause many common diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, strokes and more, and b) reduce inflammation in the brain, which is believed by many doctors to interfere with brain function and play a role in mystery illnesses like chronic fatigue and brain fog. [5-11] Although neuroprotective effects have currently only been demonstrated in animal models and cell cultures, there is hope that CBD may exert similar effects in humans, though further research is needed.
2. Anti-Anxiety & Mood Enhancement
One of the most noticeable effects that many people report after taking CBD oil is a pleasant and powerful reduction in anxiety and a noticeable lift in mood. Many describe feeling a wave of calm and bliss washing over their bodies, which is consistent with CBD’s reported effects at 5-HT receptors that control the release of many important neurotransmitters that affect stress/anxiety levels and mood, particularly serotonin.
One study of CBD extract on anxiety used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is a sophisticated brain activity mapping tool, to study what happened to the brain when participants took 600mg of CBD extract while being exposed to stress- and anxiety-inducing stimuli. What they found was that CBD calmed the amygdala and cingulate cortex, two important areas of the brain well-known to control fear, stress levels and anxiety, among other things. 
In another study, Brazilian researchers investigated the effect of CBD extract on human cortisol levels in eleven volunteers. They found that CBD decreased cortisol levels significantly more than the placebo and that most subjects also reported a sedative effect from the treatment. 
In a meta-aalysis of CBD’s effects on anxiety conducted in Brazil, researchers found that “studies using animal models of anxiety and involving healthy [human] volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. Moreover, Cannabidiol extract was shown to reduce anxiety in [human] patients with social anxiety disorder.”  For this reason, CBD is also being investigated as a natural antidepressant, anti-psychotic, and an alternative to SSRI medications (Prozac, etc.).
3. Anti-Inflammatory & Pain Reduction
Multiple animal studies have shown that CBD has a remarkable ability to suppress certain cellular processes that lead to inflammation and, as a result, pain. [5-7,15-17] Researchers are currently conducting studies to see just how much this effect transfers over to humans, but there have been a number of clinical trials in Europe on a product called Sativex, which is a 1:1 blend of CBD and THC. These studies found that Sativex was able to reduce pain associated with central and peripheral neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer to varying degrees in most of the study participants. [18-19] It is unclear how much of an effect Cannabidiol has on pain reduction in these cases, however, the animal studies suggest that CBD is likely involved to some degree based on its known effects on cellular processes.
Although the jury is still out as to how effective CBD oils and extracts are for inflammation, many who have been struggling with inflammation-related diseases like arthritis have reported that CBD oils, extracts and creams containing CBD have helped reduce some of their symptoms.
4. Nausea, Diabetes, Epilepsy and More
Although not as common, studies on animals and a few, small human studies (in the case of epilepsy) also found that Cannabidiol shows promise as a potential treatment for seizures, diabetes and nausea, among other things, although more research is needed. [20-25] Three of the four human studies done using CBD as a treatment for epilepsy showed positive results, however, due to design flaws and lack of rigor, most researchers are suggesting that the currently available information is insufficient to draw firm conclusions regarding the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for seizures.  Studies are currently underway to get better data based on initial promising results in animal trials.
Researchers have also found in experimental animal and human cell culture models (meaning that they are exposing human and animal cells to various concentrations of CBD in petri dishes and test tubes in the lab) that CBD has anti-tumor effects on glioma and breast carcinomas and results in increased cancer cell death in certain types of cancers. [2-4] As it currently stands, it’s a big leap from the test tube to the human body, and no definitive claims can be made in this regard, nonetheless many in the scientific community are watching these developments very closely.
Quality & Potency
More so than other herbs and plants, quality can be an issue with certain CBD products, so it’s important to seek out brands with a high degree of integrity that clearly disclose their sourcing practices and quality standards. Seek products that are completely organic or at least contain organic CBD as these are guaranteed to be free of harmful chemicals and solvents that are sometimes used in the extraction process of less-reputable companies just out to make a buck.
All widely available, legal CBD products are extracted from the hemp plant, and particularly hemp oil, whereas products that are legal in some places but illegal in others (depending on local jurisdiction) are often extracted from cannabis (marijuana) plants and contain significant and varying levels of THC. There is some evidence that small amounts of THC increase the effectiveness of CBD, however, it is not required to reap the benefits of taking Cannabidiol. Research has shown pure CBD extracts from hemp and hemp oil, as long as the CBD is of high quality, are similarly effective and beneficial. However, in more serious, chronic illnesses there may be additional benefits from having THC in the mixture, such as more pronounced pain reduction and medicinal effects, according to the various human studies conducted on the compound. [27-28]
It is also important to consider potency when choosing CBD products as well. Generally speaking, the effects of CBD are dose dependent to some degree, meaning that the more that is ingested, the more pronounced its effects are. As such, it’s important to seek out more concentrated and/or highly absorbable products for maximum effect. There are a wide range of Cannabidiol product potencies available, but a good starting point for most people is for one dose of the product to be in the 2mg to 7mg range, with the latter being on the stronger side. If you know you tend to be sensitive to natural products and medicines, start at a lower dose. If you don’t tend to feel anything or know you need a stronger product to notice the benefits of CBD, feel free to start with higher dosages. For most CBD hemp oil products, you can take a partial or double dose to adjust the potency.
CBD oil is remarkably safe and has shown itself to be relatively side-effect free so there’s nothing to worry about unless you have a known allergy to hemp or you are on some type of medication or medical supervision. When in doubt consult a qualified naturopath or doctor. As always, when starting new herbs or natural medicines like Cannabidiol, be sure to start slow to understand how your body reacts and work up to higher dosages over time.
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