Cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries, but it's only recently that scientists have begun to study in depth the compound cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is one of over 100 compounds found in cannabis, and it has a wide range of potential medical applications. Some studies have shown that CBD may be effective in treating seizures, pain, anxiety, and other conditions. Clinical trials are currently being conducted to determine if CBD can be effectively used to treat certain conditions. If you're considering the use of CBD oil as a treatment option, it's important that you consult with a doctor before making a decision.
In this post, we'll look at some of the latest studies and clinical trials on CBD and discuss and explain their findings.
On our CBD studies blog, you'll find summaries of medical studies on CBD, cannabinoids, and cannabis.
CBD Studies on Pain Patients
We looked at the latest studies (from 2021 onwards) conducted on humans that focus on CBD in pain management.
Most studies report results based on self-assessments, meaning they rely on people's personal experiences and beliefs.
Generally, many people believe that CBD helps alleviate various types of pain.
CBD Products Could Be Helpful for Fibromyalgia
A large survey from 2021 indicates that people suffering from fibromyalgia might use CBD for pain management. The researchers examined data from a survey of 878 people who have fibromyalgia and currently use CBD.
- 72% of participants with fibromyalgia replaced pain medications with CBD
- Participants replaced opioids (53.3%) and benzodiazepines (23.1%) with CBD
- 70% - 94% of reported substitutions led to discontinued or reduced medication use
- Participants substituted for harm reduction reasons (e.g., fewer side effects)
Cannabidiol as a Means to Treat Chronic Pain
A total of 253 participants answered the survey. The participants were, on average, 45 years old. Of the participants, 62% stated they had tried a CBD product.
The majority reported that these products alleviated their pain (59%) and enabled them to reduce their pain medications (67.6%), including opioids (53.7%). CBD was a good treatment option (71.1%), not harmful (74.9%), and not addictive (65.3%). About half of the participants (51.9%) stated they would feel more comfortable if their doctor prescribed them CBD products.
CBD May Help Alleviate Moderate to Severe Symptoms of Pain, Anxiety, and Depression
In this retrospective observational study, the pain, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and well-being of 279 participants over 18 years old were examined, who were prescribed a CBD-containing treatment in a network of medical cannabis clinics in Quebec, Canada.
- 110 (75%) patients received CBD-containing products for the treatment of chronic pain
- 19 (7%) for the treatment of cancer symptoms
- 21 (7.5%) for the treatment of neurological disorders (including Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and drug-resistant epilepsy)
- 8 patients for the treatment of inflammatory diseases (arthritis)
- 10 for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases (Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis)
- 2 for the treatment of anxiety
- 1 for the treatment of depression
- 2 for the treatment of headaches
- 6 for the treatment of unclassified symptoms
The study lasted 6 months.
The study concluded that a CBD-rich treatment has a positive effect on pain, anxiety, and depression symptoms as well as overall well-being only in patients with moderate to severe symptoms.
CBD Use in Patients with Spinal Complaints
The study was conducted over a period of 4 weeks. The patients included pre-operative, post-operative, and non-operative individuals. 214 people participated in this survey. 54 (25.2%) of the patients reported using CBD for spinal pain. CBD was primarily used for potential relief from back pain (66.7%), neck pain (37%), leg pain (35.2%), and/or arm pain (9.3%). Users also sought improvements in insomnia (25.9%) and mood (18.5%).
CBD oil was the most commonly used CBD product (64.8%). CBD was most often consumed 2-5 times (40.7%) or 6-10 times (31.5%) per week. Most commonly, CBD was recommended by friends or relatives (75.9%).
The benefits reported were pain relief (46.3%), better sleep (33.3%), and less anxiety (20.4%); however, 24.1% of patients reported that taking CBD did not bring the desired success.
Most users (63%) would recommend CBD to a friend for pain relief.
Studies on CBD and Anxiety in People
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, which can be mild or severe. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life, but for some people, it can be a long-term problem. Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors such as genetics, the brain's neurochemistry, and life events. Symptoms of anxiety can include thinking disorders, palpitations, sweating, and sleep disorders. Untreated, anxieties can lead to problems such as alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and depression. However, there are many effective treatment options for anxiety, including therapy, medication, and exercise.
Cannabidiol Use for Self-diagnosed Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep Problems
The participants of the study, 387 individuals, were 61.2% female, mostly between 25 and 54 years old (72.2%), and predominantly based in the US (77.4%). The top four reasons for taking CBD were self-perceived anxiety (42.6%), sleep problems (42.5%), stress (37%), and general health and well-being (37%).
54% reported using less than 50mg of CBD daily, and 72.6% used CBD sublingually.
The key findings were that many CBD consumers reported that CBD improved sleep problems, stress, and anxiety and can be used for general health and well-being.
Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety and Mood Disorders
The authors of this study from 2021 analyzed the results of previous studies on CBD and anxiety and concluded:
- Behavioral and neuropharmacological studies evaluate CBD as an anxiolytic and antidepressant substance.
- There is evidence that CBD's therapeutic properties could be associated with epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, and the regulation of miRNA expression.
- The studies support further evaluation of CBD as a promising new agent for the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders.
CBD Studies on People with Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that leads to repeated seizures. A seizure is a sudden behavioral change or convulsion caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy can cause a wide range of symptoms, from brief inattentiveness to complete convulsions and unconsciousness. Seizures can occur at any age, but they are most common in young children and older adults. Epilepsy is typically a lifelong affliction, even though some people only suffer from seizures for a short time. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medications can help control the seizures.
Cannabidiol as a Novel Treatment for Drug-Resistant Epilepsy in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
One of the most promising and field-changing studies on CBD and epilepsy was conducted in 2016. The results indicate the efficacy of CBD in reducing seizure activity in patients with tuberous sclerosis complex.
For many patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) who received CBD as an adjunct treatment, the frequency of seizures significantly decreased. After a 3-month treatment, 50% of the patients responded to the treatment, with the median frequency of seizures reducing by -48.8%. Every type of seizure reduced by at least 38.6%, with four out of six types of seizures seeing a median reduction of more than 50%.
This study prompted many other researchers to investigate the effects of CBD on epilepsy.
Evaluating the Consumption of CBD Products and Health of People with Epilepsy
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, USA) conducted an observational study with epilepsy patients, recording their results over four years.
The goal of the study was to investigate the relationships between the consumption of CBD products and quality of life, mental health, healthcare utilization, and epilepsy-specific outcomes in a large observational cohort of people with epilepsy.
Participants who reported using self-purchased, non-prescription CBD products at the start of the study (CBD users; n = 280), and participants who did not use cannabis-based products (controls; n = 138), completed web-based evaluations assessing psychiatric symptoms, healthcare utilization, and epilepsy-specific factors.
The results showed evidence suggesting that CBD products could be helpful for many people with epilepsy.
- Cannabidiol users reported a higher quality of life and less severity of psychiatric symptoms
- Cannabidiol users reported better tolerance to epilepsy medications
CBD Can Help Reduce Epileptic Seizures
A 2020 study on CBD as adjunct therapy for refractory epileptic spasms found the following:
- A reduction in the frequency of epileptic spasms was observed after 2 weeks of treatment
- The resolution of hypsarrhythmia (a specific type of seizure) was also associated with the reduction of epileptic spasms
- All patients were free of epileptic spasms after 12 months.
In light of these research findings, the role of CBD as a treatment alternative for epilepsy has been significantly underscored. While the science continues to evolve, and more research is required to establish definitive protocols, the current studies have built a compelling case for CBD. These outcomes are especially promising for those who have drug-resistant forms of epilepsy or for those who experience adverse side effects from traditional epilepsy medications.
The substantial decrease in seizure activity, the reduced severity of psychiatric symptoms, and the increased tolerance to epilepsy medications among CBD users suggest that this non-traditional treatment method can not only help manage seizures but also potentially enhance the overall quality of life of individuals living with epilepsy.
However, it's important to note that the decision to use CBD products should always be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, as individual health circumstances can significantly affect outcomes. Furthermore, the long-term effects and safety of CBD use remain to be fully understood.
In conclusion, while we navigate the complexities and ongoing research surrounding CBD and epilepsy, the evidence thus far suggests a promising future for CBD as a viable adjunct therapy in epilepsy management.