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CBD oil: What are the benefits?

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of claims surrounding CBD oil. But, how much of it is accurate, and what do we really know about the benefits of CBD oil? To help you decipher if CBD oil could benefit your lifestyle, we’ll take an evidence-based approach to how CBD could affect and benefit your skin, brain, and immune system.

It may seem strange that a single compound has the potential to influence so many parts of our body, but CBD doesn’t work alone. It interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), an influential regulatory network that plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis.

HOW DOES CBD OIL WORK?

Our body continually strives to maintain homeostasis—a state of biological balance. This principle doesn’t just apply when you are healthy. The difference is, when sick, the body shifts focus to support the immune system, before reverting back to a balanced state once the infection has passed. This process happens day in and day out, most of the time without us knowing. But, it’s when our body spends too long in an unbalanced state that problems occur.

The role of the ECS is to support and monitor this balancing act through a vast network of receptors—and, when needed, to stimulate the release of powerful endocannabinoids and enzymes. However, just like the body needs help from the ECS, sometimes the ECS needs help too. That’s where CBD steps in, with research suggesting the compound to be a potent mediator, further bolstering the state of balance the body is continuously trying to achieve.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD OIL?

The true extent of CBD’s potential remains to be seen. While its influence over the ECS and apparent lack of side effects make it an ally against disease, there is still a lot to learn. In the meantime, what we can do is highlight encouraging results from preclinical and animal model studies.

• Does CBD oil benefit the immune system?

Inflammation is a crucial part of our immune response. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to fight off infections or repair injuries to living tissue. However, if our inflammatory response persists, or starts attacking healthy cells, that’s when dangerous conditions take hold.

A 2012 study by the Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience found that CBD and “its modified derivatives significantly suppress chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain”. It didn’t take long for another study, published in Molecular Medicine Reports, to support their results. A rodent model of inflammation highlighted the “anti-apoptosis, anti-inflammation, and anti-oxidative activities” of CBD.

• Does CBD oil benefit the skin?

Fortunately, it isn’t just our internal systems that feature cannabinoid receptors; our skin does too. While the skin generally does an excellent job of protecting us from injury, infection, and more, even it can fall victim to damaging disease.

A 2007 study by Nottingham University identified that “cannabinoids inhibit keratinocyte proliferation”, supporting a potential role in the treatment of psoriasis. Keratinocytes’ primary function is to protect skin from environmental factors, but pathogens can cause these cells to become pro-inflammatory.

In 2014, the Journal of Clinical Investigation published a study displaying CBD’s mediation of human sebocytes. Normally, sebaceous glands secrete sebum to keep hair and skin lubricated. However, just like too many keratinocytes can lead to inflammation, too much sebum clogs pores and contributes to the onset of acne.

Researchers concluded that “CBD behaves as a highly effective sebostatic agent”, going on to add that the compound has “potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris”.

• Does CBD oil benefit the brain?

Another condition widely believed to be influenced by oxidative stress is Alzheimer’s disease. We already know from studies involving our immune system that CBD exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. The Department of Experimental Pharmacology found that by treating PC12 cells with CBD, the cannabinoid inhibited cell degradation caused by beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is a disruptive compound that sticks to cells and hampers their primary function.

CBD exhibited similar neuroprotective qualities in a 2017 review published by CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets. By comparing the data of preclinical and clinical studies, the researchers recognised a potential role of CBD in Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and multiple sclerosis (MS). They did, however, highlight the need for further evidence through well-designed human trials.

CBD OIL BENEFITS: THE BOTTOM LINE

The studies outlined above are a snapshot of CBD’s potential influence. Thankfully, interest in the compound is greater than ever, and new evidence is coming to light almost daily. However, and this is a big “however”—nearly all of these studies are still in preclinical or early clinical stages, so it is hard to pinpoint the benefits of CBD as a definite.

While results are certainly encouraging, a lot can change once CBD enters human trials. CBD’s distinct advantage is that it appears to exhibit minimal side effects and a good safety profile. Trying CBD oil for the first time is simple, and a few drops could go a long way to supporting a balanced lifestyle.

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