Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main non-psychoactive compound derived from the hemp plant. Found in conjunction with THC (the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” of marijuana) and other cannabinoids in cannabis, or marijuana, CBD can also be produced free from THC from the Indian hemp plant. Since restrictions on hemp were eased by the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD has become widely available.  Also in 2018, CBD research became eligible for federal funding when it was de-listed as a controlled substance. 

 

There has been plenty of research on cannabis and THC in combination with CBD. Still, CBD-only clinical trials of significant breadth and depth are lacking since CBD has only recently emerged from regulatory limbo. 

 

One of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, CBD is hailed for being “healthy without the high.” Clinical CBD trials for a wide range of ailments are underway, with additional reports expected shortly.  Thanks to CBD’s growth in usage and popularity, the pipeline is full of new research.

 

While much of the available information is from small, brief studies, CBD has proved beneficial for many mental and physical ailments. Researchers continue to explore CBD as an alternative to many different types of drugs that impact overall health. At Black Rain, we like to stay up-to-date on the latest on CBD research. In this post, we will examine clinical studies that have scrutinized the impact of CBD on pain relief, boosting energy, focus, and inflammation. Though more and continuing research is necessary, these studies offer a glimpse into the potential of CBD in various applications. 

 

Related: CBD Isolates: Everything You Need to Know

 

CBD for pain

Cannabis as a whole has been widely and successfully used to treat pain for ages, and scientific research continues to support its effectiveness in relieving pain. Using CBD isolate for pain relief, however, is a fledgling field of study. There have been several small studies, especially concerning chronic and intractable cancer pain, that have demonstrated positive effects on patients using CBD for pain. More extensive studies on the benefits of CBD for populations with specific health issues (like landmark studies for HIV+ patients) show early promise. Those results will be out in 2020. 

 

In other clinical trials, researchers discovered that CBD is a beneficial anti-inflammatory analgesic well suited to treat many types of inaccessible pain. One small clinical trial found that topically applied CBD led to “a statistically significant reduction in intense pain, sharp pain, [and] cold and itchy sensations” associated with peripheral neuropathy of the lower extremities.[1] The group of elderly participants tolerated CBD well. 

 

This study offers hope to those with circulation issues, such as individuals suffering from complications of diabetes. CBD was also well tolerated by an older population that had recently undergone kidney transplants and suffered from chronic pain in Uruguay [2]. 

 

The doses of CBD vary in each trial, but there are minimal reported side effects. The most often cited side effect, dry mouth, is relatively innocuous, especially when compared to the severe side effects of other pain medications.

 

According to a 2011 study, cannabidiol manages to reduce pain by affecting the transmission of pain signals from the affected region of the body to the brain and back. In animal studies, CBD yields promising results in arthritic rats and mice by significantly suppressing chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain without building tolerance in these animals [3]. 

 

CBD for boosting energy

CBD is particularly beneficial as a “wake-inducing agent,” positively impacting wakefulness and affecting sleep patterns in several individuals [4]. A significant study treated 72 patients suffering from both anxiety and sleep disorders with CBD [5]. For two-thirds of the patients, sleep improved, and 79% benefitted from anxiety improvements at the end of the first month. Throughout the study, these participants received 25mg capsules of CBD daily. 

 

Study participants who primarily had sleep-related complaints received an evening dose of CBD. Although the anxiety-related patients took their capsules earlier in the day, most of them reported better sleep, too. Regardless of the complaint, researches postulate that continued use of CBD will offer improvements in these areas through the stabilization of the endocannabinoid system. 

 

Researchers speculate that CBD may induce alertness via the activation of neurons in the hypothalamus. This activation reduces REM sleep and promotes wakefulness. 

 

CBD can help individuals remain alert and concentrate on tasks that require attention.  At the same time, it helps people get to sleep and stay asleep at the proper time. It appears that CBD may correct certain REM sleep disorders and “prevent excessive daytime sleepiness” [6].

 

Furthermore, thanks to the positive effect that CBD has on anxiety and mood-based disorders and pain, it also promotes sleep. CBD essentially provides relief of anxiety and pain, making it easier for those who have correlated insomnia get to sleep and stay asleep. The minimal side effects also offer enhanced safety over other sleep-inducing remedies. Further testing is also needed to provide a suggested dosing guideline. 

 

Finally, the use of THC or CBD may increase the baseline firing rate of dopamine neurons. The increased firing rate may, in turn, cause a disinhibitory feedback loop that continues to enhance dopamine firing. [7] This feedback loop also reduced appetite and reward-seeking behavior. Ultimately, it also increased motivation and reversed motivational disorders associated with lethargy (like anxiety and depression as well as abusive, addictive tendencies). CBD may also reduce the precursors to those disorders—including stress. 

 

All told, CBD can improve motivation mechanisms–much like prescribed antidepressants do, but minus the scary side effects–which further promotes enhanced energy. CBD may even act like a natural stimulant that helps individuals sustain healthy energy levels during the day.

 

Though further research is needed to confirm exactly how it affects sleep, CBD acts as a supplement to the endocannabinoid system. By supplementing the endocannabinoid system, the body can achieve and maintain the ultimate efficient balance, or homeostasis. With the endocannabinoid system balanced with supplemental CBD, the body can regulate mood, sleep cycle, hormone balance, and immune function, subsequently eliminating fatigue that occurs as a result of those deficiencies. 

 

Find out more about our CBD products at Black Rain.

CBD for focus

CBD also helps to boost concentration in much the same way as it promotes sleep by balancing moods and alleviating anxiety. Dr. Esther Blessing of NYU began investigating the potential of CBD for treating anxiety in 2015. Her team found promising preclinical trials (most on mice and rats) that show CBD can be useful in treating several anxiety-related disorders [8]. Her findings suggest that humans may benefit from using CBD to treat generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

 

With success in calming many distracting forces, people are free to concentrate on the task at hand. Additionally, CBD can help their ability to focus by allowing more serotonin to flow to the brain. 

 

CBD mimics an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or antidepressant. Through the same process, CBD often improves attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

 

In one randomized, controlled trial, thirty adults previously diagnosed with ADHD received CBD over one year. This study found that the group receiving CBD performed better on tests than the placebo group. The group also became a bit less hyperactive and impulsive and slightly increased their attention span. 9]. It is likely that further testing on dosage and delivery of the CBD may prove to further enhance the benefits of CBD for concentration and focus. 

 

Related: CBD vs THC for Sleep: Which is Better?

 

CBD for inflammation

 

CBD is also highly anti-inflammatory. There is plenty of anecdotal support for CBD’s effectiveness in dealing with inflammation. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation released its first guidelines for CBD use this year. The Foundation surveyed 2,600 of its members and found that 79% either use, have used, or plan to use CBD for their arthritis pain. 

 

Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints primarily found in older adults. Preclinical tests showed that CBD was highly effective in reducing the size of swollen joints in arthritic rats within a short time (over four days). The rats also showed a significant reduction in inflammatory biomarkers in the spine. Continued CBD also helped the animals manage severe pain caused by the inflamed, arthritic joints [10].  

 

As predicted, the study also found that there were limited side effects to the improved inflammation markers. The data from this study indicate that topical CBD can potentially alleviate arthritis pain and inflammation without side effects. 

 

There is also clinical research underway concerning CBD treatment of other inflammatory, autoimmune conditions such as fibromyalgia. Many are excited by the prospect of potent, side-effect free pain and inflammation relief. CBD offers a breakthrough treatment in chronic pain relief without the potentially addictive use of opiates and other medicines like NSAIDs and corticosteroids [11]. 

 

This landmark study confirms the notion that CBD acts as an endocannabinoid regulator. It also found that cannabinoids like CBD “suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain without significantly causing major psychoactive side effects and analgesic tolerance.” [12] The lab rats experienced pain relief at regular intervals with CBD injections. 

 

In light of the increasing prevalence and severity of autoimmune diseases, these findings are particularly crucial to the aging population in the industrial world. 

 

Read our story at Black Rain to find out how we got started.

 

Conclusion

CBD is an essential component required to balance the endocannabinoid system. This cannabinoid offers a unique counter to THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid) and shows particular promise in treating anxiety and mood disorders, regulating sleep patterns, and managing pain and inflammation. 

 

While there is significant information on cannabis clinical trials that generally include both THC and CBD, there are few recent studies that solely examine CBD. Thanks to the relaxed restrictions on CBD and access to federal funding as a result of current legislation, many more extensive, long-term studies are underway. More importantly, these initial trials have shown promise and have sparked interest from the public that has subsequently encourage researchers to expand the body of available information. 

 

Each of the studies mentioned underscores the need to standardize and optimize the quality, consistency, dosage, and delivery method of CBD. Further research is required to determine the optimal level of CBD for the treatment of various disorders. And as a new industry, few regulatory standards are in place to create uniformity and predictability amongst CBD supplements. 

 

Although these preliminary studies show exciting promise, much additional research needs to be conducted to replicate these findings reliably and over a span of time that assures CBD’s long-term safety.  Still, CBD shows promise for many chronic pain sufferers and others with challenging-to-manage pain-related systems. 

 

By working to balance the body’s systems through the endocannabinoid system, CBD has a potentially far-reaching impact for the long-term health and enjoyment of many. 

 

In the meantime, these trials show that CBD helps with sleep and focus by alleviating mental and physical distress through endocannabinoid regulation. With anxiety, depression, and pain under control, an individual can rest well and enjoy the motivating and wakeful benefits of CBD. Thanks to the inhibition of pain transmission and additional assistance in balancing the endocannabinoid system, CBD is also suitable for chronic pain and inflammation. 

 

The role that CBD alone plays in sleep and pain management is exciting and has encouraged additional findings that are, as previously mentioned, underway. It offers an authentic, natural, and plant-based solution to an array of ailments without the impairments associated with other drugs. With this newfound and continued interest, many are hopeful that ongoing testing will show sustainable treatment options. 

 

In light of the opioid crisis and the severe side effects associated with many pain relievers, continued CBD testing and clinical trials are viable and necessary. As the industry becomes more standardized and dosing guidelines are prescribed, CBD may replace many drugs that are currently on the market. Imagine that—an all-natural cure-all in a bottle! 

 

If you’re interested in checking out some CBD products, browse our collection of CBD water, energy drinks, and softgels at Black Rain.

 

Related: What is CBD Water and Should You Drink It?

 

References:

 

[1] The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2019 Dec 1.

 

[2] Chronic Pain Treatment With Cannabidiol in Kidney Transplant Patients in Uruguay. Transplant Proc.;50(2):461-464.

 

[3] W. Xiong, T. Cui, K. Cheng, F. Yang, S. R. Chen, D. Willenbring, Y. Guan, H. L. Pan, K. Ren, Y. Xu, and L. Zhang, “Cannabinoids Suppress Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain by Targeting α3 Glycine Receptors,” Journal of Experimental Medicine 209, no. 6 (2012): 1121–1134. DOI:10.1084 /jem.20120242

 

[4] The nonpsychoactive Cannabis constituent cannabidiol is a wake-inducing agent. Behav Neurosci. 2008 Dec;122(6):1378-82. doi: 10.1037/a0013278.

 

[5] Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi: 10.7812/TPP/18-041.

 

[6] Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2014 May; 12(3): 269–272.

 

[7] Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation? Annu Rev Neurosci. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 Feb 19.

 

[8] Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct; 12(4): 825–836.

 

[9] Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomised-controlled trial. European Neuropsychopharmacology. Volume 27, Issue 8, August 2017, Pages 795-808.

 

[10] Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain. 2016 Jul;20(6):936-48. doi: 10.1002/ejp.818. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

 

[11] Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 Feb; 4(1): 245–259.

 

[12] Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012 Jun 4; 209(6): 1121–1134.