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Cannabinoids in medical care: What are the benefits?

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If you’ve been keeping an eye on the media, or paying attention when you walk past health stores, you’re probably aware of the rise of CBD and the various forms it comes in. But what actually is it, and what role can it play in a patient’s healthcare plan?


CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients in cannabis, after THC. While CBD is a key component of medical marijuana, it’s derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plants – and this means that you don’t get the ‘high’ that’s associated with marijuana, or any of the mental side effects that can occur with regular use of cannabis.


There’s evidence that CBD has numerous health benefits

CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating child epilepsy syndromes such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), as these typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications.


In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures that sufferers’ experiences, and in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether.


It can help to ease chronic pain and inflammation

Researchers have reported that CBD could be used to effectively treat chronic pain, bringing relief to sufferers of conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, trigeminal neuralgia, CRPS and more.


A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, that CBD applied on the skin could help to lower pain and inflammation, while another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain – two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.


Furthermore, several athletes swear by CBD oil as a remedy for the pain brought about by physical training and any resulting injuries.


CBD could help with depression, anxiety and insomnia

In addition to treating seizures, inflammation, and pain, it’s thought that CBD could help with some mental health conditions, as it interacts with our nervous system in a number of ways.


CBD has been known to regulate the mood by interacting with serotonin, by binding to specific points of the brain, and potentiating the actions of serotonin – and this is one of the key chemicals which can act to improve mood and reduce stress levels. Similarly, CBD is thought to interact with GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and certain types of neurotransmitters.


While CBD doesn’t cure the condition, it’s been linked to the improvement of symptoms, and this in itself is exciting news.

When it comes to anxiety, studies suggest that CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties, and when administered ‘as needed’ it appears to be well-tolerated and beneficial for treating disorders such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).


And while there’s still more scientific research to be done, preliminary studies have also been in favour of CBD being used as an effective natural remedy for insomnia sufferers, thanks to the way in which it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.


It’s already a popular treatment for insomnia and promotes refreshing REM sleep, which aids in reducing excessive daytime sleepiness. It’s also thought to be particularly helpful for sleep disorders in people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.


Overall, the potential for CBD to be used in treating chronic illnesses, chronic pain and mental health conditions, is huge. There’s still research to be done, and some of the studies which are already available might only be in the preliminary stage, but so far it looks as though many are benefitting from the use of CBD, and it’s definitely something we should keep an eye on.

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