It’s gaining momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies confirming it may ease symptoms of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety. Here are seven health benefits of CBD oil that are backed by scientific evidence. Marijuana has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of marijuana, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects. The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response ( 3 ).
The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters ( 4 ). For example, one study in rats found that CBD injections reduced pain response to surgical incision, while another rat study found that oral CBD treatment significantly reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation ( 5 , 6 ). Several human studies have found that a combination of CBD and THC is effective in treating pain related to multiple sclerosis and arthritis. An oral spray called Sativex, which is a combination of THC and CBD, is approved in several countries to treat pain related to multiple sclerosis. One study of 47 people with multiple sclerosis examined the effects of taking Sativex for one month. The participants experienced improvements in pain, walking, and muscle spasms. Still, the study didn’t include any control group and placebo effects cannot be ruled out ( 7 ).
Another study found that Sativex significantly improved pain during movement, pain at rest and sleep quality in 58 people with rheumatoid arthritis ( 8 ). Summary CBD, especially in combination with THC, may be effective in reducing pain associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Anxiety and depression are common mental health disorders that can have devastating impacts on health and well-being. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the single largest contributor to disability worldwide, while anxiety disorders are ranked sixth (9). Anxiety and depression are usually treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and headache ( 10 ). What’s more, medications like benzodiazepines can be addictive and may lead to substance abuse ( 11 ). CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach. In one Brazilian study, 57 men received either oral CBD or a placebo 90 minutes before they underwent a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that a 300-mg dose of CBD was the most effective at significantly reducing anxiety during the test. The placebo, a 150-mg dose of CBD, and a 600-mg dose of CBD had little to no effect on anxiety ( 12 ). CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder ( 13 ). CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies ( 14 , 15 ). These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior. Summary Using CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in both human and animal studies. CBD may help reduce symptoms related to cancer and side effects related to cancer treatment, like nausea, vomiting and pain. One study looked at the effects of CBD and THC in 177 people with cancer-related pain who did not experience relief from pain medication. Those treated with an extract containing both compounds experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those who received only THC extract ( 16 ). CBD may also help reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, which are among the most common chemotherapy-related side effects for those with cancer ( 17 ). Though there are drugs that help with these distressing symptoms, they are sometimes ineffective, leading some people to seek alternatives. A study of 16 people undergoing chemotherapy found that a one-to-one combination of CBD and THC administered via mouth spray reduced chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment alone ( 18 ). Some test-tube and animal studies have even shown that CBD may have anticancer properties. For example, one test-tube study found that concentrated CBD induced cell death in human breast cancer cells ( 19 ). Another study showed that CBD inhibited the spread of aggressive breast cancer cells in mice ( 20 ). However, these are test-tube and animal studies, so they can only suggest what might work in people.
More studies in humans are needed before conclusions can be made. Summary Though CBD has been shown to help reduce symptoms related to cancer and cancer treatment, and may even have cancer-fighting properties, more research is needed to assess its efficacy and safety. Acne is a common skin condition that affects more than 9% of the population ( 21 ). It is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, bacteria, underlying inflammation and the overproduction of sebum, an oily secretion made by sebaceous glands in the skin ( 22 , 23). Based on recent scientific studies, CBD oil may help treat acne due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce sebum production.
One test-tube study found that CBD oil prevented sebaceous gland cells from secreting excessive sebum, exerted anti-inflammatory actions and prevented the activation of “pro-acne” agents like inflammatory cytokines ( 24 ). Another study had similar findings, concluding that CBD may be an efficient and safe way to treat acne, thanks in part to its remarkable anti-inflammatory qualities ( 25 ).