CBD, or cannabidiol, is becoming a household name. The cannabinoid’s recent surge in popularity is due chiefly to its exposure as a source of relief from some debilitating ailments such as epilepsy, anxiety, and depression. CBD is short for cannabidiol and is one of the many cannabinoids that make up the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
Why is CBD so Popular?
The CBD craze began upon the compound’s reaching wide acclaim as a useful treatment option to an uncommon and severe form of epilepsy in children, which is the chief focus of the current body of CBD-driven research. However, with new clinical trials continually emerging, the body of evidence for CBD’s beneficial effects on other ailments is becoming impressive in itself. CBD has become so popular due to the large number of ailments that it is said to assist with, and research is still catching up with these claims.
Luckily, with the surge of popularity of CBD, it’s likely that the medical and scientific communities will keep adding to the mounting research on CBD and all of its potential benefits.
CBD Research (So Far)
Much of the current research involving CBD also involves THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, another cannabinoid a part of the cannabis-plant family. THC, unlike CBD, is psychoactive, which means that ingestion of it has the potential to create a “high” in those who ingest it. There exists a vast body of research involving the medicinal effects of THC by itself and THC alongside CBD.
Conversely, not as much research exists on the impact of CBD on its own. The current research on CBD will prove helpful in understanding the cannabinoid’s potential for more clinical trials and its place in the world of medicine at large. As researchers continue to conduct clinical trials, more data will emerge regarding CBD as a stand-alone remedial tool.
CBD Clinical Trials
A clinical trial is a research study that aims to evaluate a medical, surgical, or behavioral remedy. Clinical trials are the principal way that researchers discover the safety and effectiveness of a new drug or treatment.
Researchers frequently use clinical trials to assess if a new treatment is more efficient and/or has fewer adverse side effects than the conventional treatment. As of this writing, there are a total of 66 CBD clinical trials that have been conducted in the U.S. To assess each clinical trial would be an arduous task, but we can break down the general gist of what these current clinical trials are studying overall.
Each of these CBD clinical trials fits into one or more of the following condition/disease categories:
- Behaviors and Mental Disorders,
- Blood and Lymph Conditions,
- Cancers and Other Neoplasms,
- Digestive System Diseases,
- Diseases and Abnormalities at or Before Birth,
- Gland and Hormone-Related Diseases,
- Heart and Blood Diseases,
- Immune System Diseases,
- Muscle, Bone, and Cartilage Diseases,
- Nervous System Diseases,
- Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases,
- Respiratory Tract (Lung and Bronchial) Diseases,
- Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases,
- Substance-Related Disorders,
- Symptoms and General Pathology,
- and Viral Diseases.
Noteworthy Clinical Trials:
CBD & Schizophrenia
This past March, the American Journal of Psychiatry published the findings from their CBD clinical trial with a focus on schizophrenia. The study’s goal was to assess the safety and effectiveness of CBD in patients with schizophrenia based on prior research suggesting that CBD has antipsychotic properties.
To conduct the study, researchers used an exploratory double-blind parallel-group trial, meaning that one-half of the patients received CBD, while the other half received a placebo alongside their existing antipsychotic medication.
Six weeks later, the results of the study found that the CBD group had lower levels of psychotic symptoms compared to those patients who received the placebo with their typical antipsychotic medication. In conclusion, researchers suggest that CBD has beneficial effects in patients with schizophrenia based on the fact that its results do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism.
Most important of the study’s findings is that CBD may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.
CBD & Epilepsy in Children
In 2017, researchers set out to examine the indications that CBD may reduce seizure frequency in pediatric patients; specifically, those who were deemed resistant to treatment. The study’s primary focus was Quality of Life in Childhood Epilepsy (QOLCE), and the study was conducted as the prospective, open-label clinical study of CBD.
Researchers found that CBD was effective in improving many symptoms of epilepsy in children including energy/fatigue, memory, control/helplessness, other cognitive functions, social interactions, behavior, and quality of life overall.
CBD & Substance Abuse
In September 2017, researchers set out to use a clinical trial to help them understand the possible connections between the human endocannabinoid system and substance abuse. The basis of the study is that, since endocannabinoid signaling is involved in reward and addiction, there is a possibility that drugs targeting the system could be used to treat substance abuse disorders. This potential is especially relevant in a time in our nation where drug abuse is a major problem.
Clinicians used randomized controlled trials whose purpose was to evaluate cannabinergic medications for substance addiction. Published in a special issue of the journal Neuropharmacology, titled “A New Dawn in Cannabinoid Neurobiology,” the article concludes that CBD is a promising target for addiction treatment as it relates to cannabis withdrawal, some opioid withdrawal, and potentially smoking cessation.
Abuse Potential of CBD
Related to the above clinical trial on CBD & Substance Abuse, another set of researchers set out to find the abuse potential of CBD as a stand-alone chemical. This study and ones like it are especially relevant considering that CBD is still viewed by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I Substance, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
Many believe that CBD is misclassified as a schedule I substance and that its placement in that category should be reconsidered. This clinical trial helps to support that cause considering its suggestions that CBD shows no abuse potential in polydrug users, that it is not mind-altering in comparisons to other drugs like dronabinol (THC) and alprazolam (Xanax).
CBD & Nausea in Cancer Patients
Nausea and vomiting is an unpleasant but frequent side effect of chemotherapy. Previous studies found that the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, is limited in its effectiveness to alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. However, a recent clinical trial found that CBD proved to have more efficacy and exhibit fewer adverse psychological effects in patients than the THC study.
One of the potential benefits that CBD is its potential to alleviate cancer-related symptoms. This trial, conducted in June of 2017, is one of a handful of research that helps support the notion that CBD can be an effective treatment for cancer patients living with adverse side effects of the disease or treatments for the disease.
To delve into each current clinical trial would be an arduous task, but it is worth noting the sheer number of experiments being conducted. It’s evident that researchers are putting in the time and effort they believe CBD deserves as a potential treatment option to a slew of different ailments and disorders. Although the legality of CBD in the U.S. continues to be on
- The endocannabinoid system as a target for addiction treatment: Trials and tribulations.
- Quality of Life in Childhood Epilepsy in pediatric patients enrolled in a prospective, open-label clinical study with cannabidiol.
- Abuse potential assessment of cannabidiol (CBD) in recreational polydrug users: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.
- Cannabidiol Pharmacotherapy for Adults With Cannabis Use Disorder
- Interaction between cannabidiol (CBD) and ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Oral cannabinoid-rich THC/CBD cannabis extract for secondary prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Statistics on Drug Addiction