When pharmaceuticals and other conventional medical treatments fail to deliver results, healthcare consumers with chronic conditions often look for alternative remedies. They seek to reduce the severity of their symptoms, eliminate the need for prescription drugs, or add natural remedies to their existing regimen to manage drug side effects.
CBD oil is proving to be a powerhouse in the alternative health market. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound derived from cannabis, but unlike marijuana, it contains little or no THC and does not cause intoxication. Since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp, new companies are springing up all over the country and marketing their brands online.
Here are five ways CBD oil benefits consumers and provides potential markets for new businesses.
- Chronic pain relief.
People who experience debilitating pain on a daily basis usually turn to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these medications have serious side effects when used for extended periods. Prescription opioids are helpful for managing pain from surgery or acute injuries, but long-term use can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. CBD oil provides a safer alternative.
Multiple studies reveal CBD can reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. The compound also binds to chemical receptors to block nerve pain, one of the most difficult types of pain to treat. Researchers found that subjects who took CBD didn’t develop a tolerance, so they could remain on a low dose. Patients who find relief with CBD could decrease or eliminate their use of prescription painkillers and avoid addiction.
- Controlling seizures in children.
Dravet syndrome is a type of early-onset epilepsy that causes severe seizures and developmental delays. Because the condition doesn’t respond to anti-seizure medication, Dravet syndrome carries a high risk of sudden death in children. Fortunately, CBD can help.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, subjects ages two to 18 took CBD oil for 14 weeks. During that period, a significant number of subjects experienced at least a 50-percent reduction in seizure frequency, and a few subjects had no convulsive activity at all.
The FDA recently approved Epidiolex, a prescription medication containing CBD, for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and a similar disease, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, pure CBD oil is still available over-the-counter or through licensed dispensaries in some states.
- Improving mental health.
Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can be just as serious as physical ailments and sometimes harder to treat. Because cannabidiol increases serotonin production in the brain, it may help regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and stress response. For patients self-medicating with marijuana, switching to CBD can provide the same calming effect without the confusion and paranoia associated with smoking pot.
Some consumers report that taking CBD oil helps them focus better at work and stay alert without jitter-inducing caffeine. Others say it helps them overcome shyness in social situations or reduces public speaking anxiety. Research into using CBD to treat post-traumatic stress disorder is ongoing.
In one study of schizophrenic patients, subjects who took CBD oil received the same benefits as those who took antipsychotic medication. The big difference, however, was that subjects in the CBD group reported far fewer side effects such as weight gain, movement disorders, or hormonal issues.
- Neurodegenerative disease breakthroughs.
Diseases of the brain and nervous system, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s, cause a wide variety of debilitating symptoms, from uncontrolled movements to progressive memory loss. Treatments options are extremely limited, but CBD oil shows promise.
An article in Frontiers in Neurology indicates CBD can alleviate pain, fatigue, depression, and spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients, improving overall mobility. Animal studies suggest CBD might minimize acute brain damage following a stroke or traumatic brain injury and combat long-term cognitive impairment due to excessive alcohol consumption.
- Additional benefits for seniors.
While CBD oil is beneficial for consumers of all ages, senior citizens might be the largest demographic. 75 percent of seniors have chronic pain, nearly half have arthritis, and almost 30 percent suffer from anxiety disorders. Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 5 million seniors, and the majority of patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis are older people. Most importantly, experts project that America’s elderly population will outnumber its minors by 2035.
CBD oil offers other benefits for anyone experiencing the effects of aging. One of the leading causes of falls and injuries in seniors is osteoporosis, a loss of minerals that makes bones brittle. Research shows CBD can help strengthen bones and rebuild them after a fracture. In test-tube studies, CBD protected cells from oxidative stress even better than popular antioxidants like vitamin C or E.
Although human trials are still in their infancy, CBD’s potential for cancer prevention is worth noting. In preliminary research, CBD oil inhibited the spread of lung cancer and regulated genes that contribute to aggressive forms of breast cancer. While CBD isn’t a miracle cure for these deadly diseases, patients undergoing chemotherapy can still benefit from the compound’s ability to control nausea and improve appetite.
What other ways can CBD improve consumers’ health? Share some thoughts in the comments.