CBD – the world’s most popular cannabinoid? Quite possibly, considering the fact that this derivative of the cannabis and hemp plants is embarking on its worldwide debut as a therapeutic powerhouse.
News of the therapeutic benefits of CBD – scientifically referred to as ‘cannabidiol’ – is cropping up in the cannabis industry news everywhere, from claims that the cannabinoid can be used as a weapon to fight superbugs, to its uses in skincare, pain management and even epileptic seizures.
Epidyolex – a CBD-based medicine produced by GW Pharmaceuticals and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2018 – has just gained traction across Europe, where GW’s product was recently approved on a doctor-prescribed basis.
With its seamless integration into the mainstream market, the global CBD market is predicted to be worth USD$2.2 billion by 2023, skyrocketing from $462 million last year.
Plus, since celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Mike Tyson and Kim Kardashian advocate the use of CBD, it’s pretty clear that this unique and naturally-occurring compound has rose to fame for a reason.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, a.k.a. “CBD”, is a naturally occurring compound contained in the cannabis and hemp plant’s flowers, leaves and seeds. The cannabinoid has emerged as a beneficial aid for supporting the mind and body, from inducing feelings of relaxation to relieving inflammation and chronic pain.
CBD was first discovered by an Israeli scientist who is commonly referred to as “the Godfather of Cannabis.” His real name is Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and it was he – along with a team of devoted scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – who initially discovered the cannabinoid in 1940. Over 20 years later, its structure was fully elucidated and now, as we approach 2020, CBD’s therapeutic effects are being talked about across the globe.
North America CBD industry by 2026
North America has paved the way for the global CBD market, which is beginning to blossom in Europe; where Epidyolex was recently approved as a treatment for epilepsy.
Numerous health stores have started stocking CBD products and with places on the world map like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Peru and Uruguay legalizing cannabis-based products for medical purposes, suppliers of CBD oil in North America are cashing in on the craze.
So much so, in fact, that North America’s CBD market is expected to turn over $417 million by next year. This industry analysis is based on the sales of cannabis-derived CBD. Add hemp to the mix and North America stands to be greatly rewarded for helping people experience the therapeutic benefits of CBD.
The Diverse CBD Consumer Demographic
Thanks to the diversity of CBD products available on the market today, the consumer demographic is constantly expanding. Consumer Reports analysts say that approximately 64 million American residents are estimated to have tried CBD within the last two years.
According to the results of a study carried out by CR analysts, over a quarter of U.S. residents admit to trying the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, in whatever form that may be. One out of seven of the 4,000 people surveyed said that they use CBD on a daily basis.
The growing consumer demographic for CBD – based on CR’s findings – is largest for individuals in their 20s; 40% of people in this age group said they tried CBD. Interestingly, 15% of people aged 60 and above said they have tried CBD, demonstrating how consumers old and young are open to the idea of experiencing CBD’s therapeutic properties.
Consumers Enjoy Versatility in CBD Product Options
Perhaps one of the main appeals for CBD consumers is the fact that they can give the body a dose of goodness in the privacy and comfort of one’s own home. It’s even possible to enjoy the therapeutic effects of CBD whilst on the move, e.g. dosing up by swallowing a CBD-infused capsule or munching on a cannabinoid-rich edible.
CBD vape oils are a popular choice for consumers who prefer inhalation as a means of reaping the fast-acting rewards of this method of CBD consumption. Then there’s CBD tinctures, which can be dropped on or beneath the tongue for instant absorption into the bloodstream, as well as CBD isolate, which is the cannabinoid in its purest form.
The CBD market has also introduced products specifically designed for use on hair, skin and even for administration to pets. Animals also have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) inside their bodies. The ECS is responsible for maintaining homoeostasis and it is speckled with receptors, of which cannabinoids like CBD bind with to release anti-inflammatory, anxiolytics, analgesic, anti-nausea, anti-stress and pain-relieving effects.
Consumers may also opt for whole or full-plant CBD extracts. These types of extracts contain an abundance of other compounds that occur naturally in the cannabis plant and may provide therapeutic effects; including phytonutrients, such as terpenes, vitamin E, fatty acids and plant sterols. Consumers should be aware of the fact that whole or full-plant CBD extracts may increase the chances of the entourage effect occurring. The “entourage effect” is a term used by scientists to describe the process in which cannabinoids and other phytonutrients work in synergy with one another to amplify their effects.
Science Supports the Idea of Using CBD as a Therapeutic Aid
Now that you know a little bit about what CBD is, let’s find out what the therapeutic benefits of CBD are. Below, we touch upon 10 studies that successfully demonstrate this cannabinoid’s ability to relieve the mentioned ailments/conditions:
- Acne – CBD for skincare is a real thing. A 2014 study showed that CBD oil prompts an inflammatory reaction in the cells that create sebum; sebocytes. CBD managed to prevent sebocytes from producing the oils that contribute to acne. It also hindered the activation of cytokines, which are often attributed to breakouts.
- Heart – A recent study involving nine healthy men saw them being administered with a 600 mg dose of CBD oil. CBD oil users had lower blood pressure, as opposed to placebo users. Healthy blood pressure is important to ensure the circulatory system is working properly, suggesting that CBD’s therapeutic effects may be beneficial.
- Anxiety and depression – Although CBD cannot be claimed a cure for anxiety and depression, the results of a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed how a reduction in stress and anxiety levels was experienced in animals and humans after the cannabinoid was consumed; confirming that CBD has anti-stress and anxiolytic effects.
- Cancer Symptoms – A review conducted earlier this year in vitro and in vivo studies on pancreatic cancer implied that cannabinoids like CBD may minimize tumor growth, trigger tumor cell death and increase radiation sensitivity of glioblastoma cells. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has admitted that cannabinoids may prove useful in relieving neuropathic pain, lack of appetite and nausea associated with cancer. The Institute also confirmed that cannabinoids hinder the growth of slow cancerous tumors.
- Diabetes – An estimated 8.5% of adults across the globe suffer from diabetes. This is based on recent data, which indicates a 4.7% increase since 1980. Thankfully, the Diabetes Council recently published his findings of research into people who suffer from diabetes, with the results showing how the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties may ease the symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The study also revealed that CBD may decrease the frequency of the disease occurring, as well as delay its onset.
- Drug Withdrawals – Who would’ve thought that one of the most abundant compounds from a plant once considered a “gateway drug” would now be recommended for use in patients who suffer from opiate withdrawal symptoms? Addictive opioid painkillers and illicit opiate based substances, such as heroin, claim the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every single year. Fortunately, a report published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on May 21, 2019, concluded that CBD minimized drug-induced anxiety and cravings. While some of the study subjects were administered with an oral CBD solution, a handful of them were given a placebo.
”Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” said the study’s author and director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai in New York City, Yasmin Hurd. “A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic.”
- Sleep apnea – Sleep disorders affect millions of Americans, not to mention millions of people around the rest of the globe. Sleep apnea, a condition whereby breathing stops unexpectedly, is one type of sleep disorder that may benefit from CBD. One study supported the idea of using CBD to minimize breathing disturbances during sleep. The cannabinoid worked by promoting the opening of upper airways to maximize airflow during sleep, thus reducing apnea episodes.
- Obesity – Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but for some people who struggle with obesity, it can also be their own worst enemy. Although the cannabis plant has long been criticized for causing consumers to put on weight due to THC’s appetite-stimulating effect – think ‘the munchies’ – the authors of a 2018 study discovered that CBD may actually prevent an individual from overeating by curbing their appetite; researchers found that CB1 receptor agonists work by deactivating CB1 receptor antagonists, which essentially reduces the chances of a person feeling hungry. The handy thing about this discovery is that CBD can be infused into edible products, which means that consumers can still satisfy hunger cravings as they dose up on CBD’s therapeutic properties.
- Epilepsy – There has been much talk in the news about CBD’s therapeutic potential for treating epilepsy. Colorado State University researchers proved this when they conducted a study that was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association back in June. The clinical trial – which saw nine drugs being treated like CBD and seven with a placebo in a controlled setting – found that 89% of dogs were administered with CBD experienced fewer seizures.
- Neuropathic Pain – Annual incremental costs of pain-associated healthcare in the U.S. is in the range of $560 billion to $635 billion. Included in this figure is the cost of medical care, lost workplace assistance, lost wages, etc. If more research is conducted into CBD’s therapeutic effects for treating neuropathic pain, it is highly likely that more doctors will start to prescribe their patients this treatment, as opposed to alternative methods of treatment that may be more costly and – in the case of opioids – sometimes deadly. One study that showed promise was a double-blind, placebo controlled study carried out in 2007; researchers concluded that debilitating neuropathic pain can be successfully treated using CBD. It is just one of many studies spotlighting CBD’s therapeutic benefits for the treatment of neuropathic pain, such as pain caused by Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Research Into the Therapeutic Benefits of CBD is Underway
A proposition was made earlier in the year by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggesting that the government recategorize the cannabis plant, due to an emerging field of evidence pertaining to its therapeutic benefits. Let’s take a look at some other developments in cannabis research:
The DEA is Pushing Forward with Medical Cannabis Research
On Monday, August 26, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) responded to a lawsuit filed by medical cannabis researchers urging the Agency to proceed with the review of licenses for such research.
Thankfully for the researchers – and also for consumers who want hard, solid evidence that this cannabinoid lives up to its name – the DEA announced it would start reviewing pending applications and new applications no more than 90 days after they have been submitted.
“If an applicant seeks to manufacture a Schedule I Or Schedule II controlled substance ‘for use only in a clinical trial,’ the Administrator will issue a notice of application not later than 90 days after the application is accepted for filing,” reads the DEA’s response, which came two days before a court-mandated response was required by the plaintiff – Dr. Sue Sisley.
India is Lifting the Brakes on Medical Cannabis Research
Research into the therapeutic effects of CBD is even underway in India, where cannabis cultivation, use, possession and sale is currently banned.
India’s Narcotics Control Bureau and the Union Finance Ministry are collaborating to launch a research project that will not only focus on the medical benefits of cannabis’ non-psychoactive compound CBD but also, its psychoactive element, THC.
An ancient text known as The Vedas even referenced the plant as being beneficial, but it hasn’t encouraged the government to do anything about it, until now.
Mitch McConnell Prompts FDA to Clarify CBD Rules ‘Within 120 Days’
In recent news, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his plans to include language in Congress’s budget report that prompts the FDA to clarify rules for lawful hemp CBD marketing.
McConnell wants the FDA to “issue a policy of enforcement discretion with regard to certain products containing CBD” no later than 120 days after the language is reviewed in the Senate.
“FDA is encouraged to consider existing and ongoing medical research related to CBD that is being undertaken pursuant to an Investigation New Drug (IND) application in the development of a regulatory pathway for CBD in products under the jurisdiction of FDA and to ensure that any future regulatory activity does not discourage the development of new drugs,” the report states.
Temple University to explore pain-relieving effects of CBD with over $3 million in NIH grants
Thanks to $3 million invest funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a team of scientists at Temple University are working hard to integrate cannabis into multidisciplinary pain management. Nine research awards were bestowed upon the University with the NIH/NCCIH’s multi-million dollar funding grant.
Four different components of cannabis will be used by the team on rodent pain models, including minor and major cannabinoids, phytochemicals and terpenes. This research could transform the landscape for pharmaceutical painkillers and potentially help to reverse the opioid epidemic that claimed 47,000 lives in the U.S. in 2017 alone.
“The treatment of chronic pain has relied heavily on opioids, despite their potential for addiction and overdose and the fact that they often don’t work well when used on a long-term basis,” said Helene Langevin, M.D., director of NCCIH. “There’s an urgent need for more effective and safer options.”
When federal prohibition comes to an end, more research into the therapeutic effects of CBD will ensue. Global progress has been made to legalize cannabis for medical purposes, with numerous countries amending their laws to permit patients access to the plant and its derivatives, such as CBD.
If analysts from the Brightfield Group are correct in their estimates, sales of CBD in the U.S. will inflate at an average of 107% annually until 2023.
The rapidly swelling consumer demographic is attributed to growth in the CBD industry and if the government allows more research to be conducted on human study subjects, there really is no telling just how big the market could eventually become.