Research Brief - Medical Conditions

Research Brief - Medical Conditions

Chapter 2

With the recent federal legalization of hemp, research into hemp-derived CBD is underway in labs and academic institutions across the nation. We are still only at the very beginning of uncovering the many potential health benefits CBD might have to offer, but it could well turn out to be one of the major discoveries of our lifetimes. 

First, some quick background. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of the two major active compounds of cannabis. CBD derived from hemp does not induce intoxication, meaning it does not produce a “high,” yet yields many of the potential medical benefits attributed to medical marijuana1

Here are some of the conditions and symptoms that CBD may help relief.


Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Diseases

CBD’s ability to counteract inflammation and swelling is well documented2. This is because cannabinoids such as CBD are potent anti-inflammatory agents that act by interacting with the ECS and nervous system. 

A whole host of maladies are related to inflammation including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, colitis, liver disease and certain types of cancers3 Because cannabinoids suppress the inflammatory response, there is great hope in the scientific community they can be put to work to treat disease symptoms. An article published in Future Medicinal Chemistry, a peer-reviewed medical journal covering medicinal chemistry, drug discovery and pharmacology lists the following diseases as some that may one day benefit from cannabinoid-based medicines: multiple sclerosis, colitis, liver injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers with inflammatory components4.

Last, because many athletes suffer from inflammation resulting from acute injuries they’ve suffered in high-impact sports, many are using CBD as a health supplement and recovery aid5.

Autoimmune disease

Closely related to CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits are its potential uses for autoimmune disorders, which occur when the immune system turns on healthy tissue and begins destroying it triggering an inflammatory response. Multiple sclerosis, diabetes type 1, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and lupus are the more well known of the AI diseases. According to an article published in Autoimmunity Reviews, “Current research into the role of cannabinoids in the immune system  shows that they possess immunosuppressive properties.”6

Chronic Pain 

The pain-relieving properties of CBD are very closely related to its anti-inflammatory properties. When the body’s receptors interact with CBD, they activate anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce aches such as back pain and chronic pain. The entire of painkilling meds called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. NSAIDs relieve pain by decreasing inflammation. Naturally occurring CBD, however, has not been shown to have some of the side effects of some of these drugs. 

There is even hope among some in the scientific community that CBD may even be used one day to replace or mitigate the use of opioids to treat pain. As stated in the Journal of Opioid Management, “Since opioids are the only therapy for severe pain, analgesic ability of cannabinoids may provide a much-needed alternative to opioids. Moreover, cannabinoids act synergistically with opioids and act as opioid sparing agents, allowing lower doses and fewer side effects from chronic opioid therapy. Thus, rational use of cannabis based medications deserves serious consideration to alleviate the suffering of patients due to severe pain.”7


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Seizures may occur when brain activity becomes abnormal and may result in temporary confusion, loss of consciousness or uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs. CBD, shown to have muscle-relaxing effects, has been shown to go far beyond just relaxing muscles and to actually help prevent convulsions that are associated epilepsy8. In the biggest confirmation of CBD’s medicinal benefits to date, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a CBD-based drug for the treatment of two forms of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome9.

Anxiety, Stress Depression

CBD has been found to reduce anxiety10. According to a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Neurotherapeutics, “We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.”11

Preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a potential treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder12

Because depression is not always treatable with current antidepressant drugs, and because those drugs often have unwanted side effects, studies have been launched into CBD’s potential in treating depression. A recent review of the literature proclaims CBD to be a “promising compound,” which are welcome words for those suffering from depression who have resisted using pharmaceutical drugs or who’ve tried prescription drugs that have been ineffective in treating the depression13

Schizophrenia and Psychosis

Not only is CBD devoid of psychoactive effects, but it actually works in the cannabis plant to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. In addition, CBD’s antipsychotic potential has been shown in blocking THC-induced psychosis and therefore it is being studied for its potential to treat psychoses such as  schizophrenia14. A recent promising study indicated CBD normalizes dysfunction in the brain regions implicated in psychosis. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, stated that  “cannabidiol may normalize dysfunction in [certain] brain regions, which are critically implicated in psychosis, and this may underlie its therapeutic effects in psychosis.”15


Half of all adult Americans have struggled to get to sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation16. A study found not only that “consumption of medical Cannabis flower is associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia”  but that “Cannabidiol (CBD) was associated with greater statistically significant symptom relief than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).17

While CBD and sleep research is still a brand new topic for controlled scientific studies, preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that CBD has therapeutic potential in treating insomnia18.

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Other Neurological Diseases

Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis are disorders. Pre-clinical evidence has shown that CBD’s “can produce beneficial effects” in all of these conditions but further confirmation from well-designed clinical studies is needed19


Blood Pressure

CBD may also reduce blood pressure. A study showed that CBD reduced resting blood pressure and minimized stress-related blood pressure changes. However, more research needs to be conducted to assess whether it can be used to treat  cardiovascular disorders20.

Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Dry Skin

Acne occurs when hair follicles become clogged if there are too much sebum and dead skin cells, trapping bacteria, which causes the swelling and redness recognized as acne21. Acne results from all these factors working in concert: an abnormally high amount of sebum production, dead skin cells, bacteria and the body’s release of inflammatory chemicals in response.  This is where CBD comes in. A recent study found that cannabidiol can control the production of sebum and fights inflammation and therefore “has potential as a promising therapeutic agent” for the treatment of acne22. Another study found phytocannabinoids can minimize skin irritation due to their remarkable anti-inflammatory actions23.

While dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema are different types of skin conditions caused by different factors, one commonality is that they all involve inflammation of the skin. Because of CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory properties, topical CBD has been shown in trials to have a promising future in the treatment of these disorders24. Dry skin is another condition that can be caused by aging. CBD has been shown to be a promising treatment for dry skin and many other dermatological ailments because of its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, as well as its hydrophobic behavior25. Read more about CBD’s benefits for skin.

Opioid Addiction 

The opioid epidemic is an unprecedented health crisis in the US with overdose relapse and deaths pervasive. CBD may end up playing a role in helping stem the crisis. Because CBD is not intoxicating and possesses an impressive safety profile, the use of CBD to inhibit opioid craving has “great therapeutic potential,” according to an article published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the exploration of clinical cannabis, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system26.


  1.   Holland, K., CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?,,  May 20, 2019
  2.   Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Future Med Chem. 2009 Oct;1(7):1333-49. doi: 10.4155/fmc.09.93. PubMed PMID: 20191092; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2828614.
  3.   Franks AL, Slansky JE. Anticancer Res. 2012;32(4):1119–1136. PMID: 22493341
  4.   Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Future Med Chem. 2009 Oct;1(7):1333-49. doi: 10.4155/fmc.09.93. PubMed PMID: 20191092; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2828614.
  5.   Outside Magazine, “Why Athletes Are Ditching Ibuprofen for CBD,” May 2018
  6.   Katchan V., David P., Shoenfeld Y.,Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Jun;15(6):513-28. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.02.008.
  7.   Elikkottil J, Gupta P, Gupta K. J Opioid Manag. 2009 Nov-Dec;5(6):341-57. Erratum in: J Opioid Manag. 2010 Jan-Feb;6(1):14. Elikottil, Jaseena [corrected to Elikkottil, Jaseena]. PubMed PMID: 20073408; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3728280.
  8.   National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database. Cannabidiol, CID=644019, 
  9.   Epilepsy Society, Cannabis Oil For Epilepsy,.
  10.    Lee, J,  Bertoglio, L.,   Guimarães, F.  & Stevenson, C.  Br J Pharmacol. (2017) 174(19): 3242–3256. 
  11.   Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR., Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36., DOI: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  12.   Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR., Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36. doi: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1.
  13.   Silote GP., Sartim A., Sales A., Eskelund A., Guimarães FS., Wegener G., Joca S. J Chem Neuroanat. 2019 Jul;98:104-116. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2019.04.006.
  14.   Zuardi AW, Crippa JA, Hallak JE, Bhattacharyya S, Atakan Z, Martin-Santos R, McGuire PK, Guimarães FS., Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(32):5131-40. DOI:
  15.   Bhattacharyya S, Wilson R, Appiah-Kusi E, et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(11):1107–1117. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.2309
  16.   National Sleep Foundation, Dec 2014, “Lack of Sleep is Affecting Americans, Finds the National Sleep Foundation.”
  17.    Vigil, J., Stith, S., Diviant, J., Brockelman, F., Keeling K., Hall, B. Medicines 2018, 5(3), 75;
  18.   Babson, K.A., Sottile, J. & Morabito, D. Curr Psychiatry Rep (2017) 19: 23.
  19.   Mannucci, C., Navarra, M.,  Calapai, F.,  Spagnolo, E., & Busardò, F., da cas, R.,  Menniti-Ippolito, F.,  Calapai, G.. (2017).. CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets. 16. 1-1. 10.2174/1871527316666170413114210. 
  20.   Jadoon, K., Tan, GD, O’Sullivan, SE., JCI Insight. 2017;2(12):e93760.
  21.   NIH, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “Overview of Acne”
  22.   Oláh A, Tóth,, Borbíró , Sugawara K, Szöllõsi AG, Czifra G, Pál B, Ambrus L, Kloepper J, Camera E, Ludovici M, Picardo M, Voets T, Zouboulis CC, Paus R, Bíró T., J Clin Invest. 2014 Sep;124(9):3713-24. doi: 10.1172/JCI64628. 
  23.   Oláh A, Markovics A, Szabó-Papp J1, Szabó PT, Stott C, Zouboulis CC, Bíró T., Exp Dermatol. 2016 Sep;25(9):701-7. doi: 10.1111/exd.13042. Epub 2016 Jun 15.
  24.   Palmieri B, Laurino C, Vadalà M., Clin Ter. 2019 Mar-Apr;170(2):e93-e99. doi: 10.7417/CT.2019.2116.
  25.   Marks DH, Friedman A., Skin Therapy Lett. 2018 Nov;23(6):1-5.
  26.   Wiese, B., & Wilson-Poe, A. R. (2018). Emerging Evidence for Cannabis' Role in Opioid Use Disorder. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 179–189. doi:10.1089/can.2018.0022

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