Cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded in popularity. Some wonder if this natural compound is a snake oil remedy. Are the compelling anecdotes of life-changing benefits just the placebo effect? In short, no: science is confirming, study by study, that CBD does have the power to change lives. Take a look at five scientifically supported, life-changing benefits of CBD.
One of the most touted benefits of CBD is that it helps manage various forms of pain. Relieving pain — especially chronic pain — can be life changing.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an integral role in pain.  The body produces its own endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol, to reduce sensitivity and inflammation in damaged tissue.  Several systematic reviews report that cannabinoids are effective analgesic agents for neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions. [3,4]
Anxiety & Stress
The contemporary world can be stressful. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that over 30% of U.S. adults will suffer an anxiety disorder at some point.  Anxiety interferes with many daily activities, and has been estimated to cost the country upwards of $47 billion per year. 
A choir of voices praise CBD for helping to alleviate stress and anxiety. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors indirectly, boosting the body’s own cannabinoids. It directly activates serotonin receptors, which helps modulate mood. These actions help explain why CBD has demonstrated anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects. [7,8] In one study on individuals with social anxiety disorder, CBD effectively reduced anxiety prior to a public speaking task.  CBD may therefore empower individuals with undue stress and anxiety.
Sleep is precious: it gives our bodies time to consolidate memory and restore physiological function.  If sleep is insufficient for any reason, we start a cascade effect of negative health consequences.
CBD has shown promise against insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and daytime sleepiness.  However, research on CBD and sleep is still young. The mechanism by which CBD may improve sleep is unknown. Still, the sheer volume of people who report improved sleep with CBD cannot be denied. In some cases, improvement may relate to reduced pain and anxiety.
Epilepsy is obviously not applicable to everyone who tries CBD. Nonetheless, the power of CBD to reduce seizure symptoms in treatment-resistant epilepsy has most certainly changed the lives of many affected people.
Among them is Charlotte Figi. She was three months old when the seizures of Dravet Syndrome took hold. They were so severe that by age 5, doctors suggested inducing a coma for survival. The family decided to try CBD as a last resort, and it saved Charlotte’s life.  Not long after, the FDA sponsored several clinical studies and approved a CBD-based pharmaceutical for this purpose. 
The life-changing benefits of CBD against drug addiction and withdrawal are less documented but relevant nonetheless. A number of individuals report shaking their disabling dependency on prescription opioids or quitting smoking with CBD and cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system intersects with the brain’s reward mechanisms. CB1 receptor antagonists (like CBD) have been found to curb morphine withdrawal  and alcohol motivation.  In rats with cocaine and alcohol dependency, administration of CBD for seven days obliterated drug-seeking behavior. 
It’s hard to believe that CBD can change lives. But tens of thousands of people say that it has. And physicians and scientists are gradually acknowledging the power of this molecule.
- Woodhams, Stephen G., et al. (2017). The Cannabinoid system and pain. Journal of Neuropharmacology,124: 105-120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.06.015
- Hill, K. P., et al. (2017). Cannabis and pain: A Clinical review. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research,2(1), 96-104. doi:10.1089/can.2017.0017
- Lynch, M. E., & Campbell, F. (2011). Cannabinoids for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain: A Systematic review of randomized rrials. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology,72(5), 735-744. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.03970.x
- Lynch, M. E., & Ware, M. A. (2015). Cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain: An Updated systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology,10(2), 293-301. doi:10.1007/s11481-015-9600-6
- Prevalence of Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults. (2017). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml
- Kessler, R.C., & Greenberg, P.E. (2002). The Economic burden of anxiety and stress disorders. In K.L. Davis, D. Charney, J.T. Coyle, & C. Nemeroff (Eds.), Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress (pp. 981-992).
- Fogaça, M. V., et al. (2018). The anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol in chronically stressed mice are mediated by the endocannabinoid system: Role of neurogenesis and dendritic remodeling. Neuropharmacology,135, 22-33. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.03.001
- Tambaro, S., & Bortolato, M. (2012). Cannabinoid-related agents in the treatment of anxiety disorders: Current knowledge and future perspectives. Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery,7(1), 25-40. doi:10.2174/157488912798842269
- Bergamaschi, M. M., et al. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology,36(6), 1219-1226. doi:10.1038/npp.2011.6
- Why do we need sleep? (2019). National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-do-we-need-sleep
- Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, cannabinoids, and sleep: A Review of the literature. Current Psychiatry Reports,19(4). doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9
- Young, S. (2013, August 07). Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/07/health/charlotte-child-medical-marijuana/index.html
- FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy. (2018). S. Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
- Parolaro, Daniela, et al. (2008). Role of endocannabinoids in regulating drug dependence. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3, 711–21. doi:10.2147/ndt.s976
- Colombo, Giancarlo, et al. (2005) Endocannabinoid system and alcohol addiction: Pharmacological studies. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 81(2), 369-80.
- Gonzalez-Cuevas, Gustavo, et al. (2018). Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: Preclinical proof of principle. Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(10), 2036–45. doi:10.1038/s41386-018-0050-8.