4 Health Benefits of CBD
You've likely heard the buzz about the potential health benefits of CBD oil, and it's true cannabidiol (CBD) has many possible applications for everyday health and wellness —not to mention more serious diseases and illnesses — so where does this list of just four benefits come from?
The answer: It comes from looking at the big picture when it comes to CBD for everyday health and wellness. It turns out there are four global properties of CBD that make it useful. Read on to discover how this natural compound from the hemp plant can be helpful not only for easing stress, getting better sleep and potentially addressing health concerns and even your hair.
How CBD Products Impact Your Health: The Endocannabinoid System
Before you can get your head wrapped around the health benefits of CBD, it’s probably useful to cover how and why CBD is good for us in the first place.
It’s thanks to an ancient and innate bodily system that all human beings have, and it’s called the endocannabinoid system, or the ECS. The ECS is involved in countless processes and functions in the body: everything from mood to appetite, cognitive function to gut motility. You can think of the ECS as a big beach umbrella: It has a wide reach, and its main job is to protect you by keeping things in balance.
Imbalance in the body can cause any number of issues, some of them annoying, like oily skin or minor anxiety, and some more serious, like autoimmune diseases that can cause hair loss. Either way, our bodies are in a constant state of flux, and the ECS works tirelessly to keep things in check.
It does this by interacting with other bodily systems, like our serotonin system or our immune system, for example. It also does this by producing compounds called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids work like chemical messengers in the body, and they are produced on demand when the ECS needs them.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a phytocannabinoid. These are cannabinoids that come from plants (phyto=plants), but they interact with our bodies in much the same way that endocannabinoids (endo = endogenous = made within our bodies) do. So phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC work with the ECS to interact with our bodies and produce effects. Yes, this means that our bodies have a natural synergy with cannabis plants! And this, in a very small and oversimplified nutshell, is how CBD provides us with possible health benefits.
The mechanisms through which CBD interacts with our ECS and with other systems in the body are very complex. But looking at it from a big picture perspective, there are four global health benefits CBD offers.
1. Neuroprotective Benefits
Neuroprotectants are compounds that protect the brain, and preclinical research has shown that CBD may have the ability to act as a protective agent in the brain in several different ways.
CBD is being investigated as a possible treatment for psychiatric conditions and serious neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and ischemic stroke, along with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. But it also has benefits that are thought to provide the brain with general protection. CBD might also offer neuroprotection by encouraging the development of new neurons, a process that naturally slows as we age.
Research is showing that CBD exerts neuroprotective benefits through several different pathways of action, including its anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties, so get ready to unpack those next.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Inflammation isn’t just a problem when you sprain an ankle or get a bug bite. If left unchecked, chronic inflammation in the body can lead to a number of health issues and has been linked to a number of more troublesome illnesses and diseases: heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases (like Crohn’s) and diabetes, to name just a few.
It’s why low-inflammation diets are a thing, and perhaps it comes as no surprise that inflammation can also impact your hair’s healthy growth cycles.
Conditions like the following all have been shown to have inflammatory components that can or do cause hair loss:
- Alopecia areata
- Androgenetic alopecia
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Reducing inflammation is a net positive for general health and well-being, no matter how you slice it. Good thing CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits are wide-reaching and have been well-established! Not only that, but it’s a great example of why the complexities of CBD’s action in the body are actually a really good thing. You can think of CBD's anti-inflammatory properties like a multipronged attack on inflammation.
From soothing the acute inflammation that you might experience with acne, for example, to a more general bodywide, anti-inflammatory effect that provides general protection for your health: CBD can deliver the goods. Bonus: Reducing inflammation also brings with it pain-relieving effects, too! This is part of the reason why so many people use CBD to manage pain.
3. Antioxidant Benefits
We can’t talk about antioxidants without talking about free radicals. Free radicals are unstable and incomplete molecules that can rip through your body, looking to make themselves whole. But before you start to feel sorry for these sad and lonely molecules, let’s remember that they can, and do, damage otherwise healthy cells and tissues on their quest for completion.
Free radicals are a byproduct of natural bodily functions like metabolism, and in fact, they serve important and useful functions in the body, like helping the immune system fight infection, for example. The key to the free-radical and antioxidant picture is, like so many things in life, about balance.
Our bodies produce antioxidants to keep things in balance, but the ways of modern living (diet, external pollutants, x-rays, cigarette smoke) can introduce more free radicals than our bodies can handle. When the free radical load in our body is bigger than we can handle, something called oxidative stress ensues, and it's not a good thing. Oxidative stress has been linked to cancer and premature aging, among other undesirable health consequences like hair aging.
So eat your antioxidants! And harness CBD’s power as a potent antioxidant to help keep your body balanced and oxidative stress at bay.
4. Anti-Anxiety Benefits
We’ve all been dealing with unprecedented levels of strain, and this ongoing strain can have wide-ranging impacts on our physical, emotional and mental health. Even before we were hit with a global pandemic, anxiety-related diagnoses are the most common mental health challenge society faces, and women are twice as likely as men to be afflicted.
Stress can cause cortisol levels to rise, for example, and chronically high levels of cortisol can have negative impacts on your weight, your brain function, your digestion and yes, cortisol can negatively impact your hair.
Like all its global health benefits, CBD works its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) magic through a variety of different mechanisms and by acting across various systems in the body.
CBD has been demonstrated to help with social-related anxiety, like public speaking, while also acting in the brain similarly to prescription drugs used to treat more challenging conditions like depression and anxiety disorders. By soothing stress and anxiety, CBD can act as a buffer between you and the impacts stress can have on healthy hair growth.
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