CBD may help reduces REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Cannabis may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Among common CBD benefits, natural pain relief tops the list for many. Evidence suggests that cannabinoids may prove useful in pain modulation by inhibiting neuronal transmission in pain pathways. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD significantly suppressed chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rodents without causing analgesic tolerance. Researchers suggest that CBD and other nonpsychoactive components of marijuana may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain. (4)

For the past couple of years, the field has been experiencing a boom in cannabidiol-related research. What has permeated the scientific consensus stems from efforts undertaken to explain effects of THC, with descriptions of cannabidiol just a by-product of the initial purpose. For example, CBD was thought to have been simply a precursor of THC, mainly due to the structural similarities between the two.
Several studies assessed CBD using contextual fear conditioning. Briefly, this paradigm involves pairing a neutral context, the conditioned stimulus (CS), with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), a mild foot shock. After repeated pairings, the subject learns that the CS predicts the US, and subsequent CS presentation elicits freezing and other physiological responses. Systemic administration of CBD prior to CS re-exposure reduced conditioned cardiovascular responses [63], an effect reproduced by microinjection of CBD into the BNST, and partially mediated by 5-HT1AR activation [79]. Similarly, CBD in the prelimbic cortex reduced conditioned freezing [70], an effect prevented by 5-HT1AR blockade [87]. By contrast, CBD microinjection in the infralimbic cortex enhanced conditioned freezing [70]. Finally, El Batsh et al. [80] reported that repeated CBD doses over 21 days, that is chronic as opposed to acute treatment, facilitated conditioned freezing. In this study, CBD was administered prior to conditioning rather than prior to re-exposure as in acute studies, thus further directly comparable studies are required.
In the meantime, some physicians are forging ahead — and cashing in. Joe Cohen is a doctor at Holos Health, a medical marijuana clinic in Boulder. I asked him what CBD is good for, and he read me a long list of conditions: pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping, anxiety, psychosis, muscle spasms, hyperactive immune systems, nervous system degeneration, elevated blood sugar and more. He also claimed that CBD has anti-cancer properties and can regenerate brain cells and reduce the brain’s levels of amyloid beta — a kind of protein that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. I asked for references, noting that most of these weren’t listed in the Academies report or a similar review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “I think you just have to Google search it,” he said. It’s true that a preliminary study found hints that cannabinoids might reduce beta amyloid proteins in human brain cells, but the study was done in cells grown in a lab, not in people. As for cancer, the FDA sent warning letters last year to four companies that were selling products that claimed to “prevent, diagnose, treat or cure” cancer. 

This may be a good place to point out that not all CBD products are created equal. The industry is still largely unregulated, and the quality and quantity of CBD in a given product will vary wildly. Third party testing definitely helps to monitor companies’ claims, but it’s still up to you as the consumer to do your homework on the best CBD products.

In the United States, non-FDA approved CBD products are classified as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.[62] This means that production, distribution, and possession of non-FDA approved CBD products is illegal under federal law. In addition, in 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration added "marijuana extracts" to the list of Schedule I drugs, which it defined as "an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant."[63] Previously, CBD had simply been considered "marijuana", which is a Schedule I drug.[62][64]

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