Over the years, Cannabidiol (CBD) has become important in medical applications because of its unique therapeutic effects. This article will highlight the therapeutic potential of CBD.
CBD's acidic precursor cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is one of the major cannabinoids produced by a cannabis plant1. When heated, CBDA becomes CBD, which at therapeutically relevant doses are non-intoxicating2–4. CBD is associated with a wide range of therapeutic effects, such as helping relieve symptoms related to epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and psychosis/schizophrenia.
CBD and Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that produces abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain, leading to potentially repeated seizures that differ in frequency, type, and duration5. Approximately 42,000 children/youth and 256,000 adults were reported to be living with epilepsy in Canada5.
CBD demonstrates strong efficacy in the management of epilepsy. A meta-analysis of randomized control trails using CBD for epilepsy treatment revealed that the use of CBD products resulted in a ≥50% reduction in seizures6. It also increased the percentage of people achieving complete seizure freedom, and increased health-related quality of life6.
In one trial with children and young adults diagnosed with Dravet syndrome and drug-resistant seizures, the efficacy of a CBD product was examined7. Individuals were randomized to receive highly purified CBD or a placebo in addition to their standard anti-epileptic treatment7. There was a significant reduction in the frequency of monthly convulsive seizures (from 12.4 to 5.9) among those taking CBD, compared to those taking the placebo (from 14.9 to 14.1)7.
Aurora has also been studying how CBD may help treat epilepsy. One of our products, CanniMed 1:20 oil, was explored as an adjunct therapy in pediatric patients with Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet Syndromes8. It was found that CanniMed 1:20 oil reduced daily seizure frequency >25% in six patients, with four of these patients experiencing a >50% reduction8.
CBD and Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is believed to affect 1 in every 500 people in Canada9. It is characterized by motor symptoms (e.g., slowness of movement, rigidity, tremors, postural instability) and non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression, nausea, insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder etc.)10. Cannabis is being explored as a treatment option for Parkinson’s disease9.
In one study, individuals with Parkinson’s disease who had substantial tremors at rest were given a plant-derived highly purified CBD11. It was found that CBD resulted in a 17.8% improvement on total scores and 24.7% improvement on motor scores on the Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease rating scale11. There were also improvements in night-time sleep and emotional/behavioral dyscontrol (impairment in one's ability to self-regulate behavior)11. On average, adverse events were transient and mild11.
CBD and Psychosis/schizophrenia
Approximately 1 out of 100 Canadians are diagnosed with schizophrenia12. Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that can affect the way a person interacts with and understands the world13. Symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and/or behavior, and impaired cognitive ability13.
In published case reports, CBD was shown to be well-tolerated and improved symptoms associated with schizophrenia. For example, in one case report, a female patient with schizophrenia who did not respond well to neuroleptics was administered increasing doses of CBD for nine weeks14. CBD improved psychotic symptoms, such as thought disturbance and hostility–suspiciousness in this patient14. Similarly, CBD was investigated in male patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia15. CBD was tolerated well in all patients and in two of three patients, CBD led to improvements overtime15.
Although more clinical trials are necessary to further clarify CBD’s therapeutic benefits, evidence reinforces the therapeutic potential of CBD in the treatment of symptoms related to epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.
Have Questions About Medical Cannabis?
If you have questions about medical cannabis, reach out to your healthcare practitioner. They are best suited to help you understand how cannabis may support your health.
If you still have any questions or want to learn more, you can call our Client Care team at 1-877-9AURORA MEDICAL (1-877-928-7672) or email email@example.com. If you are looking to get a prescription, you can book an online appointment with our clinic partner, Canadian Cannabis Clinics.
- Baron EP. Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 2018;58(7):1139-1186. doi:10.1111/head.13345
- Hollister LE. Structure-Activity Relationships in Man of Cannabis Constituents, and Homologs and Metabolites of Δ9- Tetrahydrocannabinol. Pharmacology. 1974;11(1):3-11. doi:10.1159/000136462
- Perez-Reyes M, Timmons MC, Davis KH, Wall EM. A comparison of the pharmacological activity in man of intravenously administered 1368-11368-11368-1, cannabinol, and cannabidiol.Experientia. 1973;29(11):1368-1369. doi:10.1007/BF01922823
- ZhornitskyS, Potvin S. Cannabidiol in humans-the quest for therapeutic targets. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland). 2012;5(5):529-552. doi:10.3390/PH5050529
- Government of Canada. Epilepsy in Canada - Canada.ca. Accessed November 8, 2021.https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/epilepsy.html
- Stockings E,ZagicD, Campbell G, et al. Evidence for cannabis and cannabinoids for epilepsy: a systematic review of controlled and observational evidence. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. 2018;89(7):741-753. doi:10.1136/JNNP-2017-317168
- Devinsky O, Cross JH, Laux L, et al. Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine. 2017;376(21):2011-2020.doi:10.1056/NEJMOA1611618/SUPPL_FILE/NEJMOA1611618_DISCLOSURES.PDF
- Huntsman RJ, Tang-Wai R, Alcorn J, et al. Dosage Related Efficacy and Tolerability of Cannabidiol in ChildrenWithTreatmentResistant Epileptic Encephalopathy: Preliminary Results of the CARE-E Study. Frontiers in neurology. 2019;10(JUL). doi:10.3389/FNEUR.2019.00716
- UCB Canada. Parkinson’s Disease | UCB. Accessed November 8, 2021. https://www.ucb-canada.ca/en/Patients/Conditions/Parkinson-s-Disease
- Parkinson Canada. Symptoms of Parkinson’s - Parkinson Canada. Accessed November 8, 2021.https://www.parkinson.ca/aboutparkinsons/symptoms/
- LeeheyMA, Liu Y, Hart F, et al. Safety and Tolerability of Cannabidiol in Parkinson Disease: An Open Label, Dose-Escalation Study. https://home.liebertpub.com/can. 2020;5(4):326-336. doi:10.1089/CAN.2019.0068
- Government of Canada. Schizophrenia in Canada - Canada.ca. Accessed November 8, 2021.https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia-canada.html
- Schizophrenia in Canada. (n.d.). Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia-canada.html
- ZuardiAW, Morais SL, Guimaraes FS, Mechoulam R. Antipsychotic effect of cannabidiol. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1995;56(10):485-486. doi:10.1016/s0924-9338(09)70440-7
- ZuardiAW, Hallak JEC, Dursun SM, et al. Cannabidiol monotherapy for treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England). 2006;20(5):683-686. doi:10.1177/0269881106060967