THC and CBD have been proven or heavily shown to assist with reducing or stopping seizures and epileptic seizures caused by genetic disorders, reducing or stopping neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, glutamate toxicity, MS, Parkinson’s disease and alcohol abuse, reducing peripheral neuropathic pain caused by spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer pain and tumor growth, assisting with cancer cell death, the inhibition of metastasis, and has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and PTSD symptoms. Ongoing trials also show CBD to help with substance abuse for morphine, heroin, methamphetamine and alcohol, as well as aid in symptoms caused by autism.
Over the last two decades, THC and CBD have been shown to have incredible anti-seizure activity, reducing and sometimes stopping seizures entirely in both animals and humans affected by intractable seizure disorders such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Case studies and anecdotal reports also suggest that THC and CBD are an effective treatment for children with drug-resistant forms of epilepsy. Currently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse is collaborating with the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke to evaluate CBD’s (not THC’s, as it’s still a Schedule I substance) effects on epilepsy. In addition, GW Pharmaceuticals is testing Epidiolex, a purified CBD extract intended for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy.
CBD has been shown to have neuroprotective properties in cell cultures of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, stroke, glutamate toxicity, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and neurodegeneration caused by alcohol abuse. Nabiximols, which contain about 50% THC and 50% CBD, is an approved drug throughout most of Europe for the treatment of spasticity associated with MS. Clinical trials for the same drug are currently underway in the US. Further trials have confirmed CBD’s use in reducing Parkinson’s disease.
Clinical trials conducted throughout Europe have confirmed that Nabiximols, which contain about 50% THC and 50% CBD, reduce peripheral neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer pain. In addition, Nabiximols are approved in Canada for the treatment of neuropathic pain in MS and cancer pain unresponsive to opioid therapy.
There are numerous reports of CBD showing anti-tumor effects in cell cultures and animals. These studies have found reduced cell viability, increased cancer cell death, decreased tumor growth and inhibition of metastasis. Dr. Sean McAllister of the Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has received numerous grants by the National Institute of Health to fund his research into CBD’s anticancer properties for decades. In 2007, he discovered CBD kills breast cancer cell proliferation and metastasis, and destroys malignant tumors by switching off expression of the ID-1 gene, a protein that plays a major role as a cancer cell conductor. At 2014’s annual summer conference of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, CBD was described as “the most efficacious inducer of apoptosis” in prostate cancer, among others.
Additionally, THC induces apoptosis (cell death) in C6 glioma cells, an aggressive form of brain cancer. This discovery was made by Cristina Sanchez at Complutense University in Madrid back in 1998, and peer-reviewed studies in several countries later would reaffirm this discovery and add THC to the list of cannabinoids that confer a direct antitumoral effect. In 2006, a Spanish team led by Manuel Guzman injected THC directly into the tumors of nine hospitalized patients with glioblastoma who failed to respond to standard brain cancer therapies, and found that the THC treatment significantly reduced tumor cell proliferation in every subject. A year later, Harvard University scientists reported that THC slows tumor growth in lung cancer and significantly reduces the ability of cancer to spread.
THC was found to actively target cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed. Chemotherapy drugs, by contrast, are highly toxic and damage the brain and body indiscriminately, in hopes of killing more cancerous cells than healthy ones. THC, among other cannabinoids, is becoming a new class of anticancer drugs.
CBD has shown therapeutic efficiency regarding anxiety and stress in numerous animals, reducing both behavioral and physiological, such as heart rate, measures of stress and anxiety. CBD has been shown to reduce the anxiety in patients with social anxiety subjected to a stressful public speaking task. In a clinical trial regarding post-traumatic stress disorders, CBD improved “consolidation of extinction learning,” or in other words, forgetting of traumatic memories. CBD appears to alter the serotonin receptor 1a signalling, though more research is needed.
More recently, CBD has been shown to reduce substance abuse disorders for patients addicted to morphine, heroin, methamphetamine and alcohol. The National Institute for Drug Abuse is continuing multiple clinical trials for other commonly abused substances as well, and in October of 2017 reported their first heroin addict completely clean solely through CBD treatments.
In 2018, studies aimed at understanding THC and CBD’s relationship with autism finally became more common. One study examined sixty children in Israel suffering from autism. The parents, over the course of a few months, administered 20:1 CBD:THC pills, and 61% of parents felt their child’s symptoms were improved. Anxiety was reduced in 39% of the subjects, and communication between the parents and children were improved in 47% of the cases. Additional studies are being conducted, including a much larger double-blinded placebo controlled study, to ascertain any further relations between cannabinoids and autism.