Cannabidiol Use for Inflammation

Research Summaries by Dr. Karen Hufnagl


A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Parallel-group, Pilot Study of Cannabidiol-rich Botanical Extract in the Symptomatic Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis

Research Study

Published in March of 2018, this randomized placebo controlled study set out to evaluate whether the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could improve inflammatory bowel disease.   In this paper, researchers assessed the efficacy, safety and tolerability of a CBD-rich botanical extract in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Sixty patients enrolled in the study; 29 received CBD-rich cannabis extract in capsules and 31 received placebo capsules over a period of 10 weeks.   In addition to the high CBD content, the extract also contained a number of other cannabis plant compounds, including up to 4.7% THC.  The daily dose of CBD was approximately 300 mg, divided into two doses of 150 mg (morning and evening).  The THC contained therein was up to about 14 mg per day.

While there was ultimately no difference between the CBD-rich extract group and the placebo group in the rate of disease remission after treatment, there were other clear benefits experienced by the CBD group.   Researchers found that the “physician’s global assessment of illness severity, subject global impression of change, and patient-reported quality-of-life outcomes were improved for patients taking CBD-rich botanical extract”. 

The CBD-rich extract also appeared to prevent this particular inflammatory bowel disease from getting worse.  Researchers noted that a “greater proportion of gastrointestinal-related [adverse effects], indicative of [ulcerative colitis] worsening was seen on placebo.”

The authors of this study concluded that “CBD-rich botanical extract may be beneficial for symptomatic treatment of [ulcerative colitis].”

The effects of Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol alone and in combination on damage, inflammation and in vitro motility disturbances in rat colitis

Research Study

In this animal model of colitis, researchers investigated whether CBD and THC, alone and in combination, were helpful in relieving intestinal damage, inflammation, and motility disturbances.

The authors state that the “effects of these phytocannabinoids were additive, and CBD increased some effects of an ineffective THC dose to the level of an effective one.”  

They conclude that “THC and CBD not only reduced inflammation but also lowered the occurrence of functional disturbances. Moreover the combination of CBD and THC could be beneficial therapeutically, via additive or potentiating effects.”

An Orally Active Cannabis Extract with High Content in Cannabidiol attenuates Chemically-induced Intestinal Inflammation and Hypermotility in the Mouse

Research Study

This pre-clinical study investigated the effect of a full spectrum standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol on intestinal inflammation and hypermobility in mouse models.  Pure CBD isolate was also evaluated for its effectiveness in these same domains.

The results showed that the full spectrum high CBD extract decreased the extent of the intestinal inflammation and also reduced intestinal hypermotility.  In contrast, and under the same experimental conditions, pure CBD did not ameliorate colitis (though it did normalize hypermotility).

The researchers concluded that the full spectrum standardized high CBD extract “attenuates injury and motility in intestinal models of inflammation. These findings sustain the rationale of combining CBD with other minor Cannabis constituents and support the clinical development of CBD botanical drug substance for [Inflammatory Bowel Disease] treatment.”

Experimental cannabidiol treatment reduces early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes.

Research Study

Inflammation in the pancreas resulting in destruction of the cells that produce insulin is a precursor to type I diabetes.  In this study, researchers set out to evaluate whether CBD could lower the incidence of diabetes in an animal model.

The results showed that “CBD treatment reduced markers of inflammation in the microcirculation of the pancreas”.

Anti-inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychotropic Cannabinoid, in Experimental Allergic Contact Dermatitis. 

Research Study

Just published in June of 2018, this study looked at a model of allergic contact dermatitis in human skin cells where CBD was shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. 

CBD increased levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide and inhibited the release of several cytokines – including TNF-alpha, interleukin-6 and interleukin-8.  These cytokines are all associated with inflammation, and anandamide is known to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects of its own. 

The authors conclude that this study is “the first demonstration of the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD in an experimental model of [allergic contact dermatitis].”