CBD Research in 2021

Frank Brandse
04 Oct 2021

Interest around CBD has increased exponentially over recent years. As a result, research around this compound has also risen, as more and more people are eager to learn about its properties and full potential. While CBD was discovered for the first time in the early 1940s, studies have only just begun to pick up. This is partly due to the changing legality of this compound and the stigma that has been long attached to it. In this bitesize article, we present some of the recent findings in 2021 from the research into CBD.

What is CBD? 


CBD — or cannabidiol — is one of over a hundred compounds that comprise the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD is found in the stems, leaves and flowers. It is also becoming more popular as its potential benefits start to be reported.


CBD is often linked with its cousin, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But it is essential to know that despite originating from the same plant, their differences are substantial. THC is the primary psychoactive compound from the Cannabis sativa plant, which has the ability to get its users ‘high’, but CBD is simply not psychoactive in the same way. CBD does not get you ‘high’ and, crucially, has not been known to cause dependency or addictive side effects. THC is arguably the most well-known compound of the Cannabis plant due to its psychotropic abilities.


CBD has been known for decades, but research has only started to pick up recently. This is partly due to CBD’s changing legality status, the stigma long attached to it, as well as the expense of obtaining enough CBD for clinical trials (a costly venture). CBD’s potential is just beginning to display itself, and so consequently, curiosity has piqued. It is argued that CBD may have the ability to relieve symptoms from numerous ailments, such as epilepsy, arthritis, anxiety and more. CBD is also thought to be a beneficial natural supplement.


Research in 2021


Now that we have considered what CBD is and why it has increased in popularity in recent times let’s highlight some of the newest research that experts have presented. 


1. CBD and Covid-19


The recent pandemic is something that has affected all of us. It has forced us inside our homes and has impacted us both physically and mentally. This virus has negatively impacted many businesses. Interestingly, CBD is one of the few industries that have actually benefited from Covid-19. Forbes magazine announced that the UK demand for CBD has soared during this pandemic. In the first four months of 2020 — the beginning of the pandemic — £150 million were spent by UK customers on CBD products! Furthermore, it is continually on the increase. This is known to be down to the current health and wellness trend, and people are forced to shop online where much of the CBD industry is based.


One study conducted at the beginning of 2021 reported that consuming CBD could be an effective way of tackling Covid-19, specifically with curbing inflammation and preventing fibrosis. A severe respiratory distress case from Covid is a ‘cytokine storm’ when the body has a sharp increase in proinflammatory cytokines (a category of proteins). This leads to a rise in inflammation. It is believed that CBD may suppress inflammation in patients who suffer from this and can therefore assist in bringing relief and helping them feel better.


2. CBD and Brain Activity


For some time, experts have linked consuming CBD to supporting brain function. It is believed that CBD may be a neuroprotective agent and can protect brain cells, specifically in individuals that are subjected to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It may even be able to help people who suffer from psychiatric disorders.


A study submitted in 2021 on CBD and brain function reported that CBD induces significant changes in brain activity, both in healthy volunteers and in patients who suffer from psychiatric disorders. They summarise that CBD may enhance brain activity as well as assisting in improving general memory.


3. CBD and the Link to Liver Damage


For some time, there has been a connection made between CBD use and liver damage. While this cannot be known for sure without further research, a study argued that high doses of CBD could cause liver damage. And even though this study was conducted on mice, the results did indicate clear signs of liver toxicity. It also showed liver swelling and liver damage. It is important to note that the mice were given extremely high doses of CBD, although it does raise concerns that CBD may be detrimental in very large quantities.

However, a report released earlier this year presents reassurance. In this report, they focused on oral CBD. They tested a total of 839 patients and gave them moderate levels of 

oral CBD for 60 days. The investigators found zero evidence of liver toxicity in any patient. This research indicates that CBD is perfectly safe in moderate amounts.


Final Thoughts


CBD is a compound with many potential benefits to its user. It is only in recent years that it has been seriously researched as its advantages begin to come to light. As time progresses, more time will inevitably be invested by experts into CBD. There is more interest surrounding this compound than ever before, and it looks to increase as studies present further promise into CBD’s expansive list of potential benefits. It is only a matter of time before CBD can shed its stigma for good and be seen outside of the shadow of THC.


Frank Brandse