Ancient doctors and shamans who started prescribing plant medicines thousands of years ago did so because they witnessed its medicinal healing benefits firsthand. Now that cannabis is becoming more acceptable in the holistic medical community as a viable alternative for treating conditions such as chronic pain and anxiety, more and more research studies are shedding light into how and why the individual chemical plant compounds work, and the many health benefits of CBD.

The body of research on cannabinoids, which is found in high concentrations in the recently legalized industrial hemp plant, has increased exponentially in just the past decade alone. The following brings together the latest scientific body of research that shows why CBD is quickly replacing pharmaceuticals as the new “cure-all” for those seeking a natural alternative to modern drugs.

Keep reading for seven of the most researched health benefits of CBD, backed by science.

1. Depression and Mood Disorders

Clinical depression is a serious mood disorder that currently impacts millions of patients around the world. Today’s commonly prescribed antidepressants target serotonin, due to the belief that the chemical messenger can act as a mood stabilizer in patients with low levels. However, some research indicates that the body’s endocannabinoid system and use of CBD’s to treat depression may also have similar effects on serotonin levels, including a 2016 study which said “CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug, via enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signaling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism.”

2. Provides Anxiety And Stress Relief

Cannabis was one of the most commonly used plant in ancient times, and appeared in Vedic texts as far back as 2000 BCE. Research is only now catching up to what cultures have known for thousands of years: cannabinoids can help lesson anxiety and reduce stress. This has been confirmed by a 2012 research looked at a number of international studies on the topic and concluded that CBD has been shown to be effective against social anxiety in particular.

3. Effective Sleep Aid

Insomnia is another very common condition that is currently treated in high numbers with pharmaceuticals, but more often than not the prescribed drugs are highly addictive in nature. CBD’s are proving to be a better alternative to pharmaceuticals, with physicians like Dr. Michael Moskowiz reporting that “many of my patients report either better energy or sleepiness on the same high-CBD/low-THC plants.

4. Pain Relief

Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons that patients turn to CBD’s as an alternative treatment to pharmaceuticals. Cannabinoids have none of the addictive qualities of THC while still providing patients with pain relief. These benefits were recognized as far back as 1859, when Sr. John Russell Reynolds, physician to Queen Victoria said “for the relief of certain kinds of pain, I believe, there is no more useful medicine than Cannabis within our reach.”

5. It Has Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Numerous studies have shown that CBD’s possess wide-ranging anti-inflammatory benefits. Since cannabidiol’s engage directly with the endocannabinoid system, which has CBD receptors throughout the body, it can help reduce inflammation systemically rather than locally.

6. Protects And Heals Skin Conditions

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it also has the highest concentration of CB2 receptors. When applied topically via infused lotions, salves, and oils, cannabinoids has been shown to repair damage from free radicals. One of the most famous cases to support the use of cannabinoids as a powerful healing medicinal comes from Rick Simpson, who famously cured himself of basal cell carcinoma after applying CBD oil directly onto his skin.

7. Has A Positive Impact On Brain Health

Cannabinoids are neuroprotective in nature, meaning that unlike THC, they actually help maintain brain health. Its effects seem to be related to the removal of damaged cells and improved mitochondria function, but the antioxidant compounds also work to reduce glutmate toxicity, which can lead to brain cell damage or death.

CBD Dosage And Delivery Methods

Drops, capsules, and lotions are the most common delivery methods of CDB, but it’s important to pay attention to the quality of the product, and not just the dosage. In the end, it’s up to the patient to do their research, and consult with a health care practitioner familiar with CBD in order to fine-tune the dosage according to individual needs.