As of this writing, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana. One of the constituents of marijuana that is thought to be the source of some of the medical benefits is CBD. So what is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, which are the active components of marijuana. There are dozens, and the two we know the most about are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive component, and creates the euphoric feelings associated with pot. CBD does not create the same feeling of being "high" associated with marijuana, and is the reason for a lot of the health benefits we’ve heard about regarding the use of medical marijuana.
Conversations surrounding the benefits of medical marijuana abound, and as we approach a potential national legalization, loads of products made from the cannabis plant are hitting the market.
While many states cannot sell products made from marijuana, states like ours can sell CBD derived from agricultural hemp. Agricultural hemp contains very little THC, and therefore is naturally a great way to obtain CBD. You can purchase CBD in oil or in pill form.
With all the national attention on the plant and the potential benefits, scientific research is catching up, and the scientific community is working hard to fill in the gaps of our knowledge. Here are a few conditions that the use of CBD has been researched.
You’ve probably heard about this via the well publicized news stories about the use of CBD and children. Most of the research has not focused on epilepsy, however that seems to be the direction the research is going now.
Prescription drugs in Europe use a combination of CBD and THC to treat spasticity associated with MS. While it has not been approved in the US, clinical trials are ongoing.
Those same drugs are being used for neuropathic, rheumatoid, and cancer-related pain, however it seems to be unclear if CBD by itself would be as effective, compared to the combination.
Cannabinoids are known for reducing nausea and increasing appetite in cancer patients, and there are some studies that suggest CBD may have an anti-tumor effect. It is suspected that this may be due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of CBD.
While marijuana itself has been linked to psychotic episodes at high doses, there is some evidence that THC is responsible, and that CBD on its own may actually be preventative.
CBD has been shown to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety. This use excited me the most of all the uses of CBD—I personally have struggled with stress and anxiety for years, and the thought of having an effective way to treat it naturally is intriguing.
CBD has also been shown as potentially beneficial in the treatment of post-traumatic stress syndrome. It seems to help people forget traumatic memories.
These are also promising studies showing that CBD can be used to treat substance abuse.
The endocannabinoid system
In the medical explorations of cannabinoids, scientists have discovered a system that is present in humans and almost every animal—the endocannabinoid system. Named after the cannabis plant, this system establishes and maintains homeostasis—a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the externalenvironment. A vital system that keeps us healthy. It acts as a bridge between the body and the mind, and helps us understand how states of consciousness can promote health or illness.
There are cannabinoid receptors predominantly inour nervous system and our immune system. Our cells produce substances to stimulate those receptors, but we also know that there are phytocannabinoids that are found in plants, most famously the cannabinoids found in marijuana. It’s a fascinating system that we are just starting to understand.
It is so exciting to see all this potential from a plant that we have demonized for far too long.