The CBD Benefits That You Need in Your Life
The cannabis sativa plant, which depending on varietal supplies both medical marijuana, or industrial hemp, contains upwards of 80 cannabinoids as well as over a hundred terpenes. These tiny molecules are the root of an unstoppable stream of new medical research, proving over and over again their ability to provide an alternative to today’s big pharmaceutical industry. As soon as one medicinal property is explored, it seems to only open the door for more potential.
All cannabinoids are 21-carbon molecules that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system; each providing different therapy options. This endocannabinoid system is responsible for mood, appetite, pain perception, memory and digestion. Although there are literally dozens of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, the major focus of today’s research is exploring the benefits of cannabidiol, also known as CBD
Cannabinoids produced from plants, called phytocannabinoids, mimic the ones naturally produced by the body, and are therefore able to influence different biological processes. Although each cannabinoid acts differently within this system, they typically influence the function of two primary endocannabinoid receptors. The first, CB1 receptor, is mostly found within the spinal cord (nervous system) and brain. The other, CB2 receptor, is mostly located within the immune system. In a common example, THC locks directly with the CB1 receptor, triggering some of THC’s well known euphoria and psychological effects. On the other hand, CBD seems to only indirectly influence the functioning of these receptors, and never locks directly.
Part of the reason why CBD is the primary focus of research these days, is because it was one of the first cannabinoids to be used for medicinal purposes that wasn’t associated with psychoactivity. Until CBD was singled out, cannabis tended to be high in THC, which is responsible for the feeling of being high. For many, this experience is not ideal, and therefore they were unable to benefit from the medical therapies provided by the plant. Thanks to the discovery of CBD heavy strains, or an extracted CBD oil which has no THC content, nearly everyone can safely use cannabinoids without risk.
The Complicated Legal Status of CBD
While marijuana remains federally classified as an illicit drug in the United States, the legalities surrounding hemp derived CBD remain complicated. Many states have begun relaxing their laws surrounding marijuana use, both for medical and recreational users, however the federal government remains stagnant in their views on the plant.
Historically the government defined the legal status of the plant depending on what it was called, for example if it was called marijuana is was illegal, while cannabis was legal. The complexities still remain, but because CBD products extracted from hemp contain minimal to no THC content, they happen to fall in a legal grey area, as they are from a legal source, and they do not cause the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. CBD, therefore, is available for use as a medical supplement without being considered an illicit drug.
To make matters even more confusing, one arm of the federal government still considers marijuana illegal, while at the same time another side of government has patented cannabinoids for medicinal use. In their own research, they have described the medical benefits of cannabinoids to include anti-inflammatory abilities and neuroprotectants useful in the treatment of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. So even the federal government considers cannabinoids, including CBD, to be medically beneficial.
The Importance of the Entourage Effect
The newest movement within the industry is focusing around something called the entourage effect. This refutes the idea that simply reducing a plant to its individual parts is the most powerful way to reap the benefits. Instead this idea supports a more whole plant mentality. This is also called the entourage effect. In other words, just because CBD or CBN (another cannabinoid) might individually have powerful medical potential, it’s likely that in combination they work in much more profound ways.
The federal government isn’t in the habit of approving naturally occurring herbal remedies for pharmaceutical use, as it tends to also only promote single molecule medicines. This allows big pharmaceutical companies the ability to remove and patent specific characteristics of a plant, and thereby profit. If the government promoted whole plant medicines, people could easily stop investing their money in expensive medicines and grow them at home.
Inhalation vs. Oral Administration
Understandably, there are different health benefits depending on the mode of consumption. For example, when THC or other cannabinoids are inhaled they first enter the lungs and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the pulmonary arteries. This means through inhalation, the cannabinoids have a direct route to the brain and do not pass through the digestive tract or the liver.
However, when cannabinoids are allowed to be metabolized, much more of their beneficial characteristics are absorbed into the body. Through oral administration, cannabinoids are digested slowly, absorbed through the gastrointestinal system. Although it can take over an hour to allow for the cannabinoids to be fully digested, much more of the important properties are absorbed into the bloodstream. This means not only can the cannabinoids affect the digestive tract, but are also then processed through the liver and other major organs while traveling throughout the body in the bloodstream.
An Overview of the Medical Benefits
A recurring trend in CBD and cannabinoid therapy, is their ability to provide an equally effective treatment without the problems associated with more common pharmaceuticals. This is especially true when it comes to treatment of epilepsy when all other medicines have failed. Because CBD benefits are side effect free, it is being used on children with drug-resistant forms of severe epilepsy. With CBD therapy, children experience dramatic reduction in the number and severity of seizures, all without being subjected to the serious side effects associated with traditional medications.
Cannabinoids play a major role as a neuroprotectant, protecting brain cells from glutamate and oxidant induced cell death. This has made it a valuable potential treatment for patients of strokes, or of traumatic brain injuries. It may also be beneficial during major surgeries which require patients be placed on an artificial lung machine. Other areas being pursued, are for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer's where it has been found to reduce and slow down the progressive onset of symptoms.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Cannabidiol is hugely beneficial for anxiety, panic attacks as well as mental illnesses associated with memory. It is proving extremely useful in the treatment of PTSD because over time it reduces the severity and impact of the recollection of fear inducing memories. It’s currently being self-administered by many people suffering from PTSD and is actually being used officially by the Israeli government as a PTSD therapy.
One of the most exciting avenues for CBD therapy is its ability to target tumors and cancer cells. In an increasing number of laboratory studies, including some as far back as the 1970’s, CBD treatment has been found to limit the metastasis of cancer cells, inhibit movement of the cells throughout the body, reduce the formation of new blood vessels in tumors and encourage cancer cell death. This has been found to target a wide variety of cancers, including breast, lung and prostate cancers. In one of the earliest studies, cannabinoid treatment was found to prolong the lives of mice infected with breast cancer upwards of 36%.