Among the cannabinoids in cannabis, the main psychoactive compound, THC, often outshines the one that provides a natural anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic and antipsychotic effect. Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, lacks the colorful high commonly associated with your traditional marijuana high and doesn’t have much of a noticeable effect when isolated. When combined with THC, the relaxing effect combats any feelings of paranoia or panic that can sometimes be felt under the influence. While lauded for its effect on epilepsy, recent cannabis research has identified CBD as the component responsible for a great deal of marijuana’s medical benefits.
1. Cigarette Addiction
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 24 smokers were randomly chosen to receive either an inhaler of CBD oil or a placebo. Participants were asked to take a puff every time they had an urge to puff a cigarette. Over the week, those with placebo inhalers saw no change in their total number of cigarettes consumed, while those who were taking CBD saw a nearly 40 percent drop in their intake. Using the inhaler decreased the number of cigarettes without increasing their craving for nicotine, pointing towards a purpose for Cannabidiol in the withdrawal process.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the National Institute of Healthdiscovered that CBD can provide treatment for acne. Researchers used cannabis-derived Cannabidiol on the human sebaceous glands and came to the conclusion that CBD acts as a highly effective sebostatic and anti-inflammatory agent by inhibiting lipid synthesis.
In a study using CBD, the development of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice was prevented. Although there wasn’t a direct effect of Cannabidiol on glucose levels, the treatment prevented the production of IL-12 by splenocytes. Preventing this cytokine is important because it plays a huge role in many autoimmune diseases.
Common treatments for fibromyalgia are anti-inflammatory medications, opioid pain medications, and corticosteroids. A 2011 study that focused on CBD treatment for fibromyalgia produced very promising results for future uses in treatment. Half of the 56 participants used Cannabidiol, while the other half used traditional methods to treat their condition. Those that used cannabis saw a great reduction in their symptoms and pain, while those using traditional methods didn’t see much of an improvement.
5. Prion/Mad Cow Disease
Cannabidiol has been shown to halt prions, the proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and mad cow. The formation and accumulation of prions were prevented with the aide of Cannabidiol during a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2007. For mice that were infected, CBD increased their survival time by about a week.
6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
CBD is known to produce anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects when ingested by slowing everything down and calming the user. Those with PTSD are often overcome with anxiety and stress, so patients frequently find relief by using Cannabidiol. The antipsychotic benefits provide a stable mental environment for those that need it most.
In 2012, a group of German researchers published a study in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The potent antipsychotic Amisulpride and CBD were compared between 42 schizophrenia patients. The two treatments were deemed effective, but the short side-effect profile of CBD outshined the pharmaceutical option.
8. Crohn’s Disease
Some scientists say CBD could be an effective treatment for bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease. THC and CBD interact with the system that controls gut function in the body, something that Crohn’s patients suffer issues with. The component of cannabis’ anti-inflammatory ability brings a lot of relief to those suffering from this condition.
9. Multiple Sclerosis
Scientists at the Cajal Institute used animal models and cell cultures to find that Cannabidiol reversed inflammatory responses and served as durable protection from the effects of multiple sclerosis. Mice with 10 days of CBD oil treatment had superior motor skills and showed progression in their condition. Using this information, researchers concluded that CBD has the potential ability to reduce various aspects of MS.
One of the few side effects of CBD oil is tiredness, but for many, it’s what they seek out in the natural herb. Since pharmaceuticals for aiding sleep pose risk for addiction and leave you feeling groggy the next day, it’s best to go the safe route with non-habit forming Cannabidiol. When searching for strains to combat insomnia, try staying with Indica and CBD-heavy strains to knock you out when you need it most.
Final Hit: Little-Known Uses for Cannabidiol or CBD Oil
Right now, use of CBD oil is at an all-time high, with cannabidiol scoring points from parents, patients, pets, pretty much everyone. With a wide variety of benefits and no psychoactive effects, it seems like a win-win. And if you’re interested in a little bit of an entourage effect,you can have your THC—and CBD too!
CBD and the Brain: What Does It Do and What Is It Good For?
March 16, 2018
This article is sponsored by PureCBDvapors.com, your trusted CBD experts dealing in effective pain relief through the use of legal hemp derived cannabidiol products. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoid molecules produced by Cannabis, second only to THC in abundance. These plant-derived cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids (phyto = plant in Greek), are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our endocannabinoid system. While THC is the principal psychoactive component of Cannabis and has certain medical uses, CBD stands out because it is both non-intoxicating and displays a broad range of potential medical applications. These properties make it especially attractive as a therapeutic agent.
Evaluating the Evidence
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about CBD is the sheer number and variety of its potential therapeutic applications. It is important to recognize that each application may be supported by different levels of evidence. These range from ongoing clinical trials evaluating its efficacy in the treatment of human disorders, to animal studies investigating its behavioral and physiological effects, to in vitro work (test tube experiments) measuring its pharmacological interactions and mechanisms of action. Each type of study comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Clinical trials allow us to draw conclusions about the safety and effectiveness of potential therapeutic agents in humans, while animal studies and in vitroexperiments allow researchers to explore their biological actions in greater detail. However, because the latter class of studies are not conducted in humans, the results don’t always lead to the clinical application that we hope for—the majority of drugs that start in human clinical trials never become approved. Nonetheless, animal studies provide us with a strong foundation of biological knowledge, and are where the initial breakthroughs in research are made.
Why Does CBD Have So Many Potential Therapeutic Benefits?
CBD is famous for the promise it holds for treating treatment-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy. A number of clinical trials, testing the efficacy of CBD in human epilepsy patients, are currently underway. But there is also evidence, mainly from animal studies and in vitro experiments, that CBD may have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, and potential therapeutic value in the treatment of motivational disorders like depression, anxiety, and addiction. What’s the biological basis for this wide range of potential medical uses? A key part of the answer lies in CBD’s promiscuous pharmacology—its ability to influence a wide range of receptor systems in the brain and body, including not only cannabinoid receptors but a host of others. RELATED STORY
CBD Holds Promise as Child Epilepsy Treatment, Studies Find Receptor Systems in the Brain
The brain contains large numbers of highly specialized cells called neurons. Each neuron connects to many others through structures called synapses. These are sites where one neuron communicates to another by releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters (Figure 1). A neuron’s sensitivity to a specific neurotransmitter depends on whether or not it contains a receptor that “fits” that transmitter, like an electrical socket fits a plug. If a neuron contains receptors that match a particular neurotransmitter, then it can respond directly to that transmitter. Otherwise, it generally can’t. All neurons contain multiple neurotransmitter receptors, allowing them to respond to some neurotransmitters but not others.
Figure 1. Neurons Communicate Using Neurotransmitters
Right: The brain contains a huge a number of brain cells (neurons). Each neuron, represented here as a hexagon, is connected to many others. Left: The synapse is the site where two neurons communicate with each other. The “sender neuron” releases chemical signals called neurotransmitters, which stimulate receptors on the “receiver neuron.” There are many different receptor types in the brain, each one sensitive to different neurotransmitters.
Brain receptors are not only sensitive to neurotransmitters produced naturally within the brain, like dopamine or serotonin, but also chemical messengers produced outside the body, such as plant cannabinoids like THC or CBD. So when you ingest an edible or inhale some vapor, you’re allowing compounds originally produced by a plant to enter your body, travel through your bloodstream, and enter your brain. Once they arrive, these plant-derived compounds can influence brain activity by interacting with receptors on neurons. But they don’t interact with all neurons, just the ones that have the appropriate receptors. RELATED STORY
Cannabinoids 101: What Makes Cannabis Medicine? CBD Has Effects on Many Different Receptor Systems
Although it is a cannabinoid, CBD does not directly interact with the two classical cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Instead, it affects signaling through CB1 and CB2 receptors indirectly. This partly explains why, in contrast to THC, CBD is non-intoxicating. In addition to its indirect influence on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD can increase levels of the body’s own naturally-produced cannabinoids (known as endocannabinoids) by inhibiting the enzymes that break them down. Even more intriguing: CBD also influences many non-cannabinoid receptor systems in the brain, interacting with receptors sensitive to a variety of drugs and neurotransmitters (Figure 2). These include opioid receptors, known for their role in pain regulation. Opioid receptors are the key targets of pharmaceutical pain killers and drugs of abuse such as morphine, heroin, and fentanyl. CBD can also interact with dopamine receptors, which play a crucial role in regulating many aspects of behavior and cognition, including motivation and reward-seeking behavior. RELATED STORY
Can Cannabis Help Treat Painkiller and Heroin Addiction? This raises the intriguing possibility that CBD’s ability to influence either opioid or dopamine receptors may underlie its ability to dampen drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, effects directly relevant to the treatment of addiction. However, we can’t say for sure at this point; more research on CBD’s interactions with the opioid and dopamine receptor systems is still needed. CBD’s therapeutic potential with respect to addiction also extends to the serotonin system. Animal studies have demonstrated that CBD directly activates multiple serotonin receptors in the brain. These interactions have been implicated in its ability to reduce drug-seeking behavior. CBD’s influence on the serotonin system may also account in part for its anti-anxiety properties, which have been robustly demonstrated across both human and animal studies. RELATED STORY
The Effects of CBD on Fear, Anxiety, and a Healthy Stress Response CBD and the Serotonin System: Exciting Possibilities
CBD’s ability to target a specific serotonin receptor, the serotonin 1A receptor, is associated with a remarkable range of therapeutic possibilities. Professor Roger Pertwee, a pharmacologist from the University of Aberdeen, spoke with Leafly about this aspect of CBD biology. “It’s apparent ability to enhance the activation of serotonin 1A receptors supports the possibility that it could be used to ameliorate disorders that include: opioid dependence, neuropathic pain, depression and anxiety disorders, nausea and vomiting (e.g. from chemotherapy), and negative symptoms of schizophrenia,” he said. “One big unanswered question is what the human clinical relevance and importance of each of these potential therapeutic uses of CBD, identified solely by examining data from non-human preclinical research, actually is.” Given that these possibilities come mainly from animal studies, more research will be needed before we can think seriously about human applications.
Figure 2. Receptor Systems Involved in CBD’s Potential Therapeutic Applications. CBD interacts, either directly or indirectly, with many different receptor systems in the brain. It indirectly influences the major cannabinoid receptor in the brain by decreasing THC’s ability to stimulate this receptor. It also interacts with a variety of other receptors. A subset of these are shown here. Each red shape represents a different brain receptor that might be found on a neuron. Some of the potential therapeutic applications associated with CBD’s interaction with each receptor system are listed below each receptor.
CBD: Psychiatric Utility From Complex Pharmacology?
Understanding CBD’s neurological effects is a complicated business, because of the wide variety of receptors with which it interacts. But that complexity may be the key to its promise as a therapeutic agent. Motivational disorders like addiction and anxiety are themselves highly complex; they arise from incompletely understood causes that span multiple receptor systems and neural networks in the brain. CBD’s complex, multi-target effects may therefore be crucial to its potential for aiding the treatment of such disorders. Over the coming years, researchers will continue to further understand this complexity and uncover the full scope of CBD’s therapeutic potential. References
Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-36. [PDF]
Mechoulam R, Parker LA. The Endocannabinoid System and the Brain. Annu Rev Psychology. 2013;64:21-47. [PDF]
Morgan CJ, Schafer G, Freeman TP, Curran HV. Impact of cannabidiol on the acute memory and psychotomimetic effects of smoked cannabis: naturalistic study: naturalistic study. Br J Psychiatry. 2010;197(4):285-90. [PDF]
Parsons LH, Hurd YL. Endocannabinoid signalling in reward and addiction. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015;16(10):579-94. PDF
Zlebnik NE, Cheer JF. Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation?. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2016;39:1-17. PDF
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a product that’s derived from cannabis. It’s a type of cannabinoid, which are the chemicals naturally found in marijuana plants. Even though it comes from marijuana plants, CBD doesn’t create a “high” effect or any form of intoxication — that’s caused by another cannabinoid, known as THC. There’s some controversy around cannabis products like CBD oil because of recreational marijuana use. But there’s growing awareness about the possible health benefits of CBD oil. Here’s what you need to know about six potential medical uses of CBD and where the research stands: 1. Anxiety relief
CBD may be able to help you manage anxiety. Researchers think it may change the way your brain’s receptors respond to serotonin, a chemical linked to mental health. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical messages and help your cells respond to different stimuli. One study found that a 600mg dose of CBD helped people with social anxiety give a speech. Other early studies done with animals have shown that CBD may help relieve anxiety by: reducing stress
decreasing physiological effects of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate
improving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
inducing sleep in cases of insomnia 2. Anti-seizure
CBD has been in the news before, as a possible treatment for epilepsy. Research is still in its early days. Researchers are testing how much CBD is able to reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as how safe it is. The American Epilepsy Society states that cannabidiol research offers hope for seizure disorders, and that research is currently being conducted to better understand safe use. A study from 2016 worked with 214 people with epilepsy. The study participants added oral doses of 2 to 5mg of CBD per day to their existing anti-epilepsy medications. The study’s researchers monitored the participants for 12 weeks, recording any negative side effects and checking on the frequency of their seizures. Overall, participants had 36.5 percent fewer seizures per month. However, severe adverse effects were recorded in 12 percent of the participants.
Researchers are looking at a receptor located in the brain to learn about the ways that CBD could help people with neurodegenerative disorders, which are diseases that cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time. This receptor is known as CB1. Researchers are studying the use of CBD oil for treating: Alzheimer’s disease
multiple sclerosis (MS)
stroke CBD oil may also reduce the inflammation that can make neurodegenerative symptoms worse. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD oil for neurodegenerative diseases.
4. Pain relief
The effects of CBD oil on your brain’s receptors may also help you manage pain. Studies have shown that cannabis can offer some benefits when taken after chemotherapy treatments. Other pre-clinical studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health are also looking at the role of cannabis in relieving symptoms caused by: arthritis
spinal cord injuries Nabiximols (Sativex), a multiple sclerosis drug made from a combination of TCH and CBD, is approved in the United Kingdom and Canada to treat MS pain. However, researchers think the CBD in the drug may be contributing more with its anti-inflammatory properties than by acting against the pain. Clinical trials of CBD are necessary to determine whether or not it should be used for pain management.
The effects of CBD on receptors in the immune system may help reduce overall inflammation in the body. In turn, CBD oil may offer benefits for acne management. A human study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that the oil prevented activity in sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for producing sebum, a natural oily substance that hydrates the skin. Too much sebum, however, can lead to acne. Before you consider CBD oil for acne treatment, it’s worth discussing with your dermatologist. More human studies are needed to evaluate the potential benefits of CBD for acne.
5. Cancer treatment
Some studies have investigated the role of CBD in preventing cancer cell growth, but research is still in its early stages. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that CBD may help alleviate cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects. However, the NCI doesn’t fully endorse any form of cannabis as a cancer treatment. The action of CBD that’s promising for cancer treatment is its ability to moderate inflammation and change how cell reproduce. CBD has the effect of reducing the ability of some types of tumor cells to reproduce. How to use CBD oil CBD is extracted from marijuana plants as either an oil or powder. These can be mixed into creams or gels. They can be put into capsules and taken orally, or rubbed on your skin. The multiple sclerosis drug nabiximols is sprayed as a liquid into your mouth. How CBD should be used depends largely on what it’s being used for. Talk to your doctor before using CBD oil. It hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any medical uses, and it can have side effects. ADVERTISEMENT Locate a Doctor - Find A Specialist Near You.
Find A Way to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Related Pain. Find A Doctor Now. www.ratreatment.com CBD oil side effects CBD oil usually doesn’t have any major risks for users. However, side effects are possible. These include: depression
low blood pressure
withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and insomnia More human studies are needed to fully understand the range of risks and side effects that CBD oil may cause. Studies of CBD oil aren’t common. This is partially because Schedule 1 substances like cannabis are highly regulated, causing some obstacles for researchers. With the legalization of marijuana products, more research is possible, and more answers will come. Is CBD oil legal? CBD oil isn’t legal everywhere. In the United States, CBD oil is legal in some states, but not all. Certain states that have legalized CBD for medical use may require users to apply for special licensing. It’s also important to know that the FDA hasn’t approved CBD for any medical conditions. Here’s where you can currently use cannabis and related products for medical purposes in the United States:
Ten Facts About CBD
Chemical structure of cannabidiol. (Photo:Wikimedia Commons) CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound in marijuana that offers many benefits without any high.
Most people have heard of THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana responsible for the high. But recently, attention has shifted to another compound in marijuana called CBD. CBD appears to be helpful for many health conditions, including epilepsy, anxiety, chronic pain, and more. And while research is still in its early stages, doctors are generally supportive of CBD because it has very few side effects. Today, CBD is available in a variety of products ranging from oils and tinctures to edibles and vaporizers. Here are ten facts that you should know about this unique compound:
1. CBD is a key ingredient in cannabis (Photo: Shutterstock) CBD is one of over 113 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. CBD and THC levels tend to vary among different plants. Marijuana grown for recreational purposes often contains more THC than CBD, but high-CBD strains are also available.
2. CBD is non-psychoactive (Photo: Shutterstock) Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. While many people enjoy the marijuana high, health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects. CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same receptors as THC. These CB1 receptors are highly concentrated in the brain and are responsible for the mind-altering effects of THC.
3. CBD has a wide range of medical benefits (Photo: Shutterstock) Although CBD and THC act on different pathways of the body, they seem to have many of the same medical benefits. According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following medical properties: Medical Properties of CBD
Reduces nausea and vomiting Anticonvulsant
Suppresses seizure activity Antipsychotic
Combats psychosis disorders Anti-inflammatory
Combats inflammatory disorders Anti-oxidant
Combats neurodegenerative disorders Anti-tumoral/Anti-cancer
Combats tumor and cancer cells Anxiolytic/Anti-depressant
Combats anxiety and depression disorders Analgesic
Combats pain and pain-related disorders Unfortunately, most of this evidence comes from animals, since relatively few studies on CBD have been carried out in human patients.
4. CBD can work together with other compounds (Photo: Shutterstock) One of the most interesting effects of CBD is its ability to interact with other compounds in marijuana, such as THC and terpenes. In a 2011 research paper, Dr. Ethan Russo describes the combined effect of THC, CBD, and terpenes as an “entourage effect”. He believes the compounds work together to benefit the user more than they would alone. In Dr. Russo’s words, CBD makes “synergistic contributions” to the effects of marijuana in the body.
5. CBD reduces the negative effects of THC (Photo: Shutterstock) CBD seems to naturally counteract the marijuana high. Numerous studies suggest that CBD acts to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC, such as memory impairment and paranoia. People who have used both cannabis and pure THC for medical purposes report a preference for natural cannabis when it comes to side effects. It’s thought that CBD plays a role in this preference. Both CBD and THC have been found to present no risk of lethal overdose. However, to reduce potential side effects, medical users may be better off using cannabis with higher levels of CBD.
6. Some strains of marijuana are rich in CBD (Photo: CNN) Through selective breeding, marijuana growers have been able to create strains with high levels of CBD. Some strains contain high levels of both CBD and THC, while others have little to no THC. The most famous CBD-rich strain is Charlotte’s Web, created by the Stanley brothers in Colorado. Originally called “hippie’s disappointment”, the totally non-psychoactive strain was renamed in honour of a young girl named Charlotte Figi. Figi’s parents used the strain to combat her severe seizures caused by Dravet syndrome, without the side effect of getting high. Other strains that are high in CBD include: ACDC, Harlequin, Sour Tsunami, Cannatonic, and Jamaican Lion.
7. There are many different CBD products available (Photo: Shutterstock) CBD has gained a reputation as a safe, non-psychoactive treatment for a range of health concerns. As a result, many different kinds of CBD products have been developed, including oils, topicals, edibles, and vaporizer liquids. CBD oils are concentrated, pure extracts from the cannabis plant, often taken by mouth. Edible products containing CBD are also available. CBD-rich topicals can be applied to the skin, and are often used to treat pain in a localized area. CBD can also be vaporized using e-liquids. These products may be derived from marijuana or industrial-grade hemp. CBD products made from hemp are often referred to as “Hemp CBD” or “CBD Hemp Oil”.
8. Some people give CBD to their pets (Photo: Shutterstock) When it comes to your furry friends, CBD is often preferred over THC because it has fewer side effects. Some people feel uncomfortable giving their animal something that could make them high, but CBD offers medical benefits without the high. Dr. Wendy Kramer, a B.C. veterinarian, explains: “If we use part of the cannabinoids that are involved with the plant, we get great benefits. It’s the THC… that makes them stoned.” CBD products for pets target specific health concerns, like anxiety, epilepsy, joint pain, and skin problems.
9. CBD can affect your sleep-wake cycle (Photo: Shutterstock) CBD has what is called a “biphasic effect” on sleep, meaning it has different effectsdepending on dosage. Small doses of CBD appear to increase wakefulness, while large doses are sedating. Large doses of over 160mg/day have been linked to more time spent sleeping. But when taking doses less than 15mg/day, subjects report feeling stimulated and more awake. CBD also appears to counteract the sleep-inducing effects of THC, which may explain why some strains of cannabis are known to increase alertness.
10. CBD is still illegal (Photo: Shutterstock) Even though CBD shows much promise as a medicine, it remains illegal in many parts of the world. CBD is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States and a Schedule II drug in Canada. On Dec. 14 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made it clear that any marijuana-based extract is considered a Schedule I drug under federal law, including CBD oil and other types of CBD-rich products. On the other hand, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a request to trial a pharmaceutical version of CBD in children with rare forms of epilepsy. The drug is made by GW Pharmaceuticals and is called Epidiolex. CBD products may also be sold in certain states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana.
CBD: Everything You Need To Know About Cannabidiol
March 16, 2018
Cannabidiol (CBD) came out to the world in a big way after this simple plant chemical stopped an epileptic seizure in its tracks on U.S. national television. In the time since, many enthusiasts have realized that this miracle compound can stop spasms, calm anxiety, and soothe those in chronic pain. But, what is CBD and how does it work? How is it different from THC? To help you become more familiar with the cannabinoid here is everything you need to know about CBD. What is cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most prevalent chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. Unlike the more famous molecule, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is completely nonpsychoactive. Don’t expect to get “high” off of this organic chemical, however. CBD is all relaxation without intoxication. While CBD still has an effect on your body, consuming CBD by itself isn’t going to send you on the cerebral adventure associated with THC. For decades, medical professionals and the general public overlooked CBD because psychoactive cannabis took center stage. Now, the medical potential of CBD has taken cannabis to mainstream audiences. Preclinical trials over the past four decades have found that the cannabinoid shows promise as an: anti-inflammatory
anti-psychotic CBD is often used by patients in the form of an oil. Patients with more chronic conditions such as cancer and epilepsy often use medical cannabis oil extracted from high-CBD varieties of cannabis.
How does CBD work?
Most predominant inside the resin glands (trichomes) of the female cannabis plant, CBD is one of over 80 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are agonists that bind to special receptors on your cells, called cannabinoid receptors. Certain receptors are heavily concentrated in the central nervous system while others are found in almost every organ of the body. Cannabinoid receptors are even found in the skin, digestive tract, and even in the reproductive organs. You can think of agonists as keys and cannabinoid receptors as locks. By consuming cannabis, you are taking in agonists that interact with different locks on cells in the body. Together, these cell receptors make up a larger endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a vast network of cell receptor proteins with many functions. Some describethe ECS as the greatest neurotransmitter system in the body. It lends a hand in seemingly just about everything, including: mood
bone development Four primary purposes of the ECS include neuroprotection, stress recovery, immune balance, and homeostatic regulation. The last one is a fancy way of referring to a system that creates optimum energy balance in the body. Somehow, CBD seems to tap into this balancing system to produce its therapeutic effects. CBD is able to interact with cells in our bodies because the molecule has a similar composition to similar chemicals that the human body produces naturally, called endocannabinoids. Endo means inside and cannabinoid refers to action on cannabinoid receptors. In contrast, the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are technically called phytocannabinoids. It’s not often that a plant compound can make headlines over and over again. However, CBD is a phytocannabinoid with some serious life-saving potential. In fact, CBD has only gained mainstream attention quite recently, after the family of one brave little girl decided to throw caution to the wind and speak out about medical cannabis.
The beginning of the CBD movement
Before she was five years old, Charlotte Figi stopped laughing. While the average child laughs around 300 times a day, Charlotte temporarily lost her ability to communicate due to a rare and severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome affects roughly 1 in 30,000 infants around the globe. Though most Dravet patients begin their lives as healthy children, development quickly begins to regress after the first few months. Intense seizures overtake children as young as three months old. These seizures cause them to lose consciousness and convulse for up to a few hours at a time. After years of rushed trips to the emergency room, the Figi’s were desperate. Between unexpected complications, experimental medications, being told that they’ve reached “the end of the line”, they had experienced it all. When there were seemingly out of options, the family finally made a life changing decision. What they didn’t know was that their choice would ultimately spur a social movement and, more importantly, bring their daughter back to life. The Figi’s decided to treat their daughter with cannabidiol (CBD), one of the primary compounds found in the marijuana plant.
CBD: Underappreciated for too long
When Paige and Matt Figi first began their search for nonpsychoactive cannabis in Colorado, they fell upon some tough luck. Since the 1980s, marijuana breeders have had one major goal: creating the most potent, psychoactive cannabis out there. The competition is tough. After nearly three decades of rising demands for psychoactive cannabis, it’s not uncommon to walk into a dispensary today and find cannabis with THC content over 20%. By comparison, cannabis in the 70s contained an average of 6 to 8%. Focusing on THC content alone meant growers overlooked CBD during the hybridization process, making access nearly impossible for anyone hoping to experiment with CBD as medicine. Fortunately for children like Charlotte, one Colorado family was ahead of the curve. The Stanley Brothers had been developing exactly the plant the Figi’s had been searching for: a strain high in CBD and low in THC. High-CBD/ low-THC strains have little, if any, psychoactive effect. Rather, anecdotal reports and preclinical studies suggest that high-CBD cannabis can calm excitability without causing cognitive impairment. Before making the final decision to try CBD as a treatment, Charlotte was having 300 grand mal seizures a week, one every 15 minutes. After adding CBD oil to her daily routine? CBD kept Charlotte’s seizures at bay for an entire week. The Figi’s were astonished.
I didn’t hear her laugh for six months. I didn’t hear her voice at all, just her crying. I can’t imagine that I would be watching her making these gains that she’s making, doing the things that she’s doing (without the medical marijuana). I don’t take it for granted. Every day is a blessing. – Paige Figi
CNN first aired Charlotte’s story in 2013. Since then, CBD has been making headlines all over the world. Families have even begun to relocate to Denver to find medical cannabis for their sick children. These families make up a group of migrants termed “medical cannabis refugees.” The audacity of the Figi family has spurred real policy change. States that once seemed centuries away from changing their cannabis laws have introduced pro-CBD legislative initiatives, with the encouragement of Paige Figi. High-CBD strains can be found at nearly every medical cannabis dispensary in medical states.
CBD vs. THC As mentioned above, THC is psychoactive while CBD is not. While both compounds are cannabinoids, they each interact with the body in different ways. THC directly engages the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), which is concentrated largely in the central nervous system. CBD, however, doesn’t engage CB1 in the same way. As explained by neurologist and medical researcher Dr. Ethan Russo in an interview with Project CBD:
[CBD] doesn’t tend to bind directly to what’s called the orthosteric site [on cannabinoid receptors] where THC binds. Rather, it binds on what’s called an allosteric site, another site on the receptor, and so it alters the binding of both THC and the endogenous cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids.
So, what’s the verdict in a THC vs. CBD mashup? CBD and THC both connect on receptors in different locations. While THC directly engages the cannabinoid through the orthosteric site, CBD seems to regulate or fine tune that interaction by connecting to a separate receptor location. This fact is perhaps what enables CBD to modulate the psychoactivity of THC. Simply stated, if you’re feeling a little anxious after some cannabis, it could mean too much THC and not enough CBD. Evidence suggests that CBD reduces the psychoactive high from THC. As Russo suggests, CBD also alters the ability for the body’s own endocannabinoids to engage with the primary binding site. This is theorized to alter “endocannabinoid tone”, which could be quite beneficial for certain medical conditions. In a 2008 paper, Russo hypothesizes that some people may experience an “endocannabinoid deficiency”. He speculates that this deficiency is one of the culprits behind migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Should more trials of CBD show positive results, the cannabinoid may prove to be a powerful, therapeutic tool for conditions related to the ECS.
How else does CBD work?
There is still much to learn about CBD. However, scientists have discovered that the compound does a lot more than engage cannabinoid receptors. The effects of CBD in the body are broad and far-reaching. Thus far, the cannabinoid is known to also directly or indirectly affect the following: Vanilloid receptors (important for pain modulation)
Adenosine receptors (important for the sleep-wake cycle)
Serotonin receptors (important for mood and stress management) Some rodent studies suggest that CBD may also work by blocking a particular fatty acid known as fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The enzyme that’s responsible for breaking down the naturally occurring endocannabinoid anandamide in your body. Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule” or the human THC. It helps regulate basic functions like pleasure and reward, appetite, ovulation, memory, sleep, and pain. The oversimplified theory was that with nothing to break anandamide into smaller parts, CBD boosts the amount of this chemical in your system. In some cases, this could theoretically improve endocannabinoid tone. However, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggest that CBD does not inhibit FAAH in humans. Rather, they suggest that the compound engages proteins that bind anandamide to FAAH, not to FAAH itself. Regardless, the cannabinoid is still linked to a spike in the bliss molecule. However, how it achieves this is unknown. What is CBD used to treat?
The therapeutic value of CBD is almost unbelievable. For decades, outdated laws have banned a plant that produces what may become one of the most important medicines for modern disease. CBD is polypharmacological, meaning that it can affect multiple different pathways in the body at once. This makes it extremely difficult to study, as it is almost impossible to tell what effect these different interactions have upon each other. However, regardless of a lack of high-quality human trials, many medical cannabis patients find relief with this calming cannabinoid. Here are a few of the common reasons patients use CBD: Cancer
Chronic and neuropathic pain
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Various pediatric conditions 3 major conditions helped by CBD
1. Epileptic Disorders As the anecdote about Charlotte Figi has hopefully made clear, the endocannabinoid system may play a key role in the future treatment of epilepsy. Recently, a British pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, has had successful phase III trials with a pure CBD medication for epilepsy. The drug is named Epidiolex, and it has already shown favorable results for patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. In other research, CBD has been found to increase the efficacy of other common anti-epileptic drugs and is known to be neuroprotective. In theory, this helps keep brain cells healthy and reduces cell damage.
2. Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
The topics of schizophrenia and psychosis have long been major points of contention in cannabis medicine. You might find it surprising, then, that CBD is anti-psychotic. A 2015 review published in Schizophrenia Research suggested that CBD’s ability to reduce the psychoactive qualities of THC may also be helpful for schizophrenia patients. THC affects brain regions like the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The THC activity in these regions is thought to contribute to the herb’s psychoactive effects. Incidentally, these brain regions are also implicated in schizophrenia. The review suggests that it is possible that the opposite effects of CBD and THC in this region could provide a new window into new schizophrenia research. Coupled with traditional medication, early trials with CBD as a supplemental treatment for schizophrenia were successful with an impressive safety profile. The potent anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may also lend to its anti-psychotic properties. Psychosis has been linked to increased inflammation in the brain.
Has consuming marijuana ever made you feel more anxious? Well, the problem might be too much THC, not enough CBD. As mentioned above, CBD and THC work opposite of each other. One is a stimulating psychoactive, the other a compound that works to quell unnecessary psychoactivity. Though THC is known to cause paranoia, CBD is an excellent option for the canna-curious who are nervous about a psychoactive experience. The cannabinoid may even ease the discomfort of social anxiety as well. In a 2011 study, researchers recruited 10 patients with social anxiety. The patients had not yet received any medical treatments for their disorder. Patients were given either 400 mg of CBD or a placebo in a double-blind experiment. The CBD treatment successfully improved subjective anxiety symptoms when compared to a placebo. For more information on cannabis and anxiety, take a look at the full article here. Whole plant medicine
While CBD is a powerful medicine on its own, it’s important to note that the compound’s effects are amplified when combined with other cannabinoids. One of the biggest debates surrounding CBD deals with the recent push toward “whole plant medicine.” The idea behind whole plant medicine has to do with something known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the idea that combinations of cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, work together in synergy to produce certain therapeutic effects in the body. This may explain why some epileptic patients respond well to CBD, while others respond better to THC. The entourage effect has already been used in pharmaceutical medicines. GW Pharmaceuticals’ Multiple Sclerosis (MS) drug Sativex, for example, contains a balanced ratio of THC to CBD. The two cannabinoids together work better at managing MS symptoms than just CBD alone.
High CBD strains
Whether you’re smoking, vaping, extracting, or making CBD-rich edibles, if you’re looking to with CBD, you’ll need to start with a high CBD Strain. Charlotte’s Web
CBD Critical Cure
ACDC Keep in mind that when you buy a high-CBD flower, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s THC-free. Many strains advertised as high-CBD still contain some psychoactive cannabinoids. If you’re hoping to avoid psychoactivity, be sure to ask your budtender or supplier for further testing information about the particular strain.
Other sources of CBD
You don’t only have to smoke or vape high-CBD flower to access this biochemical gem. Local dispensaries and distributors typically carry extracted CBD in the forms of: Coconut Oil
Capsules – Note: You can extract CBD at home the way you would when cooking with THC If CBD is non-psychoactive, is it still illegal?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is complicated. Every country has its own cannabis laws, and CBD is more readily available in some regions than others. In the United Kingdom, for example, CBD was recently declared as medicine by the National Health Service (NHS). In the United States, however, the legality of CBD may depend on where it was sourced. There are two types of CBD products available: products derived from “hemp” and products derived from “marijuana”. The CBD found in both of these plants is the same, it’s the legal definition that is not. Under the United States Controlled Substances Act, all cannabis products are considered a schedule 1 drug. That means that they have no accepted medical value and possession of such a substance can result in criminal penalties. Recently, the DEA published a new rule that lumps CBD products into the category of “cannabis extracts”. According to the DEA’s new statement, CBD is illegal. The agency clarifies,
For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code 7350.
However, prospective lawsuits and hemp industry experts question whether or not the DEA has the legal right to include CBD under the definition of “marijuana”. Back in 2004, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted in favor of hemp in a different case. This time, it was in response to an “Interpretive Rule” posted by the DEA. The rule included language explaining that “any product that contains any amount of THC” would fall under the category of a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance. The DEA’s new ruling also contradicts an amendment made to the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill). Farm Bill federally legalized the production of industrial hemp in state-managed pilot programs. These pilot programs allow a small number of growers to cultivate, process, and market hemp products. Under Farm Bill, hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% THC. However, how the DEA’s new definition interacts with Farm Bill of 2014 is not clear at this time. Until this plant is either reclassified or legalized, the harsh federal restrictions on cannabis prevent adequate research on the impacts and health benefits of CBD and the cannabis plant. If there’s one point to bring home in this article, it’s this: CBD has tremendous therapeutic potential. But, scientists need more hard-hitting research. Already, the discovery of THC and the endocannabinoid system has opened major doors in biochemical and psychiatric medicine. Until we address the legal and political barriers that prevent us from exploring cannabis as medicine, our opened doors will remain unexplored.