Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in the resinous flowers of cannabis, a plant with a long history dating back thousands of years.
Today, scientists and doctors around the world are testing and confirming the therapeutic properties of CBD. CBD is a safe, non-addictive substance, one of more than 100 “cannabinoids” that are unique to cannabis and give the plant its powerful healing properties.
CBD is closely related to another important medically active phytocannabinoid: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound known to cause cannabis highs. These are the two components of cannabis most studied by scientists.
Both CBD and THC have important therapeutic properties. But unlike THC, CBD does not make people feel “intoxicated. This is because CBD and THC act differently on different receptors in the brain and body.
CBD can actually reduce or counteract the psychoactive effects of THC, depending on the consumption of each compound. Many people expect the health benefits of cannabis to be low – or low or high.
The fact that CBD has powerful therapeutic benefits is non-toxic and easy to take makes it an attractive therapeutic option for those who are cautious about trying cannabis for the first time.
Many people are looking for alternatives to drugs with serious side effects. By delving into our biological functions, CBD can relieve chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression and many other conditions.
Extensive scientific studies and a growing number of anecdotal reports from patients and physicians highlight the potential of CBD as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including (but not limited to).
-Autoimmune diseases (inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis)
-Neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, stroke, traumatic brain injury)
-Metabolic syndromes (diabetes, obesity)
-Neuropsychiatric disorders (autism, ADHD, PTSD, alcoholism)
-Enteropathy (colitis, Crohn’s disease)
-Cardiovascular dysfunction (atherosclerosis, arrhythmia)
-Dermal disorders (acne, dermatitis, psoriasis)
CBD has been shown to have neuroprotective effects and its anti-cancer properties are being studied in several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere. A brain cancer study conducted by California scientists in 2010 found that CBD “enhanced the inhibitory effect of THC on the proliferation and survival of human glioblastoma cells”.
This means that CBD makes THC more effective as an anti-cancer agent. Also in 2010, German researchers reported that CBD stimulates neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, in adult mammals.
How CBD works
CBD and THC interact with our bodies in a number of ways. One of the main ways is by mimicking and enhancing the action of compounds in our bodies called “endocannabinoids” – so named because they are similar to compounds found in the cannabis plant. These “endocannabinoids” are part of what scientists call the “endocannabinoid system.
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has greatly improved our understanding of health and disease. It is important to almost every field of medicine and helps explain how and why CBD and THC are so versatile and why cannabis has such a wide range of uses, despite its illegal status.
The endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in regulating a wide range of physiological processes that affect our daily lives-our mood, our energy levels, our gut toughness, immune activity, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more.
What to do if the endocannabinoid system is not functioning properly? What are the consequences of a chronically deficient or overactive endocannabinoid system?
Cutting-edge science has shown that the endocannabinoid system is dysregulated in almost all pathological conditions. Therefore, it makes sense that National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists Pal Pacher and George Kunos implied in their 2014 publication that “modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system may have therapeutic potential for virtually all diseases affecting humans.”
By modulating the endocannabinoid system and enhancing endocannabinoid basal regulation, CBD and THC can slow (and in some cases even stop) disease progression.
But it wasn’t until June 25, 2018, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved cannabinoids as real drugs, approving Epidiolex (an almost pure CBD drug formulation) as a treatment for two severe pediatric seizures, Lennox- Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
This is the first time this has happened since the height of the reefer madness era 80 years ago. At the time, “marijuana” became a crime, not a cure. The federal government has officially endorsed cannabis-derived products.
In response to the FDA’s historic decision, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in September 2018 that it had removed Epidiolex from the Schedule I classification, which is reserved for dangerous drugs that have no medical value. Thereafter, Epidiolex will be considered a Class V drug, which is the least harmful designation under the Controlled Substances Act.
However, the DEA classifies marijuana and CBD itself as illegal narcotics. According to Uncle Sam, medicinal CBD is officially the only quality cannabinoid in the world, while the rest of the plant remains “evil” weed.
Given CBD’s reputation as a popular artisanal remedy, one would think that Epidiolex would attract a lot of “off-label” attention. After all, doctors often prescribe off-prescription drugs to treat diseases that are not really the focus of clinical trials.
But Epidiolex’s expensive price tag (more than $30,000 per year) precludes prescriptions from being written and affordable to millions of Americans without health insurance.
About CBD oil
For those without access to CBD, there are numerous internet stores, community markets, coffee shops, health clubs, chiropractic clinics, upscale boutiques, and gas stations that retail a variety of hemp-derived CBD oil products, including pure CBD isolates comparable to chemicals.
In response to huge consumer demand, the huge and unregulated market for CBD products reached a tipping point in 2018. The surge in consumer interest in all things suddenly made news stories, with athletes, movie stars, soccer moms, and players raving about it, as well as parents of terminally ill children.
CBD oil has been touted as a cure-all for the sick and a preventative for health, a cure-all for pets, and people of all ages.
However, as awareness of cannabidiol as a potential health aid continues to grow, so do misconceptions about CBD and cannabis therapy.
The Challenges of CBD
Figuring out how to optimize the therapeutic use of CBD has been the impetus for a great laboratory trial in recent years in a democracy known as medical marijuana, which has been evolving in recent years from state to state and country to country.
The introduction of powerful cannabis oil concentrates, non-toxic, CBD-rich products, and innovative smoke-free delivery systems have transformed treatments and changed the public debate about cannabis.
Debating whether cannabis should be used on its own merits as an herbal remedy is no longer an issue; the main challenge today is discerning how to utilize cannabis to maximize its therapeutic benefits. Given its low risk, many people are using it as an add-on therapy to their existing treatment plans.
However, most health professionals know little about CBD or cannabis therapy, and they lack sufficient expertise to adequately advise patients on dosage, administration methods, CBD/THC synergy, and any risk factors, including interactions with other medications.
Instead, a loose community of self-reliant patients, supportive families, and a few pioneering physicians have learned a lot through repeated trials and shared information about how to find promising pathways to cannabis therapy.