Further testing found what the world now knows: This compound is the plant’s principal active ingredient, its mind-altering essence—the stuff that makes you high. Mechoulam, along with a colleague, had discovered tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). He and his team also elucidated the chemical structure of cannabidiol (CBD), another key ingredient in marijuana, one that has many potential medical uses but no psychoactive effect on humans.
Antipsychotic: Those suffering from anxiety as a result of a condition like schizophrenia may benefit from utilization of CBD oil. While the phytocannabinoid THC may exacerbate positive symptoms of schizophrenia (due to its psychotomimetic properties), CBD is understood to have antipsychotic properties. It isn’t fully elucidated as to how CBD reduces psychotic symptoms, but some believe its indirect modulation of dopaminergic transmission plays a role.
But now, as more and more people are turning to the drug to treat ailments, the science of cannabis is experiencing a rebirth. We’re finding surprises, and possibly miracles, concealed inside this once forbidden plant. Although marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug, Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, recently expressed interest in what science will learn about marijuana, noting that preliminary data show that “for certain medical conditions and symptoms” it can be “helpful.”
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The relative representativeness of the small sample size and the use of a single dose of CBD can perhaps be regarded as a limitation of our study, as it does not allow the assessment of the effects of chronic treatment with CBD on sleep. In the study by Chagas et al. (2014b), for example, CBD was chronically administered for 6 weeks to patients with Parkinson’s disease and REM sleep behavior disorder. Since the effects of CBD are biphasic (Zuardi et al., 2017), the use of a single dose also limits the interpretation of the present findings. Moreover, monitoring changes in sleep using a conventional polysomnography presents some intrinsic limitations, as it is insufficient alone to detect drug-induced changes of the sleep EEG. For this purpose, a spectral analysis or a similar procedure is also needed. Conversely, the use of preclinical polysomnography to characterize drug-induced sleep disturbances has been increasingly recommended in the regulatory context (Authier et al., 2016). Finally, it is essential to evaluate the effects of CBD in a larger sample and in individuals diagnosed with sleep disorders in addition to healthy volunteers.
Laboratory evidence indicated that cannabidiol may reduce THC clearance, increasing plasma concentrations which may raise THC availability to receptors and enhance its effect in a dose-dependent manner. In vitro, cannabidiol inhibited receptors affecting the activity of voltage-dependent sodium and potassium channels, which may affect neural activity. A small clinical trial reported that CBD partially inhibited the CYP2C-catalyzed hydroxylation of THC to 11-OH-THC.
Critics contend that the Realm of Caring parents are using their kids as guinea pigs, that not enough studies have been done, that many, if not most, of the claims can be dismissed as the result of the placebo effect. “It’s true, we don’t know the long-term effects of CBD, and we should study it,” Meagan says. “But I can tell you this. Without it, our Addy would be a sack of potatoes.” No one asks, she notes, about the long-term effects of a widely used pharmaceutical that has been routinely prescribed for her two-year-old. “Our insurance pays for it, no questions asked,” she says. “But it’s highly addictive, highly toxic, turns you into a zombie, and can actually kill you. And yet it’s perfectly legal.”
The definitions of hemp and marijuana can get pretty confusing, but for basic purposes, marijuana contains high levels of THC, and hemp contains low levels of THC. The ratios of CBD to THC in hemp oil can vary, depending on the product and the specific plant the oil was extracted from. CBD oil, a concentrated version of the cannabidiol compound, is typically derived from hemp but can be extracted from marijuana as well. CBD oil products on the market have varying levels of CBD and THC. Many have little to no THC, while some contain small amounts.
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Additionally, CBD is also thought to inhibit reconsolidation of traumatic memories, which may have therapeutic implications for those with PTSD. What’s more, CBD appears to effectively reduce anxiety among healthy individuals without preexisting anxiety disorders. Though the mechanisms by which CBD attenuates anxiety aren’t fully deciphered, 5-HT1A partial agonism and modulation of limbic/paralimbic function likely plays a role.
Growing and producing CBD oil made from hemp may soon become fully legal. Lawmakers are working to finalize a 2018 Farm Bill sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell that removes hemp from the controlled substances list, allowing it to be grown legally on a large scale. Negotiators are hoping for a completed report this month and a vote on the bill by year's end.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to widespread use of CBD is price. High-quality tinctures from brands like Floyd’s of Leadville and PlusCBD cost $35 or more; the bottles contain enough tincture to last about a month if you’re using an eyedropper’s worth per day. Prevail’s 2-ounce topical salve, which the company says should last most users between 30 and 45 days, costs $133. A one-month supply of a daily gel typically costs $30 to $60.
Even without changes at the federal level, there are steps that states could take on their own to make the CBD market safer. States with broad marijuana legality or CBD-only measures could mandate the calibration and regulation of testing labs, and use them to conduct safety testing. They could fund research into the benefits, dosing, and drug interactions of CBD through their public university systems. Medical boards could redouble efforts to educate physicians in what research exists regarding medical marijuana in all its incarnations, so that doctors are prepared to prescribe and manage these medications as they become available.
Both Bonn-Miller and Ward stress that it's up to the consumer to be well-educated about the material they're purchasing and the research that's out there. "The companies that are creating [cannabis oils] are offering lots of claims about its use that are not necessarily substantiated by any research," Bonn-Miller said. So "I think there needs to be, from a consumer standpoint, a lot of vigilance," he added.
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