I tested positive during an ER visit in a state that is unfriendly toward CBD oil. I was taking the highest strength product from a major brand, the one made by the brothers. I’m over 40 and weigh around 250 pounds, and I don’t use anything else that contains THC or CBD. I was shocked it showed up in the test and more shocked by how I was treated by the ER staff after the results of the test.
To this point, CBD oil has existed in a kind of liminal space— at once an illegal drug, a legal medication, and some kind of “dietary” supplement. It’s possible this could change in the coming years, however. GW Pharmaceuticals, a U.K.-based firm, has developed a “pure CBD” medication called Epidiolex that has shown promising test results. It is currently on a fast-track to receive FDA clearance. For some patients, Epidiolex could be a miracle cure. This summer, in Wired magazine, writer Fred Vogelstein chronicled his family’s own struggles to find an effective treatment for his son’s epilepsy—including experiments with hemp oil— and the immense hurdles they overcame to gain access to Epidiolex prior to its FDA approval. The drug could be for sale on pharmacy shelves in the near future, though exactly how near is hard to say.
There are thousands of unique varieties of hemp. The cultivars used for CBD oil contain significantly higher concentrations of CBD than others. Using these uniquely potent plants, it is possible to extract cannabis oil that contains significant levels of cannabidiol, as well as essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Over the past two years, 17 states have passed laws legalizing CBD so that patients can obtain the drug without fear of prosecution from local authorities. For intractable childhood epilepsies—the sorts of seizure disorders that for centuries have ruined lives and shattered families, the ones even specialists like Hernandez dread—CBD could be a miracle cure.
CBD oil extracted from hemp — no matter how it’s consumed — works with the body’s ECS system to replenish cannabinoids and regulate homeostasis. The substance is also anti-anxiolytic, meaning it reduces feelings of anxiety — a common source of sleep problems in adults. For these reasons, hemp-based CBD oil can be highly beneficial for people with insomnia whether they struggle with sleep onset (falling asleep) or sleep maintenance (staying asleep). In addition to insomnia, CBD oil may lead to improvements for the following sleep disorders:
With that said, I'm definitely intrigued enough by the subtle effects to continue taking the oil and possibly even to up the dosage to the recommended two full droppers of the 30mL bottle per day for a week or so. Plus, I take comfort in knowing that it's an all-natural treatment for anxiety that's responsibly grown on family farms in Colorado. Something that's safe, legal, requires no prescription, and makes me less anxious, less scatterbrained, and more focused? I'm definitely on board.
While there are more unknowns than knowns at this point, Grant says he doesn’t discount all the anecdotal CBD reports. “You hear somebody say, ‘Hey, I gave this to myself and my kid and we feel a lot better,’ and we should never dismiss that kind of information,” he says. He points out that many modern medicines were discovered when researchers followed up on exactly this sort of human trial-and-error evidence. “But we still need to do the studies that confirm whether all the good things are true, and how much to give, and how to give it,” he says. “These are all questions that need to be answered.”
“These studies mainly point to CBD’s ability to interact with ... serotonin receptors and GABA receptors in the brain,” she explained. “Serotonin plays an important role in mood and anxiety, and GABA is known as the main ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter, meaning it calms excess activity in the brain and promotes relaxation. GABA receptors are the target of benzodiazepines, which are a class of anti-anxiety drugs.”
A review published in 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology described how CBD may work to protect the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for several important functions, such as learning, memory and navigation — during times of stress, and may also help prevent brain-cell destruction that results from schizophrenia. Another 2017 review published in the journal Annals of Palliative Medicine summarized a handful of studies that suggest cannabis oils containing THC or CBD, or both, may help with chronic pain management, but the mechanism is unclear.
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