Guzmán leads me around his cramped lab—centrifuges, microscopes, beakers, petri dishes, a postdoc researcher in a white smock extracting tissue from a mouse corpse pinned under bright lights. It’s your typical bioresearch lab, except that everything is devoted to the effects of cannabis on the body and brain. The lab focuses not just on cancer but also on neurodegenerative diseases and on how cannabinoids affect early brain development. On this last topic the Guzmán group’s research is unequivocal: Mice born of mothers regularly given high doses of THC during pregnancy show pronounced problems. They’re uncoordinated, have difficulty with social interactions, and have a low anxiety threshold—they’re often paralyzed with fear at stimuli, such as a cat puppet placed near their cage, that don’t upset other juvenile mice.
At first, I was wary. Although I live in Los Angeles, where it seems like there’s a medical marijuana depot on every corner, I’m not one for doing drugs (legal or otherwise). I mean, I don’t even take Advil when I get a headache! But despite the fact that CBD oil is made from hemp, it doesn’t contain THC. THC is the compound responsible for the “high” that comes with ingesting marijuana. In fact, scientific reviews have proven that CBD “does not interfere with several psychomotor and psychological functions,” and is safe to ingest without any side effects. Let me repeat: YOU WILL NOT GET HIGH FROM CBD!
DiPatrizio says, “There may be some benefits outside of improving epilepsy outcomes, but a lot more research is required.” Any research on athletic claims would almost certainly come from the industry; there are more urgent public health CBD topics to investigate than whether it reduces runners’ knee pain. For the foreseeable future, runners interested in CBD’s effectiveness will have to rely on anecdotal, subjective reports.
One study comparing the effects of THC and CBD even found that, while THC increased anxiety by activating the neurotransmitters involved in the "fight or flight" response, CBD actually repressed autonomic arousal—or the nervous system response associated with sudden increases in heart rate or respiration. In other words, CBD is ideal for people looking to relax and unwind—not get out of their minds.
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.”
Here’s my experience: started with insomnia in 2011 that led up to a vicious circle insomnia/anxiety/depression. Took all kinds of sleeping pills/benzodiazepines for around 3-4 years straight until I decided to stop. Yoga, meditation, binaural beats, smoking pot, you name it. I started reading about CBD like 2 months ago and decided to give it a try. I live in Europe so I was able to get my hands in a product that’s a mix of CBD and melatonin. So far it has been working great if I take it after exercising for around 1 hour at the gym. It works well but in moments of high stress it has no effects at all. As soon as I get worried about anything, or if I get sick I’m not able to sleep at all even if I take the whole bottle of CBD oil, I honestly don’t know why, I guess it’s very “mental” but in general I sleep very well after taking CBD oil.
A wealth of marketing material, blogs and anecdotes claim that cannabis oils can cure whatever ails you, even cancer. But the limited research doesn't suggest that cannabis oil should take the place of conventional medication, except for in two very rare forms of epilepsy (and even then, it's recommended only as a last-resort treatment). And, experts caution that because cannabis oil and other cannabis-based products are not regulated or tested for safety by the government or any third-party agency, it's difficult for consumers to know exactly what they're getting.
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