CBD’s potential usefulness in treating certain conditions is yet another argument in favor of legalizing the entire cannabis plant. Removing cannabis from the federal list of Schedule I narcotics that are illegal under the Controlled Substances Act would allow scientists to research its full medical potential and pharmaceutical companies in the United States to develop marijuana-based drugs and submit them for FDA approval. Government-regulated labs could test products like CBD oil to ensure safety and quality. Doctors could prescribe marijuana- based medicines with full knowledge of potential side effects and drug interactions, and without fear of losing their medical licenses or being thrown in jail.
Today, dozens of companies produce CBD in an array of forms. CBD can be inhaled through vape pens, applied in topical salves, ingested in edibles, or swallowed in oil-based tinctures. Oil has become the dominant CBD delivery method for kids with epilepsy, since it is easy to administer and ingest, and there is no shortage of it available for sale online. There are dozens of companies boasting names like Healthy Hemp Oil, Dose of Nature, and Natural Organic Solutions, each of them selling CBD products at prices ranging from trivial to dizzyingly steep. You don’t have to look hard to find them. If you have a PayPal account and $100 to spare, you could have a vial of hemp oil delivered to your doorstep.
Kane fingers one of his innocuous-looking plants, expressing mild bemusement at the U.S. ban on commercial hemp cultivation. “Hemp produces fibers of unparalleled quality,” he notes. “It’s a tremendously high biomass crop that replenishes the soil and doesn’t require much in terms of inputs. We import tons and tons of hemp each year from China and even Canada, yet as a matter of federal policy, we can’t legally grow it. There are places where farmers in the U.S. can literally look across the Canadian border and see fields that are yielding huge profits.”
If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched. “Right now,” he complains, “people don’t know what they’re getting. For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of over 85 scientifically-identified cannabinoids (or chemical compounds) derived from the flowering plant cannabis. Each of the cannabinoids within cannabis elicit unique neurophysiological effects. Most people are well-aware of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the predominant cannabinoid within cannabis that is ingested by upwards of 230 million people per year as a psychoactive euphoriant.
CBD is showing real promise as a compound that can contribute to protecting the brain, thanks to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. Scientists are investigating its role in neurogenesis and its ability to help the brain heal from injury, and as a treatment for neurodegenerative disease. Research suggests that CBD may help to reduce brain damage from stroke or other neurological injury. And CBD is increasingly looked to as a possible therapy for several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.
While there are many different pathways driving the positive health benefits of CBD, the center of its awesome abilities seems to be that CBD is a very effective natural anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation is really the commonality between most (and by most, I mean basically all) chronic health problems that we face today as a modern society. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, digestive issues, and hormonal problems are all inflammatory in nature. What the heck, right?
Cannabis Oil: Cannabis oil is typically made from marijuana with a high THC percentage. Therefore, it must be purchased in an area where marijuana is legal or can be obtained with a prescription. The amounts of compounds, including CBD and THC, will drastically vary from product to product. Commercially produced cannabis oils will have more controlled concentrations of CBD and THC for medical purposes.
Yet even those who believe in this power recognize that CBD medicine remains largely unexplored: Treatments are not systematized, many products are not standardized or tested, and patients (or their parents) are generally left to figure out dosing on their own. While some suppliers and dispensaries test the CBD and THC levels of their products, many do not. “We really need more research, and more evidence,” Kogan says. “This has to be done scientifically.”
Overall, existing preclinical evidence strongly supports the potential of CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders. CBD exhibits a broad range of actions, relevant to multiple symptom domains, including anxiolytic, panicolytic, and anticompulsive actions, as well as a decrease in autonomic arousal, a decrease in conditioned fear expression, enhancement of fear extinction, reconsolidation blockade, and prevention of the long-term anxiogenic effects of stress. Activation of 5-HT1ARs appears to mediate anxiolytic and panicolytic effects, in addition to reducing conditioned fear expression, although CB1R activation may play a limited role. By contrast, CB1R activation appears to mediate CBD’s anticompulsive effects, enhancement of fear extinction, reconsolidation blockade, and capacity to prevent the long-term anxiogenic consequences of stress, with involvement of hippocampal neurogenesis.
Reflecting upon the experience, I also realize that it could’ve been nothing more than a placebo effect. The placebo effect creates significant neurochemical changes as well, so maybe by expecting the BioCBD+ to do something, it ended up provoking a neurophysiological response – who knows. The one thing that I remembered from the experience was that my brain felt as if it was being “massaged from the inside.”
In the apparent rush to accept weed into the mainstream, to tax and regulate it, to legitimize and commodify it, important questions arise. What’s going on inside this plant? How does marijuana really affect our bodies and our brains? What might the chemicals in it tell us about how our neurological systems function? Could those chemicals lead us to beneficial new pharmaceuticals?
Acute “as needed” administration: Though studies haven’t examined the effects of chronic CBD administration in humans, most have documented the effects of acute administration. Acute administration is associated with a significant anxiolytic effect (as compared to a placebo). Unlike medications such as SSRIs, CBD provides fast-acting (nearly instantaneous) anxiety relief and doesn’t require daily administration for weeks/months to attenuate symptoms.
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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