James Joliat, a 35-year-old video producer in Denver, has long experienced muscle and joint pain—mostly related to sports injuries. He says he started looking at natural remedies as an alternative to the prescription patches and pills his doctor recommended. After experimenting with homemade rubs infused with plant compounds—stuff like arnica and turmeric—he eventually stumbled onto topical cannabidiol (CBD) rubs.
“THC”—the more-famous, high-inducing compound in cannabis—“works directly on the cannabinoid system, meaning it attaches to receptors and mimics some of our own internal endocannabinoids,” says Igor Grant, a professor and chair of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. But CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system is subtler. “Normally, these endocannabinoid-signaling molecules are broken down by enzymes, and one thing CBD does is interfere with the actions of those enzymes.”
“I just felt good,” he adds. “But I wasn’t high at all.” Joliat’s anecdotal experience with CBD is a common one. Some informal polling suggests a lot of people today are at least vaguely familiar with cannabidiol, and have either used it themselves or know someone who has. But even some people who use it don’t seem to know exactly what it is or whether there’s any hard science out there to back up its benefits.
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