CBD has attracted a lot of attention in the world of medical marijuana in recent years for being one of the active medical components of cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD lacks psychoactive properties, and for that reason, it has become an accessible form of cannabis to all kinds of medical marijuana patients.
It is interesting what happens when we begin to isolate cannabinoids and move away from whole plant medicine. Although it gives us an idea of how individual cannabinoids work, we are starting to learn that they work the best when they are all together. Having said all of that, our research into CBD has given us the chance to delve deeper into the world of cannabis. In any case, weed is much more than THC, and definitely much more than getting high!
CBD, the miracle compound
So, why are people all over the world coining CBD the miracle compound? Modern research into this cannabinoid has shown that it has the potential to treat a myriad of illnesses that are plaguing the Western world. Anything from anxiety to muscle spasms, CBD apparently has the power to heal. What’s more is that it can be used without the psychoactive side-effects that come from using THC. So, for children and elderly, CBD is completely accessible and appropriate medicine.
Until now, clinical research supports the idea that CBD is powerful medicine while scientific research can’t find any evidence to support it. The exact mechanisms of cannabis in the human body and brain are apparently really hard for scientists to put their fingers on. However, the results we observe in those who resort to CBD medicine are astounding – and they completely speak for themselves.
How does it work?
Many cannabis users don’t know that there are cannabinoid receptors located all over the body and organs, in the nervous system, and even in the skin and digestive tract. These receptors are waiting hungrily for the perfect cannabinoid to join them and trigger a number of events all over the body. Essentially, that chain of events that takes place once a cannabinoid receptor is triggered is the process of the endocannabinoid system.
The most basic and fundamental purpose of the endocannabinoid system is homeostasis, immune balance and stress recovery. We know that there are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the immune system that openly welcome cannabinoids such as CBD. In fact, the endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in the body when it is going through a stage of healing. For reasons unknown to us, the external cannabinoids that we ingest through cannabis seem to tap into our own internal endocannabinoid system in a really positive way. CBD triggers the body’s natural healing faculties into gear, allowing an effective and organic healing to take place.
So, how did we come to know all of this? Thanks to one Israeli scientist with a passion for hashish, the medical world came to know about isolated cannabinoids such as THC and CBD in the 60’s. Through isolating these cannabinoids, Raphael Mechoulam was then effectively able to discover the human body’s endocannabinoid system. Interestingly, the study of cannabis, in general, inspired one of the most profound discoveries about the body’s natural healing faculties. “By using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered a new physiological system of immense importance,” is how Mechoulam said it himself.
Mechoulam’s studies opened the door for so much future research – leading to the isolation of cannabinoid receptors, which enabled scientists to clone them and perform further studies. All of this led to the very humble understanding that somehow, CBD triggers the activation of the human endocannabinoid system, enabling homeostasis and balance to take place in the body. That is not to say that every human body requires the ingestion of external cannabinoids. However, for those of us who have stumbled a little bit out of balance, it seems that cannabis is a natural way to activate our natural healing systems.
The effects of CBD
The effects that CBD has on the mind and body are far reaching and extremely varied. It has the potential to reach certain parts of the body, and arguably even the psyche that effects us at the subtlest levels. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive properties. In fact, it has the total opposite effect. It can even play the role of counter-balancing the psychedelic effects of THC by acting as an antipsychotic. For the same reasons that it can treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, it can also treat anxiety and depression. CBD is also neuroprotective.
On a physical level, the effects of CBD might not be felt much while under the influence. In general, the immediate physical effect of CBD is to act as an analgesic, reducing the sensation of pain in the body. However, the long term effects include being anti-tumoral, anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure. The ability of CBD to treat seizures has made it famous in the last couple of years, especially among children suffering from epilepsy. It has the ability to reduce spasms related to neurological diseases such as epilepsy.
So, let’s be honest. In order for something to be considered medically valuable, it has to go through a series of rigorous tests, clinical trials and so on. And somehow, whole plant medicine doesn’t seem to fit the bill when it comes to these tests. So as you can imagine, finding scientific evidence to say that CBD is medically valuable is extremely difficult. It still remains illegal under federal law, which means so much research doesn’t take place. However, as the legalization movement continues, the expectation is that the doors will continue to open for us to learn more about this cannabinoid.
All of that being said, so much has been observed even within the small playing field that scientists have been given to work with. Research conducted with mice as early as 2009 was exploring the possibility of the application of CBD as an anti-inflammatory. The results were more than they bargained for, learning that CBD not only suppresses inflammatory responses, but that it plays a role in immunoregulation, too. Or, at least the cannabinoid receptors that they bind to are involved in that immunoregulation.
We began to learn about the effects of CBD on spasms and seizures only a year later, where it was observed that the parts of the brain associated with spasms would burst much less under the effect of CBD. Of course, none of this became particularly well known until people began to experiment with CBD as a form of treatment. Once CBD became available to families whose children were suffering from epilepsy, it became so evident how therapeutic CBD can be for treating seizures.
There is even research which suggests the medical application of CBD for treating mood disorders. This study revealed that CBD arrives into the hippocampal, which is the part of the brain we know deals with memory and cognition. For those who suffer from depression and anxiety, the hippocampal is smaller. For that, CBD is hypothesized to treat anxiety and depression by stimulating the hippocampal.
CBD only medicine VS. the entourage effect
The list is, in fact, endless to the possible medical applications for CBD. However, it is important to note that one of the things that make this cannabinoid so rich with healing potential is all the assistance it has from all of the other active substances in marijuana. We are only just coming to realize how important “whole plant medicine” is because of the entourage effect.
The entourage effect is the name given to the combined efforts of many different substances in marijuana. While isolating CBD tell us the specific parts of the body this cannabinoid targets, we are also aware that it is more effective when it is part of the entourage effect. There are many CBD only medicines which are available on the US market, but perhaps they lack the magic of the entourage effect.
For the sake of administering non-psychoactive medicine, CBD only products can be extremely useful. But let’s not forget that the system that is engaged after using cannabis is the one that encourages balance. For that reason, ingesting the whole plant medicine gives the plant a chance to act entirely throughout the body in a balanced way.
Some cannabis enthusiasts will put up an argument of CBD vs THC, but it is completely futile to make the comparison. They are so completely different from each other that the human body and brain are affected in different parts by the two different cannabinoids. As a team (combined with the many other cannabinoids and terpenoids in marijuana), they work in a balanced way to encourage physical, emotional and mental health.
An alternative to pharmaceutical medicine
One of the points that pharmaceutical medicine seems to miss entirely is the concept of holistic medicine. Thus far, scientific research has given us the chance to target very specific areas of the body with medicine – but without the ways those parts connect with the rest of the whole. This is where cannabis is completely different. It is a holistic medicine that gives patients an opportunity to heal on a more holistic level. It could mean healing much more than a headache or much more than period pain.
The potential of CBD to reach the brain and body in such a positive way with very little, if not none, side effects is astounding. Two of the biggest reasons that patients are prescribed pharmaceutical drugs in the USA are: depression and chronic pain. Whole plant medicine (such as marijuana) is an opportunity to really target the problem of pharmaceutical medicine addiction. Cannabis can treat depression and chronic pain at the source by not only dealing with the symptoms, but working with the body to regulate at the same time!
Often, more drugs have to be taken to regulate the effect of other pharmaceutical drugs. However, cannabis can do both at the same time. It also happens to be natural and organic, meaning that the body receives it easily and well. There are some for whom pharmaceutical medicine is not solving any problems, and cannabis is really offering a natural alternative and the potential for change.