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Cannabidiol (CBD)

Cannabidiol CBD

If you’re suffering from a chronic health condition that’s negatively impacting your life, it’s likely you’ve heard the buzz about cannabidiol, or CBD for short. In fact, this compound is rapidly changing the debate that surrounds using cannabis as a medicine.

You probably already know about THC, which is the substance in marijuana that gets you high. However, CBD doesn’t cause the same euphoric effect that THC does, and there’s growing evidence to suggest that it has many medical benefits.

CBD is often stigmatized, as it’s easy for people to mistake it for THC. This is understandable as there can be a great deal of confusing terminology surrounding cannabidiol, THC and marijuana in general. In this article, we look at what CBD is as well as its legalities and the medical uses of cannabidiol. Read on to get the lowdown on what could be a very important substance for medicinal use.

What to know about cannabidiol

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What is Cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in the cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana. CBD is just one of more than 400 compounds found in the plant and is a cannabinoid in high concentrations.

CBD is just one of more than 400 compounds found in the plant and is a cannabinoid in high concentrations

Cannabinoids actively bind to special receptors on your cells and are part of what is known as your endocannabinoid system. This is a huge network of cell receptor proteins that have a vast array of functions. Some receptors are found within your central nervous system, whereas others are found in other places, such as your reproductive organs, skin and digestive tract.

This system is responsible for controlling your mood, appetite, sleep, immune response, movement, sperm development, ovulation and cognition.

CBD and Receptors

CBD activates receptors like serotonin, adenosine and vanilloid receptors, which have the following functions:

  • Serotonin receptors aid in controlling your mood.
  • Adenosine receptors aid in controlling your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Vanilloid receptors are responsible for mediating pain signals in your body.

Your body produces its own compounds that are similar to those found in cannabis. These are known as endocannabinoids, and CBD regulates these, too. It works by blocking the fatty acid called FAAH that’s responsible for breaking down your body’s natural endocannabinoid anandamide.

Anandamide regulates many of your basic functions, like sleep, pain, reward, pleasure and more. As the FAAH is blocked from breaking down the anandamide into smaller parts, CBD boosts this chemical within your body. Furthermore, CBD connects with the receptors in your body that are responsible for regulating your body temperature and immunity, actively reducing inflammation.

The major active ingredient in marijuana is THC and accounts for 40% of cannabis extracts

Although the major active ingredient in marijuana is THC and accounts for 40 percent of cannabis extracts, it’s no wonder cannabidiol is now being studied as a new drug. CBD is one of the most exciting cannabinoids as it’s becoming increasingly known for its potential uses in treating illnesses.

The History of Cannabis

Although you may think it’s a relatively new drug, cannabis has been used medicinally for over 3,000 years and was introduced for use in the west in 1839 by the surgeon W.B. O’Shaughnessy, who learned of its properties while working in India. At that time, it was used for its anticonvulsant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, sedative and analgesic effects.

Cannabis has been used medicinally for over 3,000 years and was introduced for use in the west in 1839

By 1942, the drug was taken off the U.S. pharmacopoeia as its effects were considered potentially harmful, and in 1951 cannabis was added to the list of narcotic drugs when Congress passed the Boggs Act. In 1970, marijuana was then classified as a Schedule I drug, which put it on a par with LSD and heroin. In spite of this, cannabis was given out on a case-by-case basis under the Compassionate Use Investigational New Drug Program from 1978, being closed to new patients in 1992.

Still illegal to use under federal law, cannabis is now legalized for use for medical purposes in several states.

Where Does Cannabidiol Come From?

Found in the flowers, stalks and seeds of the marijuana and hemp varieties of the cannabis plant, CBD is a naturally occurring and plentiful substance, and can be easily extracted from the plant. It’s also possible to produce cannabidiol synthetically in a lab.

Cannabidiol is found in the flowers, stalks and seed of the cannabis plant

How Does CBD Work?

CBD is an antipsychotic and how it exactly works is unclear at this time. What is known is CBD seems to stop the breaking down in the brain of a chemical that affects mental function, mood and pain. It’s also thought CBD may effectively block out many of the psychoactive effects of THC, as well as curb anxiety and pain.

As CBD is non-psychoactive, it won’t get you stoned in the manner that THC does. In fact, due to the psychoactive effects of marijuana, CBD was overlooked for many years.

Again, research is the most important way we have of understanding CBD as it’s a very complicated compound. This is because it’s polypharmacological, meaning that it affects various aspects of your body at one time. It’s therefore crucial to know how these different changes interact, and this can only be discovered through clinical research.

Uses of Cannabidiol

There is so much to be said about the therapeutic value of CBD, and it’s believed by many that it could soon become one of the most useful medicines ever found.

CBD is believed by many to soon become one of the most useful medicines ever found

CBD works positively on a range of illnesses, including:

You should bear in mind research into cannabidiol is still in its infancy compared with other drugs. As this research continues, it’s quite possible even more uses for the medicine will become apparent.

Side Effects of Cannabidiol

If you’re considering taking CBD, it’s natural to wonder about the side effects, especially as it’s derived from the cannabis plant. As stated previously, cannabidiol is not psychoactive and won’t produce any high.

That being said, some users of CBD have reported minor side effects, such as light-headedness, drowsiness, lowered blood pressure and a dry mouth.

Safety of Cannabidiol

Taking the side effects into account, CBD has been used safely for as long as six months at a dose of up to 300 mg a day. Daily doses of between 1200 and 1500 mg have been proven safe for up to four weeks, and under-tongue sprays have been safely used in 2.5 mg doses for up to two weeks without issues.
CBD has been used safely for as long as six months at a dose of up to 300 mg a day

CBD is a safe medicine to take, generally speaking, as a review of 25 studies concluded that there are no significant side effects no matter the method of administration and dosage. Especially products using pure CBD, which should not contain any THC, have few negative side effects for patients.

However, special precautions should be taken if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant, as there hasn’t yet been enough research into the safety of CBD within this group. Also, if you suffer from Parkinson’s disease, you should consult a doctor before exploring CBD treatment as high doses can make the symptoms of some people with the condition worsen.

Medical Benefits of Cannabidiol

There is exciting research coming out that points to CBD being effective for a wide range of conditions and disorders. According to research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, CBD can act as an:

  • Anticonvulsant to suppress seizures.
  • Antiemetic to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Anti-inflammatory to discourage inflammation.
  • Antipsychotic to alleviate psychosis.
  • Antioxidant to combat neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Antidepressant/anxiolytic to allay depression and anxiety.
  • Anti-cancer/anti-tumoral to combat cancer and tumor cells.

In addition to the above, there is currently a prescription-only nasal spray, Sativex, that contains both CBD and THC, and has been proven effective in terms of treating frequent urination, muscle tightness and pain in MS sufferers.

Research also suggests using a CBD spray under the tongue may tackle pain as well as muscle tightness.

Conditions CBD May Treat

Early research suggests CBD may also be useful for treating the following conditions:

  • Dystonia: Taking CBD daily may actively improve dystonia by between 20 and 50 percent.
  • Epilepsy: Taking CBD daily may reduce seizures in some people.
  • Insomnia: Taking a 160 mg dose of CBD before bed may help people suffering from insomnia manage to sleep better than those who haven’t.
  • Parkinson’s disease and psychosis: Taking a daily dose of cannabidiol for four weeks may improve symptoms of psychosis in patients with Parkinson’s disease and psychosis.

Major Health Conditions Helped by Cannabidiol

Below are some health conditions currently known to be helped by taking CBD.

Anxiety and Depression

Even though anxiety is often cited as a side effect of smoking dope, CBD is believed to be helpful in the battle to combat the condition. When you smoke cannabis, the THC and CBD work against each other, as one is a psychoactive stimulant whereas the other calms this psychoactivity down.

If you smoke a joint and feel anxious afterwards, it’s likely it contained too much THC. Remembering CBD inhibits the enzyme that breaks down anandamide in your body, it enables your body to have higher levels of this feel-good chemical, thus making you feel less stressed, anxious and depressed.

Psychotic Disorders and Schizophrenia

Although you might think psychotic disorders, schizophrenia and cannabis are connected, a recent article in Schizophrenia Research found that CBD can potentially lower your risk of developing psychosis that’s related to cannabis use.

In fact, initial studies have concluded CBD is a well-tolerated, safe and effective antipsychotic, and it might be able to be used as a future lifeline for schizophrenic people.

Epilepsy

CBD is effective in reducing the likelihood of seizures, as it evens out a neurotransmitter known as GABA that stops the brain from getting too excited and produces a calming effect. If your levels of GABA drop very low, you’re in danger of having a seizure. As CBD inhibits GABA uptake, it creates an environment in the brain where there’s a surplus of GABA.

A study revealed cannabidiol used alongside regular antiepileptic drugs increases their effects. In addition, CBD is neuroprotective and keeps the cells in your brain healthy as well as reducing any damage to them.

CBD and Substance Use Disorders

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, initial preclinical findings point to CBD having a therapeutic effect in terms of treating substance use disorders and they’re supporting various clinical trials in order to draw a complete conclusion.

CBD is also considered potentially beneficial in treating schizophrenia and social anxiety disorder, in addition to helping people to quit smoking. Although research on potential applications of CBD is in its infancy, the current outlook is extremely hopeful for sufferers of chronic illnesses in the USA and indeed in the world.

Cannabidiol Therapy/Treatment

Although rigorous clinical testing and studies are needed to fully evaluate the clinical potential of cannabidiol for specific illnesses, preclinical research shows there are a range of therapeutically useful effects derived from taking CBD as a medicine.

With the huge upsurge in demand for CBD, as more people understand the amazing health-enhancing potential of the substance, many are searching for alternative sources of cannabidiol.

CBD is found in hemp, which is legal, and because of this, the demand for CBD hemp oil topicals and supplements has vastly increased recently.

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CBD vs. THC

CBD negates many of the psychoactive properties of THC by blocking some receptors in your brain so THC won’t affect them.

CBD negates many of the psychoactive properties of THC by blocking some receptors in your brain so THC won't affect them

Another difference between these two cannabinoids is when people smoking dope speak of having “the munchies” and getting extremely hungry after a smoking session, it’s THC that’s to blame. Conversely, studies in rats have shown that CBD has the completely opposite effect, making them feel more satisfied with their food and also less hungry.

Cannabidiol Specifics

So, now you know more about CBD, let’s highlight some of the most important facts you need to know.

1.    CBD Won’t Get You High

THC is the compound in marijuana that gives you a high. CBD won’t have that type of effect on you. THC causes you to become euphoric when it binds with CB1 and CB2 nerve receptors within your brain. CBD does not bind to these same receptors, so you never need to worry about suffering any unwanted effects from it.

2. CBD is a Key Ingredient in Cannabis

CBD is one of the key ingredients in cannabis, and alongside THC, it’s the most widely studied.

3. CBD Levels Vary Between Plants

When people grow cannabis recreationally, they are generally high in THC but contain varying levels of CBD. On the other hand, medical plants are usually high in CBD.

4. CBD Doesn’t Require a Prescription

It’s perfectly legal to buy CBD online as long as it’s derived from industrial hemp plants. You don’t need a prescription. However, if you require CBD products made from medical marijuana, you need to both have a prescription and live in an area where marijuana for medical use is legal.

5. CBD Has Great Medical Value

As covered already, CBD has many uses in terms of treating illnesses and chronic medical conditions. What we know currently is just the tip of the iceberg, and future research may show that this is one of the most important medicines discovered within our lifetimes.

6. CBD Benefits Your Mind

Anxiety and depression are modern scourges on our society. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, they are two of the most common mental disorders in the country. Data from 2015 indicates 16.1 million adults suffered at least one major episode of depression in the previous year.  As we already learned, CBD reduces depression and anxiety and is also antipsychotic.

16.1 million adults suffered at least one major episode of depression in 2014

7. CBD May Help in the Fight Against Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, CBD may reduce the spread of some types of cancer cells, as well as have a protective effect against some cancers, particularly those of the lung, breast and colon.

As research continues, there are sure to be many added benefits of cannabidiol that we don’t yet know about.

Is Cannabidiol Legal?

On December 14, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) delivered a new ruling that classifies CBD oil as a Schedule 1 drug, making it illegal under federal law. With that said, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, limits the Justice Department (and DEA) from overriding state medical marijuana laws. This means that while the DEA considers cannabidiol illegal, if your state allows patient access to medical marijuana you are still able to possess cannabidiol oil (if it doesn’t contain psychoactive THC). Therefore, if you wish to benefit from CBD, it’s critical that you know your state’s laws, partner with trusted marijuana doctors, possess a medical marijuana card and have a valid medical marijuana prescription.

Even though CBD is non-psychoactive, it’s still illegal if it comes from a medical marijuana plant and you don’t have a prescription. Generally, most high CBD strains are illegal and if a product contains more than around one percent THC, it’s currently classed as a psychoactive Schedule 1 drug and therefore illegal.

If a product contains more than around 1% THC, it's currently classed as psychoactive and therefore illegal

All substances, drugs and some chemicals used to create certain drugs are put into one of five distinct categories based on their dependency or abuse potential as well as their acceptable medical uses. All plant cannabinoids are classified as Schedule 1 drugs, which means they have a high potential for abuse as well as the potential to create severe psychological/physical dependence. They’re also defined as having no currently accepted medical use.

Without reclassification or legalization, federal restrictions on cannabis stop sufficient research into the health benefits of CBD. It’s clear more in-depth research is needed as soon as possible.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a request by GW Pharmaceuticals to trial a children’s drug named Epidiolex, which is a pharmaceutical version of CBD. The same company already makes the cannabis-based Sativex that’s approved in many countries as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Epidiolex contains no THC, and over 98 percent CBD and could pave the way in terms of future CBD-based drug trials.

CBD From Medical Marijuana

Medical plants are cultivated to be high in CBD and are sold to licensed dispensaries, then prescribed to you by doctors in states that have regulations in place. Bear in mind medical marijuana isn’t legal everywhere in America, and you need to be living in a certain state to get a prescription.

CBD From Industrial Hemp

The FDA considers hemp oil and the CBD derived from it to be a dietary supplement rather than a medication, so you can legally buy and take CBD in any state throughout the U.S. An added benefit of industrial hemp-derived cannabidiol is it contains almost no THC, so there is no risk of getting high.

In terms of treating medical conditions, the majority of patients are turning to more natural medicines. As CBD is extracted from plants and has been used medicinally for thousands of years, it stands to reason its properties should be explored further.

CBD has been shown to boost many functions of our own cannabinoid receptors, and the indirect nature of the substance’s effects has made it difficult for scientists to fully understand. What is known is CBD could potentially have dozens if not hundreds of therapeutic applications in the future.

No Government Approval Yet

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD as a treatment for any medical condition, there is clinical evidence to indicate that rather than having a placebo effect or making certain conditions worsen, CBD does quite the opposite.

With commercially available cannabinoids like nabilone and dronabinol currently approved for the treatment of cancer side effects, many people believe it’s only a matter of time until CBD becomes widely available.

Cannabidiol has opened major new doors in terms of psychiatric and biochemical medicine, and the rooms behind them need to be fully explored.

Get in Touch with a Licensed Medical Marijuana Doctor

If you’re considering cannabidiol therapy or treatment for a medical condition, you can search here for a licensed medical marijuana doctor for an evaluation and recommendation on a dispensary.

Learn About Cannabidiol (CBD) and Common Ailments

Cannabidiol (CBD) has many positive effects for patients looking for treatment without mood-altering effects. Learn how CBD can be used to treat common conditions:

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