How Does Cannabinoids Really Work?
CBD manages to tap into the balancing system of our body for producing therapeutic results. It can interact with cells from our organism because the molecule features a similar composition of other chemicals which are naturally produced inside our body and which are called endocannabinoids.
CBD Occurs Naturally in Cannabis Plants
CBD Can be Produced Synthetically in a Laboratory
Before the age of five, Charlotte Figi stopped laughing. An average child laughs 300 times per day, and she temporarily lost her ability to communicate. This came as a result of a rare form of epilepsy known by the name of the Dravet syndrome.
The Figi family was desperate, after a month of seeing their little daughter suffering in such horrible ways. The family had to deal with unexpected complications, experimental treatments and they kept hearing that they have reached the end of the line. But all of this had changed when they made the life-saving decision to treat their daughter with cannabidiol. Back then, they had no idea that their choice was going to open the door to a vast social movement and to bring their daughter back to life.
This health condition affects only 1 in 30,000 children throughout the world. Even if the Dravet patients begin their lives as healthy infants, their healthy development starts to turn into regress after a while. The symptoms include intense seizures which begin taking control over the children, and they cause the loss of consciousness, and the convulsions may last a few hours
Her parents began their search for nonpsychoactive cannabis throughout Colorado, and they weren’t quite lucky at the beginning. Since the ‘80s marijuana breeder had only one goal in mind and that was to create the most potent and the most psychoactive plants. But fortunately, the family managed to find what they were looking for. Before they made the most important decision of their lives, to try the CBD as a treatment for their daughter, Charlotte used to have seizures every week, one every 15 minutes. After adding the CBD to her daily routine, the seizures became rare, and she only had one every week.
Charlotte’s story was first made public by CNN in 2013, and since then, CBD has been making headline every day all over the globeThe audacity of the Figi experience has also spurred a policy change and states that once seemed to be totally against changing their cannabis laws has now begun to introduce all kinds of pro-CBD legislative initiatives. Read the Whole Story
Scientists still have a lot more to find out about CBD. However, they have discovered that this compound does more besides engaging cannabinoid receptors. CBD’s effects for the body are multiple and far-reaching. So far, the cannabinoid is known to affect the following receptors in direct or indirect ways:
Vanilloid Receptors – Essential for modulating pain
Adenosine Receptors – Essential for maintaining an optimal sleep-wake cycle.
Serotonin Receptors – Essential for managind stress and mood.
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- CBD features greater affinity to the CB2 receptor, and therefore interacts differently with the nervous system
- Some research suggest CBD helps tone down THC’s extreme effects acting as an antagonist of CB1 agonists – in other words, it opposes the action of THC
- Scientists are looking into using CBD as a possible treatment for schizophrenia
- THC is the compound that makes you feel high by binding to the CB1 receptor in the brain
- Besides euphoria and relaxation, some people have experienced side effects like anxiety, pananoia and increased heard rate.
- Studies say that exposure to THC as a teen might increase the risk of developing schizophrenia somewhere during the lifetime.
For what exactly is CBD used as a treatment?
The polypharmacological nature of CBD- Medical usage and benefits
The therapeutic value of CBD is fantastic, and it’s a pity that for decades most outdated laws have banned something that produces what may someday be finally acknowledged as the most important medicines for current health issues.
CBD is polypharmacological and this means that it can affect a multitude of pathways in our bodies, all at once. This is only one of the reasons for which it is so difficult to study as it’s almost impossible to figure out what are the exact effects that these interactions have upon each other. Regardless of the lack of higher quality human tests, there are lots of medical cannabis patients who find relief using this calming cannabinoid.
Here are the major benefits of CBD for the human health and the major conditions it can help treat:
- CBD Can Help with Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
The subjects of both schizophrenia and psychosis have probably been the most controversial issues in relationship with the cannabis medicine. Some people might find it very surprising when they know that CBD is an anti-psychotic.
There is a review published in 2016 in Schizophrenia Research suggesting that CBD can reduce the psychoactive qualities of THC and as a result, it might also be helpful for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. THC affects brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus and its activity in these areas seems to be the one that contributes to the psychoactive effects of this herb. These two brain regions are also involved in the schizophrenia disease. The review states that it’s possible that the opposite effect of CBD and THC in these areas to provide an entirely new approach regarding the treatment of schizophrenia.
Early test with CBD coupled with traditional medicine turned out to be successful and also safe. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD can also lead to antipsychotic effects, as psychosis has already been connected to enhanced inflammation in the brain.
- CBD Helps Treat Anxiety
Most of the people who have ever consumed marijuana usually say that they feel even more anxious afterward. The problem might not be a too large quantity of THC but not enough amount of CBD. As we already said these two compounds work in opposite ways, one being a stimulating psychoactive, and the other working to quell the higher psychoactivity.
THC is known to lead to paranoia, but on the other hand, CBD is a great alternative for people who are curious about cannabis but who are also anxious and nervous at the thought of having a psychoactive experience.
CBD can also ease the discomfort caused by the social anxiety, and this was proven in 2011 during a study for which specialists have recruited ten patients with anxiety. They had never received treatments for their particular disorder. They were either given 400 mg of CBD or a placebo during a blind experiment. The CBD treatment managed to be a success and to improve the anxiety symptoms compared to the placebo.
- CBD Reduces Pain and Inflammation
Among the CBD benefits, one of the most important ones revolves around natural pain relief. Evidence has suggested the fact that cannabinoids might prove to be useful in modulating pain by inhibiting neuronal transmission in pain pathways. A study that was published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine concluded that CBD could definitely suppress chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain in rodents without causing analgesic tolerance.
Scientists suggested that CBD may represent a new class of therapeutic agents for treating chronic pain.
- CBD is Efficient in Case of Multiple Sclerosis
A 2007 meta-analysis conducted in Canada showed that by combining CBD and THC, buccal spray researchers had obtained an effective treatment method for treating neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is a health condition debilitating for 50-70% of patients.
- CBD Helps in the Battle Against Cancer
Various scientific reports have suggested the fact that CBD benefits also include antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects. This means that it can inhibit cancer cell migration, adhesion, proliferation and also invasion.
A study that was published back in 2006 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics has proved that CBD has inhibited the growth of breast tumor cell lines and it also exhibited less potency in cells that weren’t of cancerous nature.
In 2011 scientists managed to add some light on the cellular mechanism through which CBD killed the breast cancer cells. It was discovered that CBD induced a concentration-dependant cell death of the estrogen receptor-positive and the estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer cells. The efficiency of certain amounts of CBD for killing cancerous cells was proven to have fewer effects on non-cancerous mammary cells. In other words, CBD helped kill the infected cells, and it protected the healthy ones.
Other data have also suggested that CBD can also be used for inhibiting the invasion of colon cancer and lung cancer. The compound also features anti-tumor properties in case of gliomas, and it can help treating leukemia.
According to more studies, CBD has also stopped cancer cells in various cervical types of cancer, decreasing their ability to produce energy and therefore leading to the ill cells’ death.
- CBD Relieves Nausea and Increases Appetite
Cannabis has been used for ages for eliminating the nausea sensation and for suppressing vomiting. According to various studies and specific research, there are more than 80 cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana (both the THC which is intoxicating and the CBD which is non-intoxicant) that can help you eliminate the nausea sensation, and that can keep away vomiting. The studies were conducted on animals, and one particular study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology and found out that CBD advantages for health include antinausea and antiemetic benefits. The compound was administered to rats and researchers revealed the fact that small doses of CBD have the ability to suppress toxin-induced vomiting. On the other hand, it will have no effect at all, or, in some cases, it might increase the nausea sensation.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the CBD increases appetite by binding to the receptors of cannabinoid from the body.
- CBD Helps in Case of Seizures and more Neurological Disorders such as Epilepsy
A 2014 study that was conducted by the specialists from the Stanford University presented its results to a group of parents dedicated to sharing information on Social Media about the use of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis for treating their children’s seizures. The research revolved around epilepsy and using CBD-enriched cannabis as a treatment.
There were nineteen responses which matched the inclusion criteria necessary for the study.
The average number of anti-epileptic treatments tried before using the CBD cannabis was 12. 84% of the 19 parents have seen a reduction in their children’s seizure frequency thanks to the CBD treatment. 11% of these have reported a total lack of seizures, and 6% have noticed 25-60% fewer seizures. The CBD cannabis consumption also included more health advantages such as enhanced alertness, improved mood and sleep, and the side effects were some mere states of fatigue and drowsiness.
- CBD Reduces Incidence of Diabetes
Back in 2006, there was a study revolving around the use of CBD treatment, and it turned out that such method of therapy managed to reduce the incidence of diabetes in diabetic mice which were not suffering from obesity. The rate of non-treated mice was about 86%, and the incidence of treated ones dropped at only 30%. The advantages of CBD also included important reduction of plasma levels which usually lead to inflammation so, in other words, the results included less inflammation.
A study published in 2013 in the American Journal of Medicine revealed the high impact of marijuana use on glucose, on insulin and also on the insulin resistance in adults from the U.S. The results showed that current marijuana use is associated with 16% less fasting levels of insulin. The researchers also found out that some critical connections can be made between marijuana use and smaller waist and this was a very significant discovery if we take into consideration the fact that the waist circumference is associated with the development of diabetes and its symptoms.
- CBD Improves the Cardiovascular Health
A study which was published in 2013 in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology has unveiled the fact that CBD can protect against the vascular damage which is provoked by an environment featuring high glucose levels, by inflammations and by the induction of type 2 diabetes in animal models. CBD was also proven to diminish the vascular hyperpermeability which is the primary cause of a leaky gut.
- CBD Protects the Nervous System and Helps with Neurodegenerative Conditions
CBD was proven to have preventative abilities against the toxic effects of the neurotransmitter called glutamate and also against the radical oxygen species from the brain. In other words, it prevents brain cell death.
Its antioxidant activity is larger than the one of the vitamins C and E.
CBD also can protect brain cells from the Alzheimer’s disease and also from developing Parkinson’s disease. The compound is beneficial for protecting the brain from ischemia.
- CBD Offers Benefits in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD will provide relief of joint pain and swelling, and they can also decrease the destruction of joints, and they’ll stop disease progression. Tests on animals have proven that administration of CBD resulted in enhanced protection of the joints against severe damage and improvements of the symptoms of arthritis.
- CBD Helps Treat Depression Symptoms
According to more researchers, CBD showed to also feature some antidepressant effects at least in mice studies. These have demonstrated that the antidepressant effects of CBD were developed fast and they proved to be continuous over a longer period.
- CBD Helps in Case of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Studies have revealed the fact that CBD can prevent colitis in animal models and what’s even more thrilling is the fact that CBD together with THC can reduce inflammation and also eliminate symptoms such as abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and diarrhea which are the most common signs of IBD.
According to research, CBD also is one of the most appropriate candidates for optimizing the gut motility in patients with IBD. The CBD compound reduced the gut inflammation’s severity.
- CBD Protects Against Harmful Bacteria
CBD proved antimicrobial effects against certain bacteria which can result in infections that are tough to treat; these bacteria are the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
- CBD can Help Prevent the Mad Cow Disease
CBD can protect against the prions as it inhibits the development of these proteins which are known to cause the fatal neurodegenerative diseases such as the mad cow disease.
- CBD Promotes Healthy Bone Growth
After conducting studies on rodents, the researchers have found out that the rodents that had broken limbs managed to heal faster after receiving treatments with CBD.
- CBD Reduces Dyskinesia
This health condition causes involuntary movements, and the CBD compound can lessen the production of the inflammatory markers, acting on specific cells. In mice, the CBD was shown to be able to treat the symptoms of this health condition.
- CBD Helps in Case of Insomnia
Research has also revealed the fact that patients who suffer from insomnia can get better and longer sleep after using CBD treatments.
- CBD is Useful for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
CBD may also be used as therapy for disorders that appear due to substance use. The compound reduced the effect of morphine (which promotes a pleasant effect), and it also reduces seeking heroin, also in studies made on animals.
CBD seems to be also able to reduce the numbers of cigarettes smoked by a person by almost 40% if that particular person inhales CBD for at least a week. The compound will not increase the craving for nicotine.
- CBD is Beneficial for Skin Disorders as Acne and Psoriasis
CBD was shown to have the ability to decrease the lipid synthesis and the proliferation of the human sebaceous glands. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect on these glands, therefore, manifesting an enormous potential for becoming a therapeutic agent for treating acne vulgaris.
CBD reduces the growth of skin cells, and as a result, it would be able to play an important role also in the treatment of psoriasis.
Precautions Regarding the Use of CBD – Interacting with Conventional Drugs
There are lots of studies and research that have revealed the effectiveness of the CBD compound for treating all kinds of health conditions. Most of these studies have concluded the same thing – CBD is practically free of important side effects, and it’s safe to use.
It’s important to know that we are referring to the controlled administration of the compound which is safe and non-toxic in animals and also humans, of course. It doesn’t affect physiological parameters such as the heart rate, the blood pressure or the body temperature.
Doses up to 1,500 mg per day of CBD seem to be tolerated well by humans.
However, there are indeed some potential side effects that must be taken into consideration. One of them is the inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism or the decreased activity of p-glycoprotein. This means that the CBD can interact with various substances found in pharmaceuticals because it inhibits the activity conducted by some liver enzymes.
These particular liver enzymes metabolize the majority of the drugs that are usually used for treating all kinds of human health issues. So for instance, if you consume a higher dose of CBD that the recommended one, the compound can temporarily neutralize the activity of these enzymes and as a result, the way that the drugs will be metabolized in the body will probably change. But it’s nothing to worry about because of you take a minute to think about this; even grapefruit can alter the functioning of most medications that we take.
This particular action of interfering with most drugs can be definitely viewed as a side effect, but it is not always a negative one if we take into consideration the CBD’s potential of neutralizing the THC effects.
On the other hand, there is another reported side effect of the compound, and this is a sensation of dry mouth. This seems to be caused by the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the secretion of saliva and its inhibition.
The Argentinian scientists published back in 2006 a study regarding this particular subject, and it showed that the cannabinoid receptors (type 1 and 2) are both present in our submandibular glands, the ones that produce the saliva. Activating these two receptors will result in the alteration of the salivary production and will eventually lead to a dry mouth feeling.
More early studies on the use of CBD have also suggested the fact that when taken in higher doses than recommended, CBD can worsen tremor and muscle movement in patients who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But when it’s taken in regular doses, the CBD will turn out to be tolerated very well by patients who suffer from this health condition.
Regarding pregnancy and breastfeeding, there haven’t been enough studies on the subject to gain reliable information whether it’s safe or not to consume CBD during pregnancy and while the mother is breastfeeding therefore if you find yourself in one of these cases, you should avoid using it.
Another warning involves opioid-drug interactions because these can be quite problematic. So, if you are taking an opioid medication, you should lessen the CBD dosage because it amplifies the effects of opioid drugs.
CBD Usage and Dosage
Finding the proper dose is an issue even for the most experienced practitioners. The whole cannabis industry is just in its early stages of development, and it’s just gaining usage data. Therefore it will probably take more time before we find out exactly what works best for every individual.
As we have already explained in this article, unlike the THC, the risks that come with CBD usage are very low, and there hasn’t been a single case of CBD overdose reported so far in the specialty literature throughout the world. So there has not been established any lethal CBD dosage as no one has ever died from a cannabis overdose.
This thing is obviously very reassuring, and it offers a lot of comfort to users as they realize that CBD has no material adverse side effects.
You must also pay considerable attention when you purchase cannabidiol, and you should go for the top quality only.
The right treatment for you and the right dosage will only depend on your very own biochemistry. The health condition from what you are suffering also plays an enormous role in dosing CBD, in case you have such a condition.
Paracelsus once said that “Dosage is everything,” and the most interesting thing with CBD is the fact that according to studies, it has been proven that a larger dose of CBD may be less effective than a moderate one. So with CBD, it seems that less is more.
Basic Advice Regarding Proper Dosage
In case you are not suffering from any health problems, and you just plan on taking CBD as a preventative measure then you should always follow the suggested dosage on the particular CBD product that you want to take. Remember that CBD is an essential nutrient, and even if you don’t feel any difference after taking it, your body will use it for the primary processes.
Cannabinoids are working best when your lifestyle is healthy, and this is the exact reason for which if you suffer from certain health issue it is vital to find out the causes for which the condition has developed in the first place.
Anyway, you are advised to follow these few steps, and everything should work out fine:
- Start with a low dose of CBD and see how you will feel afterward.
- Maintain this minimum dosage for the first few days.
- Continuously analyze the way that you are feeling, monitor your cravings, your sleep quality, check out interactions with other medications that you might use and so on. The best option would be to keep a journal.
- It’s also recommended to consult a health professional.
- If you cannot feel any effects at all, you should slightly increase the dosage.
If CBD is non-psychoactive is it still illegal?
The answer to this question is not a simple one as you might have expected. Every country in the worlds has its cannabis-related laws, and of course, CBD is more available in some areas than in others. For instance, in the UK, CBD was recently declared as medicine by the NHS (National Health Service).
In the US, on the other hand, its legality depends on where the compound is sourced. There are currently two types of CBD products that you will find available on the market, and they are the products that are derived from “hemp” and the other products that are derived from “marijuana”.
Even if the CBD found in both types of products is the same, unfortunately, the legal definition of the products in not. In the US, all cannabis products are seen as a schedule 1 drug – they don’t have any accepted medical value and possession of such a product will probably result in criminal penalties.
Now, various hemp industry experts and prospective lawsuits are questioning whether or not the DEA has the right to include CBD under the definition of “marijuana”. The debates are controversial, and they will probably go on for more years to come.
Recently 17 states have approved the use of low THC and high CBD products for medical reasons in some limited situations. Each state has their special requirements and conditions that need to be followed in order to be able to use CBD legally. The 17 states include the following:
Where Does CBD Stand Regarding the Future Usage of the Compound?
Until the plant is not re-classified or legalized there’s not much to do about the whole usage issue. The harsh federal restrictions on cannabis keep preventing proper and further research on the impact that CBD could have on our health and its benefits for the overall state of the body.
But as far as the studies were able to prove by now, CBD has enormous potential in more therapeutic areas as we have already discussed previously in this article. Scientists still need to perform more extensive research all evidence suggests that the compound has already opened some essential and even vital gateways in biochemical and psychiatric medicine.
Unfortunately, until we, as the population of the Globe, manage to finally address all the political and the legal issues and barriers preventing the exploration of cannabis as medicine, all these opened doors, and the new realms beyond them will still remain unexplored.
As a conclusion, cannabidiol awareness must become a global concern and the prohibition of cannabis should be reconsidered as at least the CBD compound will turn out to be the medicine of the future someday.
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* Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring constituent of the industrial hemp plant.