Cannabidiol: Health Benefits of CBD Oil for Everyday Life
Though CBD oil has long been used for the treatment of cancer and epilepsy symptoms as well as in individuals with autoimmune diseases, I’ve only recently begun delving into its amazing everyday health benefits. Since beginning my research into the incredible world of cannabinoids, I’ve become a rather prolific user of this wonder cure on both myself and my dogs for everything from itchiness, stomach upset and anxiety to a creative early morning pick me up. From first-hand experience, I love the stuff.
So, why, you ask, after living in Colorado and dabbling in the cannabis industry for so many years have I suddenly taken an interest in a marijuana compound that can’t even get me high?
The answer is rather circumstantial. As it happened and to my subsequent great delight, last month, my neighbor Andrew began working with his friends at Functional Remedies, a super heady hemp farm and CBD oil producer in Colorado. As a result, I’ve had the great pleasure of becoming a self-proclaimed CBD connoisseur. What follows is my first foray into the plethora of medical research behind the inner workings of this plant-based panacea.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of about 80 phytocannabinoids present in the Cannabis Sativa plant.6 Cannabinoids are lipids or fatty acids that interact with the body’s endogenous cannabinoid or endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol or CBD for short and Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC are the two most prominent cannabinoids found in Cannabis Sativa.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is an important lipid-signaling bioregulatory system responsible for maintaining homeostasis in our bodies. Playing a role in everything from stress and anxiety, to neuronal processes, metabolism and liver function, the endocannabinoid system is constantly working to bring our bodies to equilibrium and optimal physiological working order.
How Do Cannabinoids Interact with the Endocannabinoid System?
THC and CBD mimic the actions of endogenous cannabinoids by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors which are located throughout the body but appear to be most abundant in the brain and immune system. CB1 is predominantly neuronal (a.k.a found mostly in the brain), and responsible for the psychotropic (or the being high) effects of THC. Responsible for the stereotypical marijuana high, THC binds to CB1 receptors, which affect memory, mood, sleep and pain sensation. CB2 receptors are predominantly found in peripheral tissue such as the gut and immune system and have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing effects. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects as it does not bind to CB1 receptors in the brain, making it both a great standalone pick-me-up for when you can’t get high and a brilliant pairing for when you want to optimize partaking in a favorite THC rich cannabis strain.
Sourced from both cannabis (a.k.a marijuana) and hemp plants, CBD is extracted as an oil and is available in various forms and concentrations including as flower from CBD rich cannabis strains, tinctures, capsules, sprays, and topicals, thus making it easy to dose in whatever way one pleases. Because most modern cannabis plants have a high percentage of THC and barely any CBD, which appears to be a recessive gene that has been bred out of plants to increase their psychoactive effects, CBD is most commonly consumed separately as an extract in edible form.
How Does CBD Exert Its Effects?
CBD works by interacting with our bodies endocannabinoid systems, which are involved in a wide range of physiopathological processes such as the regulation of pain perception, modulation of neurotransmitter release, as well as cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and liver functions.6
CBD, THC and other cannabinoids act as ligands. Ligands are fatty acid signaling molecules that bind to receiving molecules or receptors. Receptors and ligands come in closely matched pairs meaning that receptors recognize and allow the binding of only one or a few specific ligands and that ligands attach themselves to just one or a few target receptors. The signaling pathway inside of a cell begins with the binding of a ligand to a receptor. This changes the cell’s shape or activity allowing the ligand to transmit a signal or produce a change inside of the cell. Cannabinoids attach themselves to CB1 and CB2 receptors and activate them in prescribed ways that set off a series of biological behaviors.
Different Strains Have Different Properties
Just like the contrast between Sour Diesel and Bubba Kush, the different strains of Hemp from which CBD is derived produce differing effects and should, therefore, be selected just as you would a strain of your favorite bud. During the daytime, I tend to prefer Sativa dominant strains, which produce the uplifted, happy relaxation that along with a hefty dose of pain relief, promotes both creativity and focus. In the evening, I prefer a more calming, anxiolytic concoction to lull me to bed without inciting weird dreams. Prior committing to a single strain, however, I recommend experimenting with how different products make you feel and subsequently choosing your favorite day and night options.
Health Benefits of CBD
Combatting Negative Effects of THC
Like a rare cheese with a fine wine, CBD is the perfect pairing to your THC high. Several studies have reported that it balances out THC via something called the entourage effect. In essence, CBD appears to potentiate the positive effects of THC while diminishing the negative ones.4,8,13 In these studies, when researchers administered test subjects with an overdose of THC followed by CBD, the CBD appeared to neutralize the negative effects generally associated with getting too high, such as panic, paranoia, anxiety, memory impairment, and feeling as if your heart is about to jump out of your chest. Test subjects experienced this without seeing any reductions in their THC blood levels, suggesting a unique effect of CBD in triggering homeostasis through its own pathways.
Studies have demonstrated CBD to be a potent antioxidant, with potential for use as a therapeutic treatment in individuals with oxidative neurological disorders.5 It appears that CBD protects neurons by inhibiting the process through which they are damaged. Namely, by activating cannabinoid receptors CBD can prevent neurotoxicity.
CBD oil is not just an everyday anti-inflammatory. The pathway in which it is reported to work is interesting in that it acts by inhibiting the body from producing the chemicals which cause inflammation to occur in the first place. Inflammation is at the root of nearly all of our health problems. For instance, the role of inflammation has been identified in gastrointestinal conditions such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It has also been implicated in Rheumatoid Arthritis, various autoimmune conditions and the evolution of different cancers. The inflammatory response has in fact been linked to 15-20% of all deaths from cancer.10
CB1 and CB2 receptors have been found on immune cells, suggesting that cannabinoids play a significant role in regulating the immune system and the body’s inflammatory response. As a result, cannabinoids are currently being explored as novel anti-inflammatory drugs due to the protective effects of the endocannabinoid system against inflammatory changes. Researchers have observed several different pathways through which cannabinoids exert their anti-inflammatory effects on everything from our brains and joints to our gastrointestinal tracts.2,7,15 They do so namely through cell apoptosis and by inhibiting the production of cytokines. By initiating cell apoptosis or suicide in certain damaged cells, CBD begins a process that cleans up the cell before it is able to cause inflammation by dying of necrosis. Second, cytokines are signaling proteins and the modulating factors responsible for balancing the initiation and resolution of inflammation. By suppressing the creation of these proinflammatory cytokines, CBD controls the cellular pathways leading to inflammatory processes.
Increased Alertness and Sedation
CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and relieve stress. Its effects are biphasic and dose dependent, meaning that at low doses such as 15mg, CBD can make you feel more awake, motivated and creative while at high doses it can knock you out into blissful slumber land sedation.3,12,19
Bone Density and Skeletal Remodeling
Endocannabinoids have been identified in the skeletal system. Their role in the regulation of skeletal remodeling as well as bone mass and it subsequent biomechanical consequences has been of interest to scientists as they believe that the skeletal endocannabinoid system can be a viable therapeutic target for individuals with skeletal defects such as osteoporosis. Studies suggest that due to its affinity for CB2 receptors, which are implicated in controlling bone formation, CBD oil can play a role in preventing osteoporosis and improving bone healing.1 CB2 receptors are thought to play a role in maintaining bone remodeling throughout the aging process to prevent bone-loss.
Cannabinoids act as antitumor agents by binding to the receptors on cancer cells and inhibiting the development of new blood vessels (i.e. angiogenesis), triggering cells to commit suicide (i.e. apoptosis), or inducing cell cycle arrest in tumor cells, while preserving normal cells.9,10,16,17
Selecting the Best CBD Oil for You
Just like cannabis, not all CBD oils are created equal. For instance, if your grower sprays their plants with insecticides, you risk ingesting those post facto, so sustainable, organic, eco-friendly growing methods are the first step towards creating a healthy and beneficial product. Similarly, the extraction method used can make or break the healing benefits associated with quality CBD oils. In fact, the majority of extraction processes strip or destroy key plant elements. I like the Functional Remedies CBD oils not only for their all natural, pesticide and herbicide free farming practices, but also for their liquid extraction and infusion process, which keeps the cannabinoids, terpenes, phytonutrients, and flavonoids found in the hemp plant intact for optimal absorption and maximized whole plant health benefits. Ned CBD Oil is another favorite of mine as they source organically grown hemp and use only the cannabinoid and terpenoid rich whole hemp flower.
CBD for Everyday Use
In writing this article I read tens of studies on the topic of health and CBD. It is so vast a topic, however, that I have barely begun to scratch its surface. Cannabidiol or CBD is a panacea quite unlike any I’ve previously discovered and my coverage of it and its therapeutic potential is but a tiny fraction of what scientists have discovered in the past several decades. In addition to its antioxidant properties and overarching benefits to everyday health, emerging evidence suggests its potential therapeutic applications in everything from cancer and diabetes to inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, ADHD, neurodegenerative diseases and even antibiotic resistant bacteria.6,11,14,18 Generally safe, non-addictive, helpful to children, non-harmful to the environment and legal throughout the world, CBD appears to be the perfect fountain of youth supplement for both therapeutic treatments of diseases and everyday self-care. As with anything else you put in or on your body quality ingredients and quality extraction are key in selecting a top notch product that provides the greatest benefits. So, do your own research, choose wisely, and enjoy the multitude of health benefits that this plant-derived wonder drug has to offer.
What Are Your Thoughts About CBD?
Have you tried cannabidiol? Are you planning on testing it out? Do you have favorite strains, preferred products, questions, experiences or recommendations? Leave a comment below!
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