Why CBD is more than a medicine
October 17, 2018
By Elliot Cornish
After being shunned for decades, cannabis is back – and in a big way. The medicinal benefits of the plant have received significant focus by the media in recent times, with much of that attention going on the main non-psychoactive constituent of the herb, cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids that contribute to the effects of cannabis, and operate in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which consists of receptor proteins (cannabinoid receptors), neurotransmitters (endocannabinoids) and enzymes. ECS research has come thick and fast since being identified in the late 20th century, and it has helped immeasurably to improve our understanding of cannabis’ therapeutic effects.
Significantly, we mostly know which cannabinoids do what, and also what they don’t do – CBD, for example, has a myriad of medicinal benefits as a modulating influence on the ECS, but as it is not an agonist of the mood-regulating CB1 receptor, this cannabinoid cannot make you high on its own. Therefore, we now have an essentially safe cannabis compound, that produces no adverse risk to mental health and may even be an effective treatment, which can be used to benefit people of all ages.
And, indeed, children with intractable epilepsy have experienced life-changing results from being put on to CBD treatment plans. Medical cannabis refugees have travelled from all over the United States and elsewhere to receive legal cannabis-based medication – typically CBD oil – to alleviate symptoms. There have been several stories of CBD cutting seizures back from hundreds per week to almost nil thanks to CBD treatment. This has been incredibly empowering for the children affected, who can now have improved interactions with others while gaining independence.
However, children with extreme conditions are not the only ones who have something to gain from taking CBD supplements. By utilizing various CBD products to their full potential, CBD can markedly enhance day-to-day life. Let’s look at how.
Using CBD at work
Getting high on the job may be a no-no, but sensible use of CBD may help to boost performance in the office, while improving happiness levels, too. Work can be stressful, especially if relations with colleagues are fractious. And in a world where distractions are aplenty and attention spans are struggling, it’s not easy to keep the mind focussed for extended periods.
In large doses, CBD induces strong sedative effects – but the compound is biphasic. In smaller doses, therefore, CBD works more as a stimulant. Reducing stress by decreasing cortisol and enhancing mood by boosting anandamide betters mental wellbeing. CBD can also combat anxiety and limit the amount of unhelpful thoughts that come and go over minutes and hours. It does this by stimulating GABA neurotransmitters, which have an inhibitory effect on the brain, which is necessary to balance out the excitation causing anxiety.
Most people have a vice at work to keep them going: some choose sugary snacks, some like coffee, and others get a nicotine buzz from cigarettes. But all of these are unhealthy, particularly when they become a habit. CBD is a preferable alternative as it doesn’t subject the body to needless inflammation from sugar, nor does it disrupt the body clock like caffeine or cause deterioration and possible disease in the lungs from smoke.
For an intense burst of CBD, the most effective intake method is vaporizing, and there are an assortment of CBD vape oil and e-liquid products on the market. E-juices that contain terpenes offering a sativa-like effect help administer an additional energizing effect. Non-smokers who refuse to vape can enjoy similarly rapid effects by taking CBD oil via under-the-tongue sublingual absorption.
However, a more sustained period of stress relief and mood increase is what many are looking for, and this is more effectively achieved with CBD gummy bears and other edibles. Not only will these satiate appetite during a long day, but the benefits can last for up to eight hours, kicking in around an hour after consumption. Furthermore, CBD edibles – or even capsules – are very discreet and won’t attract attention from others if that’s a concern.
Improve functioning in the endocannabinoid system
Regulation of the endocannabinoid system is essential for good health, but unfortunately, many doctors and much of the public are unfamiliar with it. Yet studies have found that the ECS can influence the body’s sensitivity to pain, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, control appetite and mood, treat excessive inflammation by calming the immune system with endocannabinoids, and even impact cognitive function and memory.
CBD is more helpful in keeping the ECS regulated than psychoactive THC, as the cannabinoid binds to fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) to prevent fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) from breaking down anandamide. This neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid binds with both of the main cannabinoid receptors, and also the GPR-55 receptor, which some have proposed is the third cannabinoid receptor in the endocannabinoid system.
Anandamide is a strong antidepressant that can enhances mood by penetrating the blood-brain barrier, where it can bind as an agonist to CB1 receptors. Anandamide may also be key to reducing pain and is an agonist – along with CBD – of the vanilloid receptor.
Considerable research has been carried out on the general functioning of the endocannabinoid system, and a strong argument has been made that some people are deficient in endocannabinoids. A serious deficiency could cause a collection of symptoms, such as those fibromyalgia patients are subjected to (pain and tender points, cognitive decline, depression). However, minor endocannabinoid deficiencies may be prevalent among up to one-in-four adult Americans, according to Dr Ethan Russo and a team of researchers who have proposed and developed the Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) concept.
It remains just a concept for now, but let’s consider how vital CBD could be for many, who simply aren’t at optimum health levels due to a lack of anandamide, 2-AG and other endocannabinoids. Bringing CBD into the health regime, perhaps as a supplement or as an extra in recipes, is a low-risk but possibly game-changing move.
When talking cannabis, the media typically refers to either the patients with extreme conditions who benefit, or those who consume the drug recreationally. The potential of proper endocannabinoid system regulation, which was forgotten due to non-existent science, could be at the root of many health issues. Humans have a long-time association with cannabis that continued right up until prohibition – its reintegration into society cannot just be for the sick, but for the healthy, too.