by Anna Price
The use of medical marijuana has been, and continues to be, a hot-button topic. This issue is only gaining in popularity as we experience the shift in how we view cannabis products. In the 1930s the use of medical cannabis was banned. Before this time, cannabis was often found in medicines, and had been seen as extremely useful in health care. Some of the first evidence we have of this dates back to 2737 BC Asia. According to Chinese legend, Emperor Shen Neng would prescribe a marijuana tea to treat conditions such as gout, rheumatism, malaria and memory loss. Later in ancient China a medical book refers to cannabis as dama meaning “great cannabis.” Cannabis was even regarded as medicinal in medieval Europe and was used to treat tumors, coughs and jaundice.
This the medical cannabis trend continued to thrive throughout the ages up until the 1930s when states began to ban the use of marijuana. Though this substance was still found in certain medications, it was highly controlled.
Once the 1970s hit, marijuana was categorized as a schedule 1 drug and the government restricted any further research on the plant. This was a particularly harsh move that put marijuana into the same group as much more dangerous substances such as cocaine and heroin. The more we know about the effects that cannabis has on our bodies, the more we know that this plant doesn’t belong in the same boat as the other schedule 1 drugs.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
Research on cannabis has since commenced, and we continue to learn more about the medical benefits. One area in which science has more knowledge in is the cannabinoids within the cannabis plant itself. The discovery of the human body’s own endocannabinoid system has made plant cannabinoids of even greater interest. The endocannabinoid system works directly with the central nervous and peripheral systems and therefore can help to regulate the functions within these systems.
Two cannabinoids in particular have found their way into many scientific studies: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is perhaps the most well-known cannabinoid as it is responsible for the high for which marijuana is so famous. Studies show that when THC enters the brain it binds with the CB1 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system. This can produce different results for different people, but generally these effects include paranoia, memory loss, heightened mood and increased appetite. THC is considered psychotropic, which is why marijuana has been bundled (albeit unfairly) with other euphoria inducing substances.
CBD is quite a different cannabinoid all together. Though CBD does interact with the CB1 receptors, it does not bind to them like THC does. It can, however, work with the CB1 receptors to keep other cannabinoids, such as THC from binding to them. Studies have shown that due to this reaction, CBD can help reduce the psychotropic effects of THC such as paranoia and anxiety. What is perhaps more fascinating about CBD is that not only can it help against negative psychoactive effects, it is non-psychotropic itself. This means that CBD cannot not create a high when ingested.
Those who are leery of trying cannabis products due to fear of becoming intoxicated may find relief in CBD oil. Benefits of using CBD oil are growing as research persists. Could CBD be the treatment for what ails you?
Medical Benefits of CBD
Diabetes and Weight Loss:
Millions upon millions of people suffer from diabetes in the world. Diabetes exists when the pancreas fails to release insulin properly. When we eat, our body naturally turns the food into glucose. The pancreas then releases insulin to keep our blood sugar levels in check. When the pancreas does not act as it should diabetes will develop which can lead to immune system problems. There are varying types of diabetes including gestational diabetes, which happens during pregnancy. However, the most common types are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. With type 1 diabetes the immune system will start to attack the islets, which are insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. If the body is destroying the islets, glucose will build-up. Without insulin from the pancreas the cells cannot be opened and glucose cannot enter which results in the cells literally starving. Those who are suffering from type 1 diabetes will need to adopt stricter diet and exercise regimens while using insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as “adult onset” diabetes as it typically develops in those over the age of 35. Often with type 2 the body is still making its own insulin, and these patients can manage their diabetes with diet and exercise. Some research suggests that diabetes and the endocannabinoid system could be linked. When the endocannabinoid system is not functioning as it should, this leads to a reduced amount of adiponectin. Adiponectin is a protein in the body that helps to regulate glucose and break down fatty acids. As a result of inadequate adiponectin levels, insulin resistance and hyperactivity of the endocannabinoid system can occur which can increase hunger. It is no secret that obesity and diabetes can go hand in hand, and this could be an underlying reason. CBD can help to regulate the endocannabinoid receptors. Also, unlike its cannabinoid counterpart, THC, CBD does not increase the appetite and can actually help to suppress hunger. Researchers have also recently discovered that CBD can actually help to stimulate the proteins that enhance the break down of fat cells. According to this study, CBD can also help decrease the overall production of fat cells. CBD has shown to have the ability to convert the white fatty tissue in our body into brown tissue. This is called “fat browning.” While white fat stores energy, browning fat actually burns off energy. The fat browning process helps the body to lose fat more easily which could help diabetes patients with glucose tolerance. CBD has also been shown to help promote the immune system which in turn could help with pre-diabetes. A study on mice who had developed type 1 diabetes was done by scientist to observe the effects CBD would have on diabetes. The results indicate that CBD can reverse autoimmune disease in mice. More research will need to be done, but diabetes patients certainly seem to have reason to be hopeful.
CBD for epilepsy is perhaps one of the most media covered topics attached to medical CBD. Those who have heard of Charlotte’s Web hemp, which is a high CBD hemp plant know of the story of Charlotte Figi. Charlotte suffered from around 300 seizures every week before using cannabis oil. After just her first use Charlotte was seizure-free for seven days. Now Charlotte only has a few seizures a month, and is taking full advantage of CBD oil from the plant that was named after her: Charlotte’s Web. The Food and Drug Administration is even getting on board with CBD and approved the study of pharmaceutical-grade drug called Epidiolex in 2014. Epidiolex differs from other epilepsy drugs as it is almost pure CBD oil. The study included 261 patients with severe epilepsy. After a 12-week trial period, this study revealed that Epidiolex cut seizure frequencies in half. Epidiolex has been proven to be successful in the treatment of epilepsy and is being further researched in randomized controlled studies.
Cancer is a scary word for anyone to hear, and more people are hearing it than we might think. In 2017 alone an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States alone. An estimated 600,920 cancer cases will result in deaths. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation are aggressive and come with their own set of damaging qualities. These treatments have a list of side effects including anemia, bleeding and bruising, delirium, edema, hair loss, fertility issues, nerve problems and pain. The side effects of the treatments alone can leave a cancer patient in a debilitating state. But there may be hope on the horizon. CBD is proving to be an anticancer agent that can pull its weight in health care. An article published in the American Association for Cancer Research, CBD was found to actually kill breast cancer cells. The data collected from this study suggests that CBD specifically targeted cancer cells resulting in little to no damage to normal breast tissue. This cannot be said with chemotherapy which can be harmful to healthy cells, leading to some fairly nasty side effects.
CBD isn’t only beneficial internally, CBD oil is also good for the skin. CBD creams, salves and balms open opening up more options for using CBD oil. Though CBD can help keep skin healthy in general, one super power that this oil has is treating acne. 50 million people each year are plagued with acne. Drug stores are continuously stocked with a variety of acne products all competing to be the best option. Add CBD to the shelf, and we may just have a winner. According to Dr. Tama Biro, a Hungarian scientist who conducted a study on CBD for acne, CBD could be a viable option for acne treatment. When Dr. Biro took an isolated group of cells and applied CBD oil to them, he saw something intriguing. The endocannabinoids that our body naturally produces help with hair growth, oil production and immune response in the skin. If our body produces too much endocannabinoid anandamide (the body’s version on THC), the oil production increases which could lead to acne. However, when CBD oil was applied to the group of cells, Dr. Biro found that it actually helped to sedate the sebaceous glands. Dr. Biro also noted that because of CBD’s effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory, this could also help with inflamed skin as well.
CBD has also been tested in addiction research. In a study published in 2013, a group of 24 smokers were chosen at random to be in a double-blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effectiveness of CBD oil for nicotine addicts. The smokers were then given either an inhaler with CBD or a placebo. After a week of treatment, those who had received the placebo had not experienced any difference in their cigarette usage. However, those who were given the CBD inhaler showed a 40% drop in cigarettes smoked that week. The smokers who were given CBD experienced fewer cravings in all, showing that CBD could help with withdrawals.
It’s time we let go of the negative stigma attached to the cannabis plant. The more this plant is researched, the more it becomes clear that it deserves its place in medicine. When looking throughout history, we can see that the pendulum is starting to swing back for cannabis. The plant that was once treasured as a great medicine is making a come back after years of rejection. Thanks to CBD oil, the benefits of cannabis can be enjoyed without hindering any mental faculties. This is sure to turn the heads of many who are looking for safer, more natural options in their health care choices.
Please educate yourself on CBD and its many benefits, and as always, consult a physician before using CBD.
Interested in even more uses for CBD? Read our article on CBD is useful for chronic pain 4 Important Questions (and Answers) About Chronic Pain and CBD
Anna is a writer, business owner and homeschooling mom. As an advocate for alternative medicine, she enjoys educating others on the effectiveness of natural healing. A native of Georgia, Anna now resides in Idaho with her husband, two daughters and dog, Pip.