The Healing Power of Cannabidiol, AKA CBD…
Cannabis, 5000 Years of Recorded History –
History has revealed that cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for nearly 5000 years, and twice that long as a food source, textiles and for durable building materials. The oldest therapeutic references we have go all the way back to 2727 B.C., where cannabis was used as medicine in ancient Chinese practices. Meanwhile in Japan, hemp fibers were woven into clothing and textiles, and was used for more functional items such as fishing line, bowstrings, rope, and other necessary tools.
Over three thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, physicians used cannabis as their main medicine for treating cancerous tumours. Along this same timeline Indian Ayurvedic traditions and other age-old cultures were using cannabis’s psychoactive properties for deep spiritual and meditation practices, shamanic rituals, and spirit quests.
The word “canvas” is actually a Dutch term derived from cannabis, the fabric that drove global exploration and trade for centuries, and the founders of the United States were compelled by law to grow hemp as their mainstay crop for fabric, rope, canvas and fuel. And while it’s healing properties are just now being re-discovered, it was used as the base for many medicines of the 1800’s, even being used by Queen Victoria for her menstrual cramps.
So, cannabis is nothing new, it’s just making headlines as it gets more and more attention these days, much of it attributed to its soon-to-be legalization in Canada and the ramifications surrounding it. This makes the biggest headlines due to public interest, but sadly the biggest news is usually relegated to page two, this being all the medical breakthroughs as we learn more and more about what this amazing plant can do for all of mankind.
A Giant Leap for Mankind… Rediscovering Ancient Medicine –
After years of being suppressed and outlawed, we are finally coming out of the dark ages of cannabis prohibition. Beginning in the late 1960’s and driven by Israel’s Professor Raphael Mechoulam 1, the founding father and world leader in cannabis research, the global medical community has avidly been studying the effect cannabis has as a powerful broad-spectrum medicine. What they’ve found is nothing short of amazing!
Thousands of qualified clinical studies show that cannabis assists with facilitating opioid withdrawal, managing chronic pain, treating severe illnesses, and even curing what were considered incurable diseases with nearly miraculous results. As a result of these latest medical breakthroughs, many health professionals are now prescribing cannabis in many forms as their main protocol to manage their patients without pharmaceutical drugs, avoiding the cascade of side-effects they cause.
Hemp, Cannabis, and Marijuana… Clearing Up the Confusion –
For the purposes of this paper, I will focus on one of the two main medicinal components of the cannabis plant, cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD. However, in order for you to understand what I will be covering, you need to know the differences and similarities between hemp, cannabis and marijuana, since it is very confusing for most people, and that includes many in the medical community that need education on cannabis as well.
While there are some medical practitioners that are well educated in treating their patients with cannabis protocols instead of the standard drug-based methods, most doctors are still unaware that hemp and/or cannabis can be used to replace opioids, narcotics, and other pharmaceutical drugs, eliminating their many side-effects that are nearly as bad as the conditions they are trying to treat. Whether their lack of knowledge is due to time constraints and they simply don’t have the time to read the thousands of studies proving its efficacy, or whether they are in denial due to misinformation or misconception, my hope is that this gets passed on to them for an easy-to-digest primer on cannabis. Education is the key to understanding…
Aren’t Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana All the Same?
Thinking that cannabis, hemp and marijuana are just different names for the same plant is one mistake most people make. Cannabis itself is actually the mother or family of plant that both hemp and marijuana come from, much like families that bear resemblances but are distinctly different 2.
The term “marijuana” is a racist and derogatory term the U.S. government used to scare the public about the cannabis Mexican immigrants were smoking in the early 1900’s. The Mexicans referred to this plant as “marihuana”, not cannabis. Cannabis was well known by most people at the time since it was in most medications in their medicine chests, so to create fear and distrust a new label had to be created, and like it or not cannabis became broadly known as marijuana ever since, so I’ll refer to it as that for purposes of explanation.
Hemp and marijuana are completely different in what they do and how they’re used. Marijuana contains high levels of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the 5-35% range but virtually no cannabidiol (CBD), so hemp and marijuana serve completely different purposes.
Marijuana is used for both medicinal or recreational purposes. Those that choose to use marijuana for pleasure do so for the high they get and its relaxing effects. Outside of the painkilling properties that marijuana-based medicines were always used for, research is now demonstrating THC’s ability to treat cancer through activating apoptosis (cell death) in tumours, and also how it controls stress for those suffering from PTSD and anxiety disorders.
While it looks similar, hemp is much taller than marijuana with long woody stalks, perfect for making long strands of tough fibre. Hemp is completely opposite from marijuana in what it contains as well, with hemp containing virtually no THC but lots of CBD. It’s the THC that gives you a “buzz” or makes you high when you use marijuana, but CBD does not, and cannot. It’s not possible, since it doesn’t activate the CB1 receptors in your brain that THC does. More on this later…
These differences mean hemp is used in a variety of other ways that marijuana can’t be. Hemp extracts are used for incredibly healthy dietary supplements and skin products, and the fibre is used to make clothing and fabrics, much as it was for thousands of years before prohibition in 1937 3. Overall, hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible applications. Not much wonder it was banned 80 years ago…
|Plant Type||Is it Cannabis?||Chemical Makeup||Psychoactive?||Cultivation||Applications|
|Hemp||Yes||Low THC (< 0.3%)||No||Requires minimal care. Grows in most climates.||Dietary supplements, body care, fabric, food, biodegradable plastic, etc.|
|Marijuana||Yes|| High THC
|Yes||Grown in controlled conditions||Medical and recreational use|
An Overview of Cannabidiol (CBD) –
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two main cannabinoids out of at least 113 found to date. Cannabinoids are plant-based nutrients provided by cannabis that have many beneficial health benefits. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act within our endocannabinoid system (ECS) that signal nerve responses in our bodies. They work with one of two cannabinoid receptors… the CB1 receptors in our brain and central nervous system, and CB2 receptors that are found mainly in our immune system and other organs. The reason cannabis has a strong, “skunky” and somewhat “piney” aroma is because of these cannabinoids, much like essential oils do in their respective ways.
As mentioned earlier, CBD doesn’t act on CB1 receptors, much like a key that doesn’t fit the lock. It’s the first question people ask me, so I will say it again… you can never get high when taking CBD products.
CBD works within your body through the actions of the ECS. First discovered in the late 1980’s, the ECS regulates the body’s homeostasis, or general state of balance. The ECS regulates such functions as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and pain and immune response. CBD works to naturally balance deficiencies throughout the body which is why it seems to be able to heal many chronic conditions. A chronic condition is usually the result of long-term deficiencies and CBD is the safest and most effective way to reduce your symptoms and bring your body back to balance.
Image courtesy of http://www.socialmediaunicorn.com/the-endocannabinoid-system/
The latest scientific and clinical research shows that CBD can treat a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has shown great results in protecting the brain and nervous system, and has powerful cancer-fighting abilities. Recent evidence suggests that CBD is safe even at high doses with no adverse side effects.
Some more technical information from the NCBI database of articles on CBD and cannabinoids 4:
Researchers Kunos and Pacher of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently wrote:
Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, has a very logical approach on prescribing cannabis to his clients. He simply states, “Why would I write six different prescriptions, all of which may interact with each other, when I could just recommend one medicine?”
Sounds like he’s on the right track to me…