Ok… so what’s the deal with cannabis and how has it become one of the new medications seen as a panacea?
First, although certain components of cannabis have recently been touted as a miracle by many people all over the world, no cannabis product is a panacea.
Cannabis, or marijuana, is simply a type of hemp plant. The two basic active ingredients in cannabis are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). These are the chemicals found in cannabis that actually do the “medicine” part. Some hemp plants are primarily rich in THC and some are primarily rich in CBD. There is also a wide variety of plants with a mixture of CBD and THC.
THC is the component that makes you “high.” The THC molecules activate receptors in your body called CB1 receptors. So when you smoke or ingest marijuana, the THC molecule lands on the CB1 receptor and, voila, you are high. The CBD molecules activate the CB2 receptors and your body is either up-regulated or down-regulated, depending on its need.
Researchers isolated the CB1 and CB2 receptors in 1992. Since then, scientist have found CB2 receptors in every system in the body—in fact there is twice the amount of CB2 receptors than all the other receptors combined. There is even CBD in breast milk. No wonder it is so effective!
Here’s a quick list of facts about CBD molecules:
• CBD is legal in all 50 states.
• CBD is one of the compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. By using selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create varieties with high levels of CBD and next to zero levels of THC.
These strains are rare but have become more popular in recent years.
• CBD is non-psychoactive. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. While this makes CBD a poor choice for recreational users, it gives the chemical a significant advantage as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects. And CBD has a wide range of medical benefits! According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, studies have found CBD to possess the following medical properties:
- Antiemetic: Reduces nausea and vomiting
- Anticonvulsant: Suppresses seizure activity
- Antipsychotic: Combats psychosis disorders
- Anti-inflammatory: Combats inflammatory disorders
- Antioxidant: Combats neurodegenerative disorders
- Anti-tumoral/Anti-cancer: Combats tumor and cancer cells
- Anxiolytic/Antidepressant: Combats anxiety and depression disorders
Though they may have different results in the general population, these are the results of a very comprehensive review of hundreds of studies.
I’ve personally seen some miraculous response to the CBD I carry in my office. I generally tell people to think of CBD as a vitamin—a supplement that when taken regularly will be effective and ultimately has the potential for being life changing. In a nutshell, CBD works!