Cannabidiol, one of the main chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, is better known as CBD — or that thing that is popping up in everyone’s newsfeed, social media page and favorite health food store or pharmacy.
So, why all the buzz? Depending on who you listen to, CBD is either the greatest natural gift to humankind or just modern-day snake oil. It’s easy for consumers to get confused by all the information — and misinformation — out there on CBD products.
We’re going to make it easy for you to understand what’s happening with CBD research, why CBD products are exploding on the market, and what you can really expect it to do for you — and your health.
Why It Has Taken This Long For CBD To Become A Health Aid
Essentially, there’s been a dearth of verifiable research available on the effects of CBD on various health conditions — despite the fact that it was once regularly found in the products in many American medicine cabinets prior to the start of the 1900s.
There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) since both are derived from plants of the Cannabis genus and both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. However, CBD lacks the psychoactive properties of THC, which is what creates the “high” associated with marijuana.
Some of that confusion ultimately evolved into a ban on cannabis from use in medicinal products by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The Marijuana Tax Act was eventually repealed, but the Controlled Substance Act of the 1970s soon replaced it — and cannabis was regulated to the most restrictive category of illicit drugs.
By that point, the cannabis plant had become synonymous with the counterculture of the time. Partly on that prejudice alone, “cannabis” was wholly deemed to be a dangerous, addictive drug with no medicinal use whatsoever.
This attitude put researchers who wanted to study the medicinal properties of cannabis — with or without THC — in a bind. The government was entirely opposed to the use of the drug in medicine and strictly regulated all research. Furthermore, even when researchers could get permission to study the effects of the drug, they often found the quality of the cannabis they were permitted to use in those studies — which has to come from a single federal government contractor — inadequate. The potency of the product the contractor provides is far inferior to what is generally in use today.
Ultimately, that’s led to a hodge-podge of anecdotal evidence from patients and research that has had to be worked around federal limitations.
As cultural attitudes toward the use of both medical and recreational marijuana have gradually changed, CBD made from industrial hemp (which is also produced by a cannabis plant) with 0.3 or less THC has emerged from the shadows. The 2018 Farm Bill has made CBD widely available, although laws vary from state to state.
And people everywhere are suddenly discovering the beneficial effects of the drug for themselves.
So, What Does The Research Say About The Health Benefits Of CBD?
Keeping in mind all the problems that researchers have had obtaining verified studies on the full health benefits of CBD, there are numerous conclusions that can be drawn from what scientists have managed to learn. For example:
One of the most well-known benefits of CBD is its effect on cancer victims. A 2017 National Academy of Medicine panel determined that cannabis can dramatically reduce the nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments.
CBD has also been found to be moderately useful for multiple sclerosis (MS) victims. CBD reduces the involuntary, painful muscle spasms that many MS victims suffer from on a regular basis. (In fact, an oral spray containing both THC and CBD is already legal in several countries.)
CBD is particularly sought after by the victims of chronic pain. Whether they suffer from due to back injuries, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or another inflammatory disease, there’s substantial evidence that CBD can help reduce pain. CBD works to boost the body’s own cannabinoid system and is neither addictive nor potentially fatal, unlike opioid drugs.
Anxiety Disorders And Autism
CBD has also shown tremendous promise as a treatment for depression, anxiety, speech performance issues, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBD’s unique ability to affect the brain’s serotonin receptors (which help to regulate human mood and behavior) means that it has the potential to benefit people with a wide variety of disorders, including autism. Studies funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are also exploring the use of CBD for substance abuse disorders.
Epilepsy And Migraines
Epilepsy and migraine disorders can be frustratingly intractable and affect the brain in a similar fashion. Both are often treated with anti-seizure medication — but those drugs are powerful, harsh on the body, and not always effective. CBD’s beneficial ability to reduce or eliminate seizure symptoms safely — especially in children — partially helped break down the stigma against cannabis-based medicine as a whole.
The Final Word On CBD
Is CBD the answer to every possible medical ailment that troubles you?
No, of course not. No one drug has the potential to beat every illness or disease that plagues mankind. Just the same, it’s far from clear exactly what the limits are on this long-derided cousin of recreational marijuana. In the coming years, there’s increasing optimism among scientists that they’ll have access to better information — which means that patients will also have better information to use when they decide whether or not CBD is something they want to try.
Given the rapidly evolving nature of both federal and state laws regarding cannabis products in general and their use, it’s extremely likely that there will soon be a new wealth of studies medical providers and consumers alike can use as resources.
In the meantime, you can rely on the list above to help you understand the potential uses for CBD products. Maybe it’s time to explore CBD products more on your own!
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