Humankind just can’t make up their mind about cannabis. Even though for thousands of years, humans have practiced cannabis as medicine or for spiritual quests. In the initial modern period, the British first banned cannabis in colonial India. Followed by the United States government in the 20th century, declared war on marijuana, and afterward, most of the world followed suit. Scientists have already proven that cannabis can treat a range of illnesses, and it is much safer than alcohol. As per history, the cannabis plant probably started in Central Asia and might have been among the first plants cultivated by humankind. Apart from its psychoactive properties, cannabis gave early producers nutritious seeds to consume and fibers for rope making. Cannabis has a rich history in India, where it has been used for thousands of years as spiritual guidance.
Cannabis is a complex plant and a chemical powerhouse with more than 400 different chemical compounds. Out of those 400 compounds, more than 100 of them are entirely specific, and scientists call these compounds cannabinoids. And the two most important cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While THC is the compound that is responsible for psychoactive properties, which give the euphoria or high that people experience, CBD, nonpsychoactive sister, emerges as the shining star, which holds the key to the wide variety of medicinal and therapeutic effects. These two compounds are wholly responsible for raising the main focus of studies on the possible medical applications of cannabis in the medical community.
Types of CBDs
CBD compound is found in both marijuana and hemp, and both are the products of the Cannabis plant. Both of these varieties have contrasting functions and effects on the human organism, while hemp products are known to relieve pain, help with soothing of both internal and external aches, marijuana products are high in THC thus have a powerful psychotic effect on the mind. As mentioned by Dr. June Chin, author of “Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness,” hemp has been selectively bred to remove the cannabinoid THC almost entirely, and the marijuana variety can contain up to 30% THC. She has combined medical cannabis in her work for the past 19 years and is an advocate for a better understanding of the science and medicinal use of cannabis.
The Farm Bill 2019 made the cultivation of hemp legal in the United States and to sell hemp-derived CBD products grown in the US and abroad. The hemp-derived CBD products must contain less than 0.3 percent of THC per dry weight, but the bill does not cover marijuana-derived CBD, even if THC is removed from the products. Unlike hemp-derived CBD, which can be sold over the counter, marijuana-derived CBD strictly requires a doctor’s prescription for specific conditions and is sold only at regulated and licensed dispensaries, depending upon the state laws.
The Rise of Cannabis
For years cannabis has been an integral part of human civilizations for both as a medicine and recreational element. Cannabis is re-emerging as a vital social, cultural, and political force, yet knowledge about it is incomplete, inconsistent, and tormented by false information. As a result, the demand for trustworthy, accurate information about cannabis is at an all-time high.
Cannabis used for medical purposes, i.e., the marijuana-derived CBD, has achieved some well-deserved fame, with therapeutic applications ranging from the treatment of nausea associated with chemotherapy to easing muscle spasms, and many others. Potential therapeutic benefits of both hemp and marijuana CBD include reducing pain and inflammation, reducing anxiety, and aiding sleep, according to many studies. Stress and anxiety relief, are two of the most common reasons that people turn to CBD, according to a survey involving nearly 8,000 users of cannabis. As per Dr. Chin, CBD calms down the nervous system by working on the neurotransmitters of our brain and tells the body to power down for a feeling of relaxation. This property of CBD can be beneficial during stressful times when someone might experience heightened anxiety levels, like, during the coronavirus pandemic.
CBD in the time of Covid-19
A recent survey researching the consumer attitudes and behaviors during Covid-19 “social distancing” revealed that people have been turning to CBD and cannabis to cope with the stressful time of this pandemic. Specifically, 10% of people are using cannabis, and 5% of people are using CBD among the general population. Recently researchers have also warned of a rise of anxiety and “coping responses” during the coronavirus and implied for better monitoring of mental health concerns as part of the global response to the coronavirus.
People suffering from coronavirus-related anxiety due to fear of one’s health, the fear of the health of loved ones, entrapment from quarantining, isolation, disruption in daily routine, losing the job, financial crisis or only uncertainty of the future are turning towards CBD as a useful tool to get through this difficult time. Speaking of the trauma of health care workers on the front lines is another aspect of the pandemic calling for anxiety and pain relief, where CBD can be proven to be very useful.
In an email, Dr. Chin mentioned that many health-care workers who are working long shifts are finding CBD helpful in their off days for restorative sleep and for pain and inflammation relief, caused by being on their feet all day and having neck and low back pain. CBD can also help with insomnia and panic attacks as the prevalence of PTSD and depression in response to this pandemic.
According to a study by Dr. Yasmin Hurd, who is a neuroscientist at the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai (AIMS) in New York, it has been revealed that CBD may be a healthy alternative for those struggling with drug addiction. CBD may even have the potential to help opioid addicts to avoid relapse through reducing anxiety and craving.
CBD Success Story
The most significant achievement of CBD is the recently FDA-approved Epidiolex, a drug that consists of purified CBD derived from the cannabis plant. The FDA approved this first prescription CBD for Dravet & LGS in June 2018 for two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Once government officials recorded that children with intractable epilepsy experienced a notable decline in seizures, at a time when other conventionally prescribed anti-seizure medications could not offer any relief.
Dr. Elizabeth Thiele is the director of the pediatric epilepsy program at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was a part of the team of doctors involved in the drug’s safety and efficacy trials. She has also reported that one patient who was experiencing more than 100 seizures per day, after a week of CBD medication had four seizures in one day.
The satisfactory effects of CBD came into focus after CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is also a practicing neurosurgeon, featured a young Charlotte Figi in the 2013 documentary named “Weed.” Figi had an intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome by using a high-CBD cannabis strain, practically eliminated her seizures. This cannabis was produced by Colorado Springs growers, who eventually named the strain after her- Charlotte’s Web. The CBD, which is formulated for the development of Epidiolex, comes from marijuana. And according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, marijuana doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very considerable medical applications.
CBD, Safety, and Health
CBD has been praised for an extensive type of health issue. Still, the most reliable scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the most ruthless childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome, which typically don’t react to anti-seizure medications. In various studies, CBD was able to lessen the number of seizures, and in some cases, it was able to stop them entirely. CBD is usually used to relieve anxiety and stress, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both staying asleep and falling asleep.
CBD also offers treatment for various types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain presented, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin as CBD oil or cream could help lower pain and inflammation caused due to arthritis. One more study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most stubborn types of chronic pain to heal. More research in humans is still pending to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control and treatment.
Some of the observed side effects of CBD are nausea, irritability, and fatigue. CBD can also increase the level of the blood thinner coumadin in blood. The most significant safety concern regarding the CBD is that it is primarily marketed and sold as a supplement, rather than medication. At the present time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the purity and safety of edible forms of CBD supplements, mostly food and drink products. So one cannot know for sure that the product has active ingredients of the dose listed on the label. Besides, the product may contain other or unknown elements as well. It is also not known what is the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD for any particular medical condition.
CBD and Wellness
As crucial as it is to maintain physical health during this epidemic, it is equally important not to overlook the mental and spiritual well-being. There is an increased number of consumers who are turning to CBD to safeguard their overall health. According to experts, it is critical to check with your doctor before trying any form of CBD, mainly if you are on any medication. As Dr. Chin told, it is important to check with the health professional, whether the CBD is derived from hemp or marijuana. While research on CBD seems to be promising, it is still a chemical with potentially wide effects in the human body. It can interact with the medications that a person is taking and thus can make their effects more powerful. Since hemp-derived CBD is legal in the US, it remains unregulated, which means one should question health claims that may appear on labels before using any form of CBD.
Dr. Ned Sharpless, FDA Commissioner, has also said that the selling of unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims, such as claims to treat severe conditions and diseases, can put consumers and patients’ health at risk. Additionally, there are many unanswered questions of unapproved products containing CBD and their science, safety, effectiveness, and quality.
In a move to bust the marketing of CBD products, the US Food and Drug Administration has previously issued warning letters to companies for selling cannabidiol products with unconfirmed health claims, like, the products treat Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and cancer among other health conditions and illnesses. Recently they have also sent a warning to 15 companies that have illegally sold CBD products, either by adding it to food or marketing it as a dietary supplement. The FDA said it could not recognize the ingredient as safe or approve products Until it learns more about the effectiveness and safety of CBD. In July 2019, the Health Department of New York City had put a ban on CBD in edible products.
Ways to Take CBD
CBD is such a personalized and customized therapeutic alternative, and dosing is very individualized. CBD is available in several different forms of products, which allows people to tailor their method of use according to their specific needs. Depending upon how quickly you would like to experience effects, price, and taste preferences, you might want to try different methods to see what works best for you. Here is a list of some most common types of CBD:
1.Oils and Tinctures
CBD oil is extracted directly from the hemp plants, and this liquid form is infused into the ointments. It’s put under the tongue with the help of a dropper. Since our oral mucosa is filled with tiny capillaries that absorb the CBD quickly. Oils and tinctures are an excellent choice for anyone who can’t take pills or capsules. Many people even apply these CBD oils for other skincare purposes. These CBD products usually fall under a bigger price range because it tends to have the highest CBD concentrations. Various CBD hemp oil contains other cannabinoids and nutrients, and it can be added to food, drinks, or consumed orally. Although used in the same manner as CBD oil, CBD infused tincture is a specialized oil combined with carrying agents such as alcohol or flavored oils, mint and fruit are the common ones. Tinctures also come as sprays or packaged in pump bottles. And tend to be a pretty affordable option for both beginners and experienced CBD consumers.
2.Creams and Tropicals
Tropical CBD-infused creams are used for the treatment of muscle and joint pains. They are also used for curing some skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. CBD topicals are any product that you can apply directly onto your skin, ranging from lotions to lip balm. It usually comes in a cream or wax form, and are great options for localized results, since they will be interacting with your skin versus absorbing into your bloodstream. The effects of CBD creams and topicals can last for hours; hence it makes it easier to include them in your routine.
3.Capsules and Pills
CBD capsules and pills are a powdered form of CBD put inside a capsule or made in tablet form, which is consumed and absorbed through the process of digestion. They usually have no taste and typically last longer than other ranges of CBD products. These pills and capsules have a fixed amount of CBD in them; therefore, you don’t have to measure it out yourself every time. CBD capsules and tablets are consumed for digestive issues and seizure disorders. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) federal agency of USA has approved Epidiolex, the first high-potency CBD drug to treat seizure disorders. The only drawback with these capsule forms from the time of ingestion till the onset of effect is that it can take a while.
Although often associated with THC, edibles are a great way to consume CBD. CBD edibles are any food item with added CBD, from candies to pastries. CBD gummies, CBD gum, and other edibles are absorbed through the stomach during digestion. They taste delicious. No matter your craving, you can probably find a flavor to match. Since edibles pass through the digestive system before they are absorbed into the body. This means you feel the benefits for a lot longer than other methods of CBD. CBD edibles are perhaps the easiest method of CBD consumption. The benefit of CBD edibles over any other form of products is clear; they taste good and convenient. Gummies are the most popular and common ways to consume CBD. As they are affordable, portable, discrete, and palatable.
Inhaling vaporized CBD by vaping using vape pens is the speediest way to experience its psychoactive effects. CBD is inhaled and absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream of the consumer.
CBD and Need for More Scientific Research
Only because CBD is popping up everywhere, as a wellness booster, it does not necessarily mean everything that is being said is completely true. As inferred by Dr. Thiele, there is a tremendous amount of interest in the patient community regarding what CBD can do and what it can not do to ail various kinds of illnesses and conditions. But there is not a sufficient amount of data to claim what CBD can cure and what it can not. While CBD creams may help ease various aches and pain as per the anecdotal reports, there are still a lot more scientifically-proven reports that are needed for a clinical application that, too, not only with CBD but with the other cannabis compounds as well.
Some preliminary research studies also have suggested that CBD may be beneficial for those who have trouble sleeping, and one more research points to a potential role for topical CBD in ailing skin problems and promoting skin health benefits. According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Department of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, studies have shown that CBD may decrease oil production and be useful in people who have acne-prone skin. Moreover, there is anecdotal data that suggests that CBD oil can be helpful for a variety of inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. As the skin has a large amount of CBD receptors, so there is excellent potential for CBD oils and tropicals. But it is essential to keep the beauty hype separate from reality.
Also, there is something Frankel calls “a newer part of the trend,” where there are athletes who take CBD in anticipation of a tough workout to minimize the soreness of the muscle. Enthusiasts are pushing their bodies with various forms of exercises like triathlons, CrossFit, boot camp, which are extremely challenging physical experiences. All these people are taking CBD topically and internally to protect against inflammation and aches, hoping that CBD will relieve the pain. Dr. Chin also suggests that if anyone suffers from back pain and does a lot of yoga or cycling workout, they could consider using over-the-counter CBD as a preventative three to four times per week to prevent chronic-use injury. But for thoroughly understanding the reach of CBD’s therapeutic effects and its most favorable application requires more extensive research studies. Even if CBD is known to be a potent anti-inflammatory, the limited scope studies that exist till time debates exactly when athletes should try to damper inflammation and when they should just let the body recover on its own. There is a lack of research regarding CBD and exercise, and most of it is anecdotal information.
CBD may prove to be a promising option for managing anxiety, stress, insomnia, and chronic pain, but more research is still required. Without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, effective doses can not pein pointed. Since CBD is currently available as an unregulated supplement, it is tricky to know precisely what you are getting. If you decide on trying CBD products, do consult with your doctor first, even if there is no reason, make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking. The research sector is booming, as is the legal cannabis industry. And so one of the world’s most mysterious plants gives up its secrets.