We are hearing a lot in the media at present about people using cannabidiol (CBD) to remedy various medical conditions. But frustratingly, the alternative health scene is notorious for being littered with inaccurate information, something which has been exacerbated by the free-for-all nature of the internet.
In this article, we’re going to steer clear of wild and unproven claims about medical cannabis, and stick to the facts as we know them, as of 2018. So, what is CBD, and what are the key therapeutic uses of this marijuana and hemp-derived compound?
What is CBD?
CBD is just a single component of the hemp plant, which is thought to contain more than 400 individual compounds in total. More than 100 of these are categorized as cannabinoids, as they are able to interact with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, and bear a chemical resemblance to endocannabinoids, lipid-based neurotransmitters which are generated by the body.
As a cannabinoid, CBD is in the same group of compounds as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the famous psychoactive chemical which triggers a mind-altering “high”. However, CBD couldn’t be more different in that sense from THC, as it produces no intoxicating effects. Without getting too technical, this is a result of how the cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors.
CBD does not have a direct effect on the endocannabinoid system but can increase or reduce the binding affinity of receptors, and also stop the degradation of endocannabinoids by switching off catabolic enzymes. Whatever nuanced impact CBD makes, the goal is typically to promote balance in the endocannabinoid system. This is why users find CBD wholesale products capable of treating so many ailments.
CBD: a novel way of calming the immune system?
For thousands of years, there has been a prevalent belief that diseases start in the gut and can be worsened by a faulty immune system. Indeed, we know that inflammation can be mightily difficult to control, and that excessive activity can cause irreparable damage to organs and tissues in the body. But researchers have found it challenging to develop effective anti-inflammatory drugs, which don’t cause side effects.
However, scientists studying cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system have unearthed a new connection to immune system response, which promises to change the future of anti-inflammatory drugs. Studies have demonstrated that the CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system are found on white blood cells and immune tissues, indicating that activation of these receptors can influence immune system function.
Researchers have also shown that endocannabinoids – notably anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) – can moderate inflammation by stifling the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, by binding with CB2 receptors. Hence, CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect comes from raising levels of these endocannabinoids, by stopping enzymes from breaking them down. More endocannabinoids in the body means that more are available to bind with CB2 receptors and suppress pro-inflammatory proteins.
CBD: the answer to fibromyalgia and migraines?
While fibromyalgia and migraines are quite different illnesses, it’s possible – and perhaps even likely – that they have the same underlying cause. High-quality research into the endocannabinoid system remains at a premium, given its discovery did not come until the early 1990s.
However, since the early 2000s, psychopharmacology researcher Dr Ethan Russo has worked on the concept of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD), which proposes that fibromyalgia and migraines are caused by dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system. In a nutshell, those suffering from CECD are unable to generate enough endocannabinoids to keep the endocannabinoid system working.
An absence of anandamide, for example, can lead to increased pain levels and low mood – two common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Studies have also revealed that migraine patients suffer from abnormally low levels of anandamide.
While more research is necessary before these theories are proven, it is intriguing that surveys of medical cannabis users have shown great results for those using wholesale CBD products.
CBD as a supplement
CBD has immense potential to treat a myriad of physical and psychological illnesses, but its usefulness as a general supplement is worth bearing in mind. The endocannabinoid system is known to regulate mood, pain perception, appetite, immune system function, stress, cognitive function and memory – quite clearly, there are a number of benefits to keeping this system regulated.
Therefore, taking a dose of CBD in the morning, afternoon or evening on a daily basis may be a great way of boosting general wellness. There is certainly no harm in supplementing the body with CBD – the World Health Organization has noted that “in its pure state” CBD poses no abuse potential.