- Medical marijuana patients are using CBD-rich cannabis for a wide variety of conditions, including serious and incurable diseases, and conditions that may respond poorly to FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. Over 12% are using it to address the side effects of cancer treatment.
- Patients with psychiatric illnesses, mood disorders, neurological diseases and CNS injuries favor CBD-dominant cannabis medicines. Patients with pain and inflammation favor CBD-rich cannabis medicines with more equal levels of CBD and THC.
- THC matters. Patients using the 4:1 CBD-to-THC were the most likely to report a reduction in pain or discomfort, and improvements in mood and energy. Patients using the 2:1 CBD-to-THC ratio reported the greatest improvement in overall wellbeing. This finding is consistent with scientific research indicating that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance one another’s therapeutic effect.
- CBD-rich cannabis appears to be remarkably good at ameliorating pain (particularly in patients with fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines), and at improving patients’ sense of wellbeing, particularly for patients with PTSD.
- Given that people using CBD-rich cannabis for “general well being” are the only group who reported a decreased feeling of well being and the most likely to report a worsening mood, it’s possible that CBD products may not be appropriate as a supplement for people who are otherwise healthy.
What is CBD?
Most people have heard of a chemical called THC, which is the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. Attention is shifting to another compound in marijuana called CBD, for good reason. Some doctors are concerned about certain side effects of THC, but CBD doesn’t appear to present that problem, and evidence of CBD’s medical benefits continues to grow.
Here are five facts many people now agree on about CBD:
- CBD is a key ingredient in cannabis/marijuana
CBD is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids, believed to be healthy nutrients. Of these compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. CBD and THC levels tend to vary among different plants. Marijuana grown for recreational purposes often contains more THC than CBD. However, 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 alter your mental state, yet may improve brain function. This gives the CBD chemical a significant advantage as a medicine, since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects.
CBD is non-psychoactive because it does not act on the same pathways as THC. These pathways, called CB1 receptors, are highly concentrated in the brain and are responsible for the mind-altering effects of THC. A 2011 review published in Current Drug Safety concludes that CBD “does not interfere with several psychomotor and psychological functions.” The authors add that several studies suggest that CBD is “well tolerated and safe” even at high doses.
- CBD has a wide range of medical benefits
Although CBD and THC act on different pathways of the body, they seem to have many of the same 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:
|Medical Properties of CBD||Effects|
|Antiemetic||Reduces nausea and vomiting|
|Anticonvulsant||Suppresses seizure activity|
|Antipsychotic||Combats psychosis disorders|
|Anti-inflammatory||Combats inflammatory disorders|
|Anti-oxidant||Combats neurodegenerative disorders|
|Anti-tumoral/Anti-cancer||Combats tumor and cancer cells|
|Anxiolytic/Anti-depressant||Combats anxiety and depression disorders|
Unfortunately, most of this evidence comes from animals, since very few studies on CBD have been carried out in human patients. Removal of marijuana from the US Controlled Substance Act will open the door to widespread confirming US use studies in the US by health professionals.
A pharmaceutical version of CBD was recently developed by a drug company based in the UK. The company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is now funding clinical trials on CBD as a treatment for schizophrenia and certain types of epilepsy. Similarly, a team of researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, led by Dr. Sean McAllister, has stated that they hope to begin trials on CBD as a breast cancer therapy.
- CBD reduces the negative effects of THC
CBD seems to offer natural protection against the marijuana high. Numerous studies suggest that CBD acts to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC, such as memory impairment and paranoia. CBD also appears to counteract the sleep-inducing effects of THC, which may explain why some strains of cannabis are known to increase alertness.
- CBD is still illegal unless sourced from legally imported industrial hemp
Even though CBD shows much promise as a medicine, it remains illegal in many parts of the world. CBD if extracted from US grown marijuana, is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States and, until recently, a Schedule II drug in Canada. Canada has recently taken steps to decriminalize recreational marijuana throughout Canada.
Drugs and Patents Based on CBD
Despite this oppressive US regulatory environment as of November 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a request to trial a pharmaceutical version of CBD in children with rare forms of epilepsy. The drug is made by GW Pharmaceuticals and is called Epidiolex. According to the company, the drug consists of “more than 98 percent CBD, trace quantities of some other cannabinoids, and zero THC.” GW Pharmaceuticals makes another cannabis-based drug called Sativex, which has been approved in over 24 countries for treating multiple sclerosis.
A patent awarded to the U.S. Health and Human Services in 2003 (US6630507) also covers the use of CBD as a treatment for various neurodegenerative and inflammatory disorders. There are dozens of issued and pending patents for synthetic versions of CBD, believed to be far less effective than naturally derived CBD therapy.
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