CBD Oil: A Health Product to Watch out For
We’re living in a very different time in Canada. Cannabis, a once illicit drug has become legalized for recreational use. The legalization of cannabis makes Canada the second country in the world to do this allowing adult Canadians the freedom to legally possess this plant with some provincially set restrictions. CBD is short for cannabidiol and it is one of the 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant. There is a growing demand for this component on its own, and it's being touted for its health benefits.
One reason CBD is gaining popularity in the marketplace is because unlike THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the other very popular active ingredient in cannabis, CBD doesn’t make you high. There is limited conclusive research on CBD for specific health conditions as most of the research available is on the whole plant. Despite this, people are becoming more and more interested in CBD alone. The anecdotal evidence is mounting on how beneficial CBD is for many health conditions including: anxiety, epilepsy, nausea, and chronic pain. So, the question is; what is known about CBD and how can its therapeutic benefits be utilized to optimize your health?
CBD: A Little Background
CBD is one of the most studied medicinal constituents in cannabis and is one of over 100 cannabinoid compounds found in the plant. Cannabis produces many active medicinal constituents including terpenes which are also known to provide the characteristic and distinguishable scent that cannabis is known for and THC, the active constituent which causes the psychoactive effect on the brain leading to the feeling of high. CBD is thought to counteract some of the negative mind-altering effects of THC when the two phytochemicals are taken together either in an extract or through consumption of the whole plant. CBD oil is made by extracting it from the flowers, buds, and leaves of cannabis plant. A carrier oil such as coconut oil is then used to dilute it.
CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids exert their effect by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. This intricate biological system is a collection of nerve cells, enzymes and receptors known as CB1 and CB2 that can be found in the brain, spinal cord, digestive tract, muscles and other areas of the body known as the peripheral nervous system.
The endocannabinoid system regulates your mood, pain perception and helps your body maintain balance despite environmental changes. It consists of its own endogenous chemicals produced by your body and these chemicals bind to and influence the CB1 and CB2 receptors, helping to maintain its regular tone.
One theory being explored by scientists in this field is that a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system can lead to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and migraines. However, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t actually bind to the CB receptors but rather, it influences an enzyme known as the fatty acid amine hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme. The FAAH enzyme is responsible for degrading the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide. When CBD interacts with this enzyme, it allows for a higher concentration of anandamide which can then bind directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The benefit is that anandamide will stay available for longer to bind the CB receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems regulating your immune system, pain pathways and mood among other positive effects.
CBD and the Potential for Abuse
Unlike habit-forming pain medications, CBD doesn’t have this effect. In December of 2017, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) released a report from an initial review they conducted on the use of naturally occurring CBD in which they concluded:
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential”, that “CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials”, and that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” Furthermore, the ECDD noted that “To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Why is CBD desirable over THC?
Research has shown that CBD is a potent antioxidant compound that helps reduce inflammation, reduce anxiety, nausea and decrease the frequency and intensity of seizures experienced in severe forms of epilepsy.
CBD may help improve and manage your symptoms without making you feel high. This allows you to take your dose and continue with your day including going to work and driving without being physically or mentally impaired. This is the main reason people who use CBD on a regular basis prefer to use CBD instead of THC or why products with a high CBD to THC ratio are chosen. CBD and THC work synergistically to achieve the desired effect which is why it may be preferable to include some THC in the cannabis product that you are taking. It’s just key to find a product with the least amount of THC depending on your sensitivity to it.
How it Can be Used
The most common way to obtain CBD is still through smoking. However, smoking may increase your risk of other chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, including bronchitis and emphysema. Furthermore, it is also estimated that 50% of the CBD and THC content is lost in the combustion process which is not ideal.
Vaping, or vaporization, of the oil is less harmful to your lungs than smoking since the product is heated at lower temperatures. It is less wasteful of the cannabinoids and produces a reduced level of toxins such as carbon monoxide and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.
CBD can also be applied topically or taken sublingually. The type of health condition you desire to treat will determine the best way to take CBD, keeping in mind that vaping results in a rapid onset for breakthrough symptom control.
Common Health Conditions for CBD Use
The most common conditions that CBD is used for include:
· chronic pain
· substance abuse
· Parkinson’s disease
· multiple sclerosis
Human and animal studies are mounting on the effectiveness of CBD and cannabis for health conditions and years of anecdotal experiences with this medicinal herb should not be discounted. With legalization of cannabis across Canada and with the emergence CBD products across North America and around the world, we may soon see CBD oil in varying concentrations available in Canada as a natural health product for recreational use.
~Dr. Olivia Rose ND