Everything About CBD
The evolving legal status of cannabis in Canada and around the world has affected the business of cannabis in many ways. For the first time, Canadians will be able to purchase legal cannabis products from government-licensed retailers, drastically reducing the proportion of cannabis profits that are funnelled into organized crime. Those who use medical cannabis will have better access to the medicine they need to be productive members of society.
The scientific benefits of legalization have begun to show themselves as well, lending real merit to the promise of a better future that includes smart utilization of cannabis throughout our society. New strains are being developed at an exponential rate, with competition between growers to produce the strains that are most beneficial and most desired by the consumer. Legalization is also leading to more studies about the health benefits of cannabis, especially the compound CBD, or cannabidiol, which is already being used to treat numerous conditions.
We’re so excited about the new treatments that are being made available with CBD that we’ve created this one-stop guide to let our friends and customers know everything that there is to know about CBD. We’re going to cover the basics of CBD, what it does, how it acts on the body, and the great health benefits that you (and even your dog!) can start enjoying from CBD treatments.
Keep reading to get all the latest knowledge on how CBD is going to revolutionize our health care industry in the future.
Part One: Understanding the Basics of CBD
Answered in this section:
- What is CBD?
- What does CBD stand for?
- How does CBD affect the body? What about the entourage effect?
- What are the overall benefits of CBD?
- Can you get high from CBD?
What’s the first step to learning everything there is to know about CBD? Start with the basics! We believe that CBD is going to totally change the complexion of our public health system over the next few decades, and it’s important to understand how this medicine works if we’re going to get the most out of it.
This section of our guide explains what CBD is, what it stands for, how CBD affects the body, including the famous “entourage effect” it enjoys when experienced with other cannabinoids, and then we go deep into how the benefits of CBD work in the body. Finally, we’ll let you know whether you can really get high from CBD (or get your dog high!), and what to expect when you’re trying CBD for the first time.
What is CBD?
CBD is just one of the 113 active cannabinoids that have been identified in the cannabis plant. In other articles, we’ve given different estimates as to the total number of cannabinoids in cannabis, some as low as 75, but in truth, this number is constantly growing as research into cannabis as a potentially life-changing medicine furthers our understanding.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the best-known and best-understood cannabinoids, because it comprises up to 40% of the plant’s extract. This makes it one of the most common chemicals to be found in cannabis, along with its well-known relative THC.
How Does CBD Work in the Body?
CBD comprises a large part of the chemical make-up of the cannabis plant, but it can be most easily extracted from the resin glands of the female cannabis plant. Male cannabis plants do have resin glands, but they are smaller and less concentrated than on the female plants, so we typically do not grow cannabis crops using male plants.
The resin glands, also known as the crystals, or trichromes, appear on the surface of the cannabis plant and are often used to judge the potency of the cannabis that we harvest from it. Plants with lots of crystals will be more potent, because they contain more developed cannabinoid compounds.
The CBD we harvest works on a special body system called the endocannabinoid system. Most people are aware that they have a vascular system, a cardiac system, a digestive system, an endocrine system, and a central nervous system, among others that regulate activities in the body, but many people have never heard of the powerful endocannabinoid system, or ECS. This system houses the receptors that are affected by CBD and other cannabis compounds.
The ECS has receptors that line the central nervous system, including around the brain, but that also touch on many of the major organs in the body, including the skin, digestive tract, heart, and reproductive organs. The ECS is a whole-body receptor system, potentially the strongest neurotransmission system in the body – and it plays a huge role in modifying immune function, mood, motor control, memory, sleep patterns, perception, appetite and several other factors.
Although our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids which are similar in structure and function to the cannabinoids in cannabis, the introduction of exogenous cannabinoids (from outside the body) allows us to take control of the ECS and regulate it the way we choose, using cannabinoids like CBD. CBD therapies let us take control of our bodies in new ways, create alternatives to existing drugs that may have harmful side effects, and open the door to new disease treatments that can be life-changing.
Primary Uses of CBD in Medicine
CBD is already being used for a variety of treatment applications, based on its ability to stimulate the ECS and support the processes of neuroprotection, stress recovery, immune balance and homeostasis. Let’s look at what each of these applications means and how CBD is effective:
Homeostasis – Homeostasis is all about maintaining the right balances in your body to keep you functioning well, and it’s something that our bodies are normally quite good at doing. Your heart doesn’t beat too quickly or too slowly, it beats at just the right rate. Your blood doesn’t hold too much sugar or too little, it keeps just the right concentration. Your body temperature stays the same without getting too hot or cold. Your body maintains these balances in hundreds of different ways each day, but did you know that many common ailments can result from homeostatic imbalances? CBD is being used to treat illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and depression, all of which are associated with homeostatic or chemical imbalances in the body.
Immune Balance – A strong immune system is crucial to the overall health of your body, and an immune system that’s out of whack can be a symptom of issues with your body’s homeostasis. If your immune system is compromised, you’ll get sick easily and your body won’t be able to effectively fight off basic illnesses. On the other hand, if your immune system is too reactive, your body may end up fighting against itself, and you’ll be sick all the time for no reason. The latest CBD research is indicating that CBD therapy may boost immune health in people fighting diseases like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lupus, and the autoimmune Parkinson’s disease.
Neuroprotection – The human brain is an incredible organ. When we are young, we exhibit high degrees of neuroplasticity – the ability to rapidly form neural connections – that allow us to learn things much more quickly than after we grow up. As adults, our brains mature, and we understand ourselves better, enabling us to achieve even more complex tasks. Sometimes, though, certain neuro-degenerative diseases cause our neural connections to malfunction, but CBD therapy has been shown effective at treating illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s diseasethat can be attributed to the breakdown of neural pathways in the brain.
Stress Recovery – The ECS plays an important role in mitigating the stress response and returning the body to normal levels of arousal after a high-stress event. The stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight mechanism, is one of the most powerful and ancient processes we understand about the human body. There are many ECS receptors found in the part of the brain that mitigates this response, however, and CBD has been used effectively to treat symptoms of anxiety, reduce acute panic, and limit feelings of stress. If you have difficulty unwinding after a tough day at the office, work a stressful job, or follow routines and patterns that bring stress into your life, CBD therapy could help you relieve that stress and better enjoy your relaxation time.
Will CBD Get Me High?
Forget what you say in the reefer madness video, just because it’s a cannabinoid, doesn’t mean it gets you high. The cannabinoid compound that is responsible for most of the psychoactive effects of cannabis is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, but many of the other cannabinoids don’t get you high at all. For example, many of the chemicals found in cannabis are terpenes – aromatic, flavourful cannabinoids that make your grass smell fruity, floral, pungent, or sour.
As for CBD, it has no psychoactive properties on its own, and it won’t get you high or impair your judgment.
Part Two: Health Benefits of CBD in Cannabis
Answered in this section:
- What are the health benefits of CBD and CBD oil?
- What illnesses can be treated with CBD?
- Where is the clinical evidence for CBD as a medicinal treatment?
- How can CBD oil and supplements be used to help animals?
Thanks for making it to part two! In part one, we talked about what CBD is, answered the most basic questions you had about it, and then outlined in detail how it affects the body, especially in the endocannabinoid system. In this section, we’ll go more into depth on exactly how CBD can be used in therapeutic applications to help people.
You might want to think of the above section as theoretical and this section as a more practical guide to the health benefits of CBD. Now that we understand how CBD acts in the body, we can look in more detail at why CBD is a great way to medicate and what evidence there is of its ability to help people.
CBD Extracts a Great Alternative to Smoke
Smoking cannabis has always been the traditional method of medicating with CBD, but let’s face it, not everyone likes to inhale burnt plant matter. Although there is no record of anyone dying from cannabis smoke, studies have shown that joints contain more tar than cigarettes (although they are less addictive), and any burnt organic matter probably doesn’t belong in your lungs, for the same reason that you don’t want to inhale smoke from your barbeque.
In view of that, one of the great innovations that’s coming with legalized cannabis is more and better alternatives for medicating. Medicinal CBD users can now inhale CBD extract through a vaporizer, use a high-temperature dabbing tool to vaporize concentrates, or purchase CBD oil or edibles made from pure CBD extract. These alternatives to smoking ensure that everyone who needs cannabis can access it in a form that works for them.
CBD Helps Relieve Pain and Inflammation
Canadians have collectively reported 100,000 cases of multiple sclerosis out of a population just over 35 million, making it the highest rate of MS of any country in the world. MS is a tragic disorder of the neuromuscular and immune systems, which results in the sufferer feeling constant pain for essentially no reason. Pain is meant to be a warning system for damage to the body, so a malfunctioning pain sensor system is both inconvenient and potentially harmful.
A meta-analysis of studies involving cannabis and MS was conducted in 2007, which found that CBD was effective in treating neuromuscular pain caused by MS, and later experiments found that CBD could be administered to rats to suppress neuropathic pain and chronic inflammation.
CBD Helps Relieve Anxiety
In our brains, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex are most involved in regulating our emotional responses. The amygdala houses most of the hardware for the fight-or-flight response, and the prefrontal cortex houses the analytical hardware that we use to assess and respond to threats – it’s where most of our conscious thinking happens.
The ECS has many receptors in these areas of the brain, and these allow CBD to function as an anti-anxiety treatment. In a 2011 study, a simulated public speaking test was administered to a population of people that suffered from social anxiety. The group that was given CBD before the test benefitted significantly from reduced anxiety, less cognitive impairment, fewer feelings of discomfort in their speech performance, and reduced alertness (an indicator of stress).
I like to think of anxiety as an illness of living outside the moment. Anxiety happens when your sense of apprehension for things to come begins to supersede your experience in the present moment. CBD helps you relax and focus your consciousness on the current moment, where you can feel less anxious and more present.
CBD Oil Used to Attack Cancer Cells
Humans experience all kinds of disease throughout our lives, but the most insidious ones are those that come from within. Cancer is a disorder that happens when our cells can’t stop growing – they multiply without control, forming tumours that disrupt our functioning until we can’t fight any longer.
Although the mechanisms of cancer are still poorly understood in many cases, early CBD therapy studies have found that CBD could be effective at treating certain types of cancer. Importantly, cancer cells defy traditional medicine because we don’t yet have a way to target cancer cells with medication without targeting the surrounding cells. That’s why people get so sick from chemotherapy – the harsh chemical treatments are attacking their healthy cells as much as the cancerous ones.
Still, one study found that CBD could selectively inhibit the growth of a tumour without disrupting the surrounding tissues. We’re early on this research, but there could be huge breakthroughs coming in this area.
CBD Could Help Prevent Diabetes in Adults
Diabetes sucks. It’s a disease that happens when our bodies can no longer maintain a healthy insulin balance, and over a long enough time scale, almost everyone gets it. High insulin levels in the blood are an important marker for detecting diabetes, and large waistlines (obesity) are also a major predictor.
A 2013 study conducted with over 4000 participants found that those who used cannabis regularly had insulin levels 16% below those who didn’t, and cannabis use was also correlated with smaller waist circumference. This meant that the cannabis users were at lesser risk of developing diabetes.
CBD May Aid in Addictions Treatment
Could CBD be the next drug that helps cure addiction? A 2015 systematic review of CBD and addiction studies found that the compound was acting on the neurotransmitters involved in addiction, helping addicts overcome everything from opioid and psychostimulant addiction to tobacco and cannabis dependence.
The mechanism for this is still poorly understood, but one possibility is that CBD effectively protects the brain from stress and neurotoxicity (withdrawals), allowing addicts to make the transition to sobriety more effectively.
CBD Could Help Your Dog!
Dog lovers know – pets are vulnerable to many of the same kinds of health issues that humans are. After all, our bodies are very similar, so it’s no surprise that man’s best friend could be suffering from diabetes, chronic inflammation or stress, seizures, poor appetite, and other ailments.
As many as 5% of dogs suffer from seizures, and the most common treatments like phenobarbital and potassium bromide are quite expensive and can be tough on your dog’s liver and digestive tract. CBD therapy may be able to reduce the incidence of seizures in your pup, just like it’s been shown to in humans living with drug-resistant epilepsy or Dravet’s syndrome.
Animal studies have also shown that CBD oil can prevent colitis and restore normal gut motility in animals suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Its antibiotic properties are also effective at fighting certain kinds of bacteria in dogs, such as Staph. aureus.
We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to CBD. Cannabidiol is changing the healthcare and cannabis industries in tandem, as Canada becomes a world leader in CBD research and production. Early anecdotal evidence is strong that CBD will have numerous health benefits above and beyond what we’ve already described, and we’re excited to watch the body of evidence for CBD medicine continue to grow.
Until then, grab one of our specially created and curated CBD products for yourself and start restoring your appetite, reducing inflammation, and busting stress!