Recently, cannabis has been in the media spotlight. This plant – where marijuana comes from – has been hailed by the scientific community for its wide range of applications. In the past years, many researchers found out that cannabidiol (CBD), a substance extracted from the plant, have therapeutic properties.
Volumes of scientific studies have been published backing CBD’s efficacy as a medicine to a wide range of diseases. Experts have recorded its ability to help a wide range of diseases from minor skin irritations to certain types of cancers.
However, cannabidiol has also been a topic of controversy. Its association with marijuana has given the chemical a bad reputation. This article aims to clarify the confusion and shed more light on the medicinal powers of this substance.
Substances from Cannabis: THC and CBD
Scientists can extract two primary substances (cannabinoids) from Cannabis sativa, the scientific name for marijuana. These are CBD and Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While both chemicals have curative properties, each of them produces different sets of effects on the body.
When introduced inside the body, these chemicals trigger the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. While the two chemicals have the same molecular structure, the body responds to them differently.
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Hence, it gives smokers and users state of “highs” or “euphoria.” On the other hand, even though CBD affects the brain, and it does not have psychoactive properties.
Scientists discovered that both compounds have the capacity to help with certain diseases. Despite THC’s psychoactive effects on the brain, it has the capacity to help treat glaucoma, muscular pain and spasms, low appetite, nausea, and anxiety.
Medical History of Marijuana
Since ancient times, marijuana has been cultivated as a medicinal plant. The earliest recorded use of this plant came from Ancient China. As early as 4000 BC, there were accounts that the Chinese had already been using weed as an anesthetic during surgery. In 2737 BC, Emperor Shen Nung documented the herb’s efficacy in relieving gout, rheumatism, malaria, and even absent-mindedness.
From Central Asia, the herb spread throughout the ancient world. Almost all major civilizations in the past used the plant for recreational purposes. Ancient Indians use it mainly to release them from anxiety.
Some millennia later, pot’s curative properties have been rediscovered. An Irish doctor, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy discovered in the 1830s that extract from the plant could help alleviate stomach pain and nausea in cholera sufferers. From then on, cannabis has been widely studied for its medicinal wonders despite heavy criticism and opposition.
Varieties of CBD Products
Because of the many benefits of the substance, CBD products come in various forms. Here are some types available in the market:
- Oils, which can be administered using tinctures
- CBD Capsules
- Candy and Gummies
- Topicals in the form of balms and gels
- Vapes to help quit smoking
With no psychoactive property, CBD is considered the good side of cannabis. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges the compound as safe. The UN body stated that in CBD’s pure form, does not “have abuse potential.” The organization also declared that the chemical does not cause harm. It even enumerated the diseases CBD has the potential to help alleviate.
Here are some science-backed health benefits of CBD:
- Pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
Since the ancient era, “weed” has been used as an anesthetic. Just recently, scientists found that the body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) involved in regulating various functions, including pain, appetite, sleep, and immune system response. CBD prompts the brain to release of neurotransmitters to impact cannabinoid receptors, which are part of ECS. This process reduces chronic pain and inflammation in the body.
- Reduction of Anxiety and Depression
These two common mental health conditions have affected countless people throughout the ages. In fact, at present, the WHO ranked depression as the primary cause of disability while it ranks anxiety sixth.
Some studies showed the potential of CBD hemp oil to treat both mental disorders. Many patients prefer this treatment over the use of pharmaceutical drugs, which can result in various side effects such as insomnia, headache, and agitation.
- Capacity to Heal and Protect the Nervous System
CBD’s capability to influence the ECS has also an additional benefit, it can treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
There were also studies showing improvement in the quality of life and sleep patterns of Parkinson’s disease patients.
In other animal and test-tube studies, the substance was able to help prevent the degeneration of brain cells usually found in people with Alzheimer’s.
Moreover, clinical research also revealed that the compound reduced brain damage after some rats that suffered a stroke.
- Ability to Ease Cancer Symptoms
Researchers found out that CBD can alleviate severe pain and nausea, two notable symptoms of cancer as well as side effects of cancer treatment.
Aside from these, test-tube and animal studies also showed the anti-cancer properties of the substance.
- Improvement of Heart Health
A body of research has linked CBD to the improvement in heart function and blood circulation. Experts attribute it to the substance’s antioxidant and stress-reducing properties. Moreover, CBD has the capacity to lower blood pressure.
- Treatment for Substance Abuse
Some studies have shown CBD’s capacity to change circuits in the brain related to substance abuse. In lab rats, the chemical has been documented to reduce dependence on morphine. There are also scientific proofs showing lowered heroin-seeking and cigarette-smoking behaviors.
- Treat Acne and Other Skin Diseases
Being an anti-inflammatory substance, CBD is being used to treat acne, psoriasis, and other skin irritations.
Tips for Buying CBD Products
Despite the various health benefits of cannabidiol, the WHO is still cautious on its effect on health. Just like in any medical products, consumers still need to check the quality and source of CBD products. Here are some things to look out when buying this substance online or in-store:
- Request for results from third-party studies
- Check product labeling
- Seek advice from experts.
Hundreds of studies prove the efficacy of cannabidiol as a medicine despite criticisms. While many of them are in the animal research stage, more and more patients voiced their praise to the substance’s efficacy to alleviate and help with their serious health problems.