The Therapeutic Benefits of CBD
CBD, which is obtained from the Cannabis Sativa plant is a cannabidiol that is similar to cannabis and yet different. Similar in the sense that it appears to be as beneficial as cannabis, but different because of the absence of THC, the psychoactive compound that produces a "feeling of being high".
Declared to be completely legal in all the 50 states, CBD protects neurons, helps animals and humans to relax, treats mental and autoimmune disorders and is also showing great promise as being an anti-cancer drug.
Dr. Ethan Russo, a board certified neurologist is the medical research director at Phytecs. He believes that CBD has much to offer to the individuals by way of medical benefits. By synergizing with THC, it is able to reduce anxiety, lessen the intensity of psychosis without producing the intoxication like THC does. Russo also agrees with the fact that the result of extensive clinical trials on CBD, GW Pharmaceuticals has succeeded in having its sub-lingual spray approved in a couple of countries.
Elaborating on the disadvantages and benefits of CBD as an isolate and a whole plant mixture, Russo notes that the compound Sativex, which has both THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio plus other terpenoid components, has been successful in treating spasticity in MS and has been able to combat neuropathic pain. Sativex, in that ratio, administered as an oral mucosa spray was considered to be efficient, safe and had minimal side effects.
CBD, in its isolated form, was seen to counter epilepsy very well and appears to be equally effective in treating different kinds of seizures as well. Thus, the absence of THC will in effect not only reduce the kind of side effects but also help combat the liability of legal constraints. Trial runs of CBD as an anti-psychotic has met with success; an announcement to this effect was made, although the results have not yet been published.
Rather than projecting the fact that “CBD is like THC without the psychoactivity,” Russo prefers to concentrate on the fact that “CBD seems to more suitable than THC.” Elucidating that Cannabidiol is a homeostatic regulator, Russo states that many disorders upset homeostasis- a state of balance and that needs to be restored to acceptable levels. That's what cannabidiol does- when there's too much activity, homeostasis requires that it be brought down and when there's too little, it needs to be brought up. As a “promoter of endocannabinoid tone”, that's what cannabidiol does.
Russo explained why he thought CBD had a bi-directional effect- he suggested that CBD be viewed as a buffer- something that works both ways if needed. He further elucidated by citing the regulation of neurotransmitters in the brain. If there was too much of a particular neurotransmitter or too little, CBD would probably ensure that this was set right.
Russo noted that though THC produced a similar result, it was different from CBD. THC has the tendency to bind to the cannabinoid receptors directly to a particular site on the receptor, whereas CBD does chooses a different site to bind to. In case someone has too much of THC, CBD disrupts the THC activity, thus impeding the signaling of the THC receptor. This has been known to decrease anxiety and prevents a rapid heart rate. In short, CBD's enhancing effect depresses the THC effect and is thus helpful for disease of deficiencies of the endocannabinoid system.
Referring to an important paper published in 2001 and subsequent publications in 2004 and 2016 regarding deficiencies of the endocannabinoid system, Russo notes that many diseases affect neurotransmitter levels. Alzheimer's or other similar dementias, is characterized by the lack of Acetylcholine- the memory molecule of the brain. In Parkinson's, there was not enough dopamine, and that was compensated by L-Dopa, which overcame the deficiency.
Russo, elaborating on the deficiency of endocannabinoids, underscored the fact that the offshoot of this could project itself in the form of unexplained pain, sickness, nausea, a lowered seizure threshold and a whole lot of other problems. Many common diseases, where the tissues showed no sign of ill health and where individuals experienced “pain out of proportion” could be explained on the basis of endocannabinoid deficiency. In all such cases, the tissues were okay, but biochemical activity was responsible for the pain.
What Russo also tried to establish was that the fact that all these individuals would- have recurring problems of a different nature that could be attributed to endocannabinoid deficiency. Clinical trials and experiments that required invasive procedures appear to have corroborated this concept.
Although PET scans and MRI scans were helpful at arriving at a result, Russo noted that currently there didn't seem to be a technology that could measure endocannabinoid deficiency without being invasive. They were, however, working towards that.
Tackling the question as to the techniques being adopted for the restoring of balance to the endocannabinoid system and enhancing or decreasing the endocannabinoid functioning in the body, Russo pointed out that his work at Phytecs went beyond cannabis being used to counter endocannabinoid deficiency.
Not only was the focus on developing more specific chemovars (chemical varieties of cannabis) but much interest was being directed towards non-drug approaches too. Herbs that affected the endocannabinoid system without intoxicating and lifestyle and dietary approaches were also in the pipeline as there was evidence to show that diet could positively influence the endocannabinoid system and its balance.
The fact that an herbal approach was being considered to restore balance and order in the endocannabinoid system would seem to suggest that the approach was more than just a simplistic notion of cannabis compounds binding to receptors- it also included an indirect or direct interaction of herbs and plants with the endocannabinoid system.
Russo cited examples of Liverwort and yangonin that was isolated from kava, the south sea beverage, to emphasize the fact that these too could work on the CB1 receptor- in the same one to which THC binds. Compounds of the cannabis plant also exhibited a lot of activity that didn't involve the Cannabinoid receptors.
Terpenoids- distinct from the cannabinoids- have a distinct affinity for CB2 receptor, which happens to be a non-psychoactive receptor. Anything that acts on CB2 reduces pain, inflammation without any psychoactive effects. Caryophellene, a very safe agent found in black pepper, is an example of this. Anything in the diet that does have CB2 affinity is expected to have a positive effect in chronic pain and counter inflammation without the unwanted side effects of THC. When a cannabinoid that's high in caryophellene is combined with the synergy of CBD, the painkilling and anti-inflammatory effect is expected to be enhanced.
The mere idea that compounds in a plant bind with receptors making good things happen is perhaps too simplistic. Russo indicates that it goes way beyond that as you need to understand how endocannabinoids affect our lives and health. He suggests that perhaps the pejorative connotation associated with cannabis has something to do with it. The fact that there are so many cannabinoid receptors in the brain- much more than all the neurotransmitters put together indicates that the endocannabinoid system is very important. Many studies and ongoing research appear to corroborate existing views.
While the therapeutic effects of CBD cannot be denied, there are other non-drug plants and herbs that may perhaps bring out the same effect. Russo concludes by highlighting the fact that we need to be more aware in what manner lifestyle and diet affect the endocannabinoid system and we need to recognize how it's responsible for altering and improving life conditions.
CBD is available as oil drops, e-liquid, pain cream and capsules in different strengths. If you or a loved one are interested in seeing for yourself different CBD therapeutic benefits, we have a great place for you to start your search into the very products used in this research.