Throughout history, hemp has been harvested for its fiber, seeds, and flowers. A plant with seemingly endless possibilities, hemp fiber can produce textiles, rope, clothes, paper, plastic composites, building construction materials, animal bedding, food, drinks, and agricultural supplies. Hemp seeds can produce food, edible oil, personal care products (shampoo, soap, lotions), and industrial fluids used for varnishes, sealants, and lubricants. It can even be used for essential oils, pesticides, livestock feed, bird seed, fuel for cars, and for bioremediation of soil containing heavy metals.
Hemp is one of earliest plants to be cultivated in the world and was a popular crop in early American history. Seeds first arrived in the United States for the purpose of planting to breed and maintain strong hemp crops for new settlers. Soon after settlement, the colonies were legally required to grow hemp as hemp fiber was found to be particularly useful in maritime endeavours, largely because of its natural decay resistance and how easily it adapts to cultivation.
After the American Revolution hemp remained an important part of life in the new country. Farmers were told it was their patriotic duty to grow hemp and were allowed to pay their taxes with it. George Washington himself pushed for the growth of hemp and praised its usefulness in making rope and fabric. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and eventually improved on hemp varieties.
Hemp was a versatile and flourishing crop in America. However, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the popularity of synthetic fibers in the following years, caused a severe decrease in hemp popularity. The industry soon found itself in decline. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act banned cannabis of any kind, including hemp. This essentially caused the entire industry to falter and disappear.
How It Can Help the Environment
Hemp is a powerful tool that has been left dormant for far too long. Not only does it provide us with durable and sustainable materials, the plant itself is also great for the environment. The benefits of hemp are astounding and most people don’t know the full extent of what this miracle plant offers our planet.
Nature’s Air Purifier
Hemp plants are able to rapidly capture carbon dioxide from the surrounding atmosphere, making it cleaner and breathable for us. Hemp has been shown to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any other forest or commercial crop in history . And since hemp can be grown quickly and on a large scale, that means it is an incredibly effective and efficient way to help clean the air around us.
Hemp is a carbon neutral plant, even able to capture and store carbon in its stalks. This is because hemp is naturally durable and able to hold compounds in its strong stalks, yet the leaves of the hemp plant are easily composted right back into their growing fields when needed.
As mentioned above, the stalk of the hemp plant is extremely tough and able to absorb and maintain all sorts of nutrients within it. The same holds true for its leaves as well. As the plant grows and consumes energy, it stores nutrients in its stalk and leaves. As it grows older and matures, the leaves eventually fall to the ground where they decompose and act as a powerful natural soil nutrient. This cycle helps maintain healthy soil for the next crop and shows yet another way hemp is a sustainable plant: it can literally fertilize itself.
The world is changing and so are its environmental needs. It’s because of the ongoing need to remain environmentally responsible that sustainable farming has become so important. There are a lot of resources needed to maintain a farm, even a small one, so every bit that can be conserved should. This is necessary for financial reasons as well as environmental.
Sustainable farming of hemp means that when the crops are rotated each season, the previous crop works to keep the soil nutrients fertile, which aids in the growth of the new crop. This cycle continues with each previous crop helping to fertilize the soil of the crop that comes after. This means farmers don’t need additional fertilizer, which can be costly.
Since hemp is an annual crop that has the ability to reach maturity within just four months of being planted, it works wonderfully as a rotating crop.
Hemp fibre is an amazing natural product that works well for textiles of many different types. It can be compared to cotton or flax, however unlike those two types of fibre, it does not require pesticides or herbicides in order to grow. That means not only is the hemp fibre extremely durable, but so is the plant itself. It is not susceptible to the same dangers that cotton or flax face, like total annihilation from pests.
As most people know, pesticides are dangerous chemicals and there are many who believe they should be avoided altogether. Adding pesticides and herbicides to the growth cycle of a plant crop has many potential risks, including contamination of the surrounding environment and waterways. There is also the risk of health issues like cancer connected to pesticide use.
Pesticides are not simple and harmless chemicals, they are powerful compounds with dangerous side effects. A plant that can grow successfully and flourish without the use of chemicals is extremely important to our environment, to our health, and to future generations.
Prevents Soil Erosion
As has probably been made clear already, hemp is a very resilient plant. Even its roots are incredibly strong, reaching underground lengths of up to nine feet. These deep root systems are essential to the surrounding soil and help prevent soil erosion. Hemp and its roots have the ability to restore soil in areas that are already damaged, that’s how powerful they are.
Once the plants are established, hemp is very drought tolerant and doesn’t need much water to thrive. Hemp uses less water than corn and is extremely well suited to farming in areas that are very dry, like the southwestern United States.
Even in areas where rain is plentiful and it doesn’t seem like there are issues with droughts, water shortages are almost always still a major issue. That means being responsible with water usage and waste are more important than ever. The fact that hemp requires so little (compared to other crops) is yet another compelling reason many farmers grow hemp successfully.
Like most plants, the beginning stages of growth do require quite a bit of water to get the plant established. However, once it reaches a certain level of maturity, it becomes one of the most drought tolerant crops in history.
Here’s an amazing fact: hemp can be used to produce more than 20,000 products. How is that possible? Nothing goes to waste in the hemp plant. The seeds are used to create healthy food products like milk and flour. The flowers are used to create CBD products like tinctures and edibles. The leaves can be used to make beauty products like lotions and shampoos. And the stalk can be used to create natural fibre for textiles or rope products.
Every piece of the hemp plant has a use. Furthermore, the products created from each part of the plant are deeply beneficial and either meet or exceed any other product in the same category. That is an amazing feat for any plant, especially one that boasts zero waste.
Hemp is one of the fastest growing crops in the world. Compared to trees that take years to mature, hemp plants can reach full maturity and height within four months. In a world that is increasingly seeing its forest disappear, finding a sustainable plant that can be used to replace the clear cutting of trees is a huge win. Hemp is also able to produce a very effective pulp that can be used instead of tree pulp to create paper and paper products.
Simply put: hemp is an unbelievable product. It’s a product that can help the environment and society at almost every stage of its life cycle and with every part of its physical being. From the healthy soil it grows, to the abundant flowers it produces that are later turned into CBD oils and used medicinally by humans, hemp could be called a miracle product.
As hemp starts to once again gain back the respect it so rightfully deserves, we can only hope that the world takes full advantage of everything it has to offer. Doing so will be the first step to making up for years of missteps — one of which was not allowing hemp to flourish in this country in the first place.
As the summer of 2020 approaches, the United States is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases in most states across the country. Scientists are doing all they can to keep up with the dangerous increases, which includes groups of researchers beginning their investigation into the benefits of cannabis, especially in regards to treating one of the most dangerous aspects of COVID-19: severe lung inflammation. Previous research on the cannabis plant has shown it to have a variety of therapeutic properties that could make it beneficial in the fight against infections, including those caused by the novel coronavirus.
Researchers have been studying the medical benefits of cannabis for decades, but after the first few months of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic that quickly followed, they have been focusing their attention on ways the plant could prove itself useful in preventing and treating the disease.
One such study took a look at the potential use of cannabis to reduce susceptibility to COVID-19. The research ultimately determined that some cannabis did actually reduce the amount of a certain protein that is required for SARS-CoV2 to enter into host cells . Like most other data on CBD and medicinal cannabis, research is still in its very beginning stages on this particular use, but scientists are hopeful that this means cannabis can be used in a mouthwash or throat gargle as a way to keep the virus from entering the airways of potential victims, thus helping prevent the spread and lethality of COVID-19.
Yet another study suggests cannabis might be useful as an antiviral medication. This study notes, however, that cannabis is a long way from being used as a pharmaceutical option for viral illnesses. The researchers go further by stating that with a strong history of beneficial results and an intriguing list of compounds that have a high likelihood of working, there really is no other option but to continue researching cannabis to see in what other ways it can be useful. Especially right now as COVID-19 rips through communities and families .
On that same note, researchers from the University of Nebraska and from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute have recommended that more research be done into how CBD can be used to help treat the lung inflammation so many are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 . Because of its powerful antiinflammatory properties, these researchers believe cannabinoids can be added to other antiviral therapies in order to reduce lung inflammation. The research suggests that acute infection is caused by a cytokine superstorm, which causes fever, cough, and muscle pain. When these conditions combine they can lead to severe cases of pneumonia. In those critical cases the patient’s lungs are often clogged, making it difficult for them to breathe and sometimes leaving the lungs so inflamed and clogged that the patient is unable to breathe at all. This condition is why researchers are interested in the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.
At first, researchers looked towards existing prescription medication used for acute inflammation. While their experiments did prove it was helpful in COVID-19 patients’ recovery, it had dangerous side effects that increased the risk of coronary artery disease . The side effects were harsh enough that scientists stopped using the medication and spent their time looking for something that had similar properties for inflammation, yet was not as harsh on the bodies of patients who were already critically ill and fighting for their lives.
Here, they turned to cannabis. Because cannabis contains multiple cannabinoids that offer anti-inflammatory benefits, researchers wanted to explore how it can benefit COVID patients suffering from lung inflammation. One cannabinoid in particular is especially interesting to them: CBD.
How CBD Can Help
As the popularity of CBD continues to grow, so does the interest from the medical community. Research has begun on the power of CBD as an anti-inflammatory  and it has already been approved by the FDA as a treatment for children with intractable epilepsy . Since CBD has already proved itself to be a powerful treatment for critical conditions, it’s no wonder scientists are looking to it for help in treating the novel coronavirus.
As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 attacks the body and causes a storm of cytokines. However previous studies have shown that CBD can reduce the number of inflammation cytokines, including IL-6, a specific cytokine that when reduced, has been shown to improve the condition of COVID patients. Along with IL-6, CBD was also shown to reduce other compounds associated with COVID-19, including interleukin, interferon gamma, inducible protein-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1a, and tumor necrosis factor-a. Besides the above, researchers have found that CBD helps increase the production of interferons, which are important proteins that activate immune cells and prevent viruses from replicating .
Research suggests that CBD can target and reduce lung inflammation, even in those suffering from asthma. By reducing the production of the cytokines that cause inflammation, CBD has been able to reduce airway inflammation. It also has been shown to reduce pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes lung tissue to become damaged and scarred. Why is this an important fact? Because many COVID-19 patients who survive the disease will have to deal with serious pulmonary fibrosis as part of their long-term recovery .
What This Really Means
Unlike THC products, overall CBD is very well tolerated and users feel little to no side effects from using it. This is important when it comes to treating symptoms as dangerous as those that present themselves with COVID-19. Interestingly enough, one side effect of CBD that actually helps COVID patients is its anti-anxiety properties. Stress adds a lot of pressure on a person and can ultimately lead to its own set of health concerns. During a pandemic like the one we’re currently suffering through, everyone is stressed. Especially those who are suffering from the disease. Since stress and anxiety can have an effect on healing, being able to control those feelings while also reaping the benefits of the inflammation suppressing compounds is especially important for patients and recovering patients .
It is important to note that no peer review studies for this research currently exist. The article in question was published with all its researched data, but that data is currently without peer review. The authors point out, however, that there is strong evidence supporting their research and they believe further investigation should be taken in order to fully realize everything CBD may have to offer.
Like most studies regarding cannabis as a medical therapy, research is young and studies are ongoing. However, like many other cases, this possibility is interesting enough to warrant a more detailed look. This study doesn’t suggest that cannabis alone can be used to treat COVID-19, or that it’s a miracle cure, but it does present some interesting options to help reduce inflammation and reduce anxiety in those suffering through the terrible disease. That could lead to it being used as part of a coordinated treatment along with other medications and plans.
Researchers will likely keep studying cannabis and how it interacts with a number of different conditions and diseases, but right now, as the world is still reeling from the pandemic and the United States still finds itself in the middle of it, it’s especially important to look under every rock and explore every option for treating patients of this terrible and debilitating disease.
Most people are aware of the potential risk that comes when combining medications without prior approval from a doctor, but many don’t know that there is also a risk of complications when taking certain natural supplements. Even some types of food can trigger a harmful reaction when combined with certain medications. What causes these complications, though? And is there any way to avoid it?
Surprisingly there are a lot of medications that include a warning not to combine them with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. But why grapefruit? What does a grapefruit contain that creates such a dangerous combination with prescription drugs?
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice are both great additions to a healthy diet under normal circumstances. It contains important servings of vitamin C and potassium, which are essential to a healthy lifestyle. However, grapefruit also disrupts the absorption process when combined with certain medications, allowing either too much or too little medication to enter the blood. This can be dangerous for a number of reasons, from increased risk of liver damage to a potentially life threatening situation occurring because the medication isn’t reaching its intended target.
There are a number of medications that should not be combined with grapefruit juice, some examples include:
Statin drugs to lower cholesterol, like Zocor and Lipitor
Drugs that treat high blood pressure, such as Procardia and Adalat CC
Organ-transplant rejection drugs, including Sandimmune and Neoral
Anti-anxiety drugs like buspirone
Corticosteroids used for treating Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, like Entocort EC and Uceris
Drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms, such as Pacerone and Nexterone
Antihistamines like Allegra
It is important to keep in mind that grapefruit does not affect all drugs in the above categories and that the above list is not inclusive. Patients should always check with their doctor. Also notable is the severity of the interaction will vary in each person and depends on the drug and the amount of grapefruit consumed, as well as an individual’s personal health and body chemistry.
The question remains, though — why does grapefruit affect so many different types of medications? It really comes down to an enzyme called CYP3A4, which lives in the small intestine. Grapefruits contain compounds called bergamottin and 6’7’-dihydroxybergamottin that block the action of CYP3A4, keeping it from doing its job of metabolizing medications as they pass through the intestine . In the next section, we’ll discuss what CYPs are and how they relate to cannabis products.
Cytochromes (CYPs) are collectively a group of enzymes involved in the metabolization of drugs, accounting for almost 75% of the total metabolic process . They oxidize steroids, fatty acids, and xenobiotics, and are important for hormone synthesis. In the human body there are six of these proteins that are involved in the metabolism of drugs. These proteins are CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2D6, CYP3A4, and CYP3A5. The most important of these six, however, are CYP3A4 and CYP2D6.
Normally, CYPs work to break down drugs in the system, leaving only the percentage that should be absorbed by the body. When the CYP process is disrupted, however, there is a risk of either increased or decreased activity by the enzymes which is where the complications begin. If the CYPs aren’t allowed to complete their metabolization as required, there is a risk of either too much or too little of a medication reaching the bloodstream.
If a drug is not metabolized correctly it can accumulate within the body, possibly reaching toxic levels. This is obviously extremely dangerous and can result in an overdose. Along with grapefruit, there are a number of other substances that affect the process of CYPs in the body. These include St. John’s Wort, watercress, goldenseal, and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD and CYP
CBD is a competitive inhibitor to CYPs, but doesn’t appear to directly affect the absorption rate of medicines or the metabolization of them by CYPs. The problem comes from the fact that CBD binds itself to CYPs, thus preventing other medication from binding to CYPs, effectively slowing down CYPs ability to metabolize those medications . This is a critical issue for prescription drugs which are usually prescribed in specific doses necessary for a certain patient’s needs. When that process is slowed or impeded, the dose required for the patient will be changed.
For example, a single dose of CBD can block the CYPs from breaking down some medications. That means the medicine will stay active in the body for longer periods of time than intended or prescribed. Since medicinal treatment is fine tuned and specific for each person and condition, this is a problem and a potentially dangerous situation.
In simple terms, CBD and CYP deactivate each other.
Researchers have been investigating the effects of CBD on medication metabolization since the 1980s. The research suggests that CBD specifically interacts with cytochrome P450 by metabolizing the enzymes and inhibiting metabolization by the liver enzymes. When it occupies the site of enzymatic activity, the CBD will displace any other compounds competing with it, resulting in cytochrome P450 being unable to break down any other compounds. The amount of competition CBD presents depends on how tightly it binds to the active site of metabolization before and after oxidation. This factor depends on how much CBD was taken and of course the unique characteristics of the person taking the medication. It can also make a difference if the CBD is consumed as an isolate, with all other cannabinoid compounds removed, or a broad or full spectrum product, which leaves those other compounds intact.
Studies have shown that a small enough dose of CBD will cause no noticeable effect on CYP activity, while still allowing it to retain its therapeutic properties. Unfortunately there is no clear cut-off for dosing to guarantee CBD won’t affect other medications since everyone’s biology is different and all medications are different chemically .
It is important to understand that even the most natural and seemingly harmless supplements or foods otherwise considered healthy, may dramatically affect the medication a person takes. With this in mind, it is always important for patients to speak with their doctor when starting new medication or when considering a new therapy, even when that therapy contains all natural products. Human bodies are complicated and specialized, meaning that any little complication can set the entire thing on its side and lead to further issues. In order to avoid such issues, patients need to be proactive with their treatment options and make sure they are asking questions and being forthcoming about what their daily routine is.
While it seems harmless on the surface, things like grapefruit, goldenseal, and CBD can drastically change the effectiveness of medications, especially prescription medications which are specially formulated at exact doses for specific purposes.
The 2018 Farm Bill gave hemp the comeback it deserved. The new bill established federal regulation of hemp and legalized it nationally for commercial cultivation, removing hemp and hemp seeds from the DEA schedule of Controlled Substances where it had been listed alongside marijuana. The bill made hemp eligible for crop insurance and allowed for hemp to be moved across state lines. In short, it opened up the opportunity for hemp to be the strong agricultural product it was centuries ago.
This promising new bill has made hemp especially interesting to existing farmers and to those looking to get into cannabis or agricultural farming. It’s a brand new industry with almost limitless possibilities for the future, yet also one that has lots of history and stories of both success and failure. One thing is for sure, hemp is on the tip of everyone’s tongues and it’s quickly finding its place in the world of American agriculture.
A Brief History of Hemp
For centuries hemp was successfully harvested for its fiber, seeds, and flowers. Hailed as a plant with endless possibilities, hemp fiber can produce textiles, rope, clothes, paper, plastic composites, building construction materials, animal bedding, food, drinks, and agricultural supplies.
Hemp seeds can produce a number of items, including food, edible oil, personal care products, and industrial fluids. Hemp seed is often used for essential oils, pesticides, livestock feed, bird seed, and amazingly as fuel for cars and for bioremediation of soil containing heavy metals.
Hemp is one of earliest plants to be cultivated in the world and was a popular crop in early American history. Seeds arrived with the Puritans for the purpose of planting to cultivate strong hemp crops to use as they built up their settlements and repaired ships. Shortly thereafter, the British colonies in America were legally required to grow hemp as it was found to be particularly useful in maritime endeavours, largely because of its natural decay resistance and how easily it adapts to cultivation.
Even after the American Revolution, hemp continued to be an important part of daily life. Farmers felt it was their patriotic duty to grow hemp and were even allowed to pay their taxes with it. George Washington advocated for hemp and praised its usefulness in making rope and fabric, and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp and eventually improved on hemp varieties.
Hemp was a flourishing crop in America, however between the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the popularity of synthetic fibers in the following years, hemp saw a dramatic decrease in popularity and the industry soon found itself in decline. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act essentially ended the hemp industry in the United States by banning cannabis of any kind, including hemp.
Growing hemp is not as easy as following a list of instructions, unfortunately. Every grower uses a different method, often based on what type of function they need the hemp to perform and how well the plant grows in their local climate. Some farmers grow for hemp fibre, while some grow for CBD. The key is first determining what the end goal of the hemp plant will be.
Which month the farmer chooses to plant will very much depend on the climate of their farm and the local weather patterns, but overall most planting happens at the end of May or the beginning of June. Hemp is usually planted into rows on flat ground, with somewhere between 1,500-4,000 plants per acre.
After the plants are in the ground, the farmer must ensure that the hemp has adequate water reaching its roots. This is where it can get tricky. Hemp prefers hot and sunny weather, so it doesn’t like its roots to stay moist. This means a drip irrigation system like what is used for crops such as corn or beans just won’t work well for hemp. Instead, the soil must be allowed to become completely depleted of moisture before more is added. Using this process will help keep the plant healthy and pests and disease away.
Once hemp starts growing, options for treating the plant are extremely limited. Hemp growers don’t use herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides on their plants, so tending the plants is all done naturally or by hand. Even weeding must be done by hand. The key for growers is to do their best to avoid any issues beforehand, because once a problem presents itself there is very little chance of doing anything but just sitting back and waiting to see what happens.
The first 60 days of the grow cycle are impressive for hemp plants. They can grow as tall as 6’ and as wide as 5’ in a short amount of time. Soon after, the plants will reach sexual maturity and farmers growing for CBD must once again be alert to what is happening in their crop and ready to remove any male plants before they pollinate the area. CBD production comes only from the flower and biomass of female plants, so even one male plant in the field can trigger seed production in the females and decrease the number of flowers it produces and the overall concentration of CBD.
After just 100-120 days, the plants are ready to harvest. Because hemp is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and cannot legally contain more than 0.3% THC, the USDA must see test results from the growers that proves the THC in their plants falls below those levels before they are allowed to harvest. Once that test clears the regulatory process, the growers are free to move forward and harvest their crop.
Harvesting takes time and patience. Since this industry is new, there are little to no standards for the harvesting process. Harvesting time on a farm with hundreds of acres can take anywhere from 5-7 weeks and is done in a way that is often planned as the crop is being pulled.
As time progresses and the industry grows, as will the standards for harvesting. Being a brand new industry, the logistics are still being figured out, but with so many bright entrepreneurs in the game it won’t take long for the industry to find its process.
As the crops are cut from the field, they are brought down in wagons or trailers and hauled indoors for drying. Dying is another area where the process will vary greatly from grower to grower. Some choose to grow on a warehouse floor, or in tobacco barns or sheds. Some use dehumidifiers, fans, or mechanical dryers. The choices are many and overall up to the growers and the climate they live in and facilities they have available.
As long as weather cooperates, plants can be done drying in about two weeks. After they are fully dried, they are stripped of all green material and put through a hammer mill, which is a machine used to crush material into smaller pieces using the repeated blow of small hammers inside the machine. From there, the materials can be used for the CBD extraction process.
Hemp is a young industry with a turbulent past. While the future looks incredibly bright for it, it is still in its beginning stages and anyone joining the industry now can expect some ups and downs while it gets established. For instance, hemp grown for CBD is a young crop and prices for the plant can and do change by the month, and sometimes by the week. Eventually this may level out, but while the industry finds its feet hemp growers can expect a lot of unknown.
The best way to mitigate risk is to start small. Instead of buying up hundreds of acres of farmland to cultivate hemp, just start with a few acres. Use that as a starting point to get an idea of how the process works, how it would be able to scale, and what kind of profit to expect. It’s also a great opportunity to find a processor who is reliable, knowledgeable, and timely in their work. This is often an aspect of the process that growers overlook, but one that can make or break their business.
While the risks are many, the rewards can be equal. Not only is the industry blooming, it’s also a product that is doing actual good for the people and the environment.
Cannabis has been around for centuries, but it’s only been over the last decade or so that it’s become mainstream and commonly accepted as a product with strong therapeutic benefits. Some people are discovering cannabis for the first time, and some are coming back to it after years away. Marijuana is often experimented with at some point in a person’s life, however it’s common for people to react differently to it than their peers. Sometimes it’s a biological issue, and sometimes it’s simply that people are taking too much of it, resulting in less than optimal results.
While a person can’t overdose on cannabis, it is extremely common for users to feel the effects of the biphasic nature of cannabis when they take more than they should at any given time. This process is also seen in other substances, like alcohol for example. A person can have one glass of wine to unwind and relax, but if they drink an entire bottle they will find themselves stumbling and slurring. The biphasic effect of cannabis isn’t harmful or dangerous like that of alcohol, and can actually be used to benefit the user if they know how to do it.
Cannabis, especially products with THC like marijuana, are often used for therapeutic purposes. However, some people have noticed that while they can feel completely relaxed and calm after taking a couple hits from a joint, if they smoke the entire thing they will start to feel anxious and paranoid. This is due to the biphasic effect of cannabis. Simply put, low doses of cannabis create a very different effect than a high dose.
A compound that has a biphasic effect will relieve physical issues in small doses, but can actually intensify those symptoms if too high a dose is consumed. For cannabis, this is often seen in those looking to use THC to relieve their anxiety. THC has strong psychoactive potential and when too much is consumed, it can quickly send the user into fits of paranoia and heightened anxiety . This effect is less likely with CBD since it has no psychoactive potential. It’s common to find that a small dose of CBD can calm and clear the head, while a larger dose can make the user feel sedated and relaxed .
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an essential aspect of physiology. First and foremost, it’s responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis. When an interference happens in the body, the ECS steps in to correct and stabilize the systems and return the body to perfect homeostasis.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are produced naturally by the human body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. The endocannabinoids the body produces, and any cannabinoids ingested from cannabis plants will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
Enzymes: After the endocannabinoids attach to the cannabinoid receptors and achieve stabilization in the body, they start breaking down the endocannabinoids to avoid a possible overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
In regards to the endocannabinoid system and the biphasic effects of cannabis, it all comes down to how the ECS processes cannabinoids. Within the ECS is an equation called the endocannabinoid tone. The endocannabinoid tone includes the total number of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes it takes to metabolize the cannabinoids. Research has uncovered that if the receptors are oversaturated, the body actually turns them off, releasing an increased number of enzymes into the blood to metabolize the cannabinoids. Once homeostasis is again achieved, the receptors will turn back on. The goal of any new medication or treatment plan is to find that sweet spot, or the exact point of homeostasis .
How to Deal With It
In general terms, biologically humans are all the same. However each person has their own unique brain chemistry. This makes it difficult to know what each person will feel when trying new medication or new medicinal substances like cannabis.
No one wants to amplify the symptoms they are trying to treat, so the easiest way to ensure none of those adverse effects are felt is to start slowly when beginning a new cannabis treatment — or any new treatment for that matter. Start with the lowest dose of cannabis possible and then wait until the effects are felt. If there is still room for more relief without negative results, add more or try a larger dose next time.
Taking small doses of therapeutic compounds is called microdosing and is a popular method for those who want to get the benefits of a particular therapy, but don’t want to risk the intoxicating elements. Users commonly report a better mood, less anxiety, and reduced pain after microdosing , making it a great alternative for those who need the benefits and none of the psychoactive effects.
Microdosing has been a somewhat underground method of medicating for years now, but as cannabis starts to take off recreationally in many states across America, more people are learning about the power of this process and how it can benefit their health. There are a handful of basic steps to take when beginning a new microdosing routine. They are as follows:
Obtain the cannabis product, be it marijuana or CBD. If residing in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, this is as simple as a visit to the local cannabis store. If a person is located in a more restricted state, they may need a prescription from their doctor first.
Take the initial dose. Start small on the first day. It’s generally recommended to start with a small percentage of a normal dose while introducing the body to this new substance.
Pay attention to the body. If possible, it’s best to just sit back and relax and observe the overall body feel after the initial dose. Users should note how close this first dose is to relieving the symptoms they’re experiencing. It’s sometimes helpful to keep a journal or written log about the results during the early stages of microdosing.
Adjust the dose. If the dose doesn’t seem to be doing what it’s meant to do, either because it’s too much or too little, adjust the next dose accordingly.
Make it a routine. Once the sweet spot for dosage has been found, make it a daily routine. Users will likely start to build a tolerance to the cannabis product over time, so it is advisable to revisit the treatment plan and microdosing schedule if results diminish over time.
An important note for THC: Even though very small quantities of cannabis are being consumed, it can and will still be detectable in a blood or urine test. Trace amounts can be found in the system as long as 30 days after the last dose.
As with any new medication, users should speak with their doctor before adding it into their routine. If they’re concerned about the possible biphasic effects of cannabis or THC, they should start with small doses and be ready for some trial and error experiments as they work out what dosage works best for their needs. Even if someone feels their tolerance may be higher than others, it’s still a good idea to start slowly to make sure there are no surprises.
Always remember that what works for one person may not and probably won’t work for someone else, and vice versa. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find the best treatment plan. Instead, enjoy the journey of finding that perfect dosage and treatment plan that works specifically for one specific person’s body and needs.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs after a person has experienced a scary, shocking, or dangerous event. It’s totally normal for someone to feel fear whenever they find themselves in a hazardous situation. That feeling of fear is what triggers a human’s natural fight-or-flight response, or their immediate decision in the face of danger to run away or stay and fight. This reaction is deeply embedded in humans and has been an important part of survival for thousands of years. What triggers concern for PTSD is what occurs after a traumatic event takes place.
Immediately after the event, almost everyone will experience some sort of emotional response, yet most will naturally recover from those feelings on their own over time. The people who are unable to rebound from those devastating feelings, however, may find themselves experiencing long-term emotional problems and ultimately find themselves diagnosed with PTSD. Those who suffer from PTSD often find themselves feeling stressed or frightened over the course of a normal day, when there is no actual danger presenting itself to them. Or they could be easily triggered by things that are seemingly unrelated to the previous trauma, or very closely related. This can obviously have debilitating results on a person’s ability to lead a comfortable life.
Signs and Symptoms
Anyone can suffer from PTSD after a traumatic event and it’s important to look for the signs if PTSD is suspected. It’s also crucial to realize that a person doesn’t have to suffer from a dangerous event to be susceptible to PTSD. Events like the unexpected death of a loved one can also cause someone to experience short-term or long-term PTSD. Some common symptoms of PTSD are:
Staying away from things that are reminders of the traumatic event
Avoiding thoughts related to the traumatic event
Being easily startled
Trouble remembering the traumatic event
Negative thoughts about the world or oneself
Distorted feelings of guilt
Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within a few months of the bad event, but occasionally the symptoms won’t present themselves for years, surprising a person with emotions they didn’t know were sitting dormant. In general, the symptoms must last more than a month and be distracting enough to interfere with daily life for the condition to be considered post-traumatic stress disorder. Most people recover from PTSD within 6 months or so, however some may find themselves suffering for much longer. When that happens, PTSD is considered chronic and extended treatment options should be explored.
Anyone can experience PTSD at any age, including children. It’s found in people who are veterans of war, and those who have been through physical assault, abuse, accidents, or disasters. In fact, about 7-8% of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives . It is a condition that can take over a person’s life and cause extended periods of distress and emotional turbulence. Finding relief for this condition is an important endeavour. Recently, scientists have been exploring how the body handles PTSD and what chemical processes might be involved. That has led them to dig deeper into the physiology of the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an important part of the human body. It’s responsible for maintaining the body’s homeostasis and managing the processes that go along with that. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will activate and control the situation to make sure all systems it controls remain at an optimal level. This is an important function of human physiology. All the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are naturally produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. The endocannabinoids the body produces, and any cannabinoids ingested will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
Enzymes: After the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has achieved stabilization in the body, enzymes start breaking down the endocannabinoids to avoid a possible overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
One of the endocannabinoids produced naturally by the human body is anandamide. This compound is also known as the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to cause humans to feel euphoric for short periods of time while it’s activated. It is only a short-term molecule, however, because quickly after it has been activated, it is broken down by a fatty enzyme that is released at the same time as the anandamide. However, as scientists have found, if that enzyme isn’t activated, it won’t be able to attach itself to anandamide and would obviously be unable to remove the “bliss molecule” from doing its work. This means humans could potentially be able to feel good for longer periods of time.
The study mentioned above concluded that anandamide plays a role in the human process of fear extinction, which is what helps our brains forget trauma . To support this, researchers decided to investigate what would happen if anandamide was restricted in test subjects. They found a chemical that reduced production of anandamide enough to test what would happen when the naturally-occurring cannabinoid was depleted dramatically. The researchers then tested behavior in mice with normal levels of anandamide and in those with reduced levels. They noticed that mice with restricted levels of anandamide experienced much more stress than the mice with normal levels of the endocannabinoid. The mice with lower anandamide levels also held onto their conditioned fear for much, much longer than the mice with normal levels.
This discovery itself is very specific, but also very important as it is the first study to explore the idea that reducing anandamide levels has a negative effect on emotional behavior. It also provides some insight into how PTSD develops, possibly because people who are susceptible to it do not produce enough anandamide to keep their emotions balanced, especially in regards to trauma. It would also suggest why people with severe PTSD experience such visceral flashbacks; they lack the correct molecular balance to forget those memories.
CBD and PTSD
Since endocannabinoids and cannabinoids from cannabis plants are so similar chemically, it’s possible for cannabinoids like CBD to attach themselves to the receptors in the same way the naturally occurring endocannabinoids do. CBD has the ability to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Once attached, CBD acts as an antagonist, or blocker, binding to receptors and dampening their signals.
When cannabinoids are introduced to the CB1 and CB2 receptors they prompt the system to produce neurotransmitters that help promote happiness and memory. For example, CBD works to inhibit the FAAH enzyme which specifically breaks down anandamide. Since anandamide produces a calming, or euphoric feeling, keeping the enzyme from destroying this compound produces a naturally therapeutic effect that should be felt immediately and have lasting therapeutic benefits .
Along those same lines is the idea that CBD will increase the amount of time anandamide stays active at increased levels in an attempt to help those suffering from PTSD have some relief from their chronic emotional distress. The theory is if the anandamide levels in a person with PTSD are increased, the likelihood of them experiencing the benefits of that cannabinoid should be enough to help them recover from their PTSD symptoms. Research has found that the cannabinoids help those with PTSD by preventing traumatic memories and nightmares, while also helping boost emotional wellbeing .
Along with most other therapeutic uses for CBD, it is a new area being heavily studied and every day we’re seeing new information released to the public. While the research is still relatively new, the possibilities are exciting and are giving those suffering from PTSD optimism for their future.
The 2018 Farm Bill, or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, was a huge turning point for the hemp industry in the United States. The bill established a hemp regulatory system under the US Department of Agriculture. For hemp farmers and the industry as a whole, this opened up opportunities for individuals to start growing industrial hemp to sell commercially. The regulations set in place are meant to oversee the cultivation, processing, and marketing of hemp products in the wake of CBD’s increasing popularity, along with other increasingly popular hemp items.
Under the Farm Bill, hemp is now eligible for federal crop assistance in times of need, and also allows hemp and hemp-derived products to cross state lines as long as the hemp was farmed legally under the USDA restrictions.
The 2018 Farm Bill also removed hemp and hemp seeds from the schedule of controlled substances, legalizing it federally. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had previously listed hemp along with marijuana as a schedule 1 narcotic. An important rule of the new hemp regulatory restrictions requires hemp to be analyzed and certified as having less than 0.3% total THC on a dry weight basis in the product. THC is the cannabinoid that holds all the psychoactive properties of cannabis, so by limiting this compound the intoxicating effects will also be stifled.
Current Testing Regulations
Because the Farm Bill legally restricts hemp THC values to less than 0.3%, hemp farmers must have their products analyzed by accredited laboratories to ensure those numbers are factual and that no products that could potentially cause intoxication are sent out to consumers. Since the Farm Bill was passed, farmers have been using local laboratories to run these analyses and produce Certificates of Analysis (COA) to prove their products follow the necessary guidelines.
Hemp farmers are also required to dispose of any product that tests higher than 0.3% THC. While the farmers specifically cultivate their crop to stay below this limit, there is a chance that weather conditions or other factors could affect the THC level in hemp, thereby creating hemp products that have an illegal level of THC. When that happens, the farm must properly dispose of the product to make sure it is not ingested. Currently farmers may use the following methods of disposal, which are considered legal and compliant by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
Plowing Under – this method rotates the soil and buries the crop underneath.
Mulching or Composting – this involves cutting the crop and then blending it with manure or another biomass material and leaving it to decompose naturally.
Disking – named after the attachment used on the tractor, this method levels the field and destroys the crop, leaving it there to feed the soil below.
Bush Mower or Chopper – this process uses a commercial lawn mower to shred and mix the crop.
Deep Burial – fields would be trenched and the crop and surface soil are buried at least 12” underneath.
Burning – this process involves using a controlled fire to burn the field or a pile of crops.
In October 2019 the USDA published an interim final rule (IFR) that upset the hemp industry; the new rule requires hemp producers to only use laboratory testing facilities that are registered with the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The rule also requires hemp production facilities to dispose of non-compliant plants by using a DEA-registered reverse distributor or law enforcement rather than the methods they’d previously been using for disposal.
The hemp industry immediately cried out with widespread criticism of the new rule. The main concerns being the likelihood of bottlenecks causing dramatic delays as hemp producers from all over the country were forced to send their product samples to only a small number of approved laboratories. These DEA approved laboratories are often located in a different state than the hemp farm, sometimes as far as two states away. With specific deadlines for sample testing and a high risk of backlog at each laboratory, hemp farmers predicted a catastrophic result.
The potential risks included not only the delays and supply interruptions for current farms, but also made entering the industry more difficult in general. If entry is seen as too risky, fewer entrepreneurs and agricultural professionals will choose to enter the market, one that is potentially very lucrative for individual business owners and the country as a whole.
Currently there are only 47 laboratories in the United States registered with the DEA, with many states not having a registered testing facility at all. This would mean law enforcement agents would be responsible for moving these products over state lines within 15 days to get them to the DEA registered labs for testing.
Another concern caused by the new rule is in regards to the disposal limitations. Again, just like with the DEA-registered laboratories, using only the limited number of DEA reverse distributors or law enforcement will not only delay the disposal process, it also adds a substantial cost to the farmer and government entities.
With the entire industry crying out that the timing wasn’t right, the USDA decided to delay its new rule. Stating that they fully understood the potential problems that could come with running a high volume of samples out of a small number of laboratories, they decided to postpone this decision in order to allow more labs in more states to get registered with the DEA in anticipation of the booming industry and future regulation restrictions. In the coming year the DEA will encourage states to work with their laboratories to ensure they are able to get the proper DEA certification for the 2021 crop year.
The USDA also decided to delay the disposal restrictions, allowing farmers to continue using the previously approved on-farm methods that don’t require specially registered facilities or law enforcement. Farmers are still required to document and report their disposed plants by filling out a disposal form and submitting it to the USDA.
While the delay helps hemp farmers this year, there is no guarantee about what will happen next year or the year after that. The USDA has officially put a deadline on the delay of October 31, 2021 or until the final rule is published, whichever comes first. Without knowing what the final rule could entail or even when it will go into effect, hemp industry professionals are doing their best to plan their businesses around whatever regulations might be proposed.
This current iteration of hemp production is very new, after being considered illegal for decades. This means it’s going to take everyone involved an undetermined amount of time to work out how to regulate or restrict this product. This can be nerve-racking for those already inside the new hemp market, or those looking to enter. As with any new industry, if limitations present themselves it can be hard for a business to be successful.
The USDA has stated these steps are temporary while they work to draft a final rule and figure out a way for regular enforcement. And as such, they are planning to reach out again in the fall of 2020 and get more comments from those in the industry about plans for the upcoming year and input about the most recent production season.
While there are sure to be many changes to the industry going forward and the USDA is able to change the testing and sampling requirements as part of their agency power over the regulation of hemp, they are unable to change the other aspects of the rule, such as the 0.3% THC testing limit that came with the 2018 Farm Bill. The only way that number can be changed is by the U.S. Congress.
One thing is for sure, the federal government understands that Americans are interested in hemp products and want to keep consuming them, especially CBD. In a new industry that is already proving extremely popular, the regulators are struggling to keep up pace with the demand while trying to work out the best possible way to manage the industry safely and fairly. This will be a process that takes time and patience from those within the industry and those in the government who are trying to find a way to responsibly regulate it.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the number one cause of death in the world, accounting for more than 30% of all deaths globally . CVD can be a genetic condition, but it is most commonly caused by unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse. The most common signs of cardiovascular disease are increased blood pressure and raised blood glucose and lipids. Cardiovascular disease is a blanket term that covers many different conditions related to the heart. They include:
Angina (Coronary Artery Disease)
Angina is actually a symptom of coronary artery disease, a condition where a blockage occurs in one or more arteries feeding the heart. As the artery becomes more blocked, the heart reacts by demanding more blood flow than is able to pass through the obstructed area. Angina can cause symptoms that are close to those of a heart attack, including pain and discomfort in the chest and left arm as well as nausea. It also causes tightness in the chest, which can last for a few minutes before clearing up on its own. Most of the time, however, none of these symptoms present themselves until the blockage has hit around 70%, making it extremely important to get checked regularly and attempt to prevent it from occurring at all.
Angina is a sign of serious heart disease and having this condition dramatically increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Atrial fibrillation means a person has an irregular heartbeat, or heart palpitations. This condition causes the feeling of a missed heartbeat or feeling like extra beats were fit into the normal pattern. Atrial fibrillation is caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the heart, and while most cases of atrial fibrillation are not directly life threatening, they do increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack later in life.
Atrial fibrillation is caused by damage to the heart tissue, menopause, old age, anxiety, or genetic and congenital defects.
Cardiomyopathy affects the function of the heart muscle by negatively impacting its ability to contract and force the movement of blood through the cardiovascular system. There are many causes of cardiomyopathy and they all depend on what caused them in the first place, but all will result in a reduction of the heart’s ability to oxygenate the blood in the human body.
Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease is a condition that is present at birth. It is most often caused by a problem during fetal development and can result in varying degrees of dysfunction throughout a person’s life. Depending on the severity, it is a condition that might require in-depth treatment like surgery, but certainly life-long medical treatment.
Congestive Heart Failure
After the heart has been injured it runs a high risk of going into congestive heart failure. This usually happens after a heart attack or after years of stress from pumping against hardened arteries due to high blood pressure. Congestive heart failure means the heart is unable to pump blood effectively through the body.
Whichever side of the heart has taken the damage is the side of the body that will experience the most symptoms. If the right side of the heart is damaged, blood will pool in the lungs. This will cause pulmonary edema, coughing, and shortness of breath. If the left side of the heart is damaged, a person will experience blood pooling in the rest of the body, including the arms and legs.
Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
When the flow of blood that feeds into the heart is blocked by plaque, a heart attack occurs. The heart muscle is so strong it demands a constant supply of oxygen to beat properly, so even a slight disruption of that process can have dangerous results. The specialized heart cells can die off causing immediate damage and death if it’s not treated immediately.
Often the extent of the damage to the heart during a myocardial infarction is too much for the body to repair effectively and there is permanent damage to the heart and an overall reduced quality of life for the victim. Heart attacks are usually the stepping stone for congestive heart failure and arrhythmias.
Causes of Heart Disease
There are many causes of heart disease, some more common than others. As mentioned above, some heart conditions are genetic and unavoidable. Many, however, are caused by lifestyle choices. The most common causes of cardiovascular diseases are:
Excessive alcohol consumption: this varies per person, but the general rule is anything over 8-15 drinks per week or prolonged binge drinking is considered excessive .
Atherosclerosis: a disease that causes the arteries to collect fatty material, or plaque, on the inner walls.
Autoimmune disease: a condition that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy cells.
Bacterial infections: caused by microorganisms invading healthy tissue.
Diabetes: a disease that is the result of too much sugar in the blood.
High blood pressure: this condition is the result of too much blood force against the artery walls.
High sodium diet: the American Heart Association recommends adults eat 1500 mg or less of sodium a day. The average American actually consumes around 3400 mg of sodium per day .
High trans fat diet: the American Heart Association recommends limiting the intake of trans fats completely, instead using monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats for all food .
Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat in the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Recreational drug use: ingesting these harmful substances may be associated with the deterioration of the cardiovascular system .
Sedentary lifestyle: this means little to no physical activity during a normal day.
Side-effect of medication: prescription drugs can help people manage their acute or chronic conditions, but often they come with risks.
Smoking: smoking raises the triglycerides in the blood and lowers the good cholesterol of the body. It also causes the blood to thicken and become more likely to clot, while also damaging the cells that line the blood vessels .
Stress: the connection between stress and heart disease is still under investigation, but because stress puts the body on constant high alert, often people turn to bad behaviors to try to reduce their stress. Whether this is increased alcohol consumption, cigarettes, drug use, or food, they can all lead to increased risk of heart disease.
Viral infections: while rare, it is possible for a virus to weaken the system enough for a heart condition to form.
Common Treatment Options
Many current treatment plans include dietary and lifestyle changes, like healthy eating and daily exercise. This is usually combined with a medication plan and sometimes means daily medication for life and a totally altered diet and lifestyle. It is important to make these changes while also working to reduce overall stress in order to keep the bad behavior triggers away. Some patients are learning more about CBD, though, and the effect it can have on their current treatment plan or how it can enhance what they already do on a daily basis. Many are interested in it as a more natural option to a treatment that will have to be maintained for years and years. Let’s take a look at what CBD can do for cardiovascular health.
CBD and the Cardiovascular System
High Blood Pressure
There are many causes of high blood pressure, including genes and diet, but research is starting to show that stress is also a trigger for high blood pressure. In a study on rats, scientists observed increased blood pressure and heart rate in the animals that were exposed to stressful situations. The study also found that giving the rats a dose of CBD lowered their blood pressure and heart rate quickly . Another study that used human volunteers concluded that a single dose of CBD was more successful in reducing their blood pressure than the placebo .
A stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking blood flow to the brain, and clots can form for a number or reasons. Recent studies on animals, however, have shown that CBD may help protect stroke patients from possible brain damage while also increasing brain function, helping stroke victims recover faster . It has also been found to help increase cerebral blood flow during a stroke, meaning there could be less damage overall and a more positive recovery outlook .
Myocarditis is the inflammation of the muscular tissue around the heart. A recent animal study found CBD beneficial in reducing myocarditis and general myocardial dysfunction and overall heart failure. This result is largely due to CBD’s apparent anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic properties .
Myocardial Ischaemia and Arrhythmia
Ischaemia is an inadequate supply of blood to an organ or part of the body, the heart muscle in particular. Ischemia is often a cause of arrhythmias in humans. If blood isn’t carried to the entire body, the affected areas will be denied the necessary nutrients and risk necrosis. A study performed on rats concluded that CBD appeared to have cardioprotective effects. After administering CBD to the animals, researchers found CBD to suppress arrhythmias caused by ischaemia .
Heart disease can be extremely distressing and usually means a lifetime of management and lifestyle changes. Prevention is crucial in cardiovascular health and there is evidence that CBD can be helpful in that pursuit. Heart disease is a sensitive balance of medication and lifestyle adjustments, so always consult your doctor before adding any new supplement to your treatment plan.
CBD was discovered in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until much more recently that it gained the attention it’s currently enjoying worldwide. While it has many similarities to THC, the biggest difference is its lack of psychoactive properties, making it especially interesting for medicinal benefits. Besides not having any intoxicating effects, it is also non-habit forming, easily tolerated by the human body, and full of potential therapeutic benefits that people with a variety of conditions could potentially enjoy . For these reasons CBD is a great option for clinical trials and exploration, and is why it is currently one of the most studied cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant.
CBD has already been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties , its anti-psychotic abilities , as an analgesic , and for its anti-epileptic benefits . Besides the psychotropic differences, CBD is different from THC on a molecular level too. When compared to THC, CBD shows less attraction to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), meaning it doesn’t activate the receptor directly but instead alters the effectiveness of anything attached to those receptors. This can range from a stimulation of acidic release process to inhibiting an enzyme from breaking down a specific molecule.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is an important part of human physiology. It’s responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will start working to make sure everything in the body remains at a stable and optimal level. This is an important function of the human body. All the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are naturally produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD. The two main endocannabinoids in the ECS are called anandamide and 2-AG.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. The endocannabinoids the body produces, and any cannabinoids ingested will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems. The two main types of cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2.
Enzymes: After the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has achieved stabilization in the body, enzymes start breaking down the endocannabinoids to avoid a possible overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively. The two enzyme types are called FAAH and MAGL and each is specific to a particular endocannabinoid.
As researchers become more interested in the medicinal possibilities of CBD, more studies on its potential abilities become available. A recent review looked at how CBD could be used to help treat somatic and psychiatric disorders. The review itself consisted of 25 studies, all of which were peer-reviewed and published in full length articles in scientific journals. These studies included 538 men and 389 women. 22 of the review studies were performed as controlled clinical trials and three were observationally designed. The studies came out of five countries.
It should also be noted that formulations, dose, and dosage schedules varied between each study. The dosage rate varied from a single dose all the way to 48 weeks of continued usage. Most studies used the purest form of CBD, with the exception of two that used seed CBD oil and CBD botanical extracts. Most CBD was taken in capsule form, but some were also vaporized or administered as oil droplets under the tongue. Because of the varied doses and formulations, many of these studies must be taken with a moderate level of bias assumed. Without everything being equal, those reviewing the results must be prepared for a margin of error and prejudice present in reviews such as these.
11 of the studies were focused on anxiety disorders, consisting of 358 participants. Most participants were given 150-900 mg of CBD in the form of gelatin capsules. These studies examined different anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD). The studies reported that by giving those suffering from SAD a dose of CBD before public speaking, their anxiety was reduced in preparation and during their speaking engagement , allowing them the possibility to be more comfortable and confident during their presentation. There was no effect discovered, however, on physiological measurements like heart rate or blood pressure. Another study showed that CBD decreased anxiety and increased mental sedation in those suffering from chronic anxiety or paranoia disorders . This would indicate a more calm mind in situations that might normally produce increased anxiety levels. Finally, another study came to the conclusion that CBD could be helpful in reactions to negative stimuli, like situations that cause fear. When participants were given CBD they were more likely to take the time to think about an appropriate reaction in the face of fear rather than acting on impulse and instinct alone . Humans, and most other creatures, have a basic level of fight-or-flight that they default to when faced with fear. This study showed that in the moment when fear would normally take over, leaving the participant to rely on their base instincts only, the addition of CBD allowed them to take a moment to survey the situation and make a more informed decision, one not based solely on instinct.
For CBD’s effect on psychosis, specifically schizophrenia, four studies consisting of 196 participants were analyzed. For these trials, CBD was administered orally using gelatin capsules in the doses of 600-1000 mg. While CBD showed no observable difference in treating cognitive function and psychotic symptoms in these patients, it did show itself to be just as effective as a potent prescription medication commonly used as an antipsychotic for schizophrenia. CBD was also found to be more tolerable and safe than that same prescription medication, and with all the same benefits of improved psychotic symptoms. When used in conjunction with this medication, the results were heightened and the prescription medication was found to have more potency, even in a reduced dosage .
Substance Use Disorder
When used to help those addicted to smoking, research has found that an inhaled pure dose of CBD over the course of one week did produce positive results in those with nicotine addictions. These results were measured by the number of cigarettes smoked per day by the group of participants who were ready and willing to quit smoking . Studies also found that if administered after an overnight time frame without any nicotine, participants found cigarettes less important and pleasurable than they did without the CBD. This indicates CBD could potentially have an effect on the actual motivation to smoke in nicotine addicts, causing them to look unfavorably at tobacco products, therefore reducing the odds that they would be tempted to reach for one of these products to satisfy a current craving .
Most of the studies reviewed showed the best benefits of CBD at the dosage levels ranging from 300-600 mg. Many of the studies were performed on healthy adults, with the exception of the SAD trials which were performed on clinical patients. These studies also used a comparative placebo group to evaluate the effectiveness of the results.
Research is still ongoing and the exploration of CBD and other cannabinoids will be something scientists study for years to come, but early information is giving those suffering from psychosomatic disorders hope for a treatment plan that has the potential to move away from prescription drugs, or the ability to modify their prescription medication plan with a more therapeutic approach. Just like every person is different, so is every psychosomatic disorder. What works for one person or in one study may not hold true for another person or another research project. After reviewing more than 20 cases, this review holds high hopes for the benefit of CBDs and other cannabinoids in the fight for mental health.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is gaining popularity for its potential to assist many conditions, both chronic and short-term. CBD is a cannabinoid molecule produced by the cannabis plant. It can be consumed naturally in marijuana or hemp products, or removed through a process of extraction and made into a variety of CBD products like oil, edibles, or salves.
One area that researchers are interested in is the potential of CBD to help neurological conditions. With research compounding and new studies being conducted regularly, scientists are finding more and more interesting benefits of CBD and the way it interacts with the brain. However, understanding how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the brain is a complicated undertaking. The brain itself is incredibly complex and contains a wide variety of receptors, conducting a multitude of interactions every second. As complex as the research is, it’s already showing positive results and many are hopeful for what more years and more research can bring to the problem.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is responsible for maintaining the body’s state of homeostasis. If a disturbance happens in the body, the ECS will work to make sure everything remains at a stable and optimal level, correcting whatever imbalance first triggered its response. This is an important function of the human body because all internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
The endocannabinoids are chemical compounds the body naturally produces but are structurally similar to endocannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis.
The cannabinoid receptors, which are found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are both able to attach to these receptors allowing them to communicate with a variety of systems inside the body. This communication is what enables the ECS to detect and correct instability.
Enzymes work to break down the cannabinoids and endocannabinoids after they’ve attached themselves to the receptors and after homeostasis has been achieved. At the core, enzymes are there to make sure the cannabinoids do not create an overcorrection once the risk has been effectively corrected.
How CBD Interacts with the Brain
Inside the brain are highly specialized cells called neurons which connect to other neurons through structures called synapses. By releasing chemicals known as neurotransmitters, neurons are able to communicate with each other. These neurons have their own receptors. The receptors respond to chemicals produced by the brain (dopamine, serotonin) as well as chemicals produced outside the body, like cannabinoids.
Since cannabinoids from cannabis plants are so similar to naturally produced chemical compounds within the body, it’s possible for the CBD compound to attach itself to the receptors in the same way as endocannabinoids. CBD has the ability to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Once attached, CBD acts as an antagonist, or blocker, binding to receptors and dampening their signals.
For example, CBD works to inhibit the FAAH enzyme which breaks down the anandamide endocannabinoid the body produces. Anandamide produces a calming feeling, so by keeping the enzymes from destroying this compound a naturally therapeutic effect should be felt immediately .
Benefits of CBD
Many neurological disorders have one thing in common: neuroinflammation. Researchers have linked inflammation to neurodegenerative diseases like depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and epilepsy . Recent studies on mice have suggested that CBD slows down an overactive inflammatory response, even reducing neuroinflammation after a stroke . With the possibility of reduced inflammation in the brain, CBD may have the potential to alleviate some devastating symptoms of many neurological conditions.
Just like the rest of the body, keeping the brain healthy is essential to living a long life. As humans age, memory or learning abilities may slow down. That’s a natural part of life. However sometimes the brain degenerates at a more rapid rate than expected. This can be due to genetics or lifestyle habits, but it’s also linked to a decrease in neuroplasticity where memory and learning take place, and neurogenesis, the process that creates new brain cells. One study has found that CBD works to increase neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in mice , a promising result for the future of brain science and aging brains.
Oxidative stress and free radicals can be causes of age-related brain decline. Free radicals are part of everyday life and a consequence of living. Humans make free radicals when they eat, breath, and sleep. Production of these molecules can increase due to exposure to stress, pollution, and a poor diet. The best defense against free radicals is antioxidants . Research has shown that CBD may have powerful antioxidant properties, possibly comparable to those of vitamin C and vitamin E , hinting at its potential to be an essential part of the battle against free radicals.
As mentioned earlier, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that communicate signals between the brain and body. They are used to instruct a variety of systems on the steps needed to function in a healthy way. They direct the lungs to breathe and the stomach to digest. Healthy neurotransmission is essential to a functional human body. If an imbalance does happen there are any number of effects that can be felt. Mood changes, appetite changes, and the disruption of sleep can all be caused by unhealthy neurotransmitters. Stress, diet, toxins, and even medications can all throw neurotransmitters out of balance. Studies on animals have shown that CBD increased serotonin levels and glutamate in depressed test subjects . Serotonin is responsible for controlling mood and personality, while glutamate is a transmitter released by nerve cells and plays an important role in memory and learning. Both are important factors for mental health.
Currently the only FDA approved CBD medication is for the treatment of epilepsy, a chronic disorder that causes often debilitating seizures. The drug, called Epidiolex, is made from a CBD isolate and is used in the treatment of two specific forms of epilepsy. Clinical studies on humans have shown CBD to be very effective at reducing seizures, although it is currently unknown if this is directly due to CBD or because of CBD’s ability to work effectively with other medications to enhance their benefits . Since the effect of CBD as an anticonvulsant is one of the most researched in cannabis studies, society will continue to see further studies and evidence about these properties and how they relate to CBD.
CBD is quickly becoming a popular supplement in the United States. Due to its supposed neurological benefits, people are adding it to their daily lives to help with a variety of mental concerns. CBD has been studied for its assistance in easing anxiety, particularly general and social anxieties. The study showed that CBD may have helped those with anxiety feel more at ease when faced with a normally stressful circumstance: public speaking .
Along with its apparent anti-anxiety properties, CBD has also shown potential to help with depression. Studies on mice have shown that CBD exhibited both anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects in the animals . Research is still very new and more studies on humans need to be conducted, however early research shows its potential, as do anecdotal reports from users around the globe.
Dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinon’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia, and Huntington’s disease all have the potential to be helped by CBD. Research conducted at the Salk Institute in California suggests that cannabinoids such as CBD have the potential to remove the toxic protein associated with dementia from the connections between the brain cells while also increasing those same connections to assist in cognitive stability. Research has shown this particular toxin to cause inflammation in the brain and higher rates of neuron death. Scientists were able to conclude that introducing cannabinoids reduced the levels of this toxin, thus eliminating the inflammatory response which allowed the nerve cells to survive .
These types of studies are still very new and evolving, but the potential is there and researchers are working as fast as they can to see how CBD and other cannabinoids can help treat the terrible disorders associated with dementia and other brain dysfunctions.