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What CBD Can Do For You – Part II

What CBD Can Do For You, Part II

Welcome to Part II of our in-depth report on the latest research and findings regarding the therapeutic and pharmacological benefits of CBD. If you missed Part I of our study, be sure to check it out here.

In this segment, the scientific conclusions on the potential of CBD to alleviate depression and pain will be explored. An explanation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is also provided as the ECS is vital to understanding the relationship between CBD and the body, both human and animal.

When we consume CBD tinctures, CBD oils, CBD gel caps, or CBD edibles, the CBD interacts with receptors in our body that ultimately trigger reactions that modulate pain, anxiety, and emotional disorders such as depression. First, let’s dive in with CBD, the ECS, and anti-depression potential of CBD.

CBD, the ECS, and Anti-Depression

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In order to understand how CBD can help regulate and modify depression and other emotional disorders, an understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) must be established. All animals and humans have an endocannabinoid system, yet its relatively recent discovery is due to the inability of science (legally and physically) to study the internal chemical interactions between hemp, marijuana, and the body. Advancements in technology and widespread consumption of the hemp plant led researchers to want to understand more closely the physiological and physical impact of Cannabis on the body. Once it was determined that compounds from hemp (called cannabinoids) interacted with receptors in the body, researchers discovered a clearly unique system called the endocannabinoid system.

The ECS is a system of cannabinoid receptors dispersed throughout the body that influence the central and peripheral nervous systems and the immune system. These receptors are activated when cannabinoids are introduced (or released) in the body. When the receptors are activated, they affect certain neurotransmitters released by the brain.

Neurotransmitters are essentially chemical “messengers” or signals that allow neurons, nerve cells, and other cells throughout the body to communicate and transmit information with each other. Neurotransmitters also boost and balance these signals that are constantly occurring throughout the body. 1Neurotransmitters affect many different physical and psychological functions including sleep, movement, mood, and brain function. Deficiencies or problems with neurotransmitters can lead to a host of diseases and mental health concerns including Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.2

The ECS works with neurotransmitters and other internal processes to promote homeostasis or balance to the central nervous system and physiological functions and plays a significant role in modulating pain and inflammation.3

So where does CBD fit into all of this? Although the body produces endocannabinoids on its own (“endo” meaning within or internal), the hemp plant also contains a plethora of naturally-occurring cannabinoids (sometimes called phytocannabinoids). When cannabinoids like CBD or THC are ingested, they latch onto receptors in the body just like endocannabinoids would. When the receptors are activated, neurotransmitters kick into gear causing an internal reaction.

CBD has been shown in many studies to have a number of positive therapeutic benefits on the body including anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-depression, and pain management. This is largely attributed to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Because the ECS is considered the “bridge between the mind and the body”, these positive reactions occur throughout the entire body. Signals between the brain and body are improved and fortified.  

Since the ECS has been shown to play a role in stabilizing abnormalities and deficiencies of the central nervous and immune systems which regulate emotional and motivational processes, CBD and other cannabinoids can assist and boost the ECS to have positive therapeutic effects. One report titled “The therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system for the development of a novel class of antidepressants” claimed, “Within preclinical models, facilitation of endocannabinoid neurotransmission evokes both antidepressant and anxiolytic effects.”4 The study went on to say that deficiencies of endocannabinoid transmission are correlated to the onset of depression. CBD is starting to show to be one such cannabinoid that can supplement the body’s natural yet oftentimes insufficient endocannabinoids to aid in improved mood, anti-depression, and decreased anxiety.

Another study confirmed the claims of the latter regarding the role of the ECS in treating mental health and mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Again, the conclusion of the study was that substances that modulate ECS signals in the body have the potential to treat mood and anxiety disorders. Here is a direct quote from the report:

“Collectively, both clinical and preclinical data argue that cannabinoid receptor signaling may be a realistic target in the development of a novel class of agent for the pharmacotherapy of mood and anxiety disorders.”5

The study calls for more research to be conducted on substances (such as CBD) that influence the ECS to treat mental health disorders. The research is growing and compelling.

This study found that while certain cannabinoids did not produce an anti-depressant effect, CBD and others did:

“The cannabinoids cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN) did not produce antidepressant-like actions… while cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabidiol (CBD) exhibited significant effect at 20 and 200mg/kg, respectively …. Results of this study show that Delta(9)-THC and other cannabinoids exert antidepressant-like actions, and thus may contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis.”6

The anti-depressant activity of cannabis has been observed in research and is majorly attributed to the psychoactive compound THC. CBD has been shown to also have anti-depressant properties, thus offering an alternative to THC and other anti-depressant drugs that cause users to get high, among other negative side effects. Non-psychoactive CBD tinctures, CBD gel caps, and CBD edibles may very well be the future of mental health treatment and betterment.

CBD and Pain Management

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Pain is everywhere and something we all know and experience at one point in our life or another. Pain can be caused by an injury, chronic disease, wear and tear, inflammation, or aging. For those who suffer from degenerative diseases, pain can become so severe and constant that their social life, emotional health, and productivity are severely affected. A special report about pain and cannabinoids by the Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal explained that neuropathic and unresolved pain is so common and prevalent in the United States, that it is hurting the economy on a national scale:

“In evaluating the prevalence and impact of pain, a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine concluded that pain-related medical services and loss of productivity cost the United States economy close to one trillion US dollars annually when pain-related costs associated with patients in long-term care and within the military are included.”7

Pain is not experienced in isolation: it affects the sufferer, those around the sufferer, and society at large. Traditional pain medications are everywhere and include common over-the-counter pills like Advil or Aspirin, and prescribed medication like opioids. Many of these well-known pain medications have adverse side effects including high levels of toxicity, liver damage, or even dependency and addiction. Sometimes these medications don’t even work for sufferers with neuropathic or nerve pain.

Marijuana, which includes both delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), has been shown to help with pain in patients that suffer from harsh cancer treatments and chemotherapy8, or patients with multiple sclerosis (MC), a neurological disease that damages and degrades nerves and nerve signals in the body.9

The ECS particularly triggers the central and peripheral nervous systems and immune system; these systems deal with inflammation, pain, mood, anxiety, appetite, and nerves. Because cannabinoids THC and CBD interact with the ECS, they are able to activate neurotransmitters that work to counteract pain and inflammation throughout the body. As CBD is an antagonist to the psychoactive or mental high effect of THC, the two are often consumed together. CBD is now being explored as a treatment all on its own in order to avoid the toxic and psychoactive effects of THC.

Unlike opioids and THC, CBD has been shown in study after study to have low toxicity, a good safety profile, and no signs whatsoever of physical dependence (tolerance and addiction).10 For sufferers of long-term, chronic, and neuropathic pain, this is great news. So many drugs have adverse and toxic effects; an alternative like CBD that may offer the same benefits and pain relief without the negative and intoxicating side effects is well worth trying.

One study sought to understand how cannabinoids could be used to modulate the endocannabinoid system to treat pain, migraines, and concussions. It confirms the role of the ECS and pain management: “The eCB [endocannabinoid system] is essential to CNS [central nervous system] homeostasis and plays a significant role in the regulation of inflammation and pain.”11 It goes on to say that studies have shown “CBD attenuates inflammatory and neuropathic pain” among other effects, and that “Taken together, this wide range of immunomodulatory and neurobehavioral effects points to CBD as an exciting potential pharmacotherapy in the treatment of concussion.”12  In sum, CBD’s affects in the brain and body can be used to help treat concussions and pain and inflammation that result from these serious head injuries.

The promise and potential of CBD is gaining momentum and widespread attention in the medical sciences which seeks to find alternative novel treatments for pain and suffering in society. The scientific and anecdotal benefits of CBD grow every day, and we only wait for more research to further and deepen our understanding of the many varied benefits of CBD in humans and animals.