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What CBD Can Do For You

A Brief History of Hemp

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The Cannabis (hemp) plant has one of the longest recorded histories of human use that can be traced back thousands of years to ancient texts from India to China and the Middle East.1 Hemp was and is used for its strong fibers to create clothing, textiles, fuel, and food, and its flowers for medicinal and religious purposes.2 Containing many complex compounds called cannabinoids—over 80 and counting— the Cannabis plant’s two primary constituents are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the infamous compound that makes its users high, and cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive structure discovered in 1940.3

While ancient texts confirm that hemp was used for health issues such as menstrual cramps, pain management, and anti-anxiety, modern science has only recently begun to support these claims through advanced technology, study, and lab research.4  The fact that hemp was virtually outlawed on a global scale throughout the 20th century only delayed our scientific understanding of its therapeutic potential in humans and animals. Due to a resurgence in interest of the potential of hemp and marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of serious diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, science is racing to catch up, and it is beginning to confirm the claims of our ancient ancestors regarding the medicinal and therapeutic uses of the hemp plant.

What you will find below is a sampling of the latest research and findings of a hemp-derivative called cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, its uses for human ailments and discomforts, and the different CBD products available on the market today. In summary, CBD is widely accepted as having the following properties: anti-anxiety, anti-depression, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pain management, and enhanced sleep. Common CBD products available on the market today include CBD oil and tinctures, CBD e-Liquid for vaporizers, CBD salves, CBD gel capsules, and CBD edibles.

CBD as Anxiolytic (Anti-Anxiety)

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Marijuana, more specifically the THC in marijuana, is notorious for producing its psychoactive or euphoric high effect that often leads to paranoia and anxiety. (Interestingly, THC is the ONLY compound currently known in the hemp or marijuana plant that is psychoactive.5)

When scientists and doctors started to use medical marijuana to treat degenerative diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, the psychoactive high, anxiety, and paranoia it produced in patients was an unwanted side effect.6

Here is where CBD comes into play. Clinical trials began to show that CBD not only reduced anxiety but worked against the psychoactive effects of THC in the body. Because CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in hemp, it produces no mental high or altered state of mind, and studies suggest that it even works against the high and other unwanted side effects produced from THC if the two are consumed simultaneously.7

The seemingly antagonistic relationship between THC and CBD in the body led researchers to hone in on the peculiar CBD compound in hemp. Trial after trial began to demonstrate the anxiolytic effect (anti-anxiety, calming, sedative) CBD had on those subjects tested on, both human and animal. Rather than summarize, here is a direct quote from a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s information website:

“We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.”8

Another study surveyed the literature on CBD’s therapeutic benefits and what they showed was that CBD has the potential to alleviate all of the following side effects of anxiety:

“Reduction of muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, improvement of social interactions in rodent models of anxiety and stress; reduced social anxiety in patients.”9

What this study and others have started to show is that CBD can be used to help alleviate anxiety and symptoms that lead to anxiety and dissociative behaviors. The number of Americans affected by anxiety and seeking anti-anxiety treatment is staggering. The scientific evidence and promise of CBD make it an option worth exploring, especially when CBD is considered from studies to have minimal side effects.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, disorders related to anxiety are the most common mental illness in the United States, with over 40 million sufferers—nearly 18.1% of the population on an annual basis.10 Not only that, nearly 63% of sufferers go without receiving any treatment.11 Arguably, the unwanted side effects associated with effective pharmaceutical anxiety treatments make the disease more tolerable than the side effects produced from the treatment.

CBD has been found to have a little-to-no side effect on most patients. A study from 2017 that surveyed the literature on cannabidiol (CBD), its safety, and its side effects determined that “In comparison with other drugs, used for the treatment of these medical conditions [epilepsy and psychotic disorders], CBD has a better side effect profile.”12 CBD tinctures, CBD gel caps, or CBD e-Liquids can help to alleviate anxiety without the harmful side effects typically associated with anxiety and neurological disorder treatments. (More on CBD as a neuroprotectant in Part II of this study.)

Taking CBD hemp oil tinctures or CBD gel caps regularly can help to alleviate short-term or long-term anxiety according to preclinical and clinical research. The anti-anxiety power of CBD is well established and growing every day.

CBD as Antioxidant

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Before we begin discussing what antioxidants are, let’s first explore the root of the word—oxidation. The process of oxidation is the exposure of the body’s cells to oxygen and “free radicals”. When cells are exposed to free radicals, they became unstable. When cells are unstable, it causes cells to become damaged, the body to age, it can lead to the formation of cancer cells, it can increase blood pressure, and cause inflammation and infertility. The worst news—oxidation is a naturally occurring process and is constantly stressing our bodies and cells as we grow older. Pretty much oxidation is an unavoidable process, but not all hope is lost.

Antioxidants are compounds found in plants, fruits, vegetables, seeds, wine, nuts, and other foods. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation and counter the production of free radicals that damage and degrade cells. Essentially, they slow down and counteract the effects of oxidation. As mentioned before, the oxidation of cells can lead to a host of health problems and disorders. Because antioxidants slow down the process of cell damage, they can assist in promoting good health and preventing diseases and cancers from developing.  

All of that to say this: CBD has been shown to demonstrate strong antioxidant properties. As an antioxidant, CBD can help to provide those health protections and benefits associated with antioxidants like a fortified immune system and lower chances of developing cancers and other diseases caused by oxidation and free radicals. CBD tinctures and gel caps can be part of a daily wellness regiment to fight against oxidation and promote homeostasis in the body.

The Department of Health and Human Services applied for a U.S. patent in 1999 claiming the rights to the discovery of cannabinoids, and particularly CBD, as having antioxidant and neuroprotectant properties. This excerpt was pulled right off the U.S. patent:

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties… This new-found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol [CBD], are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention13.” [emphasis added]

Simply put, the government identified the antioxidant and neuroprotectant properties of CBD and other cannabinoids and then laid official legal claim to that discovery by applying for the patent (which was granted in 2003).14 The patent also proves the potential of CBD and other compounds found in hemp to act as a treatment or preventative measure for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis.

The other confirmation this patent makes is that CBD is non-psychoactive and is thus more advantageous to use to treat degenerative and oxidation-induced diseases over other compounds (like THC) found in marijuana.

CBD is becoming more widely known and accepted for its anti-anxiety and antioxidant properties. These discoveries support the notion that CBD can be used daily as a health and wellness regiment. Whether it’s through tinctures, gel caps, e-Liquids, or edibles, one can reap the many benefits of the complex and vital hemp-derived compound of CBD.