To a retired Marine Corps Infantry Officer, the world of cannabis still seems a bit taboo.
For full disclosure, I occasionally smoked “weed” during my college years (and needed a waiver to serve in the Marines because of it). However, as that was over a quarter century ago, it feels ancient to me. It is important to note that while I’m writing this article, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law. This means that while some states have legalized it for medicinal and recreational use, it’s still illegal for federal workers including active duty military personnel. Upon my retirement in 2016, I was excited about the prospect of trying it again, but it was still illegal in California without a medical card which I did not possess. Life moved forward, and education and romance took me to the Middle East where cannabis is illegal (and will likely be for the foreseeable future). In 2018, California legalized cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Now that I’m living back in California, I’m ready to embark on my latest journey and rediscover what the buzz is about.
One thing that was clearly evident while I was doing my research is that the cannabis industry has come a long way since my college days. Like many, I’ve been fascinated with its explosive growth; particularly with the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD). CBD hosts a range of health benefits for adults over ~25 years old. I use this target age as research suggests there are more side effects than benefits when cannabis is used by people under the age of 25 as their brains are still developing and maturing (though there are also exceptions to this such as when it’s used to treat epilepsy seizures as one example). As with any supplement or food, you need to conduct your own thorough research before ingesting it to understand the benefits and risks. This article provides an overview of my personal research on CBD.
CBD is one of the most valuable non-psychoactive cannabinoids in the more than one hundred compounds found in cannabis or marijuana plant. It holds the key to a wide range of therapeutic and medicinal effects the cannabis plant offers.
On the other hand, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives people the “high” sensation when they use marijuana. Meaning, CBD does not have the mind-altering effects of cannabis. CBD is, therefore, an appealing option for people who are looking for a pain reliever and a natural remedy for other ailments or disease symptoms.
The source of a CBD product depends on the legal status of marijuana in that particular state. CBD products that have trace amounts of THC are more potent than those without it. Therefore, as both medicinal and recreational marijuana are legal in California, the CBD products in the state can have higher THC concentration levels. Read on to learn more about the specific health benefits of CBD.
Prescription painkillers have become an epidemic of overdose deaths happening across the country. CBD is increasingly becoming the go-to alternative for people combating opioid addiction and who are looking for a viable substitute for addictive prescription painkillers across the United States. Although marijuana has been used to treat pain for centuries, scientists recently discovered that the compound responsible for relieving pain is CBD (1).
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a human body’s specialized system that is responsible for regulating various body functions such as appetite, the immune system response, and sleep. CBD receptors bind the endocannabinoids neurotransmitters produced by the body. In other words, CBD can reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters by impacting a patient’s endocannabinoid receptor activity.
For example, research conducted on rats found that CBD injections considerably reduced sciatic nerve pain and inflammation. Another rat study proved that CBD injections could alleviate pain response to surgical incision. Yet other studies have shown that a combination of THC and CBD could significantly relieve pain related to multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. As a result, many countries have approved the use of Sativex, an oral spray that has THC and CBD for treating pain related to multiple sclerosis.
Improves Skin Condition
CBD in topical form can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It contains nutrients such as Vitamin E that protect the skin. It also treats conditions like eczema by encouraging abnormal cells to die. Most surprisingly, it can also be used to fight acne. Acne is thought to be caused by several factors such as bacterial infections, underlying inflammation, genetics, and overproduction of sebum. The human skin is supposed to produce an appropriate amount of sebum from the sebaceous glands to keep the skin slightly oily at all times. According to a 2014 study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (2), CBD contains properties that regulate oil production by sebaceous glands.
Recent scientific studies have shown that CBD can treat acne due to its ability to curb the overproduction of sebum and anti-inflammatory properties (3). CBD can deactivate “pro-acne” agents such as inflammatory cytokines and prevent sebaceous glands from secreting too much sebum. The anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD make CBD oil a safe and efficient natural method of treating acne.
CBD Reduces Depression and Anxiety
These are prevalent mental health disorders affecting thousands of people across the world. According to data from the World Health Organization, depression is the largest contributor to disability, while disorders associated with anxiety are ranked sixth in the world. Most of the pharmaceutical drugs for treating depression and anxiety cause a range of side effects such as insomnia, drowsiness, agitation, and headaches.
Furthermore, medications such as benzodiazepines can lead to substance abuse because they are addictive. Hence, CBD has proven to be the most viable alternative for treating these conditions without suffering the side effects associated with typical pharmaceutical drugs. In one study, individuals with a social anxiety disorder were given a few milligrams of CBD or a placebo a few minutes before taking a public speaking test. The participants who received CBD showed less anxiety and cognitive impairment (4) when compared to those who received the placebo.
CBD has shown to contain antidepressant-like capabilities in several other animal studies (5). All these qualities link to CBD’s ability to have an impact on the brain’s serotonin neurotransmitter, which is responsible for regulating mood or social behavior.
Alleviates Cancer-Related Symptoms
Cancer treatment side effects such as nausea, chronic pain, and vomiting can be devastating. Moreover, some people living with cancer don’t experience relief from most pain medications. An extract containing THC and CBD can significantly reduce cancer-related pain as compared to using a THC extract only (6).
CBD helps reduce chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea. People living with cancer are consistently looking for alternatives to these distressing chemotherapy-related side effects because the available drugs are sometimes ineffective. One-to-one mouth spray of THC and CBD combination has proven to work for most people undergoing chemotherapy.
Have Neuroprotective Properties
Scientists believe that CBD’s ability to affect the endocannabinoid system may provide benefits for people with neurological disorders (7). Sativex, for instance, is an effective and safer way of reducing muscle spasticity in individuals with multiple sclerosis. This is promising because muscle spasticity can sometimes show resistance to certain medications.
CBD can also help people with Parkinson’s disease have an improved quality of life and sleep more comfortably. CBD can reduce the neurodegeneration (8) rate associated with Alzheimer’s disease due to its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2012 research study conducted by the British Epilepsy Association showed that CBD has exceptional therapeutic properties for treating a wide range of human epilepsies. Researchers are working towards proving that the neuroprotective effect of CBD can treat Alzheimer’s disease by protecting nerve cells from degenerating.
Benefits Heart Health
High blood pressure can lead to various heart conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. CBD can lower high blood pressure and improve circulatory system activity. One dose of 600 mg of CBD oil can reduce the resting blood pressure of a healthy person compared to a placebo (9).
CBD is capable of lowering blood pressure due to its stress and anxiety-reducing properties. CBD can also reduce the inflammation and cell death associated with certain heart diseases
because it is a powerful antioxidant. Health benefits (10) such as reducing oxidative stress make CBD a great natural approach to improving heart health.
Bottom Line At End (BLAE)
CBD use has a wide range of health benefits of which this article barely scratches the surface (additional benefits include the treatment of ADD/ADHD, lower incidents of diabetes, etc.). Many of these benefits almost seem too good to be true, but science is now backing up what was once only anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. The BLAE is CBD health benefits can no longer be ignored; with more ongoing research taking place more therapeutic benefits of this natural remedy are sure to be discovered.
With this initial research complete, the focus will shift to trying CBD products. Stay tuned to the Fifty & Co. Men’s Corner to learn more.