CBD Oil: the Won­der Drug?

Cut­ting through the hype about CBD oil.

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY JONNY BOWDEN, PHD, CNS

Few sub­jects in the health space these days gen­er­ate as much con­tro­versy— and are the cause of as much con­fu­sion— as med­i­cal mar­i­juana. But mar­i­juana is hav­ing a mo­ment. As more states le­gal­ize its use, it’s more im­por­tant than ever to un­der­stand ex­actly what med­i­cal mar­i­juana is, what it is not, and why it mat­ters. ( Hint: The an­swer to why it mat­ters is sim­ple: cannabi­noids.)

Cannabis is a genus of plants that in­cludes dif­fer­ent species: Cannabis sativa ( also known as mar­i­juana) is one of them; hemp is an­other. And this is where it some­times gets con­fus­ing. Be­cause while hemp and mar­i­juana are in­deed species of the same plant, chem­i­cally, they are en­tirely dif­fer­ent.

All cannabis plants— in­clud­ing hemp and mar­i­juana— con­tain an ar­ray of healthy plant com­pounds called cannabi­noids. These are to the cannabis plant what flavonoids are to fruits and veg­eta­bles— pow­er­ful plant com­pounds with mul­ti­ple heal­ing prop­er­ties. There are about 100 cannabi­noids, all na­tive to the var­i­ous cannabis species. The two most fa­mous are THC ( tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol) and CBD ( cannabid­iol). THC is the cannabi­noid re­spon­si­ble for get­ting mar­i­juana users stoned.

What Is It?

CBD is found in both hemp and pot, but THC is found only in pot. And hemp is richer in CBD than mar­i­juana. Legally, THC can’t be found in any­thing la­beled “hemp.” CBD doesn’t get you high at all. ( If you want to try CBD, hemp oil is the best way to go, and it’s le­gal ev­ery­where. And CBD is CBD— it’s iden­ti­cal whether you get it from pot or hemp, and the body sees it the same way re­gard­less of ori­gin.) In U. S. law, the dif­fer­ence be­tween mar­i­juana and hemp is very clear and has ev­ery­thing to do with THC con­tent. To be clas­si­fied as hemp, there must be 0.3 per­cent or less of THC ( less than one- third of one per­cent). Mar­i­juana can have a THC con­tent as high as 20 per­cent. Cannabi­noids don’t just come from the cannabis plant— we also make them in our bod­ies. The ones we make are called en­do­cannabi­noids ( endo mean­ing com­ing from within). The well- known “run­ner’s high” is ac­tu­ally an en­do­cannabi­noid, which in­creases in the blood dur­ing aer­o­bic ex­er­cise and then crosses the blood- brain bar­rier and binds to cannabi­noid re­cep­tors in the brain.

We have a net­work of cannabi­noids and re­cep­tors in our bod­ies called the en­do­cannabi­noid sys­tem ( ES). One of the pri­mary jobs of the ES is to keep the body in bal­ance, a state known as home­osta­sis. The ES has a pro­found ef­fect on sleep, ap­petite, ex­er­cise, pain, in­flam­ma­tion, fe­male re­pro­duc­tion, metabolism, anx­i­ety, and im­mu­nity.

Re­search- Backed Ben­e­fits

Sci­en­tists have known there was po­ten­tial for medicine in the world of plant cannabi­noids, but the de­mo­niza­tion of pot pre­vented any real re­search from get­ting done in the U. S. But that’s chang­ing. The one place in which it’s le­gal to grow pot for fed­er­ally ap­proved re­search ( on the cam­pus of the Univer­sity of Mis­sis­sippi) was bar­ren more than a year ago. To­day, the farm is full of bloom­ing cannabis plants. And sci­en­tists are ex­cited about the emerg­ing re­search.

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of South­ern Florida Byrd Alzheimer’s In­sti­tute be­lieve that low- dose THC may “slow the buildup of beta- amy­loid plaque in the brain.” ( Beta- amy­loid plaque is typ­i­cal in the brains of Alzheimer’s pa­tients.) There is also pre­lim­i­nary re­search sug­gest­ing that cannabi­noids, par­tic­u­larly CBD, may be neu­ro­pro­tec­tive.

Does It Work?

CBD oil is a well- es­tab­lished an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory. Anec­do­tal re­ports con­firm

its abil­ity to moder­ate pain and infl am­ma­tion. I have per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with this. As a ten­nis player, I’ve had chronic shoul­der pain for years, and I’m pretty skep­ti­cal about over- the­counter drugs. Yet ad­ding CBD oil to my sup­ple­ment reg­i­men made a no­tice­able diff er­ence, re­duc­ing pain by 25– 50 per­cent, al­low­ing me to con­tinue with phys­i­cal ther­apy.

There’s re­search show­ing that CBD makes a diff er­ence in infl am­ma­tory bowel dis­ease, at­ten­u­ates car­diac dys­func­tion and ox­ida­tive stress, and in­duces an­tide­pres­sant- like eff ects. It has also been shown to have a promis­ing role in the man­age­ment of ALS symp­toms.

Uma Dhan­a­balan, MD, MPH, was so im­pressed with med­i­cal mar­i­juana that she be­came an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for cannabis and CBD oil. Dr. Dhan­a­balan be­came in­ter­ested in the heal­ing pow­ers of cannabi­noids when her mother, who suff ered with a chronic ill­ness, urged her physi­cian daugh­ter to get some to help with the dis­com­fort. Dr. Dhan­a­balan thought this was crazy— but looked into it any­way. What she found ex­cited her. “Cannabis isn’t for every­one,” she said, “yet it should be a first- line op­tion, not the last re­sort.”

Should You Try It?

Peo­ple who have been cu­ri­ous about CBD hemp oil may have been re­luc­tant to try it— if they could even find it. One study, in 2015, found that nearly 50 per­cent of CBD prod­ucts sold tested neg­a­tive for CBD; an­other, more re­cent study, found that nearly 70 per­cent of on­line CBD prod­ucts were mis­la­beled.

And that’s why the en­trance of a com­pany like Bar­lean’s into the CBD mar­ket is sig­nifi cant. Many peo­ple feel that if they’re go­ing to try a new prod­uct like this, the safest thing to do is go with a com­pany they trust. The new CBD oil prod­ucts make it pos­si­ble to do that.

I say there’s vir­tu­ally no downside to try­ing CBD oil from a rep­utable source, if for no other rea­son than its proven abil­ity to re­duce pain and infl am­ma­tion.

Re­mem­ber, vir­tu­ally ev­ery de­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease we know has an infl am­ma­tory com­po­nent, and CBD is a known and es­tab­lished anti- infl am­ma­tory.

[Ed­i­tor’s note: Turn the page for our hemp CBD oil prod­uct sug­ges­tions.]

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